December 11th, 2006

The definition of “success” in war: Part I

The ISG report has branded our efforts in Iraq “grave,” “deteriorating,” and “not working.”

The American people aren’t too happy with the situation, either. Results of recent polls indicate:

Just 9 per cent expect the war to end in clear-cut victory, compared with 87 per cent who expect some sort of compromise settlement…

But what would “clear-cut victory” actually look like in the case of Iraq (or Iran, or Syria, or any number of other places, for that matter)? Do we know? To achieve “victory,” is it necessary to have a country completely at peace, with guarantees of civil rights for all and a smoothly functioning democratic process?

Well, that would be victory, all right. But is anything short of that failure? Probably not. But, if not, where do we draw the line between the two? After all, a nation running as smoothly as that was always a highly unrealistic short-term goal for Iraq–and by “short-term” I mean anything less than a few decades, or even longer.

So, how should we define a realistic and relatively short-term (a couple of years) victory in Iraq? Although it’s difficult to do so, it seems necessary in order to know whether we ever achieve it, or even come close to it.

Our early definition of victory in Iraq was simple, but very incomplete: deposing Saddam. That was done with relative ease, but had we left at that point the country would have devolved into chaos. Leaving prematurely is a big problem; in fact, the current Iraq War can be seen as an attempt to deal with the situation left by the very unfinished business of the first Gulf War, in which “success” was too narrowly defined.

Commenter Ymarsakar had this to say recently on the subject of success in this war versus previous, more traditional, ones:

The thing you have to remember about WWII…is that people could know whether victory or defeat was close by, by casualty lists and whether a battle was won or lost, territory gained or won. In a guerrila war as with Iraq, that doesn’t seem very clear. I mean, the US won all the battles so far, and yet we have violence every day, but we control all the territory, but and but and but. The human mind is not wired for this kind of fight and flight, fight then flight then fight then flight then fight schism. Because it pulls you from one way to the other, and eventually you will shred.

One part of your mind says you are winning. No attacks, US soldiers winning battles, etc. Other side of your brain sees you are losing, loss of support, violence, more violence, American deaths, demoralizing stories, etc.

I’ve mentioned this before of course, but the agony of defeat in WWII or even the threat of it, actually galvanized morale and support. You don’t have that now, because America itself is not being attacked and the world doesn’t “look” like the terroists are gaining ground…

I think you know that the loss of the Pacific Fleet left the entire Western seaboard of America open to Japanese invasion. It was a palpable sense of dread and DEFEAT, the idea that you could lose. You NEED that for resolve. In Iraq, the idea that we will lose, is not there, but the idea that we “aren’t winning” is there. So it creates friction.

One of President Bush’s major communication failures was on the subject of what success would look like in this particular war. Some say it should have been limited to toppling Saddam, although that would have left the country in chaos. The traditional realpolitik solution would have been to have backed another strong man as replacement–a dictator, but “our” dictator–and hope for the best (the Shah of Iran was an example of this approach in the past).

Our venture in Iraq had a more lofty ultimate, long-term goal (although the amount of time and effort necessary to achieve that goal was poorly defined): to help the Iraqis towards a functioning democracy rather than a dictatorship, somewhat resembling the occupation of Japan and West Germany and the establishment of democracies there after WWII (and yes, the differences between Iraq and the those countries, as well as the perception of defeat by the populations involved, are profound) . Whether or not that goal could have been achieved with a more forceful and committed occupation in Iraq (see this for a discussion), or could still be achieved, there’s no doubt that it has not been achieved at this point in time.

But Victor Davis Hanson points to the fact that the jihadis don’t seem to think they’ve achieved success yet, either:

We forget that the jihadist websites are still worried about Iraq, both the losses suffered there, and the emergence of a democratic government. We think we are not winning, but so do they think they aren’t either.

Recently President Bush was careful to refer to the “pace of success” in Iraq as being too slow, rather than mentioning the “F” word, failure. He said:

You want frankness? I thought we would succeed quicker than we did. And I am disappointed by the pace of success.

Semantics, right? Not entirely. How something is framed does indeed affect our view of it.

There are many, of course, who would consider that comment of Bush’s ludicrous: to them, it’s obvious that our venture in Iraq is a failure already, and to speak of a slowed “pace of success” is merely Orwellian gobbledygook meant to keep us in a losing endeavor, spilling more blood and treasure just to protect Bush’s pride.

There are others (and I am among them) who consider that failure (and premature withdrawal) in Iraq would not only be a tragedy for the Iraqi people and for the world, but would not even accomplish the goals its proponents think it will. This enemy and this fight cannot be avoided, and failure in Iraq (however it’s defined) will only set up the next, and greater conflict.

The question of “will” in this war is one I’ve tackled before (here, for example). Part of will is to consider that failure is not an option, and to do whatever needs to be done to make sure it does not occur. But without defining either, we are at sea, especially in the sort of murky situation presented by asymmetrical wars.

In World War II the goals were so obvious there was no real need to define victory: unconditional surrender of the enemy, nothing less. In Vietnam things became more foggy, and part of the shock of the Pentagon Papers was that the goals the American people had assumed were those of our war effort there were revealed to have not been taken all that seriously by the Pentagon. Post-Vietnam, goals have not only been poorly articulated, but in the current conflict they are inherently difficult to define–this enemy will never formally surrender.

[Part II, planned for tomorrow, will be an attempt to explain why victory has been especially difficult to define and to pursue in this particular war.]

[ADDENDUM: Shrinkwrapped on a related theme.]

[ADDENDuM II: Here’s another example of the use of semantics in war.]

38 Responses to “The definition of “success” in war: Part I”

  1. Steve Says:

    I don’t think premature withdrawal is really the issue, at least, not on blogs that I read (like this one.) No one wants a precipitous withdrawal. But, maybe, as reflected in the polls, that’s exactly what the American people want.

    I think the American people could tolerate an idefinite presence in Iraq, if the US casualties — not just deaths but maimings — were kept low, low, low. I don’t think most people care about the cost, or the loss of lives among Iraqis. To be honest.

    What’s happening now is that the armed forces of the US is being charged with being the security force/police force for a nation without an effective government. That’s not really the proper role for the armed forces.

    People MIGHT become more persistent about demanding a quick withdrawal if there is a large spike in US casualties and/or if there is a demand for many more troops all of a sudden.

    What we need is political leadership to somehow explain to the American people that this was not a classic FUBAR and that we will be in Iraq basically forever, and that we need to increase our force establishment either as a deterrent or to fight the otherwise inevitable war for control of the oil. In my opinion, such political leadership has been completely lacking in this conflict, and that’s one of the reasons I do not have a high opinion of the POTUS.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    Also, Neo, in WWII you had two nations. Japan and Germany. When they caved, you knew the war was over. But Iraq just caved, and we’re still fighting. So people are thinking, “what is going on here”.

    Most Americans don’t have the specialized military and historical knowledge to look at asymmetrical warfare incidents and understand (not just see or read) what is really going on. But they do feel it in their gut. They feel the frustration, the high points (purple fingers) and the low points (Golden Mosque blow) in their heart. But they don’t understand why they are feeling the way they are, they are confused. So they lash out, at Bush, at Republicans, whatever is available.

    The purpose of the Presidency is to channel the rage and hatred of the people, into constructive and beneficial means and goals. If the President sits around doing nothing while people get angrier, well, you are not going to get a good result.

    Bush didn’t have a choice in this war. If he didn’t invade somebody and kicked somebody’s arse, the anger of the American people would have turned on him and obliterated his position. It is why the Democrats didn’t obstruct after 9/11. They understood that they would be wiped out, if they did anything that can be construed as hurting the war effort.

    Any other Democrat President, JFK or FDR, after 9/11 would have accrued so much police powers to the Executive Branch, that even after 7 years, the opposition would be unable to challenge that Democrat President for fear of being politically annihilated.

    Bush had to knock down countries in the Mid East. The consequences of not attacking, would have killed him figuratively speaking. So Bush chose Iraq, the weakest link in the chain. But he trusted in the UN. Big Mistake mister I want to help the world, Bush.

    Bush tried to draw power from the UN, while in the mean time telling the American people to wait, and telling the Democrats that they should go ahead and engineer up some plans to take back power. No President can draw power from a foreign nation. If you try, you will be crucified in one manner or another. The Democrats knew this. That is why they kept pushing Bush to be more “multilateral”. They knew, that if Bush was more unilateral, he would be harder to criticize. Only by sticking him in the webs of deception at the UN, can Bush the giant be carved up.

    People have been talking about how the Republicans betrayed their constituents or whatever, in the 2006 elections. But this really started in 2002, at the UN. When you started listening to folks like Blair and the peeps at the UN, instead of American Jacksonians, what you have to watch out for is NOT backlash from the Jacksonians. What you have to look out for is Chirac and the UN sticking a knife in your back, and while you are floundering around trying to retreat while bleeding unto the ground, the Jacksonians are going to demand that you fight.

    There’s a few lessons Bush is ignorant of.

    One, don’t

  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    One, don’t do anything at the UN if you want victory.

    Two, don’t expect Jacksonian patience to be infinite.

    Three, don’t expect to always have the momentum, such that you are like the rabbit, taking a nap for 2 years at the UN or some other place like Iraq post 2004.

    Four, absolute power comes from the American people, you don’t need any other sources, including the Senate and the Scouts.

  4. Trimegistus Says:

    American can be defeated in Iraq if we choose to be. If we choose not to be defeated, no power on Earth can defeat us. It’s really that simple: if we lose in Iraq it means we have chosen defeat and ultimately the destruction of the things we hold dear.

    Because once we choose defeat our enemies will _never_ stop attacking us.

  5. Loyal Achates Says:

    You really do crack me up, Neo. My question: where are the Neocon International Brigades, for the brave neocons to serve in to show how serious this war really is for them?

  6. Loyal Achates Says:

    Oh yes, and before I forget: ‘the pace of success’? That’s rich. Show me how things are improving in Iraq and I have a dead Chilean dictator I want to sell you.

  7. stumbley Says:

    yo, LA: Are you going to serve your masters in the “insurgency”? Or did al-Jazeera just say that your defeatist propaganda was good enough?

    What’s the insurgent equivlent of “shickenhawk”?

  8. stumbley Says:

    “insurgent equivalent of ‘chickenhawk’?”

    Sheesh. Don’t try to talk on the phone and type at the same time.

  9. Ymarsakar Says:

    Stumb, shickenhawk was actually a better version. At least when applied to Largos over here.

  10. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    Nice analysis so far

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    But what would “clear-cut victory” actually look like in the case of Iraq (or Iran, or Syria, or any number of other places, for that matter)? Do we know? To achieve “victory,” is it necessary to have a country completely at peace, with guarantees of civil rights for all and a smoothly functioning democratic process?

    Clear cut victory to me is where we advance from Iraq into Syria and Iran. It doesn’t mean iraq won’t get attacked, but it means we have to get out of Iraq, and into Iran/Syria. That’s a clear cut victory. Let’s get this battle over with, the war sings to us of greater challenges ahead, Neo.

    Iraq should be thought of as logistics base, where you have to secure it, but not the point where the enemy can never attack it. Because they will attack you, regardless of what you do, so you should push the war front so deep into enemy territory, that they can’t even reach your supply depots anymore.

    But this isn’t Bush’s plan. Bush thought that democracy could be spread with words instead of the sword. I believe in the efficacy of the Path of the Sword. Bush believes in words and diplomacy. Well, well. The American military is the only chance at democracy in the MidEast. If Bush didn’t plan on enlarging the sphere of influence that US troops held, then he was totally misguided in his strategic vision. Bush is so anti-war. He is so anti-war that the only way he wins wars is when he allows the military to do the fighting. But there is a whole slew of problems resulting from that, won’t get into it right now though.

  12. JB Says:

    I’ve always been amazed by the force one’s preconceived ideas have upon one’s ability to see reality. All too often if we believe something to be unavoidable in the future then we fail to see ways of avoiding the unavoidable. For example, if someone believes that there are no jobs available and that there is no demand for their skills then they probably won’t look for a job. So, by not looking for a job they are following a course of action that is rational to their beliefs but may in fact be irrational if their beliefs are wrong. And of course, if they don’t go look for a job they will be reinforced in their belief that there aren’t any jobs out there.

    I think there are many parallels in our collective psychology as a nation with individual psychology or psychosis as a person. Believing that Iraq is a failure is a great first step for walking down that road to true failure. If you believe it is already a failure then you won’t be open to other courses of action. I think much of the “left” could be cast in this light. They already see the death and chaos and see a failure. Thus, they think we should act according to failure, which, if failure hasn’t actually happened will guarantee that it does happen.

    How does one explain to someone who has always lived in a free society what it is like to “live” in a totalitarian regime like Saddam’s? Many have died in Iraq – but what is freedom worth? What was that saying. . .give me liberty or give me death??

  13. AZgirl Says:

    I love the direction your thinking is taking here. I’ll check back and maybe post a longer response after I see Part II, but this is a great start!

  14. Sergey Says:

    If Ham-Bak commission is so sure that Iran and Syria involvement is so crucial to US success in Iraq, then it follows that their present involvement here is the main hindrance to success. May be, it follows then, that removing this hindrance is an option to win? In this case, it is easy. To make these countries surrender is simpler than make insurgents surrender, because former have infrastructure to bomb.

  15. goesh Says:

    “Incoming House intelligence chief botches easy intel quiz
    WASHINGTON (CNN) — Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.”

    As I said in another blog, this jackass is wondering why we haven’t sent a dozen FBI agents into the Pakistani frontier to arrest bin laden. This mentality regards terrorism as a criminal justice, economic and foreign policy issue. This mentality that would pull the US out of Iraq thinks that Iran has no interest in the oil wealth of southern Iraq and the tactical access it would provide them through which to destablize Jordan in order to get at Israel.

    I don’t come around here too much anymore because some of the resident trolls are pro-terrorist and I see no reason why they should be given credence, legitmacy and a voice. On the other hand, for a nation that wrings its hands over putting women’s panties on the heads of captured enemy combatants, I’m not surprised that such trolls are given equal footing with those whom they would rather see dead.

  16. westbankmama Says:

    I am puzzled by an America that is so defeatist – when there is no draft. The people who volunteer to enlist know what the score is, so why is it so difficult for the rest of Americans to have the patience to see it through?

  17. Ymarsakar Says:

    West, because of enemy propaganda and demoralization campaigns. One can win a war by convincing the other side to give up, without having to fight at all. Goes all the way back to Sun Tzu’s the Art of War.

  18. Loyal Achates Says:

    1. Nobody has answered me as to how the situation in Iraq is improving.

    2. I hate to break it to all of you, but the United States doesn’t have unlimited resources. We cannot afford this war in Iraq; it’s being entirely financed by the Chinese Communist Party, which is one of the last groups who will lend us money. The idea that we could also afford wrs in Iran and Syria, who are in much better positions to defend themselves, is nothing short of criminal.

  19. holmes Says:

    That’s OK, each week I get unsolicited War Coupons at my apartment. This week they’re having a two for one special on night vision goggles and 30% off all automatic assault weapons.

    We spend about 4% of GDP on military expenditures. Syria spends 5% and somehow they aren’t teetering on the brink of extinction. But that’s mostly because we won’t push them in that direction for some reason.

    Nobody is going to answer you how the situation in Iraq is improving. Go read Bill Roggio if you like. He’s actually outside of of the Baghdad hotels and embedded with actual troops reporting from Iraq.

  20. Promethea Says:

    Good post, Neo.

    The anti-Bush types were proclaiming failure after a few weeks of the victory. They have no interest in reading about the situation at all. To understand this war, one must understand Islam and the history/geography of many countries.

    It’s a war that can’t be easily explained because so many of our “allies” are Muslim countries, including Pakistan and the Gulf States.

    Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. are decadent–the eloi types I hang out with, in fact. They aren’t willing to read to get the big picture. They just believe whatever the NYT tells them.

    It took decades for South Korea, Taiwan, and other tigers to emerge. The Islamic world is way behind where those people were in the 1950s in terms of education, culture, and trade.

    This war is a very long-term enterprise, and victory will be defined only by the state of the world in some distant decade.

  21. Promethea Says:

    BTW, Belmont Club has lots of interesting material today re Pakistan and Waziristan and the laws of war as we practice them today.

  22. Serendip Says:

    Iran is EU’s client state. This is precisely why we haven’t gotten rid of the mullahs for over 27 years. The EU is re-peddling the “reform movement” again to prolong the reign of terror of the Islamic Republic and to preserve its client state.

    The EU is Iran’s largest trading partner with bilateral exchanges exceeding €13 billion in 2001. The amount of EU-Iran trade, while allowing the former to have a formidable influence over the latter, has become the engine driving Tehran-Brussels relations–sometimes at the cost of the EU neglecting to challenge Tehran on the question of WMD and other political points.

    Organizationally, the EU had been reluctant to challenge Iran on reports that the country had a clandestine nuclear weapons program or was in violation of its safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). As late as May 2003 –with the promises of political linkages related to the TCA still intact–the EU failed to discuss officially the case of Iran in international forums on nuclear weapons proliferation.

    The reform movement is a sham and will eventually lead to nuked-up mullahs who share the same ideology as the hardliners.

    Europe’s Plan to “Reform” Iran Regime Shifts into High Gear

    More on EU’s complicity:
    In 2005 Germany had the largest share of Iran’s export market with $5.67 billion (14.4%) after Italy. (see here , here and here). In fact, overall, exports by EU countries rose from E5.3 billion in 2000 to E11.8 billion in 2004, making the EU Iran’s largest trading partner and accounting for 35 percent of Iran’s total imports, according to the European Commission. Then, is it any wonder that the 3-year long EU negotiations have not yielded anything but only mangaged to buy time for the Medieval Republic to reach its goal of building their Shia/Mahdi bomb?

    Moreover, both Russia and China have extensive economics, political, and military ties to Iran. Russia is building the nuclear power plants for them and China has major oil deals with them at discount prices.

  23. serendip Says:


    LONDON [MENL] — The British government has acknowledged arms sales to Iran and Syria.

    A British Foreign Office report said the government has granted licenses for dual-use equipment to Iran and Syria. The report said the exports include components and technology that could be used by the militaries of the two Middle East states.

    The human rights report asserted that Iran spent about $350 million, or 180.5 million British pounds, on a range of British dual-use systems. The Foreign Office cited aircraft engines, machine tools and chemicals.

    The Foreign Office said Syria has ordered nearly $200,000 worth of dual-use items from Britain, including chemicals as well as technology to produce toxins. The purchases were said to have taken place between October and December 2005.

    The link to this article is no longer available but with a little bit of googling you can find other references.

  24. george hoffman Says:

    “The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander must make is to establish…the kind of war on which they are embarking, neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.”

    Carl von Clausewitz, On War

    Like most right-wing bloggers, Neo-neocon is continually alluding to the Second World War in trying to explain the current quagmire in the Iraq War. That is a false analogy. Where is the Battle of the Bugle, the landing on D-Day, the Battle of Midway in the Iraq War?
    There has been only one battle, the siege of Fallujah, which bears any comparison to previous battles fought by the American forces such as those fought in the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
    By and large most of the fighting has been guerilla warfare. And as we all know, in the Vietnam War guerilla warfare was the decisive factor that turned public opinion against that war.
    Then why didn’t President Bush and his administration officials really level with the American poeple on the nature of the war that would be fought in Iraq? Perhaps they just didn’t have a clue what kind of war they would be fighting after the shock-and-awe campaign, the autobahn phase of the war in the rush to Baghdad, and the eventual toppling of Saddam’s statue. Now the American soldiers are bogged down in the real war, the one actually being fought rather the one envisioned prior to the invasion.
    Neo-neocon attributes this dilemma to a lack of communication from the White House. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and other officials within the adminstration never really could perceive the actual reality on the ground in Iraq, being in denial of its true nature. And despite their attempts to ignore this reality and spin it into the Second Wrold War, the Iraq War retains its own unique nature. And in the midterm elections, the American voters saw this one central fact about the Iraq War.

  25. anonymous Says:

    “Rather than ask how can we win the war in Iraq, they should consider the real question: How can we win the war in the Middle East, which now extends from Afghanistan to Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, and Somalia?
    An excerpt:

    ‘If we ask how to win in Iraq alone, we are led into a fool’s errand of trying to convince our sworn enemies–Iran has been at war with us for twenty-seven years—to act like friends.”–Michael Leeden

    To tie this in with Iraq, I remind everyone of Clinton’s policy of disengagment from Afghanistan that utlimately landed it in the Taliban era of chaos. But the real war over Iraq is fought in the U.S. Here, Mr. Bush’s administration continues to fail to explain what is at stake. In the Middle East, the old status quo and the balance of power that sustained it have been shattered. The region needs new structures of stability, which could either be created by the U.S. and its allies, including the new regimes in Kabul and Baghdad, or by the enemies of the U.S., particularly Tehran and its Syrian clients. An undemocratic and anti-American region will become a marshland of fanaticism and Islamic Imperialism (see Richard Haas) where terror is bred; a point Mr. Maliki and Mr. Bush should drive home. U.S. national security requires success not only in Afghanistan and Iraq but also throughout the Middle East.

  26. troutsky Says:

    Perhaps neo and others here should go back a little further in history than the first Gulf war when talking about “unfinished business”.Perhaps our difficulties stem from as far back as the partition after WWII ? And as you reference the war in Viet Nam, think about how that same lack of historical knowledge caused a few problems in US analysis there.( forgot about French and Japanese colonialism)

    We all (idealist left and right) desire the same utopia of peace through freedom, liberty and democracy but in guiding this project of historical development along, we diverge at certain points in the utility of using force where other methods might be more effective.( WWI, Cold War ,VietNam)We get impatient and forget about blowback.We also forget that others purporting to be ideologically motivated (on both sides) are actually only thinking of
    their narrow interests and could care less about such liberal values.

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    george hoffman: Your comment makes me wonder whether you have even read this post–or, if you’ve read it, whether you understand it. One of its main points is how different this conflict is from WWII.

  28. serendip Says:

    Last Night’s NewsHour on PBS:

    “We will Leave but We have to go back”

    RAY SUAREZ: The Iraq Study Group report has provoked reactions around the world and across the American political spectrum. The report is starting to raise new questions about the American role in the Middle East, whatever the Iraq outcome.

    We get some of that reaction from analysts who’ve written opinion pieces in the past few days. Eliot Cohen is a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He was among those meeting today with President Bush. His critique in the Wall Street Journal is called, “No Way to Win a War.”

    David Rothkopf is a Clinton administration official, author, and scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His article in the Sunday Washington Post is called, “We’ll Be Back: Anticipating a Third Gulf War.”

    Eliot Cohen, no way to win a war. You were scathing about the process that arrived at the report. What was the problem that you saw?

    Eliot Cohen, no way to win a war. You were scathing about the process that arrived at the report. What was the problem that you saw?

    ELIOT COHEN, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: Well, the problem with the process was — first and foremost, it was driven by consensus. And intrinsically this is an extraordinarily difficult problem, which serious people are going to disagree.

    I think the commission would have done a much better job if they had laid out several different options and explained to the American people the strengths and the weaknesses of each. They decided not to do that. Consensus, which is another word for group-think, instead took hold…

  29. Promethea Says:

    Anonymous . . .

    Assuming that the U.S. had an “empire,” how should the U.S. have kept it? Please advise.

  30. anonymous1 Says:

    anonymous: By “This” war he didn’t mean just the Iraq war. I think he meant the broader War on terror = Ideological war or war of civilizations or war of concept of civiliations

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Eliot Cohen, called by one observer “the most influential neocon in academe,” is a well-known scholar of military affairs based at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), which has served as a base for a number of prominent neoconservatives, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and political scientist Francis Fukuyama. Cohen heads SAIS’s Center for Strategic Studies, a program founded in 2003 with a generous grant from Philip Merrill, a minor media mogul who heads the U.S. Ex-Im Bank and serves as an adviser to the hawkish Center for Security Policy. Cohen is famous for his thesis that the war on terror constitutes World War IV, and that the Cold War should really be considered World War III. (5)

    Cohen also wrote a prominent essay in the Washington Post which described the Walt and Mearsheimer paper on the Israel Lobby as bearing “all the traditional hallmarks of anti-Semitism: “obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews”, accusations toward Jews of “disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments”, as well as selection of “everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group” and equally systematical suppression of “any exculpatory information”.(Wiki).

    Hardly the non partisan views that are likely to change too many American minds…

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous: I see that the new style of ‘debunking’ is of the form: “Don’t believe X as he is associated. Your respect for Cole et al(I can’t prove their backers because they are mostly terrorists from countries without transparency in their record keeping)is as suspect to me as my use of Cohen is to you. But I don’t use Cohen as an impartial expert, but simply as a source.You also can’t just disregard Cohen because he is a hawk. You can bring evidence to disagree with him but I’m sure he knows a great deal more than you and I.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    Should read: associated to Y.

  34. Matthew M Says:

    The polls about Americans’ opinions of the war seem always to be presented in the false dichotomy of approval or disapproval. I long to see a poll that distinguishes between disapprovers who think the problem is that we are not being aggressive enough and those who object to the war altogether.

  35. grackle Says:

    Here, Mr. Bush’s administration continues to fail to explain what is at stake.

    The commentor here blames Bush. I see this all the time and I wonder: Do these folks who keep wanting Bush to “explain” ever watch television? The President has been ‘explaining’ for years and years at the top of his voice. He has explained his strategy, his hopes, his tactics and exactly what is at stake ad infinitum but I guess there will always be those who don’t listen, or perhaps hears instead the MSM’s “spin” on Bush’s many, many public pronouncements.

  36. george hoffman Says:

    “But I don’t think he (President Bush) prepared the American people for what the Iraq War would entail.”

    Are you admitting or perhaps finally entertaining the possiblity that as the chief executive and commander-in-chief, he has failed to provide the leadership to win the war? He likes to make historical allusions to President Harry Truman, who also prosecuted an unpopular war and had low approval ratings at the end of his term, as comparable to his current predicament.
    But as I remember, President Truman also had a plaque on his desk in the oval office that stated: “The buck stops here.”
    How can the average American voter be expected to accept the responsibility of our role in the world and the long, harg slog in Iraq, if Bush refuses to acknowledge his mistakes as a war-time leader to the American people?

    Also, we are losing the war in Afghanistan due to the appeasement of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Last September the Pakistan government officals signed a peace treaty with the Taliban insurgents in North Waziristan in which the Taliban agreed to stop cross-border incursions into Afghanistan to aid Taliban fighting against American and NATO forces. Despite the peace treaty, Taliban insurgents in North Waziristan continue to cross the border, sending over suicide bombers trained by former Pakistani generals, into Afghanistan. President Musharraf now terms the dire situation in North Waziristan as a creeping Talbanization in his country.
    Why hasn’t President Bush addressed this problem in the war on terror? After all, he continues to call Musharraf a great ally in the war on terror. But Musharraf seems to be the Pakistani version of Neville Chamberlain.

  37. grackle Says:

    Nobody has answered me as to how the situation in Iraq is improving.

    Underlying assumption: That the US must “improve” things in Iraq.

    So far the US has toppled a despot, killed a bunch of terrorists and has suffered low casualties while doing so. I find it difficult to improve on such a positive scenario – kill even more terrorists while suffering NO casualties, perhaps?


  38. grackle Says:

    How can the average American voter be expected to accept the responsibility of our role in the world and the long, hard slog in Iraq, if Bush refuses to acknowledge his mistakes as a war-time leader to the American people?

    The anti-war crowd engages in constant orgies of breast beating so it is only natural that they question it when others do not, as with the rather plaintive question above. Furthermore, I suspect a simple acknowledgement of mistakes would never be enough for the anti-war crowd. What they really desire is a wallowing in manufactured guilt.

    But the simple answer is that while ALL wars involve mistakes it is not very leader-like to dwell on them. Did Roosevelt acknowledge his mistakes? Did Truman? Lincoln? Perhaps later, in memoirs for some, but a true leader rarely beats his breast in public.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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