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November 13, 2003

FACTS ON THE GROUND....Remember "push back," the PR campaign designed to bypass the big time media and tell the American public the truth about how well things are going in Iraq? Jack O'Toole already made the right call on the basic foolishness of this strategy a month ago, so I want to raise a different question about it.

It's this: the push back campaign started on October 8. A Chinook helicopter was shot down three weeks later, and two weeks after that the CIA station chief in Baghdad reported that there were an estimated 50,000 insurgents in Iraq and that their numbers were threatening to spiral out of control.

Now, follow my thinking here:

  • If the CIA report was circulated early this month, it was surely being written early last month. Reports like this take at least a few weeks to prepare.

  • The report is incredibly bleak, and since facts on the ground don't change on a dime that means the situation in Iraq must have already seemed pretty dicey in early October.

  • Even so, the White House went ahead with push back.

  • No one is stupid enough to mount a PR campaign like this if they know that the facts on the ground are likely to make them look like idiots within a few short weeks. So the White House didn't know.

This brings us back to the same question we've had for several months about prewar intelligence: what happened? Did the CIA (and the Pentagon) drop the ball and not properly warn the White House about the true seriousness of the situation? Or did they do their job, but the White House simply refused to believe intelligence information that they didn't want to believe?

The problem is that trying to blame this kind of stuff on the CIA is getting less and less credible with every passing day: after all, if it really is the CIA's fault, their incompetence has now endangered the interests of the United States and badly embarrassed the president so many times that it's simply beyond belief that there haven't been wholesale firings in Langley.

And that leaves only one conclusion, which even administration supporters need to face up to: the president and his staff are willfully and consistently ignoring facts that are inconvenient to them, and endangering the security of the United States by doing so. These guys have got to go.

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 13, 2003 10:32 AM | TrackBack


Comments

You lost me on the phrase
"no one is stupid enough..."

Yes, they are stupid enough.

aimai

Posted by: aimai at November 13, 2003 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

The other day Kevin Drum over at Calpundit, to demonstrate Howard Dean's essential unelectability, asked his readers to just imagine the attack ads Karl Rove would run against the former Vermont Governor. After months of hearing this argument, I didn't expect this to make any difference to me, but, as I imagined the ads, something in me snapped. I suddenly could see the grainy, slightly distorted vision of Howard Dean as a narrator twisted his record, and I felt real fear. What could I do?

The problem then grew. As I was deciding what to make for my family's dinner, I grabbed a can of black beans, and I thought, "What kind of attack ad could Karl run about my vegetarian dinner?" Pictures of down-on-their-luck ranchers filled my mind, swelling music over shots of poorly clad children as the narrator blamed my dinner for the predicament of America's few remaining family farms. I grabbed my jacket to go out and buy a steak, praying it wouldn't be imported Brazilian beef or something.

But, then, which car should I drive to the store, my Toyota or Saturn? American, obviously. A Toyota drive would bring about a terrible attack ad questioning my patriotism; I can hear the narration already. Why, o, why don't I own a pickup?!?

Now, every decision is run through the same filter: What Would Karl Allow? I'm sure there's some way I could satisfy him. If I was only a little better, if I only didn't make him so mad, then everything would be fine. It's my fault.

Karl, I'll be better from now on. I promise.

Posted by: not me at November 13, 2003 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

>No one is stupid enough to mount a PR campaign like this if they know that the facts on the ground are likely to make them look like idiots within a few short weeks.

I question this assumption. The Bush Junta really is that stupid.

Posted by: grytpype at November 13, 2003 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

No one is stupid enough to mount a PR campaign like this if they know that the facts on the ground are likely to make them look like idiots within a few short weeks.

It's not that the Bush team is that stupid - it's that they believe the American public is stupid enough to buy it, all evidence to the contrary.

They've yet to be proven wrong on this ...

Posted by: ryan b at November 13, 2003 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

"These guys have got to go."

Yup. We need someone with REAL experience in these sorts of things.

How about the governor of a tiny New England state? That's the ticket!

Posted by: melk at November 13, 2003 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

I think that it might be likely that there are a lot of VERY honked off analysts (and operatives, remember Plame?) in the CIA.

You set out to write a report. Your progress reports to the boss are upbeat, then you drop the bomb.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at November 13, 2003 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

The bloom does seem to have gone from Karl Rove's PR rose. Turdblossom may find himself back in Texas sooner than he thinks if the situation in Iraq continues to take a turn for the worse.

Posted by: David W. at November 13, 2003 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

"How about the governor of a tiny New England state?"

Don't be silly.

Next thing you'll tell me is that you want a candidate from some backward place like Arkansas!

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at November 13, 2003 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

It's not that they were stupid, not in the least.

They knew the truth and just decided to lie. They've lied many, many times and always gotten away with it--now is the time to simply do it again.

These felons have never been interested in the truth in any sense. They didn't like the reality they were getting in the media, so they decided to fabricate a new one. They're not dumb. They're evil, manipulative liars.

Posted by: paradox at November 13, 2003 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

What aimai said.
Or just that they are inherently dishonest, and can't help themselves.

Posted by: MattB at November 13, 2003 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

melk, what we really need is a twice-failed businessman, and a former alcoholic and cokehead at that.

Actually, Bush could have been the perfect president for this war. If he attacked Iraq the way he defended Texas during Vietnam, nobody would have ever showed up.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at November 13, 2003 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why is this even a question?

Seymour Hersh gave us the answer several weeks ago. The explanation is in one word: stovepipe.

Cheney and Condi aren't interested in any intelligence or analyses that they didn't select themselves for its a priori consistency with the Stalinist party line.

And Bush listens only to those who bring him happy news.

Posted by: Steady Eddie at November 13, 2003 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

"'These guys have got to go.'

"Yup. We need someone with REAL experience in these sorts of things.

"How about the governor of a tiny New England state? That's the ticket!"
_____________________________________________

Wait. Why not a general who can't decide what party he is in and who can't even run his own campaign, who has no organization, no experience seeking or holdoing office, and who has already show a penchant for monumental blunders! Yes, that's the ticket. And he's from the great mega state of Arkansas! He will crush Karl Rove like a .... like .... i mean...

Posted by: obe at November 13, 2003 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the report and "push-back" fit together in a little different way. Bremer had already been sending up pessimistic reports which obviously never reached the top. But somebody in the White House (read: VP's office) knew the CIA was prepping this kind of report, which is supposedly routine in these circumstances.

So they pitched a plan to pre-empt its information and conclusions with happy talk, an idea the political people will always go for. The impending report was top-secret and wouldn't come out anyway-- leakers get outed and persecuted (or some of them, anyway, guess it depends . . .).

The miscalculation then is in thinking that no one would leak the report. But the people concerned about actual reality (you know, like the world and all) had to leak it in order to make the political people at the White House pay attention. And not only that-- Bremer's endorsement was leaked at the same time, making for a real crisis. More CIA vs White House/VP warfare, and the "push-back" people were outflanked.

This is what has to happen when the CEO has told the underlings what he wants to hear. There are no communication channels inside that fortress and there is no desire to have any. They simply want to issue ukases and have the world shape itself accordingly.

You're right, Kevin, that policy suffers. But all administration-watchers have known for a very long time that policy doesn't count for these guys, only illusion, spin, and tons and tons of money.

Posted by: Altoid at November 13, 2003 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

I'm beginning to wonder whether it's Rove, not Condi, who has been filtering W's mail for him. Because I'm thinking that Rove realizes that preventing Bush from knowing how much people hate him and how badly things can go is a critical part of being able to stay the course.

I think the argument that W didn't know about how bad things were is quite plausible, which is why Bremer felt like he had to endorse it to make sure it got the attention of the WH.

Posted by: emptywheel at November 13, 2003 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, perhaps the "push-back" campaign was specifically designed with the worsening situation in mind. It would fit this administration perfectly to, having been made aware that the situation in Iraq was about to get a whole lot worse, mount a press campaign to assert that the situation in Iraq was getting a whole lot better.

It's not about stupid, per se, or not knowing the truth. It's about purposefully and consistently lying about the truth, with the full, Orwellian knowledge that the well-publicized words are more important than the more complicated facts.

We've seen them do this with everything; the environment, the economy, etc. If they intend to cut a popular program, they'll send the President out to say how much they like it -- then they slash it, a few months later. If a major bombing rocks an important, supposedly secure location in Baghdad, they will appear on television to say how it demonstrates the success of the occupation.

This administration, ever since Florida, has demonstrated that they are fundamentally incapable of policing any of the usual boundaries between "spin" and wholesale, organized lying. I submit to you that "push back" is simply one element of the continuing pattern: the Administration, knowing something is going distinctly against them, mounts a pre-emptive public campaign to deny the even the most basic facts of the situation, so that any journalist who reports on the actual situation either looks like an unpatriotic, hypercritical fool, or at the very least must temper their reporting with the "official line" of the White House, regardless of how absurd that line may be.

Posted by: Hunter at November 13, 2003 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

The White House is becoming like the NFL... recycling failed foreign policy wonks / coaches from the past is no way to build a winning team. John Bolton? Negroponte? Eliott Abrams? Rumsfeld? Cheney?

I'll bet Dennis Erickson doesn't feel half so guilty about getting that 49ers job now.

Posted by: Norbizness at November 13, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

There is another possiblity that everyone is missing.

It is that there is, in fact, plenty of good news on the ground in Iraq.

Childern are in school again. Electricity and water are flowing again. Newspapers and satellite dishes are sprouting up like weeds.

None of this is changed by the fact that certain disgruntled elements have decided to mount a Rammadan offensive (and it's just a coincidence that it is taking place during the month of Rammadan, right? It's not like Rammadan has symbolic significance to fundamentalist terrorists or anything...)

The schools are still open. Electrical generation has returned to prewar levels. None of this is affected by the attacks.

Another oft-repeated assumption is that the White House thought that Iraq would be a bed of roses by now, and promised the American people that all would be smiles and sunshine there.

Don't you think that the possibility of guerilla war, and terrorist attacks, occurred to any of our generals? I am certain that it occurred to all of them. It certainly occurred to me.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

"Why not a general who can't decide what party he is in and who can't even run his own campaign, who has no organization, no experience seeking or holdoing office, and who has already show a penchant for monumental blunders! Yes, that's the ticket. And he's from the great mega state of Arkansas! He will crush Karl Rove like a .... like .... i mean..."

If things go on in Iraq the way they are Clark will waltz into the White House, monumental blunders or not. That is, if Dean doesn't beat him to it.

Posted by: Elrod at November 13, 2003 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I think there has to be a little of the lowering expectations game going on here. If we paint an incredibly bleak picture of how things in Iraq are, then they can better manage our perceptions.

Posted by: stand at November 13, 2003 11:17 AM | PERMALINK
None of this is changed by the fact that certain disgruntled elements have decided to mount a Rammadan offensive (and it's just a coincidence that it is taking place during the month of Rammadan, right? It's not like Rammadan has symbolic significance to fundamentalist terrorists or anything...)

Ramadan, Tet, its all the same.


The schools are still open.

Although without textbooks, in many cases, without supplies, and notable for being the primary location where insurgents deliver their threats of attacks.

Of course schools were open, under better conditions, before the invasion. Ditto with electricity, water, etc.

"Doing good" would consist of things that are better than pre-invasion, not partially undoing the damage we caused.

And "freedom" and "no Saddam/Ba'ath" will be valid examples of that when the US isn't exercising powers of press censorship, arbitrary detention, and a combination of veto power and direct control over local government, and Saddam and his Ba'athists aren't operating in Iraq and continuing to threaten the safety of the Iraqi people.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 13, 2003 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Melk: My god. The best thing you could come up with is "Well, at least he's not the other guy"? Absolutely no defense on the merits of Kevin's point?

At this point, a lovable marsupial and its badger friends would be a better president and adminstration than this guy and his yahoos.

Kevin, you really made a mistake when you attacked Dean's electability. Not in terms of being wrong or anything — though I really think you are — but because you brought the crazies over here. People like "not me". I mean, we already had the right-wing crazies, but now we have to deal with these guys in comments.

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at November 13, 2003 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Joe S., going from 1-2 to about 40 attacks a day by insurgents in Iraq isn't exactly what Bush had in mind when he made his "Mission Accomplished" appearance on that carrier deck.

And it's not like there weren't problems from the git-go either. Jay Garner had to be replaced by Bremer, and Bremer may himself be on the outs with Bush. Not exactly a sign that serious consideration was given regarding the possibility of guerilla warfare before the war.

Posted by: David W. at November 13, 2003 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

This administration refuses to believe anything that does not fit into thier plans. Look a Boltons comments about the IAEA report on Iran. He said it was unbeliveable. They simple belive what they want facts be damned.

Posted by: chef at November 13, 2003 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Joe, whaddya know? The Bush Message changed, ho ho ho! Didn't somebody let you know?

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at November 13, 2003 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet -- the earliest stories about the CIA report said it was being leaked because previous honest assessments had been stiffled before reaching the Oval Office:

The report landed on the desks of senior U.S. officials on Monday. The speed of the leak suggested that senior policymakers want to make sure the assessment reaches Bush.

Some senior policymakers have complained of being frustrated in their efforts to provide Bush with analyses of the situation in Iraq that are more somber than the optimistic views of Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and other hardliners.

Seeing the "push-back" strategy adopted by a President who should have known better may have been the motivation for leaking the latest CIA report.

Posted by: Swopa at November 13, 2003 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I think Hunter hits the nail head on. This administration seems to be increasingly having problems with pathological lying. Take rumsfield the other day when he explicitly, on the record, denied ever having made comments that are public knowledge, on the record, and took place barely more than one year ago. Remember the flap about the "mission accomplished" banner? these guys would tell you left was right and right was up if they ever had the chance, which they do ever single day thanks to our inept idiotic corporate media. Take today for example, bush's call for "more civility" in politics. Best way in my opinion to restore some civility to the politics of this country would be to take a trip with Bush, Rove, Delay, Frist, Cheney, Gillespie and Rice out to a field somewhere in Nevada, and bring a shovel... Maybe then we could at least start down the road to political sanity...

Posted by: bob at November 13, 2003 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

No one is stupid enough to mount a PR campaign like this if they know that the facts on the ground are likely to make them look like idiots within a few short weeks.

Rumsfeld was quite content to lie to the press corps recently by claiming he hadn't said what everyone in the corps knew he had said. The lies were given front-page treatment; the corrections were only noted by the media obsessed. It's not that they're stupid, it's just that they know the press is so easily distracted by a few shiny baubles (Scott Peterson, anyone?) that there will be no consequences from lying. I'm afraid the stupid ones are our lapdogs in the press.

Joe Schmoe-- How many kilowatts of electricity flowing into Baghdad outweigh one suicide bombing and killing of 20 or so Italian carabinieri?

Posted by: Basharov at November 13, 2003 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

"Don't you think that the possibility of guerilla war, and terrorist attacks, occurred to any of our generals? I am certain that it occurred to all of them. It certainly occurred to me. "

Ah, Joe...that's the point. If the AWOL commander in cheif had listened to the brass and the intelligence before the war, we would not have gone when we did and the way we did. We may not have gone at all...which is why he did not listen to them. The rest....will be history of the biggest defeat of the US since vietnam.

We are being run out of Iraq as we speak, and the president is complying. He has to. He's beaten. It is already too late. There will be no democracy in iraq. We had our chance and we blew it already. Duh!

Posted by: obe at November 13, 2003 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

(Clarifying note: The third paragraph in my post above is part of the quotation that starts in the second paragraph -- it just lost its formatting.)

Posted by: Swopa at November 13, 2003 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

has anyone here read the book Hungry Ghosts?

It's a fascinating read on the Great Famine in China. It details first how the Soviets lied about their ag programs in order to please Stalin, and then how Mao swallowed Soviet claims of agricultural miracles, and then how Mao pushed his crazy schemes on the cadres, and then how those cadres lied about how successful the ideas were all the way up the chain.

In the end, millions of people starved, but Mao had no idea what was going on or why.

All because of the CYA game along the hierarchy. When the culture of an organization does not tolerate dissent from official dogma, these kinds of tragedies will happen.

Posted by: praktike at November 13, 2003 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

JS - Iraq had electricity and schools before the invasion. We did not invade Iraq to give the survivors electricity and schools.

Posted by: grytpype at November 13, 2003 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

sorry, here's the link:
Hungry Ghosts

Posted by: praktike at November 13, 2003 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I just informally canvassed my business ethics class last night. It's a politically mixed group (as is Wisconsin in general), and several people said they had been strong proponents of the Iraq conflict, while a slightly smaller number said they had been against it, with the remaining quarter or so torn.

My sense is that popular support for operations in Iraq may have already bottomed out. Only two people out of seventeen offered strong support for staying in Iraq AT ALL at this point, much less for years in the future.

This worries me to no end, by the way. Whatever your position on the war, our leaving at this point just seems to lead to tragedy -- much, much worse than what's going on now.

I assume that the PR campaign was meant in part to buck up American support for the occupation. My sense is that it's been a massive failure.

And again, I was against the war, but this does not please me. I see nothing good coming out of us leaving now (or in March, as seems to be the administration plan).

Posted by: Brandonimac at November 13, 2003 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe writes:

"Another oft-repeated assumption is that the White House thought that Iraq would be a bed of roses by now, and promised the American people that all would be smiles and sunshine there.

"Don't you think that the possibility of guerilla war, and terrorist attacks, occurred to any of our generals? I am certain that it occurred to all of them. It certainly occurred to me. "

You seem to be confusing "White House" and "military" there, Joe - just the way GW used to confuse "flight practice" and "bong hit". Generals who forecast complications were summarily dismissed, eg Shenseki.

I think most of the commenters on this site trust the military, but distrust the civilians in the White House who are running it.

Posted by: reuben at November 13, 2003 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

I submit that Joe's 11:11 post demonstrates perfectly the success of the Administration's "push back" approach, as I outlined at 11:04.

Sure, rockets are being shot at targets in the supposedly secure "Green Zone", and an apparently-organized series of attacks seems specifically aimed not at targets of military significance, but at the reconstruction efforts -- so that our reconstruction gets bogged down, and the populace stays scared and angry with us. And these attacks are, according to both the military and intelligence services, increasing in frequency and sophistication.

But a bunch of schools that were never closed, except when we were actively bombing the infidel crap out of the country, are still open, so hey -- it all balances out.

That's what "push back" is supposed to accomplish.

(And incidentally, why are "open schools" the metric by which the success of the occupation is measured? Why not "attacks", or "deaths"? Or, better yet, why is not the best measure of stability and success simply this: the ability to send large numbers of our troops home?)

Posted by: Hunter at November 13, 2003 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Kenneth G. Cavness


I'm not defending Bush. Wipe the drool off your lips and realise that I'm merely making the point that you have to be a really insular American to think that changing from a know-nothing Republican Administration (read, the Bad Guys) to a know-nothing (and untested) Democratic Administration (read, the Good Guys) is going to make much difference in the complicated world of the Middle East.

Posted by: melk at November 13, 2003 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Does freedom mean nothing to you people? Does the fact that Iraqis are NO LONGER MURDERED AND TORTURED BY SADAAM'S SECRET POLICE MEAN NOTHING?

Does the free press mean nothing?

Are these not accomplishments?

Yes, it is bad if an Iraqi is murdered by one of the prisoners freed by Sadaam (and who is responsible for this? The answer is Sadaam). It is also bad if an Iraqi is accidentally shot by our soliders (and just how often does this happen, by the way? To hear antiwar lefties talk about it, you'd think that we are regularly mowing them down like flies. Don't you think Al Jazeera would report this if it were true?)

But there IS A DIFFERENCE between being ACCIDENTALLY shot by an American patrol, and being MURDERED by a member of the Fedayeen who chops of your head with a machete.

I cannot get over the fact that so many people here seem to be unable to comprehend the difference!

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Your key point is that the Bush administration is truly incompetent. Without regard to politics and policy (which I don't like), they have proven themselves unfit to govern. And its not just the war -- massive deficits and out of control spending (increases bigger than those crazy Dems). No meaningful policies -- just PR and cronyism.


Joe Schmoe proves that the lying Rove PR lines from White House actually work, on at least some people.

Bremer and CIA say the security situation is horrible, and Joe Schmoe somehow finds a way to say that it isn't true (or that it doesn't metter). And his examples of alleged better conditions are simply not true -- schools, basic services and security all better pre-war. The reconstruction has faltered badly and Iraqis continue to live worse than before the war. Yea, they now have limited freedom, which is great and that ass Saddam is gone, but we have proven to be incompetent in reconstruction and security, and they want us gone, period.

What has gone well post-war? Not security. Not restoration of basic services. Not restoration of law and order -- murders of Iraqis and other rampant crime spiral out of control. Not creation of new government structures -- IGC is a joke, and we have pursued a go slow policy to turning over control that simply leaves us running things like dictators.

Without regard to one's feelings about the wisdom of the war (which I was against, but I understood that there was some rationale for the war, although people may have thought differently if they truthfully were told true cost of war), there is no way you can support the current crop of idiots running the show.

Posted by: DMBeaster at November 13, 2003 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Some Iraqis aren't being tortured! That is great! Ignore the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed by the US! They aren't as dead as those killed by Saddam! Isn't this worth hundreds of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars?"

As Bush prepares to slink away ... I mean, Hand over authority much sooner than planned. To quote TPM:

"[W]e now seem ready to make is that we're about to launch the wobbly new Iraqi provisional ship of state out into the very same gale force winds that we ourselves have found too difficult to endure."

Posted by: MattB at November 13, 2003 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

And the security situation will never improve, right? I mean, it's not like we are training more Iraqi police or anything.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

This shit is getting so freaky. I'm reminded of old Soviet and Latin American governments where different branches/military factions align behind different leaders, with resulting chaos and instability.

These goons really are going to destroy America.

Posted by: Brautigan at November 13, 2003 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Does freedom mean nothing to you people? Does the fact that Iraqis are NO LONGER MURDERED AND TORTURED BY SADAAM'S SECRET POLICE MEAN NOTHING?

You might want to give it rest, Joe S. Neither I or others here are oblivious to the brutal nature of Saddam Hussein's rule. That, however, doesn't negate our concern over the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, and our wondering what the heck Bush is going to do about it.

Posted by: David W. at November 13, 2003 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

>And the security situation will never improve, right?

Why don't you read what the CIA had to say about that instead of mindlessly defending the idiotic decision made by your mongoloid leader.

CIA: Iraq security to get worse
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/11/11/sprj.irq.cia/

Posted by: grytpype at November 13, 2003 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Does freedom mean nothing to you people? Does the fact that Iraqis are NO LONGER MURDERED AND TORTURED BY SADAAM'S SECRET POLICE MEAN NOTHING?" --JS

Of course it doesn't mean anything to them! They're the ones supporting Castro and Chavez and Mugabe and Arafat and Saddam. Duh.

"Does the free press mean nothing?" --JS

Of course not... why do you think silence any attempt say that anything good is coming from the war?

"Are these not accomplishments?" --JS

Not if Bush had anything to do with them. Remember, Bush only does evil. He cannot, by definition, do good.

"Yes, it is bad if an Iraqi is murdered by one of the prisoners freed by Sadaam (and who is responsible for this? The answer is Sadaam). It is also bad if an Iraqi is accidentally shot by our soliders (and just how often does this happen, by the way? To hear antiwar lefties talk about it, you'd think that we are regularly mowing them down like flies. Don't you think Al Jazeera would report this if it were true?)" --JS

Al Jazeera IS reporting this. Therefore it must be true.

"But there IS A DIFFERENCE between being ACCIDENTALLY shot by an American patrol, and being MURDERED by a member of the Fedayeen who chops of your head with a machete."

Yes there is. Anything done by American soldiers is evil. Anything done by Fedayeen... well who cares? Unless they were support by America.

"I cannot get over the fact that so many people here seem to be unable to comprehend the difference!"

Now you're getting the difference between the left and the right.

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't that an insult to the Mongols?

Posted by: MattB at November 13, 2003 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting, Joe, that you use Hussein's government as the metric for good government. After all, anything better than it is great!

I swear, I'm just going to start rolling my eyes at arguments like this. What else is there left to do?

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at November 13, 2003 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe:

What the hell are you talking about? You seem to have these delusions that the Iraqi people are now living in some kind of wonderful FreedomLand. Do you read ANYTHING except rightwing propaganda? Are you aware that the women in Iraq are afraid to go out at night for fear of being kidnapped and raped? Are you aware that Iraqis are afraid of speaking out in public against the US Forces because they then become targets for raids? AND they are afraid of speaking out in public in support of the US Forces because they then become targets of the opposition?

I could go on and on but quite frankly there's no point because you have shown yourself to be an idiot with a one-note refrain.

Yes, freedom means A LOT to me. So do human lives. I've worked for well over 20 years with human rights organizations trying to stop exactly the type of crimes you are so concerned about. Organizations whose concerns were ignored by your political heroes because they weren't politically expediant at that time. Your writings betray you as someone who holds lofty ideals as more important than the humanity that they are intended to serve.

Posted by: Danno at November 13, 2003 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

The totally bizarre part of all this is: Bush just called Bremer back for emergency meetings. A bleak assessment by the CIA of what's going on just occurred. Donald Rumsfeld calls Iraq a "hard slog" — and yet, still, people like AI and Joe Schmoe take their Xanax and get wide-eyed over schools running.

I mean, what's it gonna take, fellas?

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at November 13, 2003 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I have the same problem any time I read or hear anti-Bush opinions, regardless of their merit; I still don't like any of the democrats better. I'm doing my best to find out what each of the candidates believe, and I do need to do more, but so far, none of them is to my liking.

So, people can keep criticizing Bush all they want, but unless it takes the form of "Bush does this bad thing... now here is why would be better," it's just going to reaffirm those already against Bush, not convince people to stop supporting him.

Posted by: Justin at November 13, 2003 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

thanks, not me! that was, in all seriousness and with all due respect to Kevin, the most inspiring indictment of the "Dean is unelectable" argument that I've seen.

Posted by: radish at November 13, 2003 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe,

The following statements rather confuse me. Perhaps you can explain.

"Childern are in school again. Electricity and water are flowing again. Newspapers and satellite dishes are sprouting up like weeds."

"The schools are still open. Electrical generation has returned to prewar levels. None of this is affected by the attacks."

You see, I'm not sure we should take such exalted pride in undoing the damage that we did. Re-building and re-opening the schools and bringing electricity levels back to their pre-war levels are the least we can do for these people.

Assuming that we did this all for the Iraqi people, which is the only rationale onto which Americans can grasp now that the pre-war "justifications" have all withered on the vine, I think bringing the Iraqi state back to what it was before the war is THE responsibility of the invading country, not a feather in our cap. It's really nothing to crow about, certainly nothing that a morally superior state should tout.

That schools have to be rebuilt and reopened is because of America's actions. That electricity has to be restored to pre-war levels is because we destroyed the current infracstructure.

These are things a power, unless it wants to be a conquering and subjugating one, should take in stride, and not pride itself in. These are moral responsibilities.

Posted by: doug at November 13, 2003 12:22 PM | PERMALINK
Does the fact that Iraqis are NO LONGER MURDERED AND TORTURED BY SADAAM'S SECRET POLICE MEAN NOTHING?

Er, isn't the official party line of the right that the insurgents who, in addition to attacking our soldiers, are murdering innocent Iraqis are, largely, Saddam's secret police and other security services (Ba'athist dead-enders) (except the one's that are foreign fighters)?

So, sure, this fact might mean something, if it were true. But, see, either the story about the resistance to the occupation is wrong, or the story about Saddam's goons no longer tormenting innocent Iraqis is wrong. Which is it?

Posted by: cmdicely at November 13, 2003 12:22 PM | PERMALINK
But there IS A DIFFERENCE between being ACCIDENTALLY shot by an American patrol, and being MURDERED by a member of the Fedayeen who chops of your head with a machete.

Yes, and instead of only the latter, now the Iraqi people are subject to both opportunities for death.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 13, 2003 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Justin, you are partly correct, but permit me to refer you to the first rule of holes as popularized by Molly Ivins: When You Are in One, Stop Digging.

Posted by: radish at November 13, 2003 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Thank the gods (and Prince George W) for all that freedom in Iraq...
http://www.mediainfo.com/editorandpublisher/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=2027078

Posted by: Danno at November 13, 2003 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Look, how can you folks not agree with Joe Schmoe? He used capitals!
Do you want him to have to use capitals again?

Posted by: John Isbell at November 13, 2003 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, most people here agree with the lofty goals of civil rights (repeal the patriot act!) and a free press (bring back the fairness doctrine!) and true democracy (count the votes!) you put forth. Many of us are liberals, after all, and those have always been our banner causes.

The liberals care about those things very much. And some are even willing to go so far as to support the use of military action to attain them (nation building!). So it is especially upsetting to us liberals to see such goals throughly undermined by the sheer incompetence of GWB (I assume he is the top guy, maybe not). And that is what we are seeing. And we're not alone. Go over to the Weekly Standard and you will see Mr. Crystal express the same view, although the anger is suppressed. Bush speaks these great lofty goals, but his deeds on the ground tell another story altogether.

Will you hold him accountable, or will you defend him no matter what he screws up?

Posted by: obe at November 13, 2003 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe,

I hate to re-iterate it, but this statement is a classic:

"Childern are in school again. "

Again. Indicates that children were in school before, amazingly enough, while under Saddam. Now, I don't think he's a great guy, but kids did go to school under his regime, so I don't think the USA should count their going "again" as a major victory.

Funny thing is, you seem to think we've created this amazing renaissance: before our war no one went to school, no one played soccer, there was no Iraqi Orchestra, there was nothing. We just RE-created all of this by ourselves.

You might want to RE-think.

Posted by: doug at November 13, 2003 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Here is another leak you may not have heard in the US.

CIA warns of defeat
A TOP-secret CIA report warns that growing numbers of Iraqis believe the US-led coalition can be defeated and are supporting the resistance. The report paints a bleak picture of the political and security situation and cautions that the US-led drive to rebuild the country as a democracy could collapse.

http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/printpage/0,5481,7850898,00.html

Posted by: Frenchy at November 13, 2003 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Justin:

Plenty of the Democrats are voicing economic, health and foreign policy plans so it's not as though Democrats don't have ideas on how to make things better. Check any one of their web sites.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more irritating than being told by a Republican that we Democrats have to come up with solutions for the mess that a Republican Administration got us into. It is like having a child throw a delicate china doll against a cement wall and then get mad at you when you say it will be difficult to fix. And then the child KEEPS throwing dolls against the wall.

Unless you are happy with the job Bush is doing, you have to see that continuing to support him is not the logical thing to do. It's three years into his Administration and what good has he done? He is gutting the EPA, the Constitution (Patriot Act), global cooperation, Middle East security. Just about policy he implements winds up failing, unless you happen to be one of those wealthy few who actually gains.

What is there to support?

Posted by: chris at November 13, 2003 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe: Does freedom mean nothing to you people? Does the fact that Iraqis are NO LONGER MURDERED AND TORTURED BY SADAAM'S SECRET POLICE MEAN NOTHING?

No, they're not.

I'm not American. I'm not reading US news sources much. What I am seeing is that prior to February 2003, Saddam's regime killed roughly 20,000 of its own people per year ... and since the US invasion, the American and British (to my shame) militaries have been killing Iraqis faster than the dictatorship managed.

That's not "accidentally shot by an American patrol", that's murder. Bush and his henchmen are widely seen as war criminals virtually everywhere outside his own country; the reason is the continued occupation and looting of a sovereign nation, pour encourage les autres.

American troops have taken noncombatant hostages to blackmail combatants into surrender -- that much we know about from the embedded reporters. Already we can see US forces shelling towns where there have been resistance attacks -- a clear violation of the Geneva conventions' restrictions on collective punishment. What next? Your military is already on the slippery slope that leads towards the tactics of the Waffen-SS. And you have no exit strategy!

I don't think you guys have ANY idea how badly this is playing in the rest of the world -- or what the long-term implications are. You can't walk away from this: you're going to be living with the consequences for a generation. And chickenshit terrorist incidents like 9/11 are the least of it. Things can get a lot worse.

Sorry 'bout the shouting: I got upset. Iraq is not some imaginary place on your TV screens -- it's not a lot further away than the opposite coast of your own continent, and these days the consequences of reckless military actions abroad can come home to roost in a way that simply wasn't possible before about 1980 (and the spread of cheap intercontinental air travel and transglobal trade).

Posted by: Charlie Stross at November 13, 2003 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

" Best way in my opinion to restore some civility to the politics of this country would be to take a trip with Bush, Rove, Delay, Frist, Cheney, Gillespie and Rice out to a field somewhere in Nevada, and bring a shovel... Maybe then we could at least start down the road to political sanity..."
Posted by bob at November 13, 2003 11:25 AM

As a long time Nevada resident, I resent that comment. Why are we everyone's first choice as a dumping ground for their shit? First Yucca Mountain and now this!

Posted by: MikeR at November 13, 2003 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

The unspoken assumption here is that the US has brought nothing but death and destruction to Iraqis.

The Iraqis were much better off during the halycon days of Sadaam, when the electricity was always on, the crime rate was low, and the secert police always for enemies of the regime at night so as not to cause traffic jams when hauling dissidents off to the torture chamber.

It also assumes that Iraqis are simple-minded children who cannot tell the difference between an accidental death in the furtherance of a humane and just cause, such as when an American patrol accidentally kills an innocent Iraqi with a stray bullet, and a brutal and sadistic murder, such as when one of Sadaam's secret policeman puts a bullet into the head of someone who dared to raise his voice against despotism.

You people never give any credit at all to the United States for liberating Iraqis from this monstrous tyrrany. You are not open to the possibility that they appreciate being liberated. Oh, no. Every Iraqi who passes through a checkpoint is simmering with rage at this American oppression. It's not like they understand that we are checking cars for weapons or anything. Oh, no, we're just doing it to show those little brown people who is boss.

Moreover, while these people might appreciate a free press and freedom from torture and state-sanctioned murder, these minor inconveniences are nothing compared to having one's backpack searched by an American patrol. Sure, you are glad that the man who murdered your relatives and tortured one of your coworkers is gone, but those American bastards are guarding the hospital they are building with bomb-sniffing dogs. Clearly, the infidels must be expelled from Iraq at once!

Mecical equipment and repairs to schools and infrastructure are neither noticed nor appreciated by Iraqis. And even if they are, all the good we have done is negated by a single terroist bombing for which we bear no responsibility.

Nor is there any possibility that the Iraqi police, which we are training, will ever be capable of capturing these terrorirsts and murderers.

And thank you so much, oh brilliant military strategists, for warning the Bush administration that the indiscriminate bombing of civillian neighborhoods and the search-and-destroy missions which frighten and inconvenience innocent people tend to alienate and embitter those same people. The Pentagon has obviously never thought of this, or if it has, this information was disregarded once it was passed on to Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, those incompetent fools. Thank you so much for bringing it to the public's attention once again. Perhaps now it can at last become part of the debate.

Yes, the reconstruction will be bloody. No reconstruction of a country which borders Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria will ever be free of terrorism, you know. It will cost a lot. Mistakes will be made. That is all right with me.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

I read a lot of comments on how many Iraqi civilians we're killing. I was not aware that the numbers were anywhere near what I'm seeing here.

Does somebody a link or something that will help me out?

Posted by: Ron at November 13, 2003 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Ditto to what Charlie said above. And if you want to really get creeped out, you can go to Orcinus and read this.

...would be to take a trip with Bush, Rove, Delay, Frist, Cheney, Gillespie and Rice out to a field somewhere in Nevada, and bring a shovel...

We're going to take them hunting for geodes? I dunno, not sure that would help...

Posted by: Hunter at November 13, 2003 01:00 PM | PERMALINK

Calpundit:: badly embarrassed the president

In case you haven't noticed, this president can't be embarrassed. Or shamed.

Meanwhile they're working on a spin that will get him re-elected.

What would guarantee his re-election? Sadly, another massive terrorist attack.

What will guarantee his defeat? Photos in Hustler of Bush cavorting nude with Jessica Lynch.

Or having S*x with an intern.

Posted by: degustibus at November 13, 2003 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

Look, how can you folks not agree with Charlie Stross? He used bold!
Do you want him to have to use bold again?

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie, if we were there to kill Iraqis, believe me, we'd be killing them a lot faster. The same goes for the rest of the Middle East.

I know you do not believe that we are headed for Waffen-SS style despotism. You know FULL WELL that we are doing everything in our power to avoid civillian casualties. The overwhelming majority of deaths we have caused are accidents.

We have done nothing, NOTHING, comparable to the evil done by Sadaam. Evil is gassing Kurds and bulldozing them into a mass grave. We don't do that sort of thing, and we never will. Perhaps you can dredge up an incident or two from our past, but America has changed now, and you know it.

We have begun shelling towns? Please recheck that source, becuase I do not believe this. Indiscrimnate shelling of civillians is a major, major step, and would surely appear on every major television network. I think that you'll find that the "indiscriminate shelling" to which you refer only takes place after the neighborhood has been evacuated.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe: an occupying army is never welcome. Would you welcome armed strangers into your house? The only recent occupations that went relatively well -- Germany and Japan spring to mind -- were tolerated in the face of a worse evil (occupation by the USA being very much the lesser of two evils on offer back when Stalin was running the USSR).

Gratitude for liberation from a dictatorship, plus fifty cents, will get you a cheap cup of coffee.

In Iraq, the US occupation forces have behaved heavy-handedly from the get-go. Maybe you're not seeing the reports on Iraqi civilian casualties, but a couple of thousand more have died since W. declared the end of hostilities. And you want them to love you?

As for democracy, that'd be a fine thing. But it generally flourishes best where the people take it and install it themselves. If you expect to graft it onto the Iraqi political culture you'll have to expect to sit out the next few years -- especially when the first act of the occupation was to install a convicted criminal like Chalibai, and the next seems to be to sell off the entire national infrastructure (see also: "war crimes" -- they don't just apply to people) and ram hardline neocon policies down the Iraqis throats.

Here's a clue: neoconservativism is considered a fruitbat-crazy aberration everywhere in the world except the US. Selling off the economy to the highest foreign bidder is not what people usually mean when the word "democracy" is uttered.

Posted by: Charlie Stross at November 13, 2003 01:07 PM | PERMALINK

Joe,
Don't let them get you down. Rush is coming back next week. We've started Operation Iron Hammer, bombing the Iraqi's, so maybe they'll finally be grateful.

Posted by: Tripp at November 13, 2003 01:09 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe, could you take a moment away from the re-opening of the schools to comment on: What do you think of the Administration's pre-war reconstruction estimates (30,000 soldiers by Fall 03, $1.7bn total American reconstruction cost), and what do you think about the competence of high officials who made these predictions, given that you yourself expected something more like what we have today?

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 13, 2003 01:09 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe: the source for US forces shelling towns is the BBC. Seen it on TV last night. As for the "accidents" ... one is an accident; by the time you get to a few thousand, that excuse is beginning to wear thin.

Incidentally, see Human Rights Watch:
http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/04/iraq042703.htm
(civilian deaths higher since war ended).

Christian Science Monitor:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0522/p01s02-woiq.html
("... would make the Iraq war the deadliest campaign for noncombatants that US forces have fought since Vietnam.")

Human Rights Watch (again):
http://wwww.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/0/d0fbc101a18c7ba449256dc60001d19f?OpenDocument
(... "found evidence to suggest that soldiers had used excessive force, including shooting a person who had his hands in the air and beating a detainee.")

C'mon. you do some digging. Or are you Karl Rove's poodle?

Posted by: Charlie Stross at November 13, 2003 01:13 PM | PERMALINK

"the source for US forces shelling towns is the BBC."

Well, then, please provide a CREDIBLE source.

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

From the posted HRW source ... "Extensive research at five hospitals and morgues in Kirkuk and Mosul suggests that the high civilian tolls can be attributed to general lawlessness after the collapse of local authorities..."

Or it could suggest that the people that Saddam had tortured to death weren't brought to morgues.

Really, are ALL the extremist left-wing organizations this incredibly stupid?

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

I also see that the CSM story (dated in MAY fercrissakes) cites the thoroughly discredited "Iraqbodycount.net". BWAHAHAHA! It would probably cite Marc Herold's "study" for figures about civilian casualties in Afghanistan too!

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 01:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, then, please provide a CREDIBLE source."

Sorry, Al, but the Moonie Times won't run any stories that might upset the government.

WHAT"S WITH THE CAPS? Are we deaf?

Posted by: obe at November 13, 2003 01:28 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie Stross -- Joe Schmoe: an occupying army is never welcome. Would you welcome armed strangers into your house?

Yes, let's try a little thought experiment for the wingers' sake. We need to frame the question in a way that even Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter could understand...

Let's suppose that Communist China invaded the United States next week. They destroyed our military (well, the parts of it still here), quickly set themselves up as an occupying power, and proceeded to arrest, kill, or otherwise dispose of all the nasty Democrats that were posing a threat to our country. They promise they'll leave, mind you -- once all the Democrat bastards are disposed of -- but there's no real chance that's going to happen anytime soon.

Now, on the bright side, they're getting rid of those hated traitors, the Democrats. (In fact, they're bombing suspected Democrats from the air, even in the middle of densely populated cities. Take that, Democrat bastards!)

On the not so bright side, the United States is under the rule and occupation of Communist China for the indefinite future.

So, as a loyal, America-loving Republican, what do you do? Do you support the occupation of the USA by Communist China, because they're getting rid of your hated enemies, the Democrats? Which side do you support?

[*Yes, I am perfectly aware that this analogy is fatally flawed, since nobody but the most rabid of nutjobs could consider Democrats an evil of the magnitude of Saddam Hussein. But given the number of freepers who make that very analogy, it seems we are chock full o' nutjobs.]

Posted by: Hunter at November 13, 2003 01:32 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that the willfully stupid waterboys of the right, Al and Joe, always willfully overlook is that the mass graves we're finding date from the 80s and right after Gulf War I. Hmm...who was running the US back then?

After all, Rumsfeld can't be asked about a picture of himself, all smiles, shaking Saddam's hand after he gassed his own people. You conservitive fucktards were pretty quiet about it back then.

This is why you have zero credibility on the issue. Unless there's political gain, the right will always ignore human rights.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta at November 13, 2003 01:37 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew-

Now that is a valid point. I can see three possibilities:

First, the intelligence estimates were wrong. It is true that Shinseki predicted that we'd need much more than 30,000 troops. It is also true that many in the Army, and the rest of the military establishemt, are bitterly opposed to Rumsfeld's propsed force reductions. Shinseki was not a totally unbiased source.

But it may be that he was right; perhaps we could use more troops, though I am not entirely convinced of this. If the Administration failed to heed is estimate, they made a mistake.

Second, it is possible that the Administration was lying. I strongly suspect that this happened. They knew all along that the reconstruction would be bloody and expensive, but they refused to acknowledge this publicly becuase they feared that the public would not support a costly and bloody war.

The Democrats knew this too; it is why they kept asking for estimates of cost and casualties. They didn't actually want an honest estimate -- they already knew the likely answer, they are not stupid -- their real agenda was to siderail support for the war.

The third possibility, which is not necessarily inconsistent with the first two, is that the Administration was mistaken, but not that mistaken. Maybe resistance is a little stiffer than expected. Maybe our troops will need to stay a little longer. But Iraq will still be more or less stable in two years. We will be ablet to reduce our troop strength in that time.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

That is not true, Ras Nesta. I have always criticized the US for supporting dictatorial regimes.

This wasn't always an easy decision -- some of the right-wing dictators that we supported would have just has happily become left-wing dicators supported by the USSR had we decided to wash our hands of them -- but we certainly could have done more to avoid human rights abuses.

To this day, I am uncomfortable with our dealings with China, a repressive dictatorship. The Administration may feel that engagement is the best policy, but I do not alwyas agree.

So please do not tell me that people who are hawkish on Iraq (and we are not all conservatives -- I am a liberal) are perfectly happy with US support for dictators. That is not true.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 01:44 PM | PERMALINK
The unspoken assumption here is that the US has brought nothing but death and destruction to Iraqis.

Well, except for the "unspoken" and "assumption" parts, yeah.

You people never give any credit at all to the United States for liberating Iraqis from this monstrous tyrrany.

Replacing a brutal domestic dictatorship with a combination of anarchy and foreign dictatorship is not "liberation". Its trading one unfree regime with another unfree regime. We can claim credit for liberating Iraq if and when it becomes free as a consequence of our action, and not one second sooner.

I'm demanding my government get on with the liberation of Iraq from brutal despotism, not granting them credit for doing so when the job has not been done.

You are not open to the possibility that they appreciate being liberated.

Once it occurs, I rather expect they will. What samples of opinion have been practical so far suggested that they were rather optimistic about that when the US initially displaced the Ba'athist regime from direct power in Iraq, though they appear to have increasingly lost optimism as the occupation goes on without tangible additional progress toward "liberation".

Oh, no. Every Iraqi who passes through a checkpoint is simmering with rage at this American oppression.

Maybe not every Iraqi that passes through a checkpoint. I suggest, every innocent Iraqi that is shot at at a checkpoint, or has a relative killed or detained by US forces without a good (from their perspective) cause that they can see, might well be.

Moreover, while these people might appreciate a free press and freedom from torture and state-sanctioned murder,

They might. Since it seems debatable as to whether or not they actually believe they have these things, whether or not they would appreciate them if they believed they did is secondary. Certainly, I don't think they take press censorship by the CPA as "a free press", or expect that the detention without process conducted by the US is a resort vacation.

these minor inconveniences are nothing compared to having one's backpack searched by an American patrol.

Or being arbitrarily detained, or shot by an American patrol, or having your friends or relatives killed by misguided American attacks directed at shadowy "guerrillas" that also threaten you, where neither the guerrillas nor the Americans were a threat before the invasion.

Sure, you are glad that the man who murdered your relatives and tortured one of your coworkers is gone, but those American bastards are guarding the hospital they are building with bomb-sniffing dogs.

I think more people are concerned about the Americans filling the hospitals -- and morgues -- with the victims of the war that is continuing in Iraq than with them guarding it with dogs.

Mecical equipment and repairs to schools and infrastructure are neither noticed nor appreciated by Iraqis.

Oh, sure, they are noticed. So is the US bombing of the schools and infrastructure that necessitated the repairs. Considering that the repairs, in general, haven't returned things to status quo ante, I'd guess this is a net negative.

Yes, the reconstruction will be bloody. No reconstruction of a country which borders Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria will ever be free of terrorism, you know. It will cost a lot. Mistakes will be made. That is all right with me.

Its easy to be accommodating from a safe distance. A more important question would be is the terrorism, and the "mistakes" that "will be made" all right with the Iraqis.

Because if not, this whole "rebuild Iraq into a friendly democratic pro-Western state" idea isn't going to work.

Charlie, if we were there to kill Iraqis, believe me, we'd be killing them a lot faster. The same goes for the rest of the Middle East.

I'm sure "we're not killing you as fast as we could if we really wanted to" is an ideal slogan for winning hearts and minds.

I know you do not believe that we are headed for Waffen-SS style despotism.

I will agree that the despotism being practiced, as well as whatever is planned in the future, has its own distinct style.

You know FULL WELL that we are doing everything in our power to avoid civillian casualties.

No, actually, I don't. I trust that field commanders and troops are, as a rule, doing everything in their power, given the orders given to them from above, to do so.

We have done nothing, NOTHING, comparable to the evil done by Sadaam.

That's...subjective, at best.

Evil is gassing Kurds and bulldozing them into a mass grave. We don't do that sort of thing, and we never will.

Considering that we backed Saddam when he did that, and were giving him substantial support, I'd say that saying "we don't do that sort of thing" is somewhat dishonest. We just use people like Saddam as our proxies when we do that sort of thing.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 13, 2003 01:48 PM | PERMALINK
"the source for US forces shelling towns is the BBC."

Well, then, please provide a CREDIBLE source.

The BBC is probably one of the most widely respected broadcast news sources in the world.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 13, 2003 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

melk: I'm merely making the point that you have to be a really insular American to think that changing from a know-nothing Republican Administration (read, the Bad Guys) to a know-nothing (and untested) Democratic Administration (read, the Good Guys) is going to make much difference in the complicated world of the Middle East.

Uh... okay. So the Bush administration has been tested, and has failed catastrophically, while a new Democrat administration would be untested. Let me explain something to you. When a piece of equipment has been tested and has proved not to work, it's better to use a new and untested piece of equipment that might work than an old piece of equipment that has been tested and proved not to work.

Joe: But it may be that he was right; perhaps we could use more troops, though I am not entirely convinced of this. If the Administration failed to heed is estimate, they made a mistake.

You really have re-adjusted your memory, haven't you? Wolfowitz said we'd need 30 000 troops for reconstruction. Shinseki said we'd need more like 130 000. Which one was right, Joe?

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 13, 2003 01:55 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe,

Several times on this thread you've implied that the Iraqis understand that the civilians killed by the coalition military are unavoidable and regrettable martyrs to a good and just cause.

Frankly, I doubt that such is the case.

There really is no difference to someone being killed by Saddam's thugs and the US military (and I grant you that the coalition has generally taken extreme measures to avoid civilian casualties). The person is just as dead. His or her family is just as grieving.

Let me put it this way, maybe you'll understand.

I disagree with just about everything Bush stands for (of course I oppose terrorism; I simply have little confidence in Bush's so-called war on terror, and this mess in Iraq is a prime reason). I want him out.

It goes without saying that Bush is nowhere near as bad as Saddam. Bush may joke about being a dictator, and pursue profoundly anti-small-d-democratic domestic politics, but Saddam's in whole different league.

But I would not accept a foreign country "liberating" me from Bush. And if my two young daughters were machine-gunned to death in front of me by the "liberators," I doubt I'd welcome them even if I were so inclined.

I hope you can understand the large gulf between "glad Saddam is gone" and "glad the US has conquered and occupied Iraq."

And while we're at it, Joe, I'm curious. Coalition-of-the-billing member Uzbekistan is run by a dictator who enjoys scalding political dissidents to death. I presume you advocate that we invade immediately to depose him. If not, why not?

Posted by: Gregory at November 13, 2003 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hunter
I think the fatal flaw in your analogy is that the Democrats are not a totalitarian regime here in the US. I do, however, appreciate your point about being occupied. I for one would not take it well at all.

I'm not sure how I'd look upon an occupying army if the Dems mass murdered Repubs.

Posted by: Ron at November 13, 2003 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's not really funny, but it is remarkable. First, Bush's war to disarm Saddam and to protect the USA from WMD turns out to be a total bust. There were no WMD. There was no threat. We spent about $150 billion for nothing. We killed 10,000 to 25,000 Iraqi civilians for nothing. Nearly 400 of our own soldiers have died for a threat that did not exist. Our military is weakened, our alliances are torn and our standing in the world has been trashed.

Never mind that the intelligence had to be faked, forged and stove-piped before a case for going to war could even begin to be made. Never mind that there were warnings from all quarters, including the military and the CIA and our allies, that we were about to make a big mistake, and that there was no evidence that Iraq posed a threat warranting a massive military invasion. Bush had to have his war, the hell with everyone else.

Once it became apparant that the war was a mind-boggling failure, that it was all for nothing, we start hearing about how wonderful democracy is, and that we did this to have a democratic revolution in the middle east. How heart warming. But now, within days of the president's bold speech, and due to events on the ground, they are even retreating from their "cover" goal of 'democracy, the new goal that was supposed to hide the reality of the failed mission for WMD. It sure appears that they are cutting and running as fast as they can. The goal is to get out asap. In other words, another mission, another failure! Bush's trademark.

Posted by: obe at November 13, 2003 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe,

I strongly suspect that this happened. They knew all along that the reconstruction would be bloody and expensive, but they refused to acknowledge this publicly becuase they feared that the public would not support a costly and bloody war.

The Democrats knew this too; it is why they kept asking for estimates of cost and casualties. They didn't actually want an honest estimate -- they already knew the likely answer, they are not stupid -- their real agenda was to siderail support for the war.

You imply that if the American public would not have supported the war had they known of the cost in advance.

I could be snarky and say, "Why do you hate America?," but as it happens I think you're exactly right. So why is it evidently OK with you that the Administration deceived the American public into supporting a war it would not have if it knew the actual cost (in a diminished capability against terrorism, not to mention lives and treasure) and benefits (not eliminating any actual threat to the US, but creating them instead)?

Here's a clue: If the public would not support a long and costly war with little upside to the national interest, the Administration has two honest choices. Generate that support (and not with lies about the WMD threat, nonexistent al Qaeda ties, or balsa wood airplanes of mass distruction, thank you very much), or better yet, *don't launch a war the public doesn't support.*!

Having invaded, we *must* stabilize Iraq -- reopening the schools and fixing the damage from the war, as others have pointed out, is our *minimal obligation as the invader* -- or our security is even more greatly diminished. A failed state that's a haven for who knows what terrorist thugs in Iraq is precisely what we *don't* need.

But the way Bush went about his war practically guaranteed both that the security situation would prove ugly (too few troops, rose-colored "welcomed as liberators" scenarios) and that the American public would turn off once the body bags -- excuse me, transfer tubes -- started coming home in greater numbers.

The current situation is all Bush's responsibility. Blind yourself to the reality if you will, but I urge you to take a hard look and ask yourself why you support Bush in his incompetence, even if you give him a pass for his mendacity.

Posted by: Gregory at November 13, 2003 02:07 PM | PERMALINK

"But there IS A DIFFERENCE between being ACCIDENTALLY shot by an American patrol, and being MURDERED by a member of the Fedayeen who chops of your head with a machete."

Well, there are of course all sorts of differences. The machete is slower, etc. after a few seconds though, those differences are not really important to the murdered Iraqui citizen. But one of the bigger differences to me is that, as a tax paying American citizen, I am directly implicit in the first scenario. I am only really complicit in the second if my government is paying for or supporting the fedayeen (or the Contras, or...) Both are tragic, both are regrettable, and as someone else pointed out, now both are real possibilliies for Iraquis.

and in your last post:

"Mecical equipment and repairs to schools and infrastructure are neither noticed nor appreciated by Iraqis. And even if they are, all the good we have done is negated by a single terroist bombing for which we bear no responsibility."

is followed quickly by:

"And thank you so much, oh brilliant military strategists, for warning the Bush administration that the indiscriminate bombing of civillian neighborhoods and the search-and-destroy missions which frighten and inconvenience innocent people tend to alienate and embitter those same people."

now, trying to read past your angry sarcasm, it seems to me that you are aknowledging that our actions (you mentions searches, but i'd imagine bombing might figure in here too.) might cause people to become "angry and embittered." So where do you think terrorists and terroist supporters come from? Do you figure they are just born evil? Grown in an evil greenhouse somewhere? Are you sure that we bear "no responsibility whatsoever?"

and earlier:

"It also assumes that Iraqis are simple-minded children who cannot tell the difference between an accidental death in the furtherance of a humane and just cause,"

Sorry to snip your sentence, but i don't do so to misconstrue your idea, but just to point out that because YOU see it as a humane and just cause doesn't mean that they do, or even that they should. I mean, think about it, if your uncle catches a bullet in the head and dies because of an accident involving a member of an invading force, are you going to say "oh well, at least it was an invader working for a humane and just cause." Really?

See Joe, you assume that it is a humane and just cause, and that this somehow negates any other aspect of it's execution. Iraquis are not bound or likely to see it that way, and they have to live (or die) with the consequences of any "mistakes" we make during this "bloody" reconstruction.

If you frame this invasion as being justified by the results for the Iraqui people, then you need to think about it's affect on their day to day lives in a less abstract way than i think you do from what you write. if you frame it according to more abstract ideals such as freedom from tyranny, then maybe you should looka little more closely at our own government. You suggest that the left simply criticizes anything done by American soldiers, but you aren't willing to apply the standards you use to justify the Iraq invasion to governments that we actively support, much less ones we simply haven't invaded. If you did apply such standards, then I don't see how you could mount such uncritical suport for US policy.

Posted by: Urk at November 13, 2003 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac:

" Let me explain something to you. When a piece of equipment has been tested and has proved not to work, it's better to use a new and untested piece of equipment that might work than an old piece of equipment that has been tested and proved not to work. "


Great thinking! Let's apply this equipment logic to , say, the problem of estrogen therapy for post-menopausal women. It doesn't seem to work, so should we

1. Attempt to improve our understanding as to why it doesn't and maybe build on what we already know?

or


2. Feed the old broads rats' livers and hope that that works?

Posted by: melk at November 13, 2003 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

"War killed 55000 Iraqi civilians"
http://italy.indymedia.org/news/2003/11/419707.php

What would it take for the Joe S's to turn on Bush? What about the "if there are no WMDs, I'll never trust Bush again" types?

Instead of "success is inevitable," the motto should be / is:
"Failure is irrelevant!"

Operation: Ignore

Uzbekistan

Lead on!

Posted by: MattB at November 13, 2003 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

gregory,
very well put.

Here's my 87 billion dollar question: why does joe schmoe post here? I find his questions and his hectoring fascinating, and I'm glad he posts here because it allows a glimpse of RNC spin points from a few weeks ago (kind of like going to brighton beach to see what russia used to be like under the USSR) but what is in it for him? Is it a cry for help? If it is, how can we help him?

aimai

Posted by: aimai at November 13, 2003 02:29 PM | PERMALINK

You just don't get it. You wouldn't accept a foreign power liberating us from Republicans beacuse we do not live in a dictatorship. Our leaders do not govern by force and fear.

Suppose that a group of military officers led by Gen. Tommy Franks were to sieze control of the White House. This is obviously unthinkable, but let's just assume that it is so for the purposes of this discussion.

Gen. Franks immediately imposes martial law and suspends the constitution. When New Yorkers and San Franciscans take to the streets in protests, Gen. Franks orders the air force to drop daisy-cutter bombs on the crowds.

Military intelligence officials, backed by Special Forces A-teams, begin torturing dissidents accross America. They begin raping the female realtives of those same dissidents in their presence.

Hundredsd of thousands of Americans in Blue States who attempt to rise up against the military dicatorship are gassed with chemical weapons. Their bodies are unceremoniously bulldozed into mass graves.

Over the next ten years, the tortures and disappearances continue. Dissidents are killed one at a time, instead of being bulldozed into mass graves. But everyone knows that the mass graves will be filled again if there is another widespread uprising.

The European Community originally supported the Franks coup because they were concerend that President Bush's strategy of regime change in the Middle East was destablizing the region and endangering lives and property there. Recently, however, Gen. Franks has begun forging ties with extremist groups in Russia who favor a return to the days of Soviet empire. The Europeans are concerend by the possibility of an American-Soviet alliance and decide that they must remove Gen. Franks to ensure their own security.

Would you be outraged at a European invasion? If the Europeans made every possible effort to avoid civillian casualties, would you nonetheless be filled with rage at every accidental death?

Would you murder nineteen year-old French soldiers patrolling the streets of Blue America? After all, they don't speak your language and have different cultural traditions.

Would you be inspired to drive a car laden with explosives into a Red Cross facility?

If certain Americans, most of whom have ties to the former Franks regime, did decide to attack the French soldiers and the Red Cross, would you support them and view their actions as legitimate?

If your children were accidentally killed in a crossfire between Franks loyalists and French soldiers, would you begin yearning for the good old days of military dictatorship?

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 02:33 PM | PERMALINK

Joe- "Yes, the reconstruction will be bloody."

So it won't be like post-war Japan and Germany after all? Or have you conveniently forgotten the allusions made to the post-WWII occupation?

By the way, care to be reminded of how the military tends to respond when frustrated by elusive guerillas? Read the series about Tiger Force:
http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20031022/SRTIGERFORCE/110190169
Known as Tiger Force, the platoon was created by a U.S. Army engaged in a new kind of war - one defined by ambushes, booby traps, and a nearly invisible enemy.

Posted by: Robuzo at November 13, 2003 02:33 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie Stross-some of us are aware of how our country is considered by people of other countries. You have so much better and more objective news coverage than we have. Our news is no more than propaganda. Joe Schmoe believes it. I know you have something like the right wing wherever you live and can understand it. Of course where you are you probably don't allow it to run things as important as the federal government. I also am slowly beginning to realize that to continue on this course that we are on (isolation, the point of a gun as foreign policy, and our-way-or-the-highway as negotiating skills) that sooner or later we will have to be put down or attacked by a great portion of the other countries of the world. We have to compromise and negotiate with the rest of the world not ram our ideas down their throat like conservative mis-adventures are rammed down our throats here. We'll have to become more worldly or out of this world.

I'm going to go whack my neighbor because he's different than me and he pisses me off.

Posted by: MRB at November 13, 2003 02:34 PM | PERMALINK

And Melk (didn't catch your comment while I was posting mine), we obviously don't have just two choices: fix it or get another (foreign policy) we always have at least three:

a)attempt to educate the ineducable (fix bush's policy)
b)stick with the failed policy (don't even criticize bush's failed policy)
c) or try something new (choose an actual president with new ideas and a new policy).

Given what we now know about both the problem (the world) and bush (the policy) both a and b seem absurd.


all joking aside, and returning to metaphor: if a tool is irretrivably broken, or irretrivably wrong for the task, you've got to try something different. That is exactly what your medical example would lead us to. The more we know about Bush and his policies, the more *anything* else looks like it would be a good choice.

and kudos to whoever above compared the bush government to a kid throwing a china toy against the wall and complaining because you can't fix it right away or make it as good as new. As the parent of young children I can say its a darned good analogy. Entropy's a bitch, someone should have explained that to Bush but I guess Condi didn't think it was important enough.

Posted by: aimai at November 13, 2003 02:36 PM | PERMALINK

The BBC is probably one of the most widely respected broadcast news sources in the world.

In the minds of folks like Joe and Al, the BBC is as much a propaganda organ as was Pravda back in the day. And widely respected by all those foreigners (which probably even includes Frenchmen)? Well, what more proof do you need that the BBC is the "father of lies"?

Posted by: Basharov at November 13, 2003 02:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac-

I thought that Shinseki predicted that we'd need 250,000 troops AT A MINIMUM, and that they'd be stationed in Iraq for the indefinite future.

Given that our 130,000 troops have prevented famine, civil war, and ethnic cleansing for almost eight months now, it looks like Shinseki's estimate might have been off as well. I guess we'll see who is right.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 02:45 PM | PERMALINK

2 things:

1. Joe Schmoe is an idiot.
2. Anybody notice how al Queda did NOT attack the USA when Clinton was president? How Clinton had a huge budget SURPLUS? How the world respected the US when Clinton was president? How everybody was working when Clinton was president? How these things have done a 180 since Bush was appointed (not elected)?

Posted by: Jack at November 13, 2003 02:46 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the competing pre-war estimates for troop strength to provide adequate security were in the 300,000 range -- not 130,000 as mentioned above in a response to Joe. S. The troop strength issue has always focused more on what it takes to provide proper post-war security as opposed to what it will take to defeat Saddam's military -- the force actually committed to warfare was less than planned (remember 4th Inf. division on ships during most of war and Turkish front closed down) but still adequate (although had problems even then with rear area security -- a harbinger of post-war problems to come). The current 130,000 is slightly greater than force used to defeat the Saddam military.

Its a simple matter of thinking about how many people you have to control, how large an area must you control, and what is the appropriate force ratios for adequate control. And there are plenty of examples to work from (Bosnia and Kosovo being the most obvious).

Under that analysis, the experts say the present 130,000 is too low. Only reason that number was defended was based on nonsense pre-war scenarios, which had it down to 30,000 by this point in time after war. Obvious incompetence.

And nothing meaningful can be accomplished without adequate security. And Iraqis inclined to favor us (I am sure there are many) are severely alienated by incompetent security situation.

Note that several leading politicians including some presidential contenders have supported sending more troops if that's what it takes, as opposed to cut and run by March (which seems clearly to be where Bush is going but pretending victory, sort of like Nixon in 1975 Viet Nam). After all, if Bush believes the logic that we must do what it takes now that we started this mess, refusing to provide more strength to do job right is incompetence and acting solely to serve craven political ends.

Bush likes to say he would send more if asked by the generals, but they ahve not made the request. Like anyone wants to volunteer to have their head chopped (like others were pre-war) by making such a suggestion? This is more cynical crap from Bush.

For six months we have allowed security situation to spiral out of control while Buish pretends otherwise. And of course, if current force can't do the job adequately, how are we going to solve this problem while pulling out more troops as Bush currently plans to do? There is very little to hope for improvement. Current talk about being more aggressive is laughable. This assumes that military has been sitting on its butt for last six months letting guerillas run wild, and will now be able to control them by actually doing something. That disrespects the military which is doing the best it can with inadequate force, and it cannot do "better" with same level of force because of as--covering orders from White House to get more aggressive.

All this propoganda about schools, electricity and hospitals under the reconstruction is just that. Currently, it is all below pre-war levels -- particulalrly electricy and hospitals. Many recent articles about the severe shortages in these areas. Infant mortality is way up from pre-war levels. Electricity in Baghdad is sporadic and operable well less than 50% of time. Spare us the propoganda about how swell things are going.

And it is funny to hear about how we have been providing them with freedoms when in fact for the short term, we continue to curtail freedom in the name of security, which makes sense. I think that providing a little more freedom would help the reconstruction by winning Iraqis to the cause even though it involves risk. They will have a stake and something to defend.

After all, success will occur when a large number of Iraqis are willing to die to defend their new state. I think we are miles from that goal, and not only doing little to get to that point, but losing ground in trying to reach that goal.

Posted by: DMBeaster at November 13, 2003 02:49 PM | PERMALINK
Given that our 130,000 troops have prevented famine, civil war, and ethnic cleansing for almost eight months now, it looks like Shinseki's estimate might have been off as well.

Huh? The Coalition and the Iraqi security forces have been fighting an escalating civil war against Ba'athists and other opposition forces for the entire occupation. No civil war has been prevented.

Given that, I'd say your assessment is mistaken.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 13, 2003 02:59 PM | PERMALINK

Understanding how the average person in Iraq feels about the invasion is pretty hard from this distance. It is made more difficult by the fact there is no such thing as the average Iraqi. There are literally hundreds of clans, dozens of tribes, three competing religious beliefs, and two major ethnic groups in Iraq. And depending one's affiliation, one may have very different views. (Note to Neocons this was likely the MOST difficult "country" in the Middle East to attempt to transform into a democratic nation).

That said I am pretty sure a big chunk of people are either neutral or against the "liberation". I have no doubt many folks are glad to be rid of Saddam but if the insurgents did not have at least SOME popular support they would have been caught by now. That the US army has had so little success in gathering GOOD intelligence while the attacks increase steadily means people either support the insurgents or believe the US is unable to provide security and will pull out.

Posted by: SusAno at November 13, 2003 03:42 PM | PERMALINK

"The BBC is probably one of the most widely respected broadcast news sources in the world."

LOL!

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 04:17 PM | PERMALINK

"'War killed 55000 Iraqi civilians'
http://italy.indymedia.org/news/2003/11/419707.ph"

Indymedia! That's even better than the BBC!

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 04:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Huh? The Coalition and the Iraqi security forces have been fighting an escalating civil war against Ba'athists and other opposition forces for the entire occupation. No civil war has been prevented."

Civil war??? Uh, no.

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 04:23 PM | PERMALINK
Civil war??? Uh, no.

The ongoing war is only not a "civil war" if you accept that this isn't even an occupation yet, but that we never won the war against Saddam's regime, and are still fighting it, and aren't into the post-war stabilization yet.

I will accept that as a valid view, but it doesn't really improve your position, because you can't talk about whether we've prevented any of these post-war problems when we haven't gotten to the post-war yet.

If you accept that this is post-war stabilization, the war being fought is a civil war, between the supporters (domestic and external) of the old Ba'ath regime, and the supporters (domestic and external) of the IGC/CPA regime.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 13, 2003 04:29 PM | PERMALINK

"the experts say the present 130,000 is too low"

Ah, the fabulous unnamed "experts". Who exactly are these "experts"? Your mother? The paper boy?

Here's an "expert" who is actually on the ground in Iraq and has been reprting from the Sunni Triangle, WaPo's Vernon Loeb:

"So I think the real story is that the Bush administration is correct in saying it doesn't need more troops--more U.S. troops, that is. It desperately needs more Iraqi needs, and it needs them to be capable of putting down this insurgency. The big question to me is whether the Iraqis are capable of that, or whether the country will just plummet into anarchy and violence once the U.S. starts drawing its forces down next year. But I feel quite firmly that more U.S. troops is not the answer."

http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/03/r_nation_loebpriest110503.htm

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 04:33 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: Have you heard anyone say that the war ended? Maybe I missed it... when did it end?

Posted by: Al at November 13, 2003 04:39 PM | PERMALINK

Have you heard anyone say that the war ended? Maybe I missed it... when did it end?

Ok, now you're just being a dick.

Posted by: Hunter at November 13, 2003 04:54 PM | PERMALINK

Guys, you cannot argue with Joe Schmoe on this. He needs Georgie-boy to be the savior he's projected him to be. He needs the war in Iraq to have been valid and right and just. He needs to believe that things are going well in Iraq.

Joe has already told us that he has basically lived his live in fear since 9/11. The path out of that fear that he has chosen for himself is the path of George W. Bush. It's simply a matter of faith.

There is nothing you can say that will change his mind, no statistic that will convince him. It's a complete waste of time. He's been this way for months and it's not going to get any better any time soon. All you can do for him is pray that he can find another path out of the paralyzing fear that afflicts him.

Posted by: PaulB at November 13, 2003 04:59 PM | PERMALINK

And as for Al, well, he's just a troll. There's no point in responding to him, either.

Can we get some smarter monkeys, please?

Posted by: PaulB at November 13, 2003 05:01 PM | PERMALINK
cmdicely: Have you heard anyone say that the war ended?

I've seen people on this thread claiming that the facts on the ground were inconsistent with Shinseki's description of what would be necessary for the post-war occupation, and describing events that the current level of forces had prevented during that occupation.

That argument necessary presupposes that we are, in fact, in the post-war occupation.

Of course, if we aren't, we can point out how wrong Rumsfeld was about the duration of the war, in his optimistic pre-war predictions.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 13, 2003 05:09 PM | PERMALINK

" Have you heard anyone say that the war ended?"

Sure did. The president did. He even had a "Mission Accomplished" banner right behind him when he did.

Posted by: obe at November 13, 2003 05:23 PM | PERMALINK

"On V-E Day, Eisenhower had sixty-one U.S. divisions, 1,622,000 men, in Germany, and a total force in Europe numbering 3,077,000. When the shooting ended, the divisions in the field became the occupation troops, charged with maintaining law and order and establishing the Allied military presence in the defeated nation. This was the army-type occupation. A counterpart of the military government carpet, its object was to control the population and stifle resistance by putting troops into every nook and cranny. ... The army-type occupation was comprehensive and showed the Germans that they were defeated and their country occupied. This type of occupation was presumably capable of squelching incipient resistance since none was evident."

-- http://www.army.mil/CMH-PG/books/wwii/Occ-GY/ch18.htm

(Yes, that's a US army text on the occupation of Germany.)

Do the math, Al, Joe. Germany, 1945: 60 million people. Iraq, 2003: 24 million people. This would suggest around 600,000 troops are needed on the ground in order to do the kind of blanket occupation required to show the natives that they're defeated.

Similarly, take Northern Ireland as an example: 1.5 million people, 30,000 British troops needed during the Troubles. Multiply it up and you get a similar figure -- around 450,000-500,000 troops needed to contain a guerilla insurgency.

A large chunk of the US troops on the ground in Iraq -- and the allies, remember there are 21,000 British troops there, and a few thousand others, for a total of around 150,000 -- are not front echelon combat troops (unlike most of the occupiers in Germany). Basically there are about a quarter the number of soldiers on the ground in Iraq that are needed to prevent a resistance/insurgency taking hold.

Don't believe the BBC? Try the US Army. They'll give you the same story when they're not in personal career-oriented CYA mode ...

Posted by: Charlie Stross at November 13, 2003 06:34 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie, those troops did not stay in Germany for long.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 13, 2003 06:54 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie Stross
Very interesting numbers. I'd like to throw a couple of things out.

First: are you also willing to allow that Iraq will take as long to "rebuild" as did Germany and Japan?

Second: do you think rolling 1.6M troops into Iraq would be a good thing?

Posted by: Ron at November 14, 2003 06:47 AM | PERMALINK

Al,
"So I think the real story is that the Bush administration is correct in saying it doesn't need more troops--more U.S. troops, that is. It desperately needs more Iraqi needs, and it needs them to be capable of putting down this insurgency. The big question to me is whether the Iraqis are capable of that, or whether the country will just plummet into anarchy and violence once the U.S. starts drawing its forces down next year. But I feel quite firmly that more U.S. troops is not the answer."

That's what I've predicted will happen. We're out by March, and the spin will be this: We DID the right thing. We brought FREEDOM to the Iraqi's. We GAVE them BILLIONS. We SAVED them from an evil dictator. And THEY blew it.

We'll blame the Iraqis, and then Iraq will be off the front page with Afghanistan.

Posted by: Tripp at November 14, 2003 08:11 AM | PERMALINK

Given that our 130,000 troops have prevented famine, civil war, and ethnic cleansing for almost eight months now, it looks like Shinseki's estimate might have been off as well. I guess we'll see who is right.

Joe, are you now claiming that the occupation of Iraq has been a resounding success so far?

Well, yes, I guess you are. *looks at Iraq* So, this is what success looks like, by you? This is what you think the US invaded Iraq to accomplish?

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