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Wednesday, March 09, 2005
An anonymous reader posted a comment to a recent remark that I made regarding the elections and "turning a corner" in Iraq.
I'm not sure if Anonymous is the same guy who wrote the Primary Colors book, or if he (or she) is the former CIA author by the same name. Either way, I thought it was interesting enough to post some of this on the main board. I really do appreciate having the chance to debate issues, but I don't think that Anonymous really offers much other than "how can you say we are winning, when all is lost."
How much crack do you smoke on a daily basis? Turning the corner?! How many times has Iraq "turned the corner"? After the official "mission accomplished" speech? Or how about after the first siege of Falluja? Or the Seige of Najaf? Or after the destruction of Falluja? Or after the election? We're always turning corners.
Yes, each of the moments you mentioned, marks one of many critical moments in the war. All of them were opportunities to make significant progress. Some of those opportunities were missed, sure. But all were key milestones. Let’s take them one by one.
1. Mission Accomplished
Bush marked the end of combat operations against the Iraqi military. The Iraqi regime was defeated. Its army, and the vaunted Republican Guard, no more. It was a huge moment, and an opportunity for the UN and the French and the Germans to get on board early. The announcement was made at the request of General Franks, who believed that the Europeans might be more willing to participate if they no longer perceived it to be a military operation. Like so many others, he didn’t understand that the nations that worked against the invasion could care less about helping the Iraqi people, as evidenced by the fact that they were on the take from Saadam and helped siphon oil for food money into their pockets while Kurdish children starved and were denied basic medicines.
2. The Siege of Najaf
I don’t remember the siege of Najaf entirely. Did that involve Al Sadr? The rebel cleric that ended up participating in the January 30th elections!? Not sure that I ever claimed it was a turning point, but I do think it was a missed opportunity to show we meant business.
3. The First Siege of Falluja
A second missed opportunity to show we meant business. The first siege of Falluja was a second critical moment, when the administration again caved into state department demands that we not turn Falluja into a bloodbath and, instead, sought to negotiate with the terrorists. We didn’t make that mistake the next time -- see below.
4. The Destruction of Falluja
First of all, I think Falluja is still there today. Sure, lots of damage. But the city wasn’t destroyed - although we could have destroyed it many times over. We rebuilt -- or are rebuilding -- what was damaged, probably left it even better than before. In a few years, they will be pumping out automobiles like Japan and we will be talking about the Falluja miracle and complaining that we are shipping jobs over to Falluja.
The second siege of Falluja, probably more like the 3rd or 4th, actually, was a huge turning point because we dealt another huge blow to the terrorists. The argument that we just make more terrorists when we kill them -like some horror movie hydra- was again disproved. We killed thousands of terrorists in Falluja. Estimates, I think, were 1600. It sent a huge message to the Iraqi people that we were serious and gave them the reassurance that they wouldn’t have to put up with these thugs and gangsters any longer.
4. The Election
I’m not sure how you can look at the Iraqi election and see anything but a success. I’m not even going to bother explaining it further. Go ahead and make the argument that the Iranians now run the show in Iraq. That is just nonsense. The Iraqi government is the one with a) the credibility of an election and b) the backing of the U.S. military. I’ve said it before, I believe that the fact our favored candidate lost the election only goes to demonstrate to the Iraqis that we aren’t like the despots we are replacing. Think that Saadam would lose an election? Not a chance.
The election shows the Iraqi people want self-determination, not tyranny – and are willing to risk their own lives for it. The fact that the Americans didn’t impose our own rule over the country puts the lie to the argument that this is a war of imperialism or a war for oil, or a war to set up an American puppet state. Once again, America kept its word. That counts for something. And every time we keep our word and follow through on our promises, the false attacks that came from the left -- No blood for oil! Stop American Imperialism! -- that were parroted by the anti-Americans and thugs in the middle east, are further discredited.
Every day you guys seem to think things are getting better and better over there. So by now we should be in some kind of paradise right?
Nobody ever said this was going to be easy. Nothing worth doing is easy. Throwing money at the problem, shaking hands and taking pictures with terrorists – that was easy. You just figure out what price it took to get the terrorist leader or tyrant to come on board and you pay it. And yes, I admit, appeasement takes work – if by work you mean man hours and meetings and lots of caviar and more meetings and words and speeches.
Actually fixing the Middle East, and creating an environment where terrorists can’t train and recruit and plot with impunity. That’s hard. What Bush is doing – what he said he was doing all along – is offering the people in the Middle East an alternative. Liberty. A chance to shake the boots of tyrants off of their necks and walk on their own.
Does that mean that there won’t be horrible, tragic costs? Of course not.
Does that mean that there won’t be setbacks? Again, no. We have never, ever said that. The terrorists could blow up a bridge tomorrow. Or fly more planes into buildings. Our goal is to create an environment where they can’t plot those things in safety and where they must try to do that without state-sponsorship, without the help of intelligence services, and without the money, the safe-havens, and the publicity machines, and secret police, that make international terrorist organizations possible.
That doesn’t mean this isn’t a fight worth fighting. You are creating a straw man, saying we promised it would be easy. We didn’t. Bush didn’t. He said it would be hard. He said it would be tragic. He said it could take longer than a decade to accomplish. Wars can’t be won in the same time it takes to watch an episode of 24. Sure, battles can be won. Like Persian Gulf I. But we didn’t finish that one. We stopped at halftime.
Not this time. Not post 9/11. We don’t have the luxury of living with anti-American dictators supporting rogue terrorist cells who are trying to gain access to weapons that could kill millions.
I have one question: I’ve explained why I think the fight is worth fighting. Why do you think it is not?
Go read the history of the Vietnam war. We were turning the corner in that war every month for years. The last corner we turned was a humiliating evacuation from the embassy.
I've read more than some, less than others. Try reading Harry Summers book, On Strategy. I dealt with some of this in the link above, but I think it deserves a more reasoned response.
I'm not an expert, but in my view, here is what is so tragic about Vietnam: a) We didn’t even attempt to destroy our enemy’s forces, which would have required a full scale invasion of the North b) We surrendered without losing a single battle and, c) we abandoned our South Vietnamese allies, withholding American military hardware, tanks, guns, ammunition, which they needed to defend themselves against the communists who sought to conquer them.
The lesson was that you don’t fight wars to tie. You fight them to win. Lots of Americans have died in wars. The tragedy of Vietnam was that they died for nothing. But they died for nothing by our choice. Vietnam was about something. Yes, it was about stopping the communists. But it was also about giving the Vietnamese the chance to live in freedom. I don’t believe the invasion of Normandy was just about stopping Hitler. It was also about freeing the French, and the Austrians. And the Dutch. And the Poles. The decision to abandon half of them to tyranny under the Soviets was a mistake. But the result – the shift toward realism rather than idealism in American foreign policy – made people irrelevant. So the Vietnamese were disposable. Just a tool on the chessboard. That was the shame. We stopped believing in our own Declaration of Independence. All men are Created Equal ought to mean something.
Clue to the cluesless: American troops cannot yet even protect the road between the green zone and the airport. Supplies must be ferried around by air because the roads are not secure.
Hey, dude, the police in my city can’t even protect the three roads between downtown and my house! People die there all the time.
The battle in Iraq wages on. We will continue to fight it. The outcome, I think, is sealed. It was sealed on January 30th. The question is: what would you do? Abandon the road? Leave it to the terrorists? Or never take the road in the first place and leave it in control of the Baathists, who might one day decide to rape your daughter, or pull out your tongue, or help a terrorist get on a plane to Europe for a connecting flight to New York.
The casualty rate among American troops is at an all time high.
What does that even mean? Casualty rates are at historic lows for an occupation of this magnitude.
If you think it is important that the casualty rates are high relative to the rest of the Iraq war, it is simply not relevant. The casualty rate on D-Day was enormous. Much, much higher than the days just before, when everyone was safely in bed in England. Likewise, the casualty rate during the war was higher than before the war. It was pretty high during the Battle of the Bulge, too, just before the entire Germany army collapsed. Check the history books. American soldiers continued to come home in boxes – even after the war was over in Europe. There was more than scattered resistance from the German Wolverines. But the result was no longer in question.
The number and size of the insurgency attacks is at a high. They just killed 125 iraqi national guard recruits in a single bombing.
Think about that. 125 Iraqis lined up to joint the national guard were killed. How many were in line? 250? 500? So one guy rams a truck full of explosives into a crowd of people risking their lives to build a better country and you say – we need to abandon those Iraqis who are standing in line? C'mon. The fact that the line exists is evidence that we are winning. The fact that it exists in spite of the dangers shows, even more importantly, that the Iraqi people are choosing sides. Luckily, unlike you, they are on the right side of history.
300 billion dollars later all we have managed to do is elect an Iranian mullah, Sistani, as ruler of Iraq
And free 25 million Iraqis. And embolden freedom loving Arabs across the middle east. And put Khadaffi’s nuke program in cold storage. And put the murdering Hussein boys in their graves. And get Syria moving ever so slowly out of Lebanon. And get other Arab states to start talking about elections.
As for Sistani, Iraqis were free to choose. Time will tell if they chose wisely or poorly. Not as neat as a dictatorship, but a lot more rewarding.
Freedom is on the march. The route isn’t laid out perfectly. It will stop and start and stop and start again. But the middle east is moving forward. Isn’t that a heck of a lot better than standing in place?
Anonymous -- I invite you to lay out your best arguments. Make them your arguments, not cut and pasted Chomsky poems. And I'll post them.
How does one even address such inbred ignorance?Post a Comment
Yeah man... Freedom is on the March! Freedom for corporate interests to loot you. Freedom for the government to spy on you and arrest you without any public oversight. Love that new bankruptcy law, it goes hand in hand with the highest medical care costs in the world. Awl Right!
I will ignore the majority of the inanity of your post and address just the ugliest and rawest lowpoints:
"here is what is so tragic about Vietnam: a) We didn’t even attempt to destroy our enemy’s forces, which would have required a full scale invasion of the North"
Woah! Stop right there! What is really tragic is that we killed 5 million people in Vietnam! Hey that puts us right up there on the top ten greatest hits on the mass murder charts. Its really a wonder that we don't build a Vietnam Holocaust memorial on the national mall. To a racist like you 5 million Vietnamese murdered is not really tragic. No, for you the crime should have been doubled. Sick.
"First of all, I think Falluja is still there today. Sure, lots of damage. But the city wasn’t destroyed."
This is an empirical issue. You are wrong. I challenge you to find some pictures of people living in Fallujah. The happiest Fallujah pictures you are likely to find is of people living in tent cities getting food aid off the backs of trucks.
You: "We killed thousands of terrorists in Falluja. Estimates, I think, were 1600."
Go check out the pictures of the "terrorists" we killed. Go to Dahr Jamail. You don't have the stomach to see such pictures. Picture upon picture of civilians shot in the head, men women and children, at close range in their beds. Thats what our troops were doing going from house to house. Yeah add those terrorists onto the 100k terrorists we've killed around Iraq. Boy you'd think that with all those terrorists killed that by now we would have gotten them all. But somehow those pesky terrorists manage to keep killing American troops.
"Did that involve Al Sadr? The rebel cleric that ended up participating in the January 30th elections!?"
Al Sadr boycotted the elections.
You: "Actually fixing the Middle East, and creating an environment where terrorists can’t train and recruit and plot with impunity." And similar blatherings elsewhere....
Its a wonder that people like you persist in asserting this, and a whole complex of lies which have been completely discredited. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, it had no connection to Al Quaida, or 9/11. It was not then a training ground for terrorists.
On the contrary unlike before, it is now most certainly a place where terrorists can plan and plot with impunity. And while Iraq did not have nuclear weapons, I think looks quite clear that Iran and North Korea do. But the US no longer has the credibility to do much about it. And Osama Bin Ladin, who most certainly did have something to do with 9/11? Where is he? Alive and well getting state of the art dialysis somewhere and planning more attacks. And do we know where he is? No, we are too busy spreading "democracy and freedom" in Iraq so that the Iraqi's can use that freedom impose Sharia law, and make a federation with nuclear armed Iran. Way to go you hard headed realists! Good thing its not soft headed flower power hippies running the government! They might give away the store.
Freedom is on the march! Yay! Just not in nuclear armed North Korea, or in Iran or in our friend Pakistan. And you think you are the realist?! Or how about freedom in China or Russia why not on the march there? Oh well yeah... because they have nukes. Well now there is a lesson in that isn't there?
The price of oil has broken new highs, and the dollar is flirting with new lows. The debt, the budget deficit and the trade deficit are at all time highs. But facts be damned! Its a bright new morning for freedom and liberty in Iraq!