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Friday, July 01, 2005
 
Defeatism Thy Name is "Braveheart"

For those of you who haven't been following the extended debate on the war on terror (or if you prefer, the terrorist occupation of Iraq). Frequent reader and contribtor "Braveheart" has done a great job, outlining the liberal view on the war. I'm not sure if that is a compliment or a criticism... but make of that what you will.

You can read the extended debate here.

I think Braveheart's aregument is worth going over on the main page:

If I thought there was a good chance we would eventually win, I would say that we should keep fighting. But I think there is really no chance of ever winning this. We will engage the enemy and defeat them for as long as we want, and they will just keep sending more.

I agree that leaving now would be a disaster. The US would lose a huge amount of credibility. The terrorists would have won. They will continue to attack us. etc. I agree with all of that.

But the alternative of staying seems to me much worse.

First, the longer we stay and harder we fight, the more credibility we will lose when we eventually pull out. In addition the longer we stay the more credibility we lose around the world. Every day that we spend tied up in Iraq is another day that North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran can run rampant doing whatever they want. I don't believe we have lost any credibility in terms of how effective an inital American attack can be. Leaving now we still have that.

Second, the longer we stay, the more it costs us. We have spend 350 Billion so far. Every year we stay there will cost us 150 Billion more at least. We have lost 2000 troops, and had 20,000 injured. If we stay 4 more years trying to win this, it will cost another half trillion dollars, 4000 troops killed, and 40,0000 more wounded. And that's if the insurgents don't get stronger and more effective.

Third, the longer we stay, the better trained they get. WE have been having a hard time training Iraqi government troops - but we are doing a great job training the insurgents. Take for example their ability to shoot down aircraft. At first they couldn't shoot them down at all. Then they were getting helicopters with RPG's. Now our helicopters fly low and fast to be hard to hit with unguided weapons. But for about 3 months now, the insurgents have been taking down aircraft with guided missiles, an apache helicopter yesterday, a chinook with nearly two dozen troops today. This represents growing sophistication on their part. Look also at the IED's. At first these were artillery shells, strapped with dynamite, and detonated by just connecting two pieces of wire from a distance. Then they moved up to using radios and cell phones. Now they are using shaped charges and detonating the devices using lasers, which are nearly impossible to jam. The convoy in Fallujah where 6 troops were killed this weekend appeared to have been hit with a shaped charge. That is why the death toll was so high. The charge didn't just throw the vehicle in the air - it pierced a hole in the bottom, which is the mark of a shaped charge. Again this is growing sophistication. Coalition casualties continue to climb.

Fourth, the longer we are in Iraq the more credibility the terrorists get. Who was Zarkawi two years ago? nobody. Our presence there is what is giving him his power. It gives him a reason to recruit. When we leave, he will turn that terrorist army against neighboring countries friendly to our interests - Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt. The longer we stay the stronger and more sophisticated that army will be. If we can destroy his army we should - but I don't think we can. And the longer we stay the better trained it is.

I think the best thing we can do is leave.


I appreciate Braveheart's willingness to participate in the site and enter this arena for debate. I think that's important and useful, not to mention more entertaining than listening to us agree with one another. Personally, I think it is important that supporters of the war think through our arguments fully -- and the best way to do that is to encourage them to be challenged.

Let's go over his main points first:

1. "The longer we stay, the more credibility we lose when we eventually pull out."

(a) This leaves absolutely no room for even the possibility of victory. It is defeatism, pure and simple. You aren't even willing to lay out what you think constitutes victory. I will: America is in the beginning stages of a long war against terrorists and the nations that harbor them. If we can leave Iraq with a stable, representative government that is an ally to our war on terror, then that would be a victory. Two representative governments in the middle east, allied with the United States in the war on terror, would be a huge asset to us in the coming years of this conflict. For some reason, the left thinks we can simply declare victory and walk away from the war on terror. That isn't how it works. Islamic terrorists brought the fight to us on 9/11. We need to put ourselves in a position to topple each and every one of the terror-supporting governments in the middle east. Afghanistan - Done. Iraq - Done. Next step: keep Afghanistan and Iraq moving forward and put pressure on Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc... If we leave, not only will Iraq become a haven for terrorists again (why wouldn't they? we couldn't very well repeat the invade and run away cycle again and again) but Syria, Iran, Jordan and others will be emboldened to help the terrorist groups in their midst.

(b) If we leave prematurely, the Iraqi government will falter and, ultimately, fail. That would be great for the political fortunes of the far left, I guess. But it would be a terrible blow to America, our credibility. Abandoning this mission before it is fully complete would be a horrible injustice to the troops who have risked their lives there.

(c) It proves Bin Laden right that all you have to do is bloody America's nose and they will go running. The result -- we will project weakness and embolden our enemies. On the other hand, if we stay and help the Iraqis create a stable, representative government in the Middle East that is allied with us in the war on terror, we prove Bin Laden wrong and restore our credibility, which was lost by fecklessness and inaction on the part of a string of presidents prior to this administration.

(d) The assertion that our presence in Iraq somehow prevents us from doing anything about China and North Korea or Russia is, I think, a red herring. You don't mean to suggest that we should be at war with those three countries, do you? If you consider China, Russia and North Korea to be potential threats, in one way or another, I agree with you. But America's enemies will be emboldened by American failure in Iraq, not the other way around.

(e) The strength of the initial American attack becomes meaningless if our enemies realize that they all they have to do is melt away into society and run a guerilla war until we run away. We do not, in any way, preserve the credibility of our initial attack by failing to stay and make sure the job is complete.

2. The longer we stay, the more it costs us.

(a) Sure. A longer war costs longer than a shorter war. But much of those costs are fixed and we have to pay them anyway. We still have to pay the troops, maintain the vehicles, and keep the army prepared to fight the major battles against the pesky russians, north koreans and chinese, right? So the savings aren't necessarily what they seem. Plus, if we pull out our troops, we will have to increase funding for the Iraqi troops to immediately take on this fight all by themselves, right? They won't have time to build it up slowly over time, so they will be more reliant on aid to the United States. Unless, of course, we would also leave them high and dry with no US support, as congressional democrats (led by Kennedy and mondale) did to our allies in South Vietnam... So I guess we might save some money there. But then you have the refugee problem -- that would be huge. (Interestingly, the refugee problem predicted by human rights groups at the start of the war never materialized... but they might be proven right after all, were we to pull out!).

(b) At the end of the day, this is about winning the war on terror, not saving a few bucks. I'm prepared to see some cuts in social programs in order to win the war. Those cuts could be a two-fer, because they will also help with recruitment (Mmark, perhaps we can have you deliver the cutoff notices in person so you can make your sales pitch right there?). Of course, I am joking about the recruitment part of this -- but seriously, since when does the left worry about costs? I don't think our military should be expected to fight this war on the cheap. I support giving them the resource they need to do the job. You guys have to get your talking points straight, because it is like a goldilocks strategy when it comes to war spending. We aren't spending enough on this or that.. and we are spending too much on this or that. If we have to shrink other parts of the government to fund the war, then I support that 100%. If it comes down to raising my taxes or pulling out, I say raise my taxes (Of course, I think there are better ways to fund the war through spending cuts elsewhere, but you have to be realistic when it comes to Congress).

(c) You also have to weigh this against the human and economic cost of the next 9/11. I think victory in Iraq is critical to our ability to keep fighting the war on terror on their turf and not ours. So I come down on the side that this is a worthwhile investment. If we could have invested five, ten or 15 times this much to bring the fight to the Jihadi boys on September 10th, I would do it in a hearbeat.

3. The longer we stay, the better trained they get.

(a) Except for the dead guys. Their training just stops. Though they probably get a nice certificate to hang on the wall to impress all the virgins.

(b) Contact with the enemy always leads to changing tactics. They will change theirs, we will change ours. And on and on. That isn't a reason to not take the fight to the enemy.

(c) The longer we stay, the farther along the political process gets and the more clear it becomes to the everyday Iraqi that America is on their side. While our enemy is doing hit and run attacks, killing civilians and blowing up roadside bombs, we are rebuilding the Iraqi civil society from the ground up. They are writing a constitution. Sunnis are participating. Every day the political process moves forward a little bit more. You hear it from the soldiers, who say they see it with their own eyes -- we are making a difference. But the school, bridge or water treatment doesn't make good copy on the news. Yes, we have to go back again and again on lots of these projects because of sabotage. But every time they take out electricity for a town and we put the lights back on, it illustrates to the locals who is on their side. So even in small victories, they pave the way for their ultimate irrelevency.

(d) The longer we stay, the better trained the Iraqi Army and police forces get. Training an army to fight against these guerillas (in a civilized fashion) will take lots of time. It can't be done in six months. Yes, it is possible for an existing army to get on wartime footing in six months, because they have the institutions for war already in place. Building a military and instilling a tradition of excellence and professionalism and respect for civilian authority (that's key) will take time. But every day, you see Iraqis taking a lead in this war. And every time you hear about a suicide bomber killing 25 people standing in line to sign up for the army, ask yourself: why is it that these Iraqis are risking their lives every day to stand in line and risk death to join the army? The long lines to sign up for the army and police forces are a sign of strength in the face of terror... not weakness.

4. The longer we stay, the more credibility the terrorists get. We are making it easier for them to recruit, build their names, etc...


(a) Zarqawi was out there planning attacks on the United States before the Iraq war. The fact that we know his name and are hunting him down (as opposed to allowing him to have his home office openly operating in Baghdad) is a good thing, not a bad one. He is more prominent in Al Queda now, to be sure -- because most of the guys above him in the pecking order are in hiding, dead or captured. There are always battlefield commisions during war -- he earned his by beheading innocent people. If we stay in Iraq, we will eventually capture or kill him -- Don't you agree that would harm his "credibility"? If we leave Iraq, he becomes far more powerful and influential.

(b) You are forgeting about Saddam. One of the main goals was to depose his regime. He gained credibility in the Islamofacist world by surviving a battle with the United States and by supporting terrorism (through provision of safe harbor for terrorists, by providing intelligence to terrorists, and by sending cash to terrorists). None of those facts are even debatable. Hell, he even advertised the bounties he paid to Israeli suicide bombers! Saddam's credibility went down pretty badly as a result of the war. What happens if we leave? Does he get to come back to power? What if the new islamic loon government decides to free him? What then?

(c) You admit that, if we leave, the islamic fanatics will turn their attention to other countries in the middle east, seeking to spread the gospel of hate and terror. What world do you live on where that is an acceptable outcome?

Summary:

You agree that leaving would be a disaster. You agree that the terrorists will have won. You agree that terrorists will continue to attack us. You agree that leaving would be a disaster to US credibility. You agree that if we leave, the terrorists will turn their attention to other nations in the middle east. In short, it is hard to escape the conclusion that you agree that Iraq is a critical front to the war on terror. You just don't think we can win.

I respectfully and strongly disagree. The only way we can lose, is if we lack the will to finish the job. In my view, the message of unity and strength is the most important message we could have projected to the terrorists. The decision by the Democrats to oppose the war in order to win the Presidency was a huge mistake, in my view. it failed, but they are committed to hoping for failure now, so there is no turning back for the Democrat/Media party. And don't tell me that the President politicized the war. Saying it, don't make it so. Dean opposed the war to separate himself from Kerry and the others... and it worked. The Democrats then all ran left, in order to win the nomination. All except Lieberman. But there weren't enough sane people in the party to nominate good old, Joe, who at the very least has been constructive in his criticism rather than undermining the war and the troops.

What do you think the impact of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin's statements have on the war? They embolden the enemy. They send the message: keep it up -- we will eventually run away. That's not right. That may be dissent, but it is not measured, it is not reasonable and it is not in any way, patriotic.

I have no illusions that those of you on the left will say crazy anti-war things that undermine recruitment, oppose the war, and generally comfort our enemies. That's fine. There isn't anything we can really do about that. But it is not acceptable for elected leaders to spout off that same overheated rhetoric without regard for the consequences to the war and the troops. That is nothing less than a propaganda gift to the enemy and it is shameful.

Thanks for writing, Braveheart. We look forward to your response.


Comments:
It would be nice if in promoting my last post to the front of the page you didn't also denigrate me. A more neutral title like "BraveHeart's agument against the war" would have been better.

1a. This leaves absolutely no room for even the possibility of victory. It is defeatism, pure and simple.

The administration's current argument for the war, that everything is on track, and that eventually the US will win with the current force structure, is really untenable. I have some respect for two arguments: a. that we should just pack up and leave now, whatever the outcome b. that we should radically increase the number of our forces ( like doubling and tripling them ) if we are serious about winning.

It is really clear to me, and I imagine to anyone who reads the news that the number of forces we have in Iraq and Afghanistan are far too few to do the job. If we don't increase our forces by a very significant margin I believe there is no chance at all that we would win - in either Iraq or Afghanistan. None. I am willing to bet money on this.

We've been in both places for 2 years now. You can see the overall trajectory of the war - slowly increasing US casualties. Decreasing support from our allies. Decreasing support from the American people. Something must change.

Let me give you a few facts about why our the current size of our forces is not remotely sufficient:

The border between Syria and Iraq is completely open. There are border guards on the Syrian side at checkpoints on the roads. Foriegn insurgents, and their resupply missions can either bribe the Syrian guards or more easily - just drive across the desert. Its almost has hard and flat as the road anyway. It is estimated that for the US to guard the border we would have to place a hummer with 4 guys in it every 100 yards all across the border. This is a 360 mile long border. It would require 20k hummers, and 76,000 soldiers to secure that border. This does not count securing the border with Saudi Arabia, or Iran.

The US does not currently have enough troops to properly patrol even Baghdad. We have taken Fallujah at great expense, and lost Mosul, which is larger.

There is an argument that we don't need more troops because we are training an Iraqi army. I think it is very clear that this Iraqi army is not at all reliable. Remember how they were going to be deployed in a ring around Baghdad? Whatever happened to that idea? Or how they were going to police some of the cities? This Iraqi army we are training has its own agenda. They do not do what we tell them. What we are building is a Shiite army, who when we leave will be used to crush the Kurds and the Sunnis, and make all of Iraq a Shiite theocracy allied with Iran.

1b If we leave prematurely, the Iraqi government will falter and, ultimately, fail.

Whether we stay or go, the current Iraqi government is headed in a single direction: it is turning into a Shiite government dominated by Iranian allied theocrats like Sistani and Al Sadr. There will be a civil war in Iraq, and the Shiites will win that war. The longer we stay, more the balance of power shifts toward the Shiites. The shiites will hand the country over to Iran. Is that what you want? There is no indication that Iraq is turning more secular, modern, democratic or sympathetic to the west. The exact opposite is happening: it is turning more radical, more theocratic and more sectariam by the day. Consider the rights of women in Iraq - they can no longer go out in western dress. Taleban like gangs of religious enforcers beat up women who's heads are uncovered. They bomb liquor and video stores. They attack movie theaters and restaurants with live music.

1c. It proves Bin Laden right

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I recommend that you read Bin Laden's writings. Bin Laden is not concerned with winning battles against America. He know he cannot win militarily. Bin Laden's strategy is very clear - he is attacking America economically. This is why he attacked the world trade center. His goal is to bankrupt the US by making us fight asymetrical wars all over the world. Fielding a bunch of Jihadi's with Ak47's costs almost nothing. The Jidadists fight for free. They buy their own AK's. But it costs us a fortune to counter them. His goal is to have insurgencies against us pop up all over the world. Whenever the US takes out a national government - like we did in Afghanistan and Iraq - it gives Bin Laden another place to set up an insurgency. The last thing Bin Laden wants is for the US to leave, and for there to be a civil war between Sunni's and Shiites - especially when its clear the Shiites would win - remember Bin Laden is a Sunni fundamentalist. In his view Shiites are even not proper muslims. Iranian Shiite domination from Afghanistan to Iraq is the worst outcome for Bin Laden.

It is rather by staying that we prove Bin Laden right. Bin Laden has been making the argument that the US wants to: destroy Islam, take over the islamic countries, and steal their oil. Our occupation of Iraq, and the threats we make to neighboring countries gives him great credibility.

1d China, North Korea, Russia, Iran

I claimed that our being bogged down in Iraq lets these countries run rampant doing things against our interests. You counter that by leaving Iraq they would be further emboldened by our failure. First I agree that our failure will give them some comfort that we are not all powerful - but I believe that day of reckoning is coming anyway. If we leave and fail now they will get this comfort sooner, if we stay and are defeated militarily, their comfort will be that much the greater.

Meanwhile, these countries are in fact running rampant. North Korea is openly building long range ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads and is exporting the technology. They openly and forcefully reject any efforts at controlling them. China is aggressively building up military capability. The US is unable to stop Europe from selling China advanced weapons. We are barely able to keep Israel from selling weapons to China. China has a long term oil exploration deal with Iran, and they are planning on building an oil pipeline directly from Iran to China. Iran is building nuclear weapons ( I mean who builds a civilian nuclear facility 1/2 mile under ground? ). They just elected a hard line President who may have personally led the Iran hostage situation. Their vice president was the spokeswoman for the hostage takers! All moderate forces in Iran have been crushed - our beligerence in Iraq has given them a reason. Because the US has lost so much credibility and moral influence, our sanctions regime against Iran has collapsed. Most of the world now trades openly with Iran. Russia is going to give them enriched Uranium! In the open! Not even smuggled... but straight up in the open. How much more rampant do you want?

The US is just 290 million people. China is 1300 million, India is 900 million, all the Islamic countries together are 1300 million. Our relatively small population is able to control much of the world's resources using three tools:

a. the world's most advanced military
b. moral authority - the belief among most of the world that the US is a responsible world leader
c. the enormous economic strength of our country

Bush has chosen to lean on the military as his most important tool. This has almost completely destroyed our "moral authority". The US is completely unable now to pressure any country into doing anything without threat of violence because the rest of the world no longer respects what we stand for. So we are down to two tools. And the military tool is currently over committed. Our military threats are not credible right now. Right now, among these four countries, we have influence in China who depends on us as an export market. And even here the influence is limited, because we depend on them just as much.

If we were not engaged in this war, we would be able to make credible military threats to North Korea and Iran. And we would have the moral authority to get the rest of the world to back sanctions and other political tools to control China and Russia. We would be able to stop europe from selling weapons to China. We would be able to stop Russia from selling enriched uranium and nuclear technology to Iran. This was has already cost us dearly in world influence. The longer it goes on the more it costs us. And some of the things we lose are not recoverable. North Korea is already Nuclear armed. Iran soon will be. This cannot be undone.

1e Threat of attack and but not occupation

For most of our adversaries this is enough. Sure by proving that we are unable to occupy an enemy country we lose some credibility. It would have been better not to demonstrate this weakness by attempting to occupy Iraq. But the damage is done. Staying only re-inforces this lesson. But consider Iran. Had we attacked Iraq, removed Saddam, secured the WMD sites and left, we right now could be credibly threatening this exact same punishment in Iran. What Iranian government would want to end up in a power vacuum, with a civil war going on after a swift American decapitation? Same for North Kored. Kim Jung Ill cares only about his own skin - if we said we would be willing to go in there and personally kill him - and then leave whatever the consequences - he might be more reasonable. Right now he personally insults the US with impunity at every opportunity.

2a. The costs [ of the military ] are fixed and we have to pay them anyway.

This is not true. $350 Billion for Iraq in the last two years is just literally what has been appropriated in addition to the exorbitant military spending we normally do. The real additional financial costs of this war are likely to be much higher than even this. For example, very few of the vehicles currently in Iraq will ever come back. They have are being "used up". ( MMark - break in here and let me know if I'm right on this point ). Airplanes, and helicopters will be coming back. But he hummers, strikers etc. will not be coming back and will need to be replaced. The costs of long term treatment for the 20,000 wounded veterans we already have will last for their lifetimes. These guys are in their early 20's. The most common major injury in this war is brain injuries. What does a lifetime of brain injury treatment cost?

2c. You also have to weigh this against the human and economic cost of the next 9/11.

Sure. You have to weight it also against the human costs of everything else. What is the cost of a nuclear armed Iran which we are currently unable to stop? The human cost of 9/11 was around 3000 people killed total, about 2500 of them Americans. We are well on our way to paying that cost again in terms of soldiers killed. Our war on terror has already cost way more than that many civilian Iraqi lives. 8000 Iraqi civilians killed this month alone. If this war requires 4-5000 more American deaths to win you'd have to avoid 2 or 3 more 9/11's before you come out ahead in terms of American deaths. If you count just human deaths you will never come out ahead. If you consider the number of Americans injured you will also never come out ahead.

Besides I don't see any reason to believe this war makes us any safer. Bin Laden is still on the loose - and more powerful than ever. He has more support and sympathy among the 1.3 billion muslims than he had on 9/11.

3a b. You argue in here that the fact that engaging the enemy also trains them is not a reason not to fight them.

This would be true if the situation was not a stalemate. If we were making significant progress such that we were fighting ever smaller numbers of better trained enemy then it would be ok that they are getting better trained. I just mean that with the current stalemate, our continued engagement is over time just giving the enemy an advantage. It is clear that over time the insurgents have become *more* effective. US casualties are rising not falling. This argues for us to either pull out, or significantly increase our forces. I'm not expecting you to change your mind about the war in general. But I hope at least that you will admit that the current force size is just too small, and that the longer we engage them with the current size force the stronger and more effective they get.

3c The longer we stay... the more clear it becomes to the everyday Iraqi that America is on their side.

This is just incorrect. Iraqi public opinion is turning against us. The only segment of Iraqi society whose support has been solid are the Kurds. Sunnis are are in a fight to the death to remove us from Iraq. Shiites are increasingly convinced we must leave. This is what all the polls in Iraq show. I challenge you to find any poll that says something different.

Summary:

We agree that leaving would be a disaster. No doubt. I believe that staying is leading us to a spectacular disaster. I believe that the longer we stay the worse the disaster will be when we do leave. The longer we stay the stronger the challenge from Iran, North Korea, Russia and China. The longer we stay means a deeper and more bitter civil war in Iraq, and a deeper and more complete domination of Iraq and Afghanistan by Iran. Staying longer will also mean a worse and more complete humiliation for the US, and a greater erosion of American influence throughout the world. The fact that it will also cost more money, and mean more deaths on all sides just makes it all the worse.

I don't see a credible argument for how we can win. I see on the pro-war side a lot of hopeful platitudes. The lot of wild-eyed idealism. I don't see many practical steps being taken to win this war. And even if we do win in Iraq, the cost will be that we will have been unable to influence many more important issues, which affect us even more, going on outside Iraq.

I want to touch on just one more point: The idea that intervention in Afghanistan has been even moderately successful. Afghanistan is a spectacular failure. We have removed the Taleban. This is good - they are Islamic Fundamentalists, hostile to the US, who were harboring Bin Laden. We certainly punished the Taleban. But we have not produced an Afghanistan which is better for America. The Taleban were able to greatly reduce the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan - being fundamentalists they were not just against art, music and ancient Buddhas, but also strongly against drugs. We have removed them, and replaced them with amoral warlords whose power is based in the cultivation of opium. Opium production is at an all time high in Afghanistan now. There is 800% more opium cultivation now than under the Taleban. This is causing herion prices to drop all over the world, and heroin usage in the west is on a rapid increase. Afghanistan now supplies about 90% of the world's Heroin. Afghanistan is now exporting $7 billion dollars of opium per year, and creating a new generation of super rich Afghan Druglords. Right now they, not the US military, is what is keeping the Taleban from coming back. Right now there is no real democracy in Afghanistan - except a little cloud of it hovering around Karzai, extending as far as his American Bodyguards. Practical control of Afghanistan is in the hands of warlords - who are glad to fight for the status quo so long as they can enrich themselves selling us opium. On the day we leave, I'm sure the richest of these drug lords will take over Kabul.
 
So your opinion is, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that:

1. We’ve already “lost” and cannot win.
2. Iraq is headed for civil war and this cannot be avoided.
3. You agree that abandoning Iraq will embolden the likes of China, North Korea and Iran in the belief that we are weak, but no matter, because that is basically true and our “day of reckoning” is coming anyway.

Did I miss something?

defeatism: di-‘fE-“ti-zem (noun), acceptance or expectation of, or resignation to, defeat
 
Your flip response does not do justice to the thoughtful reponse you posted earlier.
And yes, you are wrong and are entirely mischaracterizing what I said. And since you asked for a correction:

1. We have not already lost, but I don't see a way we can win with the current force structure. I see the costs of any "win", however unlikely as not being worth the prize we are fighting for.
2. Yes it is, and I don't see a way it can be avoided.
3. Leaving Iraq now will confirm to these countries that we are unable to manage an occupation - but that is already clear by how badly we are managing it now. This is why I have thought occupation of Iraq was a bad idea from the start. Nothing emboldens them as much as us being currently tied up and impotent as we are now. If we freed ourselves from this quagmire soon, they would become significantly less bold.
 
Braveheart makes one very solid point. All too often we in the USA believe that how we react or feel in our daily lives reflects how others around the world feel, in this case Muslims in the desert.
If we withdrew our troops at a slow but steady rate there would be no increase of attacks against the USA and her interests.
The people we are fighting with have not contributed anything positive to the world since the numeric system, and they have no intentions of doing so wheather or not we occupy Iraq.
The body count is not what disturbs me, as more soldiers are killed per year in car wrecks stateside. What bothers me is the cost(dollar amount)and the lack of interest anyone in the USA has of actually making Iraq a better place to live.
I know, Hannity reminds me, we have closed the mass graves and shut down the rape rooms...and have any new one's opened of which I am not aware?
The change that is possible in a pre-historic part of the world like Iraq has already taken place.
If the USA really feels it should remain then Iraq needs to begin funding its own reconstruction.
We are not nation builders...I remember hearing that once or twice.
 
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