pageok
pageok
pageok
Did Gen. Petraeus Say "The War Can't Be Won Militarily"?

Here's a transcript of a CNN interview; Dana Bash is the interviewer:

BASH: Arlen Specter, a Republican, but somebody who, in many ways, is like you, a critic of the president's Iraq policy. He said this. He said: "For men and women who are over in Iraq to have somebody of Senator Reid's stature say that the war is lost, it is just very, very demoralizing and not necessary."

Is there something to that, an 18- and 19-year-old person in the service in Iraq who is serving, risking their lives, in some cases losing their life, hearing somebody like you back in Washington saying that they're fighting for a lost cause?

REID: General Petraeus has told them that.

BASH: How has he said that?

REID: He said the war can't be won militarily. He said that. I mean he said it. He's the commander on the ground there.

BASH: But, sir, there's a difference...

REID: Are they critical of him?

BASH: ... between that and saying the war is lost, don't you think?

REID: Well, I — as I said, maybe it's a choice of words. I mean General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily.

Doesn't every soldier going there know that he's said that?

I think so.

Jules Crittenden looked for what Gen. Petraeus actually said on the topic, and he believes the closest Petraeus has come to is in this (I pulled it out of a longer version of the transcript):

Q (Through interpreter.) ... You said that the host country can determine who are the reconcilable groups. But everybody should be under the supremacy of law, and all military activities should be cancelled. So how are these people going to be part of the solution?

GEN. PETRAEUS: ... With respect, again, to the — you know, the idea of the reconcilables and the irreconcilables, this is something in which the Iraqi government obviously has the lead. It is something that they have sought to — in some cases, to reach out. And I think, again, that any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security, for all the reasons that I stated in my remarks, but it is not sufficient.

A political resolution of various differences, of this legislation, of various senses that people do not have a stake in the success of the new Iraq, and so forth, that is crucial. That is what will determine in the long run the success of this effort. And again, that clearly has to include talking with and eventually reconciling differences with some of those who have felt that the new Iraq did not have a place for them, whereas I think, again, Prime Minister Maliki clearly believes that it does, and I think that his actions will demonstrate that, along with the other ministers....

Two questions: (1) Was Crittenden mistaken, and did Gen. Petraeus say something else that fits Sen. Reid's statement?

(2) If Crittenden is right, and this is the statement that Sen. Reid is alluding to, then isn't there a very big difference between Gen. Petraeus's

[T]here is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security, for all the reasons that I stated in my remarks, but it is not sufficient.

— which is to say that the war cannot be won solely militarily, but requires a combination of military and political action — and Sen. Reid's characterization of that statement, which is "He said the war can't be won militarily" as support for the proposition that "they're fighting for a lost cause"?

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. This Sen. Reid Statement, on the Other Hand, Is Likely Just a Joke:
  2. Did Gen. Petraeus Say "The War Can't Be Won Militarily"?
Kate1999 (mail):
Petreaus was put in charge of Iraq a few months ago because he agreed with Bush's view of the war; his predecessor, George Casey, had taken the postion that "a heavy and sustained American military presence was not going to solve the problems in Iraq over the long term." (Replacing Casey with Petreaus lets Bush say that he was willing to do whatever the Generals wanted, a key rhetorical advantage.) Given that, it seems unlikely that Petreaus would so quickly change his tune; it's hard to think of a reason he would say thatunless he wanted to be replaced, too.
4.25.2007 2:17pm
Invisible Man (mail):
Or just maybe Petreaus is just adapting to the situation on the ground and is truly the honorable man that each side seems to see and is willing to tell the truth. I know that Republicans would rather assume the worst about the motives of Democrats like Reid who argued for an increase in troops starting around 2005 and have now changed their tune, but maybe people see an evolving situation that requires and change in previous positions.

The sad thing about the current state of our politics is if he does change positions, watch how Bill Kristol and others who effusively praised this guy a few weeks before will savage him as a "coward" and being for "surrender".
4.25.2007 2:24pm
on the merits:
If a political solution is necessary, why do we only hear about the military tactics? Where is the diplomatic surge? What is the Administration's specific political vision (because the current structure obviously fails)?
4.25.2007 2:32pm
Mikeyes (mail):
The war was won, rather handily at that, but the peace seems to be giving us a lot of trouble.

I think that both GEN Casey and GEN Petraus will agree that war is just a violent extension of politics and at this point in the conflict, there is no war in the classical sense since we don't know who the enemy is - AQ?, Sunnis?, Shiites?. Sadr? - it seems to be no one and every one. Also, our troops don't seem to have an end goal so progress on the ground is impossible to measure.

The solution is clearly political, not military, and for GEN Petreaus to say that is only a reflection of reality (plus all of his training and his own intellectual product says the same thing.) He is only stating the obvious. What he is not stating, but is available if anyone bothers to look at the massive work on this type of conflict, is that any solution will take years if the desired solution is peace and order in addition to a prevailing of whatever goals we might have.

Using GEN Petreaus' words to make a partisan political point fails to look at the complexity of the problems in Iraq for the US. Unfortunately, that is what both sides are doing and the Republican side has been doing all along. In the end, the only solution to this Gordian problem is to cut the knot since it is apparent that the political side of the solution has not been addressed very competently for the past four years and probably won't be.
4.25.2007 2:42pm
David W. Hess (mail):
Based on my knowledge of historical insurgencies supported by peripheral nations, I thought General Petraeus' statement was completely accurate. To wit, military force is necessary but not sufficient. I find Senator Reid's statement misleading unless she is referring to some other statement by the General.

Of course, I do not remember President Bush being forthcoming about having to maintain a sustained military presence either which made me doubtful about the whole operation before it started. Either he knew and was being misleading (who would have supported the war if they knew what we were getting into?) or he did not and lacked strategic understanding of what would be involved. Why start a war which lacking political support is not taken to its conclusion only to make the situation worse?
4.25.2007 2:59pm
rarango (mail):
What Mikeyes said (at least in the first two paragraphs.) There is little, if anything, the US can do to solve Iraq's internal political problems; IMO neither staying there nor leaving would make all that much of a difference within Iraq's borders. I do, however, happen to believe that maintaining a presence in Iraq does serve as a larger geopolitical statement to Iran, Syria and others in the region.
4.25.2007 3:06pm
William Tanksley (mail):
You only hear about the "military tactics" (actually, you only hear about the "surge" in numbers) because that's all the media takes time to feed you.

For example, the first-implemented critical part of this "surge" was getting a promise in writing from the Iraqi government to NOT override military captures based only on political connections -- too many insurgent higher-ups had been captured but had to be set free simply because political pressure had been placed on the Iraqi gov't. Now they don't have the power to do that.

The major change is, of course, strategic; we changed from our combination of whack-a-mole/capture-and-hold strategy to a classic counterinsurgency, in which the goal is to stabilize territory so that the people in it recognise that they can be safe with their current government. Such a strategy's results can be measured by the areas converted from terrorist-held (red zone) to government-held (pink zone), and from government-held to terror-free (white zone). The same strategy's been used with good success several times in the past; it's failed as well, although usually the failures were the result of an abrupt withdrawal due to ongoing political pressure rather than actual lack of success.

This new strategy, unlike the old one, is objectively measurable; unlike the old one, is primarily political with military means (in the pink zones, the presence of the military is largely to support civic projects).
4.25.2007 3:09pm
K Bennight (mail):
General Petraeus said military action is an essential part, but only a part, of a solution.

Senator Reid said we've already lost and then justified it by saying it's consistent with what Patraeus said.

Senator Reid has delusions of being the Red Queen.
4.25.2007 3:12pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Yah, the difference is rather substantial and obvious.

Petreus is saying that war can't be won by military force alone. Not even Bush or Cheney would disagree with that.

Reid seems to be saying that everything is lost, since military force along can't win it. Or, he is just completely mischaracterizing Petreus' comment.
4.25.2007 3:16pm
rarango (mail):
Would stupidity alone explain Senator Reid's remark? Its almost always the best explanation when it comes to the remarks of the 535 honorable members.

If things turn around dramatically in Iraq in the next year, the republicans will be blessed with some major soundbites to use against the dems--On the other hand, Reid and Schumer are probably right--quite a gamble! of course, Reid does represent Nevada and some of that gambling atmosphere may have rubbed off.
4.25.2007 3:21pm
Goober (mail):
Meh. One could argue that the distinction between Petraeus's and Reid's statements elide a critical distinction; one could argue that the distinction is entirely pointless, and I could imagine arguments on both sides. Continued military presence could play an important role, if we have a viable political solution to put in place. But (from Reid's perspective) we don't have a viable political solution, so continued military presence accomplishes nothing. You could argue as between angels and pinheads for a very long time on this.

But at some point doesn't the debate just dissolve into silliness? Did Reid really say that? did Petraeus really say this? and all the other trifles aren't going to be remembered by anyone five years from now, but what assuredly is to be remembered is the utterly pointless disaster that was the Iraq war. And yet right now the first refuge of far too many scoundrels (among whose ranks I don't count Prof. V.) is this sort of minutia, or any other distraction that allows those who support the war to cast some specious argument of fault on those who either opposed it all along or have long since come to their senses.

It's pointless. I completely fail to understand how someone could be really very interested in whether or not General Petraeus said, out loud and in so many words, that the war was unwinnable, and yet appear to be completely uninterested in the far more obvious point that the Iraq war is actually unwinnable. I really can't imagine anyone's grandchildren looking back at this time and holding this temporary moment of thoughtfulness up as a partial defense to the scorn our generation will have earned for its complete loss of judgment on the latter point.
4.25.2007 3:36pm
c.f.w. (mail):
Red, pink and white zones on which map? No map has been published, that I have seen, probably to keep the bad guys from proving that the white zone is not white.

Reid could and should have used a more positive phrase - such as we have won what we can win with the assets we have, so now we can and should leave.

Keeping US troops in the Mid East for contingencies is fine, but not at the cost of 10-20 US soldier lives a week. Once Iraq gets evacuated by US troops (after Bush leaves office), a division or so of US troops needs to be in some safer place, like Qatar, ready to swoop in as needed.

Too bad the debate cannot focus a bit more on the merits - Reid and Gen. P do not seem far apart about the limits on what US troops can and cannot do for Iraq.

Classic counter-insurgency strategy (from a US Army War College paper about the US success in Greece vs. non-success in VN) would call for 10 to 1 numerical superiority over the bad guys. That ratio does not exist if one counts just US troops and assumes there are more than say 14,000 bad guys in the 24 million. Someone might want to ask Gen. P how many bad guys he is up against (best estimate). I suspect something on the order of 45-50,000. If that is the real (conservative, prudent, professional) Pentagon estimate of what we face, then Reid seems like he is speaking truth to power.
4.25.2007 3:36pm
David in NY (mail):
No. There is no difference at all, since Bush has been totally unable to marshal any other resources except military resources. Just name any step he's taken that produced any progress toward a diplomatic or political resolution. There has been none. Petraeus has done nothing that has been successful in the diplomatic or political arena. (Building great walls seems to be his big idea -- strategic hamlets they used to call them.) Thus, for him to say that the war cannot be won solely militarily is equivalent to saying it can't be won under the current conditions and strategy.

If anyone has read what Reid has been saying, it is that Congress is insisting that there be a change of course in the conduct of the war. All Bush has done is to up the military ante. He won't negotiate with anyone in the middle east and he has no credibility with any of the parties in Iraq. This President has created the conditions that have lost this war.

And this President thinks, if his wife is to be believed, that he has suffered more than anyone as a result of this war. That's sick.
4.25.2007 3:38pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Irag's Sunni Arabs insist on rule or ruin. They don't want a democracy. They are a minority. They can't rule if Iraq is a democracy. So they are fighting to the death, and it is their death. Iraq's Sunni Arabs numbered about 20-22% of Iraq's population before the invasion. More than half have since fled the country - the proportion which remains is now under 10%, and headed fast towards under 5%, of Iraq's population.

They are being ethnically cleansed by Shiite militias and death squads, who are doing this as the only way to protect their families from murder by Sunni Arab and Al Qaeda terrorists.

This is what General Petraeus said by there not being a military solution. The Shiite majority in Iraq is winning the war for us by getting rid of the Sunni Arabs, who are almost all the problem. This war is close to over due to ethnic cleansing of Iraq's Sunni Arabs. It couldn't happen to a more deserving group.

I predicted this three and a half years ago.

"... The differences between us pacifying Iraq's Sunni Arab tribes, and not doing so, will chiefly be these:

(1) how many Sunni Arabs remain in Iraq once we leave. Note that the Iraqi armed forces are being rebuilt with an all-new, i.e., non-Sunni, cadre. Unreconciled Sunni Arabs in Iraq will have the following choices once our occupation ends - (a) becoming reconciled, (b) becoming gone or (c) becoming dead ..."

4.25.2007 3:41pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
Of course Reid misrepresented what Petraeus said, because Reid is a lying dirtball. It was obvious enough during the exchange.

And now Reid's defenders are going to attack Petraeus, who is by all accounts doing a wonderful job over there. Without his leadership, our victory would be more difficult or even impossible.

Reid and his defenders want the situation in Iraq to get worse so they will have an excuse to pull out sooner and so Democrats can take the White House and expand their majorities in Congress. When Reid makes a statement about believing the war to be lost, he goes beyond passively wanting us to lose. His words give aid and comfort and encouragement to our terrorist enemies.

Blow up one marketplace full of civilians, and you're a Very Bad Man who should be punished. Blow up 100 marketplaces, and apparently Reid thinks we should surrender to you.

Unpatriotic Dems like him thought the whole "war on terrorism" thing was a great idea until he realized that our terrorist enemies were a bunch of terrorists who would keep terrorizing people until they were defeated. Which is, after all, the whole reason we declared war on Islamofascist terrorism in the first place. The fact that they blow up marketplaces and assassinate politicians and murder women is the reason we're fighting them, not a reason to give up!
4.25.2007 3:51pm
A.S.:
Reid lied.

(Yes, yes, I'm sure Eugene would prefer to say that Reid may have been mistaken or some such - that there is no evidence that Reid intentionally misrepresented what Petraeus said. But after you hear lie after lie from Reid, I think we can now know pretty well what Reid's intentions are here.)
4.25.2007 3:54pm
SwampWoman:
I would hope that Harry Reid is too short-sighted (intellectually challenged, as it were) to see what difficulties troops would have in any other situation they were sent into if the inhabitants knew that the politicians back home would start wetting their pants and waving the white flag at even historically small casualties. My cynical side says that he simply doesn't care about screwing the troops now and any future troops; after all, they probably vote Republican.
4.25.2007 4:00pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
It's funny, if Democrats are "reality based," why are they always lying?

It is comical to watch those argue that Petraeus and Reid said "the same thing" when everything they said has different meanings.

At what point to Petraeus say we lost and should leave?
No point.

Reid said we lost and should leave.

See the difference?
4.25.2007 4:02pm
Big D (mail):
Could somebody with better search fu do a little looking for me?

I remember a number of folks, with names like Rumsfeld and Rice, saying something to the effect that victory in Iraq could not be achieved solely by the military--back in 2004. Hasn't this been the Administration's position all along?

And yet, "We can't win this with guns alone" has been distorted into "We can't win this with guns! We've lost and must surrender!"

I just don't get it.
4.25.2007 4:09pm
David in NY (mail):
The question is whether Bush and Petraeus have anything other than a military "solution" here. They don't. Indeed, they don't even seem to know what result they want. They reject the Sunnis as followers of Saddam. They reject the Shi'a as followers of Sadr. Their non-military tactics are totally incoherent, if they exist at all. If you don't believe me see this analysis. Since the only Bush tactic is the military "surge," the war is lost.

Reid and the Democrats are to be praised for insisting on a change in tactics. That's why most Americans (about 60%) support the Democratic efforts, and only a faith-based minority, in the face of four years of total failure, thinks pushing ahead for a military solution is adequate.
4.25.2007 4:11pm
JosephSlater (mail):
People splitting hairs about what Reid said -- and more specifically, calling him a liar, traitor, dirtball, whatever -- might want to sit back and count the things that the Bush and his officials have said about Iraq that were and continue to be dead wrong, and then consider who has caused the most damage.
4.25.2007 4:13pm
eddie (mail):
All of this is simply a lot of disingenuous hot air and posturing:

For those who are so sensitive about the morale of the troops please first define what "winning" would look like. Because what Mr. Reid spoke is at least the truth. In the absence of any concrete definition of winning (in a "real" war one wins when the "enemy" surrenders), there can only be loss.
4.25.2007 4:21pm
David in NY (mail):
JosephSlater -- both hair splitting and taking Reid's words out of context, a context in which there have been no attempts to solve the situation except by military means. In that context, it is quite true, as Petreus admitted, that a military solution cannot succeed.
4.25.2007 4:23pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The question is whether Bush and Petraeus have anything other than a military "solution" here. They don't. Indeed, they don't even seem to know what result they want. They reject the Sunnis as followers of Saddam. They reject the Shi'a as followers of Sadr. Their non-military tactics are totally incoherent, if they exist at all. If you don't believe me see this analysis. Since the only Bush tactic is the military "surge," the war is lost.
Well, not exactly. The Sunnis who are followers of Saddam are rejected, as are those following Osama ben Laden. And, yes, the Shi'a who follow Sadr. But notably, the Anbar tribes that were until early this year working with al Qaeda are now working with us, and we are happily working with them. They did follow Saddam and they did work with OBL. And we fought them then. They don't now, so we now work with them, more closely every week.

The "surge" is just a small but vital part of what is going on right now in Iraq. As someone above pointed out, prior to General Petraeus taking over, it was being fought primarily as a combination of whack-a-terrorist and a holding action. He has switched it to counter-insurgency. This involves a lot of things, including selling the people at the ground level on the Iraqi government, us, and security. Despite the ever bigger bombs being used against innocent civilians by, in particular, al Qaeda, it seems to be working.
4.25.2007 4:37pm
JosephSlater (mail):
David in NY:

Indeed. What we're now beginning to see is a shameful attempt to put at least some blame for the Iraq fiasco on Dems, the "liberal MSM," etc., anybody but the people actually responsible for it. I suppose it's hard for the neo-cons who were enjoying the faux-macho sniffing at the French or contemplating treason trials for war critics at home to admit that the critics of the war were right about a whole bunch of stuff.

But it's sadly ironic that conservatives -- so quick with the "personal responsibility" rhetoric when it involves, say, the sex lives of black teenagers -- are so desperately trying to shift the blame and focus from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.
4.25.2007 4:39pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
David in NY,

You have no credibility. You invent stuff. Name one person besides you who ever said:

"They reject the Shi'a as followers of Sadr."

Who is the "they" in that sentence?

Is it the mythical "my colleagues" that Carl Sagan invented in his October 1983 nuclear winter article in the Parade magazine Sunday newspaper supplement who allegedly supported his radiological model that caused his real TTAPS colleagues (Turco, Toon, Ackerman &Pollack) to turn on him lest their scientific careers tank with his?

You can't answer those questions, because YOU are the only one who said that. Because you can't refute what real people really said, and so invent stuff to make yourself and your arguments look better.
4.25.2007 4:42pm
Crunchy Frog:
David in NY: What exactly is Bush supposed to "do" about solving the problems with internal Iraqi politics? Eventually what Tom Holsinger has said will become true - the Sunnis will capitulate, or they will cease to exist. We'd like it to be the former, but anyone with a healthy dose of Realpolitik will gladly accept the latter as well.

The long-term advantage to having soldiers based in a country that borders both Iran and Syria (and having them there essentially forever) is just way too vital to give up. Qatar is too much of a backwater hole in the wall to serve as more than a temporary base. The bad guys figured this out a long time ago. Are Reid and Pelosi too stupid to figure it out as well?
4.25.2007 4:45pm
The Ace (mail) (www):

Reid and the Democrats are to be praised for insisting on a change in tactics. That's why most Americans (about 60%) support the Democratic efforts

Uh, please name the change in tactics advocated by Senator Reid. Please, I'm sure your answer will be illuminating.

You "60%" reference is both false and meaningless.
Unless you believe in government by polling, which of course you don't when it comes to issues where the public is against you...
4.25.2007 4:47pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Reid lied.


Nailed it in one. And he's not the only one:

I remember a number of folks, with names like Rumsfeld and Rice, saying something to the effect that victory in Iraq could not be achieved solely by the military--back in 2004. Hasn't this been the Administration's position all along?


No, just the strawman erected by the administration's political opponents. Anyone who claims that the administration has ever said that all we needed was military force alone is simply lying.
4.25.2007 4:47pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
For those who are so sensitive about the morale of the troops please first define what "winning" would look like. Because what Mr. Reid spoke is at least the truth. In the absence of any concrete definition of winning (in a "real" war one wins when the "enemy" surrenders), there can only be loss.
I disagree. Counter-insurgencies are not won in decisive battles, but rather over a period of time. And, all of a sudden, everyone looks around, and notices that most of the insurgency has disappeared. Its happened enough throughout the 20th Century and into this one, that we know what it looks like. It just isn't overnight, nor is it sudden.

The "enemy" isn't going to surrender. Some, like the Anbar tribes are just going to switch their allegience. But the foreign born al Qaeda are going to have to be rooted out, one by one, and killed or captured. They are in Iraq for Jihad against the Crusaders, willing to be martyrs for the cause, but are increasingly finding themselves fighting Arab and Kurdish Iraqis instead. Ditto for some, but probably not that many, of the Shi'a militants.

The problem is that they know that a lot of Americans look at things like you do, and are looking for a victory like we had against Japan, with the defeated meeting the victors on our battleship, and Gen. McArthur towering over the Emperor. And, so, a bomb here and there killing mostly innocent civilians is enough to discourage many here, since it is obvious that no matter how many of the enemy insurgents we kill or capture, there are always some that we missed.
4.25.2007 4:47pm
rarango (mail):
Joseph Slater--for the record, and as a conservative, I continue to regard the war as belonging to the administration. And I, personally, won't blame Reid or the democrats should the war ultimately fail.

My fundamental point of disagreement with the democrats (Senator Feingold and a few others not included) is this: if the war is lost, and a disaster, and resulting in any number of bad things, why then don't the democrats do the right thing, and stop funding the war entirely? That is certainly within their power to do, and even if the President vetos it, which I am sure he would, the dems can at least claim some moral high ground even if they couldnt override a veto.
4.25.2007 4:48pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Because what Mr. Reid spoke is at least the truth. In the absence of any concrete definition of winning (in a "real" war one wins when the "enemy" surrenders), there can only be loss.

Funny.
Where did you study your war history? You were in the military I'm guessing, right? Army War College, then?

You people are embarrassing.
4.25.2007 4:49pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
both hair splitting and taking Reid's words out of context, a context in which there have been no attempts to solve the situation except by military means.

I suppose you have some proof of this, right?
I mean, the US has done nothing but pursue a military solution according to you. Could you please then explain this?

OOPS, you can't.

Nevermind.
4.25.2007 4:57pm
Steve:
Reid and his defenders want the situation in Iraq to get worse so they will have an excuse to pull out sooner and so Democrats can take the White House and expand their majorities in Congress.

Make no mistake - it was the war that got Democrats into power, and it is the stubborn continuation of the war that will help them increase that power, if we're still in the same place come 2008.

If the Democrats end the war, they will own the consequences, at least to a significant extent. It could be ugly. If it's ugly enough, voters might change their minds about whether ending the war was the right thing to do. Thus, it takes political courage to bite the bullet and actually end the war.

Elections have consequences, and the Democrats are doing what they were elected to do. Good for them, since the safest course of action from a purely political perspective would be to just sit on their hands and watch the war continue to drag Republican prospects into the toilet.

I understand there are those who believe the surge is working wonderfully, and that Democrats are desperate to shut the war down because if they don't then the Republicans will be roaring in triumph by 2008. I think these are the same people who have been fooled by every other proclamation of "we've turned the corner," "we're starting to see progress," and the like, so I don't expect them to feel otherwise at this point.
4.25.2007 4:58pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Rarango:

Fair enough as to your position. And while I'm no conservative or libertarian, let me stress that I think there are plenty of smart, principled folks who are. That's why I come here and put up with the inevitable handful of "Dems iz idiot traitors" comments.

As for what the Dems should do, it's tough practically and politically. Practically, it's not like a quick withdrawal is will produce wonderful results. The position we're in -- or at least the position many people of good faith honestly and with considerable factual support think we're in -- has no particularly good options. So it's hard to be actively enthusiastic about a hasty withdrawal.

Politically, since even mentioning *nonbinding* goals and timetables gets the Repub. spin machine into full "they're undermining the troops and causing us to lose the war!" mode, it's also hard. Although polls showing that clear majorities would like timetables and think the Dems would be better at handling Iraq than the Repubs should give Dems some courage.

Personally, getting beyond what Reid said Petraeus said trivia, I think the Dems are right in supporting timetables and concrete goals, and setting dates for withdrawal. Bush would probably veto anything remotely like that (since "not governing by polls" apparently means "ignoring what a clear majority of the American people say they want"). But, along the lines of what you said, the Dems could show the country the differences in the approaches of the two parties.
4.25.2007 5:04pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Steve:

Thanks for being Exhibit . . . well, certainly not A, but a telling Exhibit nonetheless . . . supporting my "watch the Repubs try to shift the blame for Iraq to the Dems" thesis.

Ace:

When you write, Where did you study your war history? You were in the military I'm guessing, right? Army War College, then? You people are embarrassing.

You're asking a sensible question about Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and the others that created this fiasco, right?
4.25.2007 5:08pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
You're asking a sensible question about Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and the others that created this fiasco, right?

Nice dodge, intellectual coward.

I bet you're one of these people who think that Bush did "the planning" too.
4.25.2007 5:10pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Elections have consequences, and the Democrats are doing what they were elected to do.

Name one Democrat who campaigned on pulling the troops out in six months.

Just one.

Please.

For reference:

Most Democratic candidates in competitive congressional races are opposed to setting a timetable for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, rejecting pressure from liberal activists to demand a quick end to the three-year-old military conflict.

Of the 59 Democrats in hotly contested House and Senate races, a majority agree with the Bush administration that it would be unwise to set a specific schedule for troop withdrawal, and only a few are calling for substantial troop reductions to begin this year, according to a Washington Post survey of the campaigns.


I love the revisionism going on here.
4.25.2007 5:12pm
JosephSlater (mail):
What am I dodging, Ace? If you think going to Army War College or having military experience is necessary to having a sound opinion on Iraq, that would exclude the folks I mentioned.

And as to your statement, I bet you're one of these people who think that Bush did "the planning" too., I have no idea what "the planning" is supposed to refer to. Releveant here, Bush obviously didn't do enough planning about Iraq.
4.25.2007 5:13pm
BD (mail):
I'm hoping Reid is too smart to believe Petraeus has agreed with his position either explicitly or implicitly - otherwise our Senate Majority Leader lacks the intellectual candlepower to light up a pup tent.

Petraeus's job isn't hard to describe: create an environment in which those who are presently attacking our troops and Iraqi citizenry no longer wish to continue, at which time real discussion, negotiation and compromise about the future of Iraq will be possible.

As things presently stand, our enemies believe they have a winning hand - if they just hold on and continue inflicting casualties (they don't care a whit about their own casualties), America (the "weak horse") will tire of the conflict, quit the field and leave Iraq to their tender mercies.

Reid reinforces their beliefs about us every time he opens his mouth. Why would they choose "compromise" when (they think) Harry Reid, et al. will deliver total victory to them soon?

I suspect an honest review of Reid's legislative career will find few - if any - occasions when, with victory at hand on a particular piece of legislation, etc., he said, "No, we're not going to win, even though we can, we're going to give our opponents a compromise they can live with."

Why in the world does he think our opponents would do otherwise?
4.25.2007 5:16pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
supporting my "watch the Repubs try to shift the blame for Iraq to the Dems" thesis.

Can you provide some evidence for this?
4.25.2007 5:17pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Steve:

I think I may have misunderstood your post, and thus responded to you improperly. Apologies.
4.25.2007 5:17pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
If you think going to Army War College or having military experience is necessary to having a sound opinion on Iraq, that would exclude the folks I mentioned.

Huh?

Uh, in case you missed it, President Bush flew F-102's and was in the military.

But I'm not talking about Iraq here. You said "war" not "Iraq" to repeat: in a "real" war one wins when the "enemy" surrenders

Funny how you're trying to shift that now, huh?
4.25.2007 5:18pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Ace:

I was wrong to cite Steve, but the right wing blogosphere is full of stuff like, "the blood of every soldier killed from now on is on Reid's hands!" And slightly less obviously insane versions of the same.
4.25.2007 5:19pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Ace:

You write:

But I'm not talking about Iraq here. You said "war" not "Iraq" to repeat: in a "real" war one wins when the "enemy" surrenders

Funny how you're trying to shift that now, huh?


If it helps, I was not the one who said what you're quoting. So actually, not so funny.
4.25.2007 5:20pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Bush obviously didn't do enough planning about Iraq

Nice.
More mindless drivel.
Hey, do Presidents usually do "occupation planning" as a part of their job? Do they do counterinsergency planning too?

, I was not the one who said what you're quoting. So actually, not so funny.

No, you just stepped in it trying to defend it.

And, you did a piss poor job.
Try again.
4.25.2007 5:25pm
David in NY (mail):
Bruce Hayden -- I don't see how your dream can come true if we are there. Both Sunni's and Shi'a oppose our presence (Al Quaida is a negligible force there and will disappear). No government we support will have legitimacy. There will be no one for people to turn their allegiance to until we are gone.

Bush has created the terrible problem that in creating a vacuum of power by removing Saddam, he inevitably invited the contending factions to fight for supremacy, with us in the middle. Bush has done nothing to resolve the factional disputes, and there is probably nothing he can do. The quickest way for the internal war to end is probably for us to leave, leaving the contending parties to shape their future. It is only then that the kind of lapsing insurgency that you envision can occur.
4.25.2007 5:26pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Ace:

Somewhere in the mindless insults ("intellectual coward," "mindless drivel," etc.) you began to lose credibility. Substantively, the "George Bush served in the military!" line should have clued me in that you were basically a self-parody. But your last post, in which you (i) apparently don't care that you attributed a quote to me that I didn't make AND (ii) seem to argue that Bush shouldn't have thought through the occupation part of his Iraq strategy before invading Iraq seals it. Carry on without me.
4.25.2007 5:31pm
Steve:
Thanks for being Exhibit . . . well, certainly not A, but a telling Exhibit nonetheless . . . supporting my "watch the Repubs try to shift the blame for Iraq to the Dems" thesis.

Hm, not so telling. I'm a Democrat, and I want to end the war. I just happen to think that, if a worst-case scenario plays out (not that I predict it will), the Dems won't get to pin it all on Bush for starting the war. I'm not making a moral judgment about whether it is, in fact, all Bush's fault.

Name one Democrat who campaigned on pulling the troops out in six months.

Huh? When did the Democratic position become "pull the troops out in May 2007"? The timetables in the proposed Iraq supplemental would end the war sometime next year.

The vote that put the Democrats in power was quite clearly a vote to change the course in Iraq. Had Bush simply accepted the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, that probably would have been just fine as far as the public was concerned. Since he didn't, the Democrats are opposing his surge.

You seem to imply that the Democrats have wildly exceeded their mandate, and yet there is absolutely no groundswell of shock and horror from the public regarding the Democrats' course of action. In fact, the same public which elected the Democrats continues to express approval of them, supporting my claim that the Democrats are doing what they were elected to do.

If the Democrats do, in fact, go beyond their mandate, I'm quite confident that the public has ways to make its voice heard. So far, I'm not hearing the objections.
4.25.2007 5:32pm
rarango (mail):
For the most part the US has not done insurgencies well (Phillipines nothwithstanding). They require extended time (10 years plus) that the American body politic can't seem to tolerate. Add to that the tribalism and religious divisions of the mid-east, and the problem is greatly compounded. While I applaud the administration's long term goals to attempt to transform the mid east, and make it more amenable to western style democracy, their failure to understand how the American public responds to protracted struggle is perhaps even more fault worthy than some of the tactical mistakes that have been made.
4.25.2007 5:34pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Substantively, the "George Bush served in the military!" line should have clued me in that you were basically a self-parody

Right, but you "support" the troops right? I mean, denigrating military service, something you would never do, mind you, is part of that "support," correct?

in which you (i) apparently don't care that you attributed a quote to me that I didn't make

Oh, forgive me, for thinking you made it when you rushed in to defend it.
Don't worry, that doesn't change the fact it is indefensible.

AND (ii) seem to argue that Bush shouldn't have thought through the occupation part of his Iraq strategy

Too bad that was never said. I didn't "seem" to argue or otherwise suggest it, clown.
4.25.2007 5:36pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Steve:

As I posted above, I misread your original post and responded inaccurately too it. Apologies again.
4.25.2007 5:39pm
Steve:
It's all good, JS.
4.25.2007 5:41pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
When did the Democratic position become "pull the troops out in May 2007"? The timetables in the proposed Iraq supplemental would end the war sometime next year

Uh, I hope you see the contradiction here.
The legislation being written now, has an almost immediate draw-down now to get out by the end of the year.

But don't let the facts get in your way.

In fact, the same public which elected the Democrats continues to express approval of them

Hilarious.
You're on drugs, right?

Uh, "the public" didn't elect Democrats, as a majority didn't vote and the margin was by about 200,000 for this "mandate."

Otherwise, gallup has Congress with a 33% approval rating.

You seem to imply that the Democrats have wildly exceeded their mandate

They have no mandate. And that is a fact.

So far, I'm not hearing the objections

You mean other than the fact the Democrats went crazy when they had to actually vote on a non-binding resolution on an immediate pullout, right? Or do you mean that Harry Reid, et. al, won't actually cut off funding for political reasons, correct?
4.25.2007 5:44pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Steve:

Thanks.

Ace: I really shouldn't, but here's a parting gift.

From your previous post (first sentence is you quoting me).

Bush obviously didn't do enough planning about Iraq

Nice.
More mindless drivel.
Hey, do Presidents usually do "occupation planning" as a part of their job?


So I repliled that you seem to argue that Bush shouldn't have thought through the occupation part of his Iraq strategy


Now you claim that you didn't "seem" to argue or otherwise suggest it, clown.

But you obviously did. Or obvious to anyone trying to follow an argument, instead of just inserting new, lame insults.

The point, of course, is that Bush should have, but didn't, do adequate planning for the occupation.

And I'll leave it at that, puppet.
4.25.2007 5:48pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
By the way, if the Democrats really feel Iraq is "lost" then they should say so daily (where has Murtha been? Muzzled, that's where despite this "approval" by "the public" of Congress which does not exist), and get the troops out now. Not by the end of the year, now.
Send President Bush a reflection of this in their budget.

Of coruse they won't as being re-elected is more important to them than whether or not we're actually winning or losing.
4.25.2007 5:51pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
But you obviously did. Or obvious to anyone trying to follow an argument, instead of just inserting new, lame insults.

Illeterate:

"Planning" and "thought through" are two different things.

Otherwise it is "obvious"

The point, of course, is that Bush should have, but didn't, do adequate planning for the occupation

Name one President in the history of America that planned for an occupation.

Go ahead. Please. I'm begging you, clown.
4.25.2007 5:53pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
The point, of course, is that Bush should have, but didn't, do adequate planning for the occupation

And your proof of this would be ______?

Well, aside from the fact that President's don't do this (remember the "listen to the Generals" mantra? Down the memory hole, and yes, you're not bright enough to see the contradiction here), you "proof" is that there is violence in Iraq.

Wow. Overwhelming. "Reality based" and such.
4.25.2007 5:55pm
rarango (mail):
Ace--I am about as conservative as they come, but could I respectfully request you please tone it down? Start back and reread the thread from the beginning and note how it descended into the trash heap.
4.25.2007 5:59pm
Steve:
The legislation being written now, has an almost immediate draw-down now to get out by the end of the year.

The date in the conference report is March 2008 if the Iraqis meet their benchmarks, and December 2007 if they don't. Neither of those dates is "6 months" from the election in November 2006, so your question about how many Democrats campaigned on a promise to pull the troops out in 6 months remains a non sequitur.

Otherwise, gallup has Congress with a 33% approval rating.

Well, I'm not going to get into the game of dueling poll numbers, but this is interesting. According to the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, Congress has a 44/54 approve/disapprove rating, broken down as 39/59 for "the Republicans in Congress" and 54/44 for "the Democrats in Congress."

In any event, there will be yet another national referendum in November 2008 at which the public will have a full opportunity to declare whether the Democratic majority has done right by them.

For your part, you can continue to hold whatever opinion you like on the war, but the insistent denial that a majority of the American public is through with this war is kind of sad. Nah, there was no mandate in the last election, just a little random variance, that must be it.
4.25.2007 6:03pm
Don Miller (mail) (www):
I was only an enlisted person in my 12 years of military service, but I did pay attention to military history and theory all my life.

War is an extension of politics. It is the last tool in your bag when diplomacy fails.

Victory comes when the otherside loses the political will to continue the fight. In WW2, we killed millions and millions of people. We obliterated the industrial complexes of the Axis powers. We nuked two of Japan's cities. We forced them into a corner, surrender or die. They chose surrender.

When the Allies looked back on the war, they felt guilt for all the human suffering they caused in the process of securing that victory. We decided to try and find a new way to fight war. "Limited War" and "Police Actions" were deemed more civilized.

What has been the result:

Korean War: The UN Forces fought Chinese and NK troops to a ceasefire. Nothing changed. South Korea and North Korea are technically at a state of war over 50 years later. US Troops are still in South Korea. Result Stalemate

Vietnam - US Leaders did not fight an all out war to defeat North Vietnam. Status Quo was all that was desired. US fought a hot prolonged war against insurgent elements and North Vietnemese regulars until the US pulled out. Result Victory for North Vietnam, US lost the political will to fight the war.

Grenada - US invaded Grenada in an overwhelming attack. Captured or killed 100% of Cuban troops on the island. Neither Grenada or Cuba had a desire to continue the fight, Victory US

Panama - US invaded Panama to replace the government. The Panamanian people didn't like their leader very much either, no political will to resist. Victory US

Gulf War I - Iraq invades Kuwait. Multi-national force led by US and Britain crush the Iraqi army. Force a ceasefire. US doesn't have the political will to crush the Iraqi government. Result - on going cat and mouse game, with periodic hostilities until Gulf War II. Iraqi government claims victory, because they are still in power. US claims victory because Iraq is no longer in control of Kuwait.

Samalia - US led peacekeeping force tries to restore order. Militant attack causes US casualties. Result - US goes home, victory insurgents.

Gulf War II - US led multinational force crushes the Iraqi military forces. Because of US tactics, insurgents feel they can win. Result, US losing the political will to continue the battle. If we pull out before there is peace, we lose.

History is written by the victors. If we don't defeat the insurgents, 20 years from now, Iraqi children will be taught that the US is a paper tiger with no will to win. That same lesson will be taught in schools every where in the world, except the US. We just won't mention it to our school children.

I don't believe that overwhelming military force is the only solution in Iraq. Diplomacy has its place. People who say that overwhelming military force can't win have never faced military power. Ask the people of 1945 Dresden, Nagasaki and Hiroshima how they felt about becoming insurgents.
4.25.2007 6:04pm
JosephSlater (mail):
OK, OK, this really is my last reply to Ace (Rarango, sorry about heading further toward the trash heap; you make a good point). And I don't usually do spelling/typo flames, because I make my share of mistakes.

But it's truly priceless when Ace labels me: "Illeterate."
4.25.2007 6:04pm
r78:
What Reid said was functionally accurate.

The other components are not present. The only thing that is there is the military. So it can't be won militarily.

Also - it is even worse than that since I beleive that the General was one of the authors of the counter-insurgency manual that calls for ratios of soldiers to insurgents that are a multiple of what we actually have on the ground now.

So even if military power alone could solve the problem - we don't have nearly enough troops there to do the job.
4.25.2007 6:09pm
Anonymous Reader:
Please people, let's think this rationally. Does anyone actually think that Bush, Rumsfeld, etc actually crafted the operational plans? Come on... so you're saying Bush and his "cabal" sit there and say... ".. and first squad is going to set up and ambush here... then second squad is going to build a house there... etc." That doesn't/won't happen.

By the way, does Reid reject his vote authorizing the war?

Anonymous Reader
4.25.2007 6:14pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Anonymous Reader:

So it's the fault of the generals on the ground? And by the way, why did you put "cabal" in quotes, given that nobody in this thread has used that term?
4.25.2007 6:17pm
David in NY (mail):
Bruce Hayden -- I understand that anti-insurgency tactics (in this case being nice to the natives) in Anbar have appeal, but that's a small slice of the country and the problem, and a report by Devlin last year said the political battle there had been lost. Polls in Iraq show about 65% to 75% support for our going. Had Bush planned for this situation and proper tactics been implemented then, it is possible we could have gained more support of the people, but it's really too late now. A government we support is not going to be legitimate -- thanks to Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, too late for all that.

Crunchy Frog -- so the war is for the oil and the bases, eh? And how many lives do we spend for this war? And when will the bloodshed end? The American people didn't sign up for your war of conquest and they are demanding it end. It is Bush's job to solve the political problems in Iraq precisely for the reasons Gen. Petraeus says -- the military cannot win, there must be a political solution. Bush is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and in charge of foreign policy -- that makes it his job.

Holsinger -- I don't understand your problem with what I said. Our government doesn't like Sadr -- I think that's pretty clear. And he leads a large, well armed, faction of Shiites that is likely in the end to have substantial power in the government. We don't approve. Is that better?

Ace -- seems to me that Bush's failure to plan is abundantly clear by the fact that we're losing soldiers and marines at an increasing rate after four full years of war. Neither he nor anyone of his officers suggested before the war that it would last anywhere near this long or be this difficult. He clearly didn't plan for this before; he doesn't have a clue what to do now.

And Ace? You may have missed it, but 60% of the American people prefer the Democrats' approach to the war to Bush's. Don't believe it? Read this. That's pretty much a mandate, I'd say.
4.25.2007 6:18pm
Anonymous Reader:
Let's not start the whole "not enough troops on the ground" mantra. What is a good ratio? Should we have 1 soldier for every Iraqi? 1:50? What? Anyone arguing for more boots on the ground, don't truly understand and appreciate a counter-insurgency. There are a lot of good books on this topic that I would encourage you to read. Read about the Malayan Emergency. Hell, just read basic warfare from Sun Tzu. You have to win the people over.

More troops CAN help, but that is not the absolute answer. More people can also be a negative thing. Ever heard the saying, too many chefs ruin the pot? Well, locking down Iraq with a soldier on every corner will be counter-productive. Let's be students of history and read about successful counter-insurgencies... THEN will you have the correct perspective from which to judge Reid's comments.

Anonymous Reader
4.25.2007 6:23pm
David in NY (mail):
Different kind of war now, Don Miller. Who is the enemy in Iraq? What does victory look like? I think victory is when our men and women come home. Remember, about 70% of the Iraqis want us gone. We got rid of Saddam for them, let's give them what they want.
4.25.2007 6:26pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Annonymous Reader:

You write: Let's be students of history and read about successful counter-insurgencies... THEN will you have the correct perspective from which to judge Reid's comments.

I'll go along with that, except instead of "Reid's comments" at the end, let's substitute "the Bush administration's prosecution of the war and occupation." Because, to get back to the real point of the thread, at the end of the day, what has happened and what will happen in the near future in Iraq is on Bush, not Reid.
4.25.2007 6:30pm
Anonymous Reader:
JS,

I'm not saying it's the General's fault. I'm just saying that military planning isn't done in a vacuum. I personally know that planning was undertaken for many post Saddam scenarios, but if you cannot plan for every contingency. It's very easy to say, "well, so and so predicted this... and so and so predicted that..." but that's all pissing in the wind. People predict all sorts of things, do we give the guy who holds up a sign, "The End is Near" any credit if he's right? Come on, let's be realistic.

Anonymous Reader
4.25.2007 6:30pm
Steve:
Does anyone actually think that Bush, Rumsfeld, etc actually crafted the operational plans?

I'm pretty sure that Rumsfeld personally threatened to fire anyone who made plans, even a contingency plan, for an extended occupation.

More to the point, I'm not a big fan of the perspective that gives the leaders all the credit for good news, but looks for little people to blame for the bad news. After we've been reminded about 10000 times that Bush is the commander-in-chief, it's a little late in the day to start parsing words and arguing that he's not the guy who actually sits there drafting the plans.
4.25.2007 6:35pm
Anonymous Reader:
I only bring up Reid, because anyone who has studied counter-insurgencies or war in general knows that you win with the enemy losses the will to fight. If the insurgents know that we have lost the will to fight then we will lose. When important people in government say things like that, it undermines our will to fight. It doesn't matter that we in the states may think Reid is a nonplayer, etc, etc... all people in other countries know is that a high ranking US govt official said XYZ. If you don't think one person can have an impact on our perception overseas, remember that alleged incident in Fallujah a year or so ago when the Marine shot the insurgent in a bldg on video and the journalist thought it was an unarmed insurgent? One Marine did something and it had strategic impact.

Anonymous Reader
4.25.2007 6:36pm
David in NY (mail):
Come on K. Parker -- you're confusing the war on terror with the war in Iraq. Different things. Of course, a war on a tactic or an idea, like terror is going to be long. But the war in Iraq. Shock and Awe would take them out, don't you remember? So sure was Rumsfeld of this that he didn't even allow post-war planning and rejected the planning of the Dep't of State. In fact, Rumsfeld and Cheney said that the war would take "weeks not months."

Your deceptive quotes are simply not true, as anyone who was there remembers.
4.25.2007 6:47pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Anonymous Reader:

First, I'll repeat that I think wars and even counterinsurgencies are won/lost primarily on the basis of actual tactical realities. Baghdad Bob could claim that Saddam was slaughtering U.S. troops, but folks there knew it wasn't true. And being able to kill a couple hundred folks in or around the Green Zone is motivating the folks that do that to do more of that a lot more than anything Reid says.

I would also refer to the folks earlier in the thread that mentioned things like Abu Gharib as being more of a motivator for the bad guys than anything Reid could say.

Second, we shouldn't talk about this conflict like it's the U.S. vs. a specific bunch of bad guys/enemies. There really is a civil war going on there. Sunnis and Shiites are fighting each other, and to that extent often don't care whether some Senator in the U.S. thinks that the U.S. is winning, losing, or drawing.
4.25.2007 6:53pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Neither of those dates is "6 months" from the election in November 2006,

And nobody alleged this.
You do know when people are sworn in, right?

but the insistent denial that a majority of the American public is through with this war is kind of sad.

Uh, you citing a sub-set of one poll is hardly proof of anything.

Further, why didn't the Democrats campaign on this?
Funny how you can't anser that, huh?
4.25.2007 6:56pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
In fact, Rumsfeld and Cheney said that the war would take "weeks not months."

From the author of:
Your deceptive quotes are simply not true

Yes, you're not bright enough to see the hilarity.

How do quotes become "deceptive" anyway? Oh, when you cut them off.
Sort of like you did, clown.
4.25.2007 6:58pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
You may have missed it, but 60% of the American people prefer the Democrats' approach to the war to Bush's. Don't believe it? Read this. That's pretty much a mandate, I'd say.

to say you're intellectually dishonest is being kind.

Uh, what is the "Democrats approach" exactly? Tell me.
I'd love to know.
Repeating "change of tactics" (which is a lie, leaving isn't a "tactic") isn't an "approach." It's the lack of one.

You changing the definition of "mandate" is pathetic and sad as well.
As already noted, ~200,000 votes out of millions cast would have changed the balance of the Senate. Some mandate there.

How about this "mandate"


Bloomberg poll last month found that 61% of Americans believe withholding funding for the war is a bad idea, while only 28% believe it is a good idea.

According to a March USA Today/Gallup poll, 61% of Americans oppose "denying the funding needed to send any additional troops to Iraq."

That poll also showed that only 20% of Americans want to withdraw the troops immediately.

Public Opinion Strategies (POS) recently reported that a majority of voters (54%) oppose the Democrats imposing a reduction in troops below the level military commanders requested.

A POS poll in February found that 59% of voters believe pulling out of Iraq immediately would do more to harm America's reputation in the world than staying until order is restored.

That POS poll also finds 57% of voters support staying in Iraq until the job is finished and "the Iraqi government can maintain control and provide security for its people."

According to a Time magazine poll also taken in March, only 32% want to withdraw the troops within the next year no matter what happens.
4.25.2007 7:01pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
t's a little late in the day to start parsing words and arguing that he's not the guy who actually sits there drafting the plans.

Right. I mean why actually deal with facts, correct?
Let's all sit here and pretend Bush did, or is supposed to "plan" the occupation because it's "late in the day" or whatever.
4.25.2007 7:03pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Well, I'm not going to get into the game of dueling poll numbers,

I just re-read that.
Funny.

Why would you? It doens't support your false statement. I don't blame you.

What you should be asking yourself is if there is some "mandate" why Democrats didn't win more seats?
Or, why Democrats were running in agreement with Bush on the issue of Iraq?

No matter those pesky facts, talking points man! Talking points.
4.25.2007 7:05pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
A profle of the Democratic mandate:

Webb over Allen by 7,231 votes out of 2,338,111 cast.

Tester over Burns by 2,847 votes out of 393,757 cast.

McCaskill over Talent by 45,811 out of 2,048287 cast.

I actually over shot with 200K. The Dems have a 55,889 vote "mandate"

After a majority of them capaigned as Republican lite.
4.25.2007 7:12pm
Randy R. (mail):
Thanks David. We must all be reminded that Bush lead us into this war by strongly implying that Saddam was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. When asked point blank, though, he and Cheney always backed away. Nonetheless, they accomplished their goal, which was to link Saddam and 9/11 in the minds of the people, because at the start of this war, an overwhelming majority believed it was true. THAT was, in the minds of most Americans, the reason we went to war.

And Bush and Powell said repeatedly that the war would be over in months, and that 'by August' they would have a constitution and we would be out. Wolfowitz claimed that Iraqi oil money would reimburse us for the total cost of the war. We wouldn't even need many military men because it would be so easy. So: it would be an easy, cheap, war, with few if any casualties on our side. Saddam would be gone, a democracy installed in Iraq, and this would create a domino effect on the region.

Of course, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, went according to this plan. They got absolutely everything wrong. Remember, we would be greeted with flowers? Now it's become bogged down, and Bush STILL has no exit plan. There is no strategy. Remember how generals and others were begging Bush to increase the troop levels, but Bush said no we will keep them the same? Now, after several years, he wanted a surge, which was opposed by a majority of Americans, and the Commission and the other experts begged him not to do it? Yet he did, and we are still waiting for the hopefor results.

At some point you guys have to give it up. Admit that Bush and Cheney got us into a debacle and they have no idea what to do next. Okay, okay -- continue the snipping at Reid and the Democrats.

But at the end of the day, complaining about the democrats isn't going to win you this war.

SO: Our next step should be to discuss, HOW can we either win this war, or extricate ourselves without causing further damage. At least Reid is attempting an answer. it might be right, it might be wrong. It might be supported by American, or it might not be. At least it's a start, though, because up until now Bush has done a piss poor job of prosecuting this war.

If the children can't run this war, then they should step aside and let some grown ups have at it.
4.25.2007 7:13pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Anonymous Reader wrote:

"When important people in government say things like that [i.e., what Reid said], it undermines our will to fight."

I hear this sort of thing consistently from supporters of the war and it strikes me as the same sort of easily-made-but-impossible-to-support statement as candidate Bush's "the military is demoralized" refrain. We've been debating this war - often with harsh and "undermining" rhetoric - for the last four years. Is there any evidence that soldiers or commanders haven't worked hard (or as hard as they could) because of it?

And, what if this sort of language is, indeed, "undermining"? If one agrees that Sen. Reid is entitled - both personally and in his official capacity - to oppose this war and that he is entitled to take actions to stop it, how is he supposed to do that without, at first, saying that he thinks it's a waste of time, money and lives? Our process simply isn't such that everyone votes in silence and then it's over. You just can't get from A to B without some measure of politics. If that's somehow "undermining" (a fact that would reflect fairly negatively on what is supposed to be the best army in the world) then so be it.
4.25.2007 7:15pm
Funkymonkey:
It was stated several times in this thread that there is no military solution to winning this war, but that it requires political and diplomatic strategies.

If the solution to the Iraq issue is diplomacy with whom do we negotiate and what should be our bargaining strategy? If the solution to the Iraqi issue is political, what political steps are required to create a solution?

Forget for a moment that you are a Republican or Democrat and discuss for a moment how either of these two approaches should be used to deal with the enemy combatants... of which there are many: Sadr-ists, Ba'athists, Iran, Syria, Saudia Arabia, Islamists of multiple nationalities and stripes to name just a few. Is there any amount of negotiation that could ensure a stable Iraq and allow a nation to rebuild and defend itself without interference with any of these groups? If there is an answer out there, I certainly would like to hear it... because frankly I would like to see our boys home. But from where I sit (in the cheap seats) I honestly don't see a political or diplomatic solutions with any of the multiple enemies who are hell-bent on seeing failure in Iraq. The reason -- their position is a non-negotiable one: the West must die and we will die trying to achieve our goal.

My understanding of the Patreaus quote is simply: military to push out (or destroy) the enemy... politics and diplomacy to attempt to befriend the non-combatants to give them an opportunity to rebuild. My understanding of the Reid quote is simply: military action doesn't work. The situation is unwinnable, ergo we must leave. He completely ignores the other 2/3rds of Patreaus' ideas. All the backpedaling and deflection he attempts doesn't change the substance of the message he believes... the U.S. has lost.

And frankly, until the war weary interject a solution that would ensure stability in Iraq, hinder the islamists, reign in the Syrian, Iranian, and Saudi governments, quell anger and revenge between the varying Iraqi factions, ensure the safety of our troops, AND ensure the safety of our civilians back home... they should STFU and do their best to see that the only solution present on the table is followed through to the best implementation that can done.
4.25.2007 7:35pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Remember, we would be greeted with flowers?

Uh, we were.
More here.
More here.

The only question is, why are you so ignorant to basic facts?

Of course, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, went according to this plan.

You mean other than the fact we defeated Iraq's army in 3 weeks, right?
4.25.2007 7:36pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
I also wonder at the Democrats' strategy. On one level it seems kind of silly. If the war is hopeless, as Sen. Ried apparently believes, the right strategy is to pull out immediately. Waiting 6 months, or having timetables, or goals or whatever won't change this result, so it merely increases casualties.

If victory is possible but not assured, presumably the way to victory is to fight until the other side's will to go on collapses. Announcing an intention to give up at some particular point is just a terrible negotiating strategy.

I suspect its main attraction is that it seems like a compromise. Can anyone defend such a strategy in its own terms (ie with something more than an attack on Bush)?
4.25.2007 7:41pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
RLG,

The problem isn't really demoralizing our own troops, though that is an issue, but rather the opposite of demoralizing (remoralizing? moralizing?) the insurgents. As has been pointed out above, the party that wins an insurgency is the last one still fighting. The last one with a will to win. So, while the American troops may be a bit demoralized, al Quaeda, et al. are energized by it. They now know that if they just hunker down a bit longer, we will leave, regardless of the state of affairs in Iraq. And that would mean that we would lose then.
4.25.2007 7:46pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Bruce -

I disagree that "leaving" - "losing."

The question is: what is better for the long term interests of the United States, leaving now, surging, or doing something else? If leaving is the best thing for us, how is that losing?

It seems to that the "leaving = losing" position looks at things from the insurgents'/terrorists' perspective without considering our own interests. If leaving now is best for us in the long term *and* something that the insurgents/terrorists also want, should we stay just to piss them off? Of course not.
4.25.2007 7:50pm
Crunchy Frog:
David in NY: It's my war now? Uh, okay. And let the record state that this is the first time oil has been brought up as a topic of discussion, although maybe it should. Ask the ghost of Erwin Rommel if oil is important.

Perhaps you'd like Bush to stand in the Iraq Parliament building making speeches? He doesn't seem to be having much success solving the American political problem, does he? Sheesh.

Can't anyone see farther ahead than the next polling cycle?
4.25.2007 7:58pm
ray_g:
"Repeating "change of tactics" (which is a lie, leaving isn't a "tactic") isn't an "approach." It's the lack of one."

From the movie Tremors: "Running's not a plan, it's what you do when the plan fails."

Just a (probably lame) attempt to lighten things up.
4.25.2007 8:00pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I understand that anti-insurgency tactics (in this case being nice to the natives) in Anbar have appeal, but that's a small slice of the country and the problem, and a report by Devlin last year said the political battle there had been lost. Polls in Iraq show about 65% to 75% support for our going. Had Bush planned for this situation and proper tactics been implemented then, it is possible we could have gained more support of the people, but it's really too late now. A government we support is not going to be legitimate -- thanks to Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, too late for all that.
You need to look a bit closer at the polls - last I knew, they wanted us to leave, just not quite yet. As to Anbar being a small part of Iraq, well, maybe in population, not geographically. But then you have to factor in all the parts of Iraq that are now safer than many American inner cities. Anbar was significant because that was the primary infiltration route for foreign born terrorists from Syria, etc. And it is almost exclusively Sunni Arab, as compared to much of the rest of the country. So, for the first four or so years, they actively aided and abetted the foreign born terrorists (al Qaeda in Iraq that is not in Iraq, or whatever). Anbar, until this year, was by far the most dangerous place for Americans in Iraq. And Ramadi was the most dangerous city.
I don't see how your dream can come true if we are there. Both Sunni's and Shi'a oppose our presence (Al Quaida is a negligible force there and will disappear). No government we support will have legitimacy. There will be no one for people to turn their allegiance to until we are gone.
I think that Centcom would be surprised to learn that al Qaeda was not a major player in Iraq. But then, I am sure that you know better than they do. I can see though how David may want to believe this, as the standard mantra is that we are bogged down in Iraq, and should be concentrating on Afganistan. It is hard to maintain this fiction when most of al Qaeda that CENTCOM captures or kills are now in Iraq, but still, it is nice to try.

Yes, some Shia and some Sunni oppose our presense. But you state it as a universal. It isn't. Plenty like us being there - some of the Baghdad Sunni are very happy, as we are the primary force keeping them alive right now, and have recently allowed some to even move back into the neighborhoods they vacated under Shi'a pressure.
Bush has created the terrible problem that in creating a vacuum of power by removing Saddam, he inevitably invited the contending factions to fight for supremacy, with us in the middle. Bush has done nothing to resolve the factional disputes, and there is probably nothing he can do. The quickest way for the internal war to end is probably for us to leave, leaving the contending parties to shape their future. It is only then that the kind of lapsing insurgency that you envision can occur.
Well, except for the small problem that if we leave, the Sunni Arabs, esp. around Baghdad, will be butchered. And our "allies" the Saudis, plus Syria, Jordan, and maybe even Egypt may feel forced to intervene to protect the Sunni Arabs from being butchered. And then Iran would have to intervene to protect the majority Shi'a, etc.

The technical term for it is "ethnic cleansing". The Sunni Arabs in Iraq, esp. around Baghdad are being pushed out. They asked for it by aiding and abetting the indiscriminate murder of Iraqi civilians by their terrorists, and are now getting their just rewards. It was happening fairly quickly over the last year before the "surge". Now it is under pretty good control. But if we pull out too quickly, it will renew.

Sure, under Saddam, the country was more stable. But that doesn't mean that most of the Iraqis would prefer to live under him than not. Rather, that honor is pretty much limited to the Sunni Arab minority that ruled over everyone else then. And that rule was pretty brutal and bloody, even by Middle East standards.
4.25.2007 8:29pm
Anonymous Reader:
My point is that the US military isn't easily demoralized. We're not a bunch of weaklings that need constant approval for what we do. We fully understand that the war is not popular, but we also have a better appreciation for life on the ground in Iraq. Something you won't/can't see from the news.

Having said that, Reid's comments only embolden the insurgents. Not to beat a dead horse, but they CANNOT win militarily! But they can definitely win politically and when are will to win is broken... they will have won.

Also, you have to stop looking at the Iraqi people through American colored lenses. Try to look at it through their "eyes" understanding their culture and social lives. They know that if they help the coalition, they put themselves as well as their lives at risk. Hell, look at us here in the states, does "Stop snitching" mean anything to you? At least here, there aren't murderous gangs running around killing your entire family, it's not the same there. They don't have the same opportunities to go into a "witness protection program" or anything like that. So when they make a stand with the coalition, they put their lives and that of their family at risk. They deserve our respect and help.

Anonymous Reader
4.25.2007 8:38pm
Peter Wimsey:
To - sort of - answer the original question: my understanding is that Petraeus said something like "only 20% of the war is about the military; the remaining 80% is made up of politics and diplomacy."

I don't know if this is what Petraeus actually, said, but if it is, Reid's statement doesn't seem inaccurate. Although it is somewhat ambiguous, since it can be seen to mean either: (1) this war can't be won by military means alone; politics and diplomacy will be more important in securing a victory (which is what I think P. basically meant); or (2) our military isn't up to winning this war.
4.25.2007 9:06pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Petraeus said that the war cannot be won by military force alone. With the exception of full-scale nation-smashing such as WW II, or exhaustion, such as WW I, that's usually the way.
However, the military usually is the element which provides the space--in several senses--for the other elements to consolidate the eventual victory.
Seems pretty straightforward, as is the assumption that Reid--may he rot--would take it as saying the war can't be won. A lie.
4.25.2007 9:18pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Thanks David. We must all be reminded that Bush lead us into this war by strongly implying that Saddam was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.


This is a lie of course as President Bush did no such thing.
4.25.2007 9:18pm
Mac (mail):
To David of NY and others who think we should leave Iraq now and the devil take the hindmost.

You have every right to your opinion and you may be right for all I know. But, the military people I know (all soldiers who have fought in Iraq) tell me that it is going to be a tough, long job, but that we can do it and we should do it.

I find it odd that soldiers who fight love the Iraqi people while liberals who love everyone can't stand the Iraqi people. When we left Vietnam a million people or so were slaughtered. We don't seem to care. Fine. But, David et al, please be honest when you say you want us to leave and add "and I don't care how many Iraqi's die after we are gone including all of those who have stepped up to build a democracy. Men, women, cildren; I don't care"

Best estimates are 250,000 to 1 million will be killed. If you don't care, that is fine. But, just admit it. And, if we do leave and it happens, don't pretend you didn't cause it and don't wring you hands over it.
4.25.2007 9:18pm
Mac (mail):
children
4.25.2007 9:20pm
Anonymous Reader:
Snitching in the US - you may be assaulted or ostracized in your community.

Snitching in Iraq - you may be killed, your family may be killed/tortured then killed, your extended family may receive the same fate.

Think about the stakes.

Anonymous Reader
4.25.2007 9:23pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Anonymous Reader:

(re your 738 post)

Have you considered the possibility that Senator Reid is correct? Your rule - that politicians should refrain from war-related speech that "undermines" the troops - would seem to include even that speech which is true. If that's the case, the cost to our country, in perpetuating poor policy, far outweighs the immediate on-the-ground benefits.
4.25.2007 9:59pm
Anonymous Reader:
RLG,

Yes, I have considered that. But, what credibility does Sen Reid have on fighting a counter-insurgency? He has to prove that he has the knowledge to speak intelligently about the situation. But from my viewpoint, it seems that he's just spouting off talking points that are easy to sell. Anyone who knows anything about counterinsurgencies know that it takes time. Saying we lost just because people are getting killed reveals an ignorance of how this type of war is conducted.

Before you say, "Well, what type of credibility does Pres Bush have on the subject?", well, probably none. But he has a whole lot more smart people who are steeped in warfare to advise him and generate the operational plans. He just has to lay out his strategic vision and the professional soldiers do the rest, with his input and direction.

Anonymous Reader
4.25.2007 10:19pm
Recovering Law Grad:
AR wrote:


"Before you say, "Well, what type of credibility does Pres Bush have on the subject?", well, probably none. But he has a whole lot more smart people who are steeped in warfare to advise him and generate the operational plans. He just has to lay out his strategic vision and the professional soldiers do the rest, with his input and direction."


Pres. Bush may have the ghosts of Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln sitting next to him - but they're not doing him a lick of good. You're right, I am going to say that Pres. Bush has no credibility because he doesn't have any. And that's just not a subjective opinion - it's a fact. A strong majority of the people of this country do not believe this man - not necessarily because they view him as a liar or impute ill motives to him, though some do - but because he has consistently failed to deliver. Why should we keep giving this guy more chances?
4.25.2007 10:36pm
K Parker (mail):
David,
you're confusing the war on terror with the war in Iraq.
No confusion; it's simply that you and I totally disagree. The "war" in Iraq is not separate from the "war on terror". As far as "weeks not months", that really was how long major combat operations in Iraq--the dislodging of Sadaam Hussein's government--took.
4.25.2007 10:46pm
Anonymous Reader:
It's funny to me how many people absolutely HATE, and I use it in the strongest sense of the word, the President. I can't remember any of the Democrats saying anything nice about him.

You ask, why should he have more chances? Here's how I look at it. George Bush gets blamed for everything... partly rightly so. But he gets blamed for everything, "buck stops here" and all that. But damn, do people actually think he has the time or energy to micromanage everything little thing? People say he didn't plan for the occupation, but that is an exercise in politics. If he said explicitly that he's planning for the occupation before the war even began, everyone would be screaming "AMERICAN IMPERIALISM!!" So he laid out a strategy of what next after Saddam and that plan did not work. Remember, we can plan all we want to, but if the Iraqi people don't buy into the plan, then it's worthless. Do we really think we can IMPOSE our will on the Iraqi people and expect them to embrace "free will" at the same time as we're telling them what to do? It's a difficult situation and it could definitely have been handled better, but hindsight is 20/20. I guess a good question would be, when was the last time the US was involved in a counterinsurgency? Should we involve ourselves in counterinsurgencies? I'd wager that most, if not all, counterinsurgencies devolve/evolve into civil wars, so maybe it's just better that we retreat to our borders and not put ourselves in position to have to deal with it.

Anonymous Reader
4.25.2007 10:54pm
AST (mail):
Harry is finding it difficult to remember the differences between the party talking points and the actual record. Now he's embarrassed and threatened. Too much of this, and he'll be left behind.
4.25.2007 10:54pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
you're confusing the war on terror with the war in Iraq.
No confusion; it's simply that you and I totally disagree. The "war" in Iraq is not separate from the "war on terror". As far as "weeks not months", that really was how long major combat operations in Iraq--the dislodging of Sadaam Hussein's government--took.
My assumption from his postings is that David is heavily invested in the idea that al Qaeda is not in Iraq, or at least, not there in force as part of his theory that the War on Terror involves Afganistan, but not Iraq.

I mentioned earlier that if you read a lot of CENTCOM press releases, etc., you would come to the opinion that al Qaeda had moved its center of operations to Iraq. Indeed, just a year ago, Osama bin Laden proclaimed that:
Despite the numerous Crusader attacks against our Muslim nation in military, economic, cultural and moral aspects, but the gravest of them all is the attack against our religion, our prophet and the our Sharia tenets. The epicentre of these wars is Baghdad, the seat of the khalifate rule. They keep reiterating that success in Baghdad will be success for the US, failure in Iraq the failure of the US.

Their defeat in Iraq will mean defeat in all their wars and a beginning to the receding of their Zionist-Crusader tide against us. Your mujahidin sons and brothers in Iraq have taught the US a hard lesson while in the fourth year of the Crusaders' invasion, they are steadfast and patient and keep killing and wounding enemy soldiers every day.
Even today, there was an Reuters article proclaiming that "Bin Laden overseeing Iraq, Afghanistan ops".
4.26.2007 12:18am
Randy R. (mail):
Anon: "Do we really think we can IMPOSE our will on the Iraqi people and expect them to embrace "free will" at the same time as we're telling them what to do? It's a difficult situation and it could definitely have been handled better, but hindsight is 20/20. I guess a good question would be, when was the last time the US was involved in a counterinsurgency? Should we involve ourselves in counterinsurgencies? I'd wager that most, if not all, counterinsurgencies devolve/evolve into civil wars, so maybe it's just better that we retreat to our borders and not put ourselves in position to have to deal with it."

yes, exactly. These are the exact types of issues people like us were screaming to have discussed BEFORE the invasion of the war began. Perhaps if Bush had actually thought about these things, he might not have invaded to begin with.

The war has now cost us, how much? 500 billion? Over 3000 lives from our side? Thousands more from Iraqis? Do you think that possibly, we could have found a way to remove Saddam at less cost? Was there absolutely no alternative? Heck, we could have bribed the guy with 100 billion to move to Switzerland, and we still would have come out ahead. We could have showered the people with thousands of C notes, we could have armed an insurgency, we could have tried more sanctions, on and on.

But remember, Bush had NO plan B. And Rumsfeld explicitly refused to consider any Plan B.

And, yes, BushCo many times tried to blame 9/11 on Saddam in his run up to war. Just ask any person who was alive at the time. Remember? We were going to war against the terrorists!
4.26.2007 1:31am
LM (mail):
That the Democrats have made it this far led by the likes of Reid and Pelosi tells you all you need to know about the preceding Republican Congress.
4.26.2007 4:04am
abw (www):
Reid's quotes are entirely different. Saying 'the war is lost' is idiotic and saying 'there is no military solution' is a terrible distortion of a quote that says the military is a necessary part of the solution.

And I'm tempted to answer Randy R but clearly there is no point. Yeah Bush could have taken the easy way out and pretended Saddam wasn't a problem but then you don't understand the difference between learning from 9-11 and blaming Saddam for 9-11.
4.26.2007 5:20am
Anonymous Reader:
Randy R, sorry but my comment was meant as sarcasm. Iraq was NOT a counterinsurgency when the war started. The Iraqi army was a standing army, who wore uniforms, had orders of battle, etc, etc. So it was not difficult to pick out the soldiers from the rest of the populace. I don't know if there are any figures for this or not, but I wonder how many civilians were killed during the actual war to topple Saddam vs the number who have since been killed by the insurgents.

Remember, the insurgents aren't fighting for a free Iraq, they just want to kill indiscriminately. That's why they target recruiting stations, shopping districts, etc. Their intent is to create a scene of chaos and carnage since they know that CNN and the media will portray the violence as a measure of success for the insurgents. If you don't think that's their strategy, look at how that recent bombing was portrayed, "170 killed... US surge not working... war is lost..." I wonder, if the US goes and kills 170 people would the headlines be different? NOPE!! We would be ravagedin the press, and rightly so, for killing innocent civilians.

Please stop with the no Plan B mantra. What the hell is "Plan B"? Anyone with military experience knows that you plan for contingencies as much as possible with different courses of action, but you can't plan for everything especially when you're talking about how free thinking people will react. For example, you plan on going to the grocery store to buy some milk. You plan to go to X store, but you also plan to go to Y store if X store is out of milk. So you go to X store, they have milk and you get in the checkout line, but when you try to go back to your car, you find that someone has stolen it or slashed the tires. So understanding that and knowing that your specific plan, not the overall mission, will change once rounds start flying down range is important to consider. You can't fall in love with your plan, that's a big taboo in operational planning.

Anonymous Reader
4.26.2007 6:01am
The Ace (mail) (www):
Hahaha:

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): "Listen To The Generals." (Sen. Harry Reid, Remarks At The National Press Club, Washington, D.C., 01/19/07)


OOPs!

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV) On Gen. Petraeus: "I Don't Believe Him." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 04/23/07)


Even David Broder can't ignore Reid's lies anymore:

Instead of reinforcing the important proposition — defined by the Iraq Study Group— that a military strategy for Iraq is necessary but not sufficient to solve the myriad political problems of that country, Reid has mistakenly argued that the military effort is lost but a diplomatic-political strategy can still succeed


Reid didn't "misspeak" he flat out lied.
4.26.2007 11:06am
The Ace (mail) (www):
And, yes, BushCo many times tried to blame 9/11 on Saddam in his run up to war. Just ask any person who was alive at the time. Remember?

Hilarious.

Prove this.
Go ahead. Please. There is a vast public record of quotes.
Go to it.

I won't hold my breath.

Your other comments are as devoid of rational thought and critical thinking as excerpted above.
4.26.2007 11:10am
JosephSlater (mail):
Ditto pretty much everything Recovering Law Grad said.

Annoymous Reader:

Would you explain the fact that, per recent polls, 65% of Americans think the Dems would be better at handling Iraq than the Repubs as a symptom of (i) irrational hatred of Bush and/or (ii) unrealistic expectations about Presidents "micromanaging" wars? I personally wouldn't.
4.26.2007 11:33am
Randy R. (mail):
Anon, absolutely we should have learned from 9/11. And what we should have learned is that al-queda, not Saddam, was responsible for it. And we should have gone to war in Afghanistan to rout them out. Which we did (One of the few things Bush did that I agree with). But then we got distracted.

It has been pretty much proven that 9/11 was planned and executed by members of al-queda, headed by Bin Laden. So.... shouldn't we have remained focused that? Where is bin laden today? Why haven't we captured or killed him?

Invading Iraq played right into bin Laden's hand -- it created a foe that the whole middle east can rally against. There was NO al-queda presence in Iraq before our invasion -- Saddam had nothing but contempt for the religious based fanatics, and more importantly, they were of no or little use to him. Bush should have known this, but he didn't.

As for the democracy aspect, I worked at an agency in the early 90s that was built by the ABA to help the former communist countries transition to democracy, rule of law and all that. It took many years, and this was under optimal conditions -- peaceful revolutions, and countries such as Poland, Czech, Hungary that still had a memory of capitalism and democracy, and have close ties to the west. so when Bush said we would establish a democracy within a few months and leave, I wondered what planet is he on?

We should have never invaded Iraq. It has brought us nothing. So we eliminated Saddam -- that's good. But we created a new haven for real actual terrorists, and they are working and training in Iraq now. That's bad. Now we are embedded there, and no one, not you or Bush, can tell us how much longer we will be there, or how much it will cost in money or lives, except to say a lot longer. After 500 billion dollars, after 3000 American lives, after six years, we have very little to show for it. Meanwhile, we have lost our standing in the world because we now torture people, and we have created a climate whereby our chief executive can act as a dictator because we are at war.

Don't you think this could have gone better if there was just a little bit of planning? A little bit of understanding of the situation? We were told this would be an easy and cheap war, and everyone who wasn't drowned out in 2002 was trying to say this would NOT be an easy war. In fact, they were called traitors and unpatriotic. Had we listened to them, instead of villifying them, we wouldn't be in this situation.

Someone mentioned an irrational hatred of Bush. I believe I have a rational hatred of Bush. Even Rebpulicans are now saying the White house is the most incompetent of any in recent memory. Bush just thinks that his gut instincts are correct, so go with it. This is no way to run a country, and he is running it into the ground. Of course, you may disagree, but I wouldn't say my hatred of him is irrational. It is based on the fact that he has politicized everything, even war. And that's not something my father or others fought for in previous wars.
4.26.2007 11:57am
Randy R. (mail):
"What the hell is "Plan B"? Anyone with military experience knows that you plan for contingencies as much as possible with different courses of action, but you can't plan for everything especially when you're talking about how free thinking people will react."

I don't know much about military strategies, so I will bow to your statements. The problem here is that Rumsfeld specifically prohibited planning for contingencies or other possible courses of action. There was one plan, it was going to work, and don't bother me with anything else. then problems happened, and they had no contingencies for making it work. My proof? The fact that Baghdad is still, after six years, a war zone. the stategies have failed.

Regarding the politicization, one of the things that really drived me up that wall was the fact that Bush put people into the rebuilding of Iraq who had more political connections than experience. The daughter of a large contributor to the Repub party, for instance, handles Iraqs multi-billion dollar budget. The hospital situation had a hack who was concerned more about promoting an anti-smoking campaign than making sure the hospitals had all the equipment they needed to operate in a war zone. Much of our failure to win the hearts and minds of the people, and secure the country, can be tied to the fact that Bush politicized even the rebuilding of Iraq.

Heck, he can't even rebuilt New Orleans!
4.26.2007 12:04pm
David Drake (mail):
David in NY:

You state that our strategy in Iraq has no political component. But there have been several successful elections there, and I don't know what is more political than that. The Sunnis are now clamoring to be part of the government, whereas in the early days, they shunned it.

A couple of the big mistakes that were made:, namely the failure to take Falujah shortly after the deaths of the U.S.contractors, and the failure to kill Sadr when we had the chance, were both due to political interference--from Baghdad if not from Washington.

Second, you say: "I think victory is when our men and women come home." Do you mean to imply that we have not yet achieved victory against Germany and Japan? And that we won the war in Vietnam because we no longer have troops there? Or that we are losing in the Balkans because we still have troops there?

On the main topic, I believe that Democrats are making a big mistake vis a vis Iraq. The military mistake is obvious; the political mistake will become more obvious as time goes by.
4.26.2007 12:04pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Heck, he can't even rebuilt New Orleans!

Right.
Because that, of course is his job and everything.

Do you ever get embarrassed by your own silliness?

For example:
I don't know much about military strategies,

Get out!!!

I mean, everyone reading is shocked by this.

Yet you're commenting on them.
Why?
4.26.2007 12:06pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
then problems happened, and they had no contingencies for making it work. My proof? The fact that Baghdad is still, after six years, a war zone. the stategies have failed.

If there was and is only 1 plan, why are you pluralizing "strategies"?

Oh, you can't keep the lies straight.
Nevermind.
4.26.2007 12:08pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
These are the exact types of issues people like us were screaming to have discussed BEFORE the invasion of the war began. Perhaps if Bush had actually thought about these things, he might not have invaded to begin with.

Comcial.
You can't find me a single quote from any liberal or Democrat saying this prior to the invasion.

Further, the fact that there is a sustained terrorism effort by jihadists, is not proof Bush didn't "think about" these things.

The fact that you would suggest this speaks volumes.
4.26.2007 12:10pm
Aultimer:
It's quite obviously different - Petraeus is distinguishing between military "war" and political liberation of Iraq (the come-lately "cause"). He's saying that the miliary is of great use to perform police functions necessary to the cause.
4.26.2007 1:22pm
David Drake (mail):
"Sloanasaurus" has the best take on Iraq that I've read (Comment by "Sloanasaurus" on althouse.blogspot.com 04/26/07 a.m. (Comment to "How Incompetent is Harry Reid?")
4.26.2007 4:34pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Actually, Reid may be right about Iraq. He thinks that by forcing a defeat, the dems could pick up several Senate seats. He's a senator, he should know.
As for what's happening in Iraq, my dog, if I had one, would know more.
4.26.2007 4:36pm
David Drake (mail):
Randy R said:

"We should have never invaded Iraq. It has brought us nothing. So we eliminated Saddam -- that's good. But we created a new haven for real actual terrorists, and they are working and training in Iraq now."

Sloanasaurus point was, in part: We invaded Afghanistan to fight Al Qaida. Al Qaida has now largely moved to Iraq and we can fight them there, with the aid of the Iraqi Army.

My comments: If you look at a map and the terrain, it is a whole lot easier for us to fight Al Qaida in Iraq than in Afghanistan.

And I trust that we all agree that it is better to fight Al Qaida in Iraq than in the U.S.
4.26.2007 4:53pm
chris c:
Randy R, I can see how in hindsight the war seems a mistake. Saddam was brutal, but the cost of trying to stabilize the country in the aftermath of deposing him probably outweighs the cost of leaving him in place (though it seems certain to me that we would have had to deal with him and his sons sooner or later.)

Missing from your comments though is any acknowledgement of the concerns about WMDs (greatly heightened post 9/11) that drove the decision to go to war. Absent those, I doubt we would have done so. (Perhaps you think Bush knew Saddam had nothing of note, and lied about it to push us to war. but I think the evidence suggests the opposite.)

regardless, we are where we are, and must now make the best of it, for ourselves, our troops and the Iraqi people. seen in this light, surely you can understand how Sen Reid's comment was unhelpful at best, and could encourage the very worst elements in Iraq to continue in their campaign to butcher as many innocents as possible.
4.26.2007 7:14pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I can imagine what will happen if we win:

The terrs blow up a school. "Hey, Americans. Look! You're losing."
A hospital. "Hey, Americans, give up already."
Slaughter a busload of handicapped children. "Damn it, Americans. Don't you know when you're whipped?"

Reid, the dems, and the other anti-war folks who told them this would work will be in a fix, then. Won't they?
4.26.2007 8:58pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Al Qaida has now largely moved to Iraq..."

I can't be the only person who sees the irony in this.

"And I trust that we all agree that it is better to fight Al Qaida in Iraq than in the U.S."

If you'll stipulate that we didn't have to be fighting them in Iraq either, I might go along with you.

"I can see how in hindsight the war seems a mistake."

Speak for yourself, please. A great many people, including myself, didn't need hindsight to think that invading Iraq was a terrible idea from the getgo. The WMD argument was NOT convincing to everyone and Bush's statements concerning the dangers posed by Saddam in this regard were NOT universally accepted.

"I can imagine what will happen if we win...etc."

Who needs to imagine?
4.27.2007 3:20am
chris c:
relax, Mr. Gardner. I was not trying to speak on your behalf. no desire to.
4.27.2007 11:11am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Grover. I expect you will accept that we need to be fighting al Q someplace. If not Iraq, where? And why would that be better than Iraq?

Who needs to imagine...? Well, if something hasn't yet happened, thinking about it is imagining it.
4.27.2007 11:28am
David Drake (mail):
Mr. Gardner--

I don't see the irony in Al Qaida's having largely moved to Iraq. But I'm pretty slow. Please enlighten me.

As to the second point--what Richard Aubrey said.
4.27.2007 12:52pm