April 26th, 2007

The margin of the pullout vote and public opinion: not your father’s Vietnam

The Democratic leadership is pushing vigorously for further confrontation with the Bush administration over a timetable for a pullout. They clearly seem to think they have a winner for themselves in the political sense, whatever the fallout for Iraq itself.

The Vietnam playbook for the role of Congress in the early-to-mid-70s is being followed, as predicted here and here.

There are two very important differences, however. One is the fact that the war in Iraq is arguably far more important than Vietnam ever was, and the second has to do with how much support the Democrats have for their Iraq agenda.

Don’t get me wrong; in human terms both wars were/are very important, and the regional bloodbath that followed our withdrawal from Vietnam was probably just as large as the one that would follow our withdrawal from Iraq. But although the North Vietnamese were a featured part of the lengthy global battle between Communism and capitalist liberal democracies known as the Cold War, and defeat there had an effect on the duration of that struggle, a pullout in Iraq would have even more direct consequences for the US. It would embolden an enemy far more apocalyptic in its goals and far more able to bring the war directly to us in terms of terrorism.

Therefore, the stakes now are more immediate, and higher, for the US itself, although the Democratic leadership is bent on denying that fact.

The second difference is the amount of support the Democrats have for their approach. Polls from February (the most recent ones I could find that contained some all-important details) put support for a pullout timetable at 53%, not a huge margin. And this margin was soft: only 46% of those who favored a pullout wanted it to be accomplished within a year (a year, that is, of February). The rest—54% of those who favored a pullout—wanted it to be more gradual.

I could only find one poll on the subject that is more recent, and it appears in the subscribers-only Wall Street Journal, so I have none of the all-important details. But here’s mention of it. In the new poll, 56% favor a withdrawal date, a very slight increase over February’s poll considering the incessant drumbeat of despair. But the summary doesn’t mention the breakdown of the timetable favored, and it’s quite possible that it’s similar to that of the earlier poll. And hmmm, that Oct. 1 deadline set by the House is only five months away.

Is it possible that the Democratic leadership is miscalculating when it figures its actions are a sure-fire crowd-pleaser and vote-getter? Perhaps.

Polls, of course, are notoriously unreliable, but despite their well-known flaws they’re the best tool we have for gauging the true extent of Democratic support. One indisputable fact, however, is that Congressional support for the Democratic position (which, of course, is not supported by all Democrats in Congress, and is supported by a few Republicans) is weak, as well.

What was the vote count on this bill in the House? 218 pro, 210 con. A majority is a majority, I suppose, and “passed” is “passed.” But no wonder it’s not veto-proof; this barely made it through.

The Congressional situation for the Vietnam pullout was very different indeed. I can’t find a record of the actual vote in late 1974 that effectively ended funding for the South Vietnamese, and thus, the war (here’s President Ford’s reaction to it). But at the time of the bill’s passage, the composition of the House was 242 Democrat and 192 Republican, and support was hardly limited to Democrats (to the best of my recollection).

Contrast that 50-person Democratic margin to today’s 31-person one. Even more importantly, an election had just occurred in late 1974 at the time the funding was cut, and a new Congress was about to be installed. This new Congress would be Democratic by one of the largest margins in history: 291 to 144, or a surplus of 147 Democratic votes. Bucking this overwhelming tide was hopeless, and Ford knew it (similar figures for the Senate of the time were 56/42 for the years 1973-1975, and 60/38 for the incoming Senate of 1975-1977. The present Senate, in contrast, is quite equally divided.)

The members of Congress who voted for a Vietnam pullout knew their votes had teeth and that President Ford was powerless to stop them. Whether or not you approve of what they did (and I do not, although I did at the time), their acts were not a cynical ploy nor a largely political battle against Ford himself. Their battle against the Republican President, Nixon, had already been won, with his full cooperation via Watergate.

77 Responses to “The margin of the pullout vote and public opinion: not your father’s Vietnam”

  1. al fin Says:

    The US Democrats in Congress appear to be inebriated on some type of “invincibility drug.” Their hubris is a bit dizzying to mere mortal observers.

    Mr. Bush need only be sure that he helps to accentuate the predominant Democratic Party message by opposing it 100%. Speak softly, but carry a big stick (veto pen).

    If the Democrats had tried this closer to the 2008 elections, it might have worked. Americans are tired of military deaths. But this far out in the election process, the full disingenuousness and cynical superficiality of the Democratic tactic will almost certainly be hung out with the dirty laundry in full public display.

  2. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    The comparison between Vietnam and Iraq can’t really be done in that way, because nowadays there’s the Internet, which speeds things up.

    Consider that the war in Vietnam dragged on for so many years. By the fourth year of the Vietnam War public opinion in the US was still strongly in favor of the war. Today we’re only in the fourth year of the Iraq war and look how quickly public opinion has turned against it.

    The momentum against the war is quickly becoming unstoppable.

  3. The Bunnies Says:

    Part of why the anti-war movement grew more quickly this time is that the “peace” movement has the Vietnam template to follow.

    Also, the MSM didn’t really oppose Vietnam until Walter Cronkite did. The MSM opposed Iraq very shortly after the invasion.

    Nevertheless, although anti-war sentiment has grown, it remains far from the national consensus. It’s growing by drips and drops.

    The anti-war movement, on the other hand, has not grown substantially. The protests aren’t nearly as big as they were in the Vietnam era.

    But as far as “the momentum against the war…quickly becoming unstoppable,” although it’s far stronger than I would like, it’s far from unstoppable. A lot of people don’t like the war, but relatively few (compared to Vietnam) are willing to do much of anything about it.

    Not only that, the right’s efforts to respond to the left on Iraq have been paltry at best. If we actually start fighting back (and the response to Harry Reid shows we might be getting the idea)” we can still turn things around on the home front.

  4. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    The protests aren’t nearly as big as they were in the Vietnam era.

    That’s because this time there isn’t any draft.

  5. Lee Says:

    Which is why lefties and hate America firsters like DeShawn here are the ones screaming the loudest for a draft. Not because it will make service “more fair”, because then lefties who get drafted can rise up and bitch!

  6. The Unknown Blogger Says:

    From the poll:

    Turning to the war in Iraq . . .[240]

    35. Thinking of the situation in Iraq over the past three months, do you think the situation there has gotten better, gotten worse, or stayed about the same?

    Gotten better………………………… 12
    Gotten worse………………………… 49
    Stayed about the same……………. 37
    Not sure……………………………. 2

    38b. Do you think the U.S. goal of achieving victory in Iraq is still possible, or not? ** [244]

    Yes, victory in Iraq is still possible……. 36
    No, victory in Iraq is not still possible…. 55
    Not sure………………………………….. 9
    ** Asked of one-half the respondents (FORM B).

    39. When it comes to the debate on Iraq who do you agree with more? The Democrats in Congress, who say we should set a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq; OR President Bush, who says we should NOT set a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq?

    Democrats in Congress/should set deadline….56
    President Bush/should NOT set deadline…….. 37
    Some of both (VOL)…………………………….. 3
    Not sure…………………………………………… 4

  7. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    Nicolas Sarkozy pour retirer des soldats français d’Afghanistan

    Le Monde Newspaper, Paris
    26.04.07 | 23h21

    Nicolas Sarkozy in favor of withdrawing French troops from Afghanistan

    PARIS (Reuters) – Le candidat de l’UMP à l’élection présidentielle Nicolas Sarkozy s’est prononcé pour un retrait des soldats français d’Afghanistan.

    “Il était certainement utile qu’on les envoie dans la mesure où il y avait un combat contre le terrorisme. Mais la présence à long terme des troupes françaises à cet endroit du monde ne me semble pas décisive”, a-t-il jeudi soir dans le cadre de l’émission “A vous de juger”, sur France 2.

  8. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    If we actually start fighting back (and the response to Harry Reid shows we might be getting the idea)” we can still turn things around on the home front.

    Yes. Please do so.

    You will only end up alienating more people, thus causing the war to end sooner.

  9. Webutante Says:

    Another difference of today’s war to the Viet Nam War fiasco is that our age group has gone neo-con with age. Whereas today’s younger, college group seem less politically active and inspired.

    Meanwhile, all of us “wild childs” of the sixties have grown up (at least a bit) and seem to have morphed, albeit slowly, from our sixties experiences. So even as Congress passes a bill for premature pull-out in Iraq, some of us are revving up our activism in the opposite direction.

    Much is at stake here. Long live the process of coming to one’s senses!

  10. Lee Says:

    UB, now present those same questions to military personnel. You know, like Lt. Nichols, whose letter you avoid addressing. You know, the people who are THERE with the truth, instead of back HERE with what they THINK is happening. Like you.

  11. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    UB, now present those same questions to military personnel. You know, like Lt. Nichols, whose letter you avoid addressing. You know, the people who are THERE with the truth, instead of back HERE with what they THINK is happening. Like you.

    The US is not run by the military.

    The military takes orders from the civilians here. Policy is decided by the civilians.

    For a good reason.

  12. Lee Says:

    Didn’t say they should dictate policy, just curious why you don’t want their opinion.

  13. Ymarsakar Says:

    Neo, when you understand the motivations that drive primeval and various other human behaviors and actions, you don’t need the damn polls.

    The Left needs polls.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    The US is not run by the military.

    Then why do your allies always talk about chickenhawks? You believe you can keep your hands clean?

  15. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    The US is not run by the military.

    Then why do your allies always talk about chickenhawks?

    The shameful thing about chickenhawks is that the chickenhawks, that is people who have not served in the military themselves (i.e. have never risked their lives for their country), feel no qualms about sending other people’s children into war. (The even more shameful thing about chickenhawks in the case of Iraq is that this particular war was an unnecessary one, initiated under false premises, and one that has devastated our prestige in the world’s eyes.)

  16. Lee Says:

    Assuming your assertion is right, DeShawn.

  17. Lee Says:

    Still haven’t answered why the military’s opinion on the war is unimportant to you, DeShawn.

  18. Finn McCool Says:

    I’m resigned to the fact that we are rhyming the late 1930’s, not Vietnam. The pressure to pull out and leave Iraq will be irresitible, for President Bush or his successor.
    We will be hit with a major terrorist attack that kills thousands, or tens or hundreds of thousands.
    Countries that facilitate Jihad will be ground down, as Germany and Japan were. Many more Muslims than Westerners will die.
    Preaching Jihad will be a crime that will be punished severely and swiftly.
    Islam will become quietistic once more.

  19. Lee Says:

    “Chickenhawks” vs. “Chickens”

  20. The Bunnies Says:

    Better chickenhawks than chickenchickens!

    (I’m an Army vet, by the way.)

  21. James Becker Says:

    Hi Neo,

    Three points for you to ponder:

    1) Pulling out of Iraq probably won’t create that much of a blood bath. Iran will own the whole thing in pretty short order. The Iraqi government will surrender pretty quickly.

    I guess Iran will kill a few people (million maybe) who tried to help us set up a government. But AQ is really a tool of Iran, and will stop operations once the Iranians are in charge.

    Your probably right about what happens next though. Iran will have the power and money to extend their reach a long way. Isreal will only be the first stop.

    2) This (Iraqi war) really is an existential threat to Iran. A brutal dictatorship can’t coexist next to a free, democratic prosperous country with a long border. Iran can’t afford to build a wall to stay alive. So they either take over Iraq, keep it brutal and week, or eventually collapse themselves.

    They will keep up the fight for quite a while, and the Democrats might get their wish – an Iranian power country – fighting for ever expanding borders.

    I’m a little dissapointed in George W. He apparently believed the CIA when they told him that Iran would help stabalize things in Iraq after the war. Helping support shia and all that. He didn’t believe Iran would lead the insurgency. Of course, the Democrats still deny the Iranians are behind most of the violence – showing how long it will take them to learn.

    3) Assuming Iran falls sooner or later, the Democrats would be in a world of hurt, and the rest of the world would be in a world of happiness. Iran is behind most of the really bad behavior in the world. Having peace break out all over would be nice, and it might happen sooner than you think. We won’t have to invade to make it happen, containment will bring down the country much faster than it brought down the Soviet Union.

    Should this happen, the Democrats can always claim that the country was about to fall anyway, and W shouldn’t get the credit. They said the same thing about Reagan and the Soviets. But the fall of Iran could be as big a negative event for the Democrats (unless they turn libertarian!) as the fall of the Soviet Union.

    I don’t think the Democrats really see that coming, they didn’t see the ‘inevitable’ fall of the Soviet Union either. But they are acting (by accident I think) like they really need Iran in its current form for a while.


  22. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    AQ is really a tool of Iran

    AQ is Sunni and Iran is Shia. Nothing to do with each other.

  23. Lee Says:

    Al Qaeda are terrorists. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorists. It has nothing to do with “Sunni” or “Shi’a” or “Arab” or “Persian” or “Palestinean” or “Chechen”.
    When Richard Clark told the 9-11 Commission that Al Qaeda and Saddam had an agreement to cooperate in the development of chemical weapons, the fact was ignored and dismissed citing “Saddam is a secularist, Al Qaeda are religious fanatics. They would never cooperate, they’re “enemies”.
    It has everything to do with who will emerge as the “leader of the Islamic world”

  24. The Bunnies Says:

    I notice that UB and his cohorts still never even came sort of a little bit close to responding to the actual content of that letter the other day.

  25. Lee Says:

    In fact, just in case you forgot, DeShawn, the very first thing the “secular” Saddam did in January 1991 after getting his TV broadcasting back up, was squat his ass on a prayer rug facing south toward Mecca and declared holy jihad against America and Israel, and called on the entire Islamic(not Arabic) world to join him.

  26. Lee Says:

    Like I said, Bunnies, they can’t address it. All they can do is say he’s too “stupid” to see the truth(as Deshawn said about Iraqis like Omar and Mohammed at “Iraq the Model”), or say he’s just “lying” and a “tool of Bush”. Notice how UB dances around the letter and Reid’s public statements, trying to focus your attention on “the proposal”? “How can you disagree with the ”
    ‘proposal’ ; did you read the ”
    ‘entire proposal’? Still disagree, read the ‘proposal’ again, in it’s entirety.”
    “I’m not talking to the guy that asks questions I know I can’t answer; Hard, logical questions obviously show you’re ‘raving mad’.”

  27. The Bunnies Says:

    Just a snippett from Hugh Hewitt interviewing Mark Steyn:

    HH: Now Mark Steyn, yesterday, I had former Congressman Bob Schaffer on the program. He had just come back from Afghanistan. He was carrying with him a recent edition of the only English daily in Kabul, the Daily Outlook of Afghanistan.

    MS: Right.

    HH: And there above the fold in large caps was the headline, “Iraq War Lost, Says Leader of Democrats.”

    MS: Yes.

    HH: It was like a telegram to the Taliban.


    But Harry Reid not helping the enemy! No, how dare those conspiratorial neocons even think such a thing! Iraq has nothing to do with anything else at all! If we loudly proclaim we’ve lost while proposing a plan we thought was awful a few months ago, it’s the best way to convince our enemies of how strong we are.

    How can you neocon idiots not understand that Harry Reid’s declaration of defeat actually helps America’s war effort?

    Give me nuance, or give me death!

  28. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    Al Qaeda are terrorists. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorists.

    Wow, what wonderful logic. You think that terrorists (in spite of their creed or ideology) always collaborate with each other?

    In the 1970s-80s, Pinochet’s Chile was a state sponsor of terrorism. (He terrorized his own citizens). At the same time, there were Basque terrorists in Spain. By your logic, then, Pinochet was a collaborator of the Basques!

    The AQ are Sunni and Iran is Shia. There’s a CIVIL WAR going on in Iraq between Shia and Sunni. They have no reason to collaborate with each other.

  29. The Bunnies Says:

    Mark Steyn:

    I think it’s clear that when people talk about the differences between various forms of Islam, that they’re missing the point, that in fact a lot of these people whatever their ancient differences, have concluded that at the moment, the infidel is weak, and that they have great advantage in coming together to prod and poke at the weak infidel, and find his weak spots…”

    Mitt Romney:

    “What Jimmy Carter fails to understand is what so many fail to understand, whether it is Hamas or Hezbollah or al Qaeda, there’s an overarching goal among the violent jihadist that transcends borders and boundaries. That goal is to replace all modern Islamic states with a caliphate, to destroy Israel, to cause the collapse of the West and the United States, and to conquer the world.”

    They have PLENTY of reason to collaborate with each other.

    The reason they’re fighting each other in Iraq now is simply to get us out of the way so that once we’re gone they can establish their caliphate of choice from which to attack us here in America.

  30. Lee Says:

    Still dodging, eh, DeShawn?
    Pinochet was a “dictator” with no interest in “world banana republicanism” or “toppling the Spanish regime”.
    If Iran and Al Qaeda are such “enemies”, why did so many of them and talibanis retreat into Iran? why are the “Sunni” Syrians supporting the “Shi’a” Hezbollah in Lebanon?
    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is repeated time after time after time throught history. But it JUST CAN’T POSSIBLY BE HAPPENING NOW, huh?

  31. Lee Says:

    Example after example of Islamic “duplicity” cited above, but not “these guys”, huh? They couldn’t possibly “deviate” from their “position papers”, huh?

  32. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    why are the “Sunni” Syrians supporting the “Shi’a” Hezbollah in Lebanon?

    In Lebanon there was a civil war once upon a time between the Sunni and the Shia. That civil war is long over.

    In Iraq, on the other hand, a civil war is happening right now between the Sunni and the Shia.

    Totally different situations.

  33. The Bunnies Says:


    I’m tempted to keep track of all the issues people dodge, but I’m getting the impression that it would be really hard to keep track: the actual content of the letter, terrorist cooperation crossing ideological boundaries, Feinstein’s perfidity, our enemies giving each other high-fives after Harry Reid’s comments, Harry Reid endorsing Rumsfeld’s plan (and I’ve been paying attention for just three days).

    Yes, we also do it from time to time, but it’s not our only effective debating tactic.

  34. Lee Says:

    But above, Deshawn, you stated Sunni and Shi’a don’t cooperate because they’re “enemies” of each other. So, I’ll ask again: Why are the “Sunni” Syrians supporting the “Shi’a” Hezbollah in Lebanon? The fact the “civil war” in Lebanon is over is irrelevant, the support is happening now.

  35. The Bunnies Says:

    The radicals of all sects will fight each other from time to time (like today in Iraq), but this is missing the point.

    As Lee pointed out, Sunni Syria is more than willing to support Shia Hezbollah if it means killing Infidel.

    The extremists of both major sects want us dead. Sometimes they prioritize killing each other, but the moment they’re done (and if we leave Iraq, one side will probably wipe out the other with ease), they’ll be emboldened and come after the Infidel.

  36. Lee Says:

    Why would the “defeated”(Sunni) support the “victor”(Shi’a) in Lebanon?

  37. The Bunnies Says:

    Why would Sunny Hamas and Shia Hezbollah start rocketing Israel at the same time?

  38. Lee Says:

    By the way, Deshawn, I already know the answer. Just giving you the opportunity to dig yourself into a deeper hole. Anxiously awaiting your response.

  39. The Bunnies Says:

    Maybe DeShawn will admit that sometimes Sunni and Shiite radicals sometimes colaborate with one another, that maybe it’s possible that Iran and AQ coudl be doing the same….

    Hahahahahahahhahahahahah! No, he’ll probably just quietly either switch to Halliburton or navigate away to another website.

  40. stumbley Says:

    DeShawn, if you had been reading anything at all from people who are actually in Iraq (outside of the Green Zone, or not al Qaeda stringers), you’d realize that al Qaeda is fighting everybody in Iraq, including Sunni tribes who are tired of all the violence. Al Qaeda is interested in bringing down the Iraqi government, destroying any chance for democracy, and forcing America to withdraw. The Democrat party is facilitating this goal quite handily.

    Read anything by Michael Yon or Michael Totten, TJ Tammes, Acute Politics, or anybody who has a CLUE as to what’s happening. Of course you won’t, but you might receive a little edification.

  41. Lee Says:

    If you notice, DeShawn said the civil war between “sunni” and “shi’a” in Lebanon was different than the “sunni” and “shi’a” civil war in Iraq.
    Of course, DeShawn knows the civil war in Lebanon was between “Muslims” and “Christians”, not “sunni” and “shi’a”.

  42. stumbley Says:

    DeShawn and others:

    Try reading this interview with Fred Kagan, who just returned from Iraq:


    an excerpt: Well, you start by getting Iraq under control, because if we don’t get Iraq under control, and if we allow ourselves to be driven out, we will be reinforcing the message that terrorism succeeds against the United States every time. And that’s a disaster. Over the long term, the tactics of these terrorists are going to alienate them increasingly within the Muslim population at large, as is already happening in Iraq. The truth of the matter is that most Muslims don’t want to live in accord with Sharia law the way these guys interpret it, and they don’t want to be terrorized and killed. And that’s something that we’re going to have to plan, but we’ve got to show that there’s an alternative, and we’ve got to show that we’re prepared to help democratic regimes fight off terrorism.

    HH: Last question, Frederick Kagan, we’re almost out of time, thank you for being here. Does the Democratic leadership not know this? Or are they ignoring it for political gain in your estimate?

    FK: I don’t know. I’ve been struck by the degree to which the debate in this town, in Washington, seems to be lagging behind reality in Iraq. And one would hope that with the briefings that the Congress is getting from General Petraeus and others, that we would start to catch up and realize that the world is different from the way it was in November, 2006. We’ll see.

  43. Lee Says:

    And if anyone else hasn’t noticed, if “more and more Americans are awakening to the truth”, and “public opinion is landsliding against the neo-cons”, etc., why do these guys keep coming to this blog to dispute what is said here? If we’re so “irrelevant” and the public can see the obvious truth, why bother? According to them, they’ve “won” the public debate. How much effort would you spend arguing with “irrelevance”? If you lefties and hate America firsters and Islamic apologists have “won”, why are you still here to dispute every word said?

  44. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    Why are the “Sunni” Syrians supporting the “Shi’a” Hezbollah in Lebanon?

    The AQ profess Wahhabi Islam — a particularly doctrinaire form of Sunni Islam. Even though Sunni and Shia can sometimes get along, Wahhabis cannot stand the Shia and almost consider them polytheistic infidels. See below:

    “From a theological perspective, relations between the Shia and the Wahhabi Sunnis are inherently strained because the Wahhabis consider the rituals of the Shia to be the epitome of shirk (polytheism; literally “association”), especially the Ashura mourning celebrations, the passion play reenacting Husayn’s death at Karbala, and popular votive rituals carried out at shrines and graves. In the late 1920s, the Ikhwan (Abd al Aziz ibn Abd ar Rahman Al Saud’s fighting force of converted Wahhabi beduin Muslims) were particularly hostile to the Shia and demanded that Abd al Aziz forcibly convert them.”


  45. Lee Says:

    Then why are they cooperating in Lebanon? They are obviously cooperating in Lebanon, despite any “declarations” that they hate each other. You can’t say “they would never work together” when it’s obvious they are “working together”.

  46. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    Then why are they cooperating in Lebanon? They are obviously cooperating in Lebanon, despite any “declarations” that they hate each other.

    The Sunni in Lebanon are not Wahhabi Sunnis. However, AQ is of the Wahhabi persuasion of Sunnis.

    Of course, DeShawn knows the civil war in Lebanon was between “Muslims” and “Christians”, not “sunni” and “shi’a”.

    You need to inform yourself better. All four communities in Lebanon (Shia, Sunni, Druze and Christian) were involved in the civil war. (The Sunni, for the most part, were allied with the Christian phalangists and hence, against the Shia).

  47. Lee Says:

    Yeah, that’s like saying because atheists allied with Catholics against protestants, the American civil war wasn’t about “North” vs. “South”.
    And if it was about all these “divergent” groups, why did you only mention the “sunni” vs. “shi’a” part when, by your last blog, you now assert it was “actually Sunni-Christian vs. Shi’a”? Forget “that” part when it conveniently didn’t fit into your obvious attempt to obfuscate the issues?

  48. Lee Says:

    And, of course, still DODGING the question, now amplified by your assertion: Why did the “sunni” Syrians support the “shi’a” hezbolla, especially against the “sunni” Lebanese, and why does that support continue to this day?
    The more you attempt to “rationalize” the deeper you dig yourself. It’s pathetic, really.

  49. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    newstatesman.comwhy did you only mention the “sunni” vs. “shi’a” part when, by your last blog, you now assert it was “actually Sunni-Christian vs. Shi’a”?

    Because earlier, we were talking about Iraq, where there are only Sunni and Shia. Very few Christians. (A few Chaldean Christians, but most of them have left the country). There is no Christian involvement in the Iraqi civil war. It’s Sunni versus Shia.

    In the latter instance, we were talking about Lebanon (a country which you brought into the discussion), which has a large number of Christians, and in the Lebanese Civil War (of the 1980s), it was Christian (phalangist militia) versus Shia (amal militia), with many Sunnis allied to the phalangists.

    Why did the “sunni” Syrians support the “shi’a” hezbolla, especially against the “sunni” Lebanese, and why does that support continue to this day?

    See the following:


    “[Syria] is ruled by the Alawite minority (offshoot of Shia Islam seen as heretical by most Shias), but fragmented religious make-up means it is governed as a secular
    state. Political isolation has pushed Syria into anti-western, anti-Israeli alliance with Tehran.”

  50. Lee Says:

    So, “these” shi’a aren’t “really” shi’a, who fight “those” sunni who aren’t “really” sunni, unless, of course you’re talking about “those” Arabs who are “Wahabi”, but not really “Kufic”, who happen to “say” they’re really “Sufic”, who aren’t really involved in a civil war because “christians” are involved with the “Druze”, then it really “is” sunni vs. shi’a unless it happens to be “those” not quite shi’a who really hate the “real” shi’a and have no problem allying themselves with “these” sunni but not “those” sunni because they’re not “really” sunni who are forced to be “secular” unless they “want” to be “religious”…..
    In other words, everybody fights with and allies with anybody depending on who they happen to be pissed off with at the time, which is what I’ve been saying all along.

  51. Lee Says:

    Thanks for making my point, DeShawn.

  52. Lee Says:

    And they “all” claim to be the true “religion of peace”.

  53. OverGourd Says:

    An explanatory/descriptive model that focuses on the various religious factions fails for the reason that Lee points out; it cannot really explain anything.

    A more useful method is to use the traditional peasant tribal model which, while having regional variations, at least allows the mapping of local power relationships. Think mafia families, derived from a similar peasant society. In a Western context this is similar to using categories like Stalinist, Maoist, Trot’s or social democratic to understand factions.

    The more supple minded here will immediately see how factional mapping is a more efficient method in counter insurgency. The rigidly doctrinaire will not.

  54. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    And they “all” claim to be the true “religion of peace”.

    So does Christianity. But that didn’t prevent the Serbians (Orthodox Christians) from fighting a civil war with the Croatians (Catholic Christians) now, did it?

  55. OverGourd Says:

    outsidethewire.com How To Beat An Insurgency/a>

  56. Torq Says:

    Look, there is an important element missing in all of this rhetoric.

    The war is over. Victory was declared as the President stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln underneath the “Mission Accomplished” sign.

    By the way, we won the war.

    Now we are mired in an occupation; an occupation which is adding momentum to brutal civil unrest.

    So the real question is, are military occupations winnable?
    The answer absolutely, categorically, NO!

    There is only one solution for a military occupation and that is to leave.

  57. The Unknown Blogger Says:

    By the way, the Lebanese Civil War did not end because of the complete destruction or surrender of any side, but rather through the Ta’if agreement.

    In other words, diplomatically and politically.

  58. The Bunnies Says:

    I don’t know the details of the example you cite. However, I do know that plenty of tensions remain in Lebanon, and that although there may no longer be civil war, repressive Hezbollah controls much of the country, and that tensions could explode at any moment.

    But even if Lebanon somehow epitomized the ideal ending to a civil war. it happens rarely and almost universally produces only short-term gains . Korea “ended” in truce (officially there’s still a war going on), but I’m not exactly sure that anyone is better off because of it. Had we won the war instead of negotiated a cease fire, the entire region would have been better off in the long term, although in the short term it would have been horrid.

    But for negotiations to work, it has to be with reasonable people, and the Iraqi insurgents are anything but reasonable. The type of person who decides to become a suicide bomber will probably not be assuaged by diplomats.

  59. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    nytimes.comFrom today’s New York Times:

    “He [former CIA director George Tenet] also expresses skepticism about whether the increase in troops in Iraq will prove successful. “It may have worked more than three years ago,” he wrote. “My fear is that sectarian violence in Iraq has taken on a life of its own and that U.S. forces are becoming more and more irrelevant to the management of that violence.”


  60. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    From yesterday’s Democratic candidates’ debate:

    BRIAN WILLIAMS: And Senator Gravel, for those who
    may not be familiar with your past, two terms
    U.S. Senate from Alaska. You played a role in the
    fight to cut off money for the Vietnam War. What
    would be your advice, Senator, for the elected
    officials on this stage who are at a conflict,
    opposed to the conflict, but also feel the need
    to keep on funding the conflict?

    MR. GRAVEL: Well, first off, understand that this
    war was lost the day that George Bush invaded
    Iraq on a fraudulent basis. Understand that.

    Now, with respect to what’s going on in the
    Congress, I’m really embarrassed. So we passed —
    and the media is in a frenzy right today with
    what has been passed. What has been passed?
    George Bush communicated over a year ago that he
    would not get out of Iraq until he left office.
    Do we not believe him? We need to find another
    way, and that’s where I really would like to sit
    down with Pelosi and with Reid, and I would hope
    the other senators would focus on, how do you get out?

    You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making
    it a felony to stay there. And I’ll give you the
    text of it. And if you’re worried about
    filibusters, here’s what you do tactically. They
    can pass it in the House. We got the votes there.
    In the Senate — let them filibuster it, and let
    Reid call up every — at 12:00 every day to have
    a cloture vote and let the American people see
    clearly who’s keeping the war going and who’s
    not. And that’s the just the beginning of the
    tactic, if they’re tough enough to do it.

    BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Gravel, at a forum
    earlier this year — I want to get this right —
    you said it doesn’t matter whether you are
    elected president or not. So then why are you
    here tonight? Shouldn’t debates be for candidates
    who are in the race to win the race?

    MR. GRAVEL: Brian, you’re right, I made that
    statement. But that’s before I had a chance to
    stand with them a couple of three times. It’s
    like going into the Senate, you know the first
    time you get there you’re all excited — “My God,
    how did I ever get here?” And then, about six
    months later, you say, “How the hell did the rest
    of them get here?” (Laughter.) And I got to tell
    you, after standing up with them, some of these
    people frighten me! They frighten me!

    When you have mainline candidates that turn
    around and say that there’s nothing off the table
    with respect to Iran, that’s code for using nukes, nuclear devices.

    I got to tell you, I’m president of the United
    States, there will be no preemptive wars with
    nuclear devices. To my mind, it’s immoral, and
    it’s been immoral for the last 50 years as part of American foreign policy.

    BRIAN WILLIAMS: Let’s use a little moderator
    discretion here. Senator Gravel, that’s a weighty
    charge. Who on this stage exactly tonight worries you so much?

    MR. GRAVEL: Well, I would say the top tier ones,
    the top tier ones. (Laughter.) They’ve made
    statements — oh, Joe, I’ll include you too. You
    have a certain arrogance. You want to — you want
    to tell the Iraqis how to run their country. I
    got to tell you, we should just plain get out. Just plain get out.

    It’s their country. They’re asking us to leave, and we insist on staying there.

    And why not get out? What harm is it going to do?
    Oh, you hear the statement, “Well, my God, these
    soldiers will have died in vain.” The entire
    deaths of Vietnam died in vain. And they’re dying
    in vain right this very second. Do you know
    what’s worse than a soldier dying in vain? It’s
    more soldiers dying in vain, that’s what’s worse.

  61. Lee Says:

    UB, the war may have ended diplomatically, but it was won by the Shi’a militarilly. Now, if no one side has been completely(some qualifier) eliminated, why does a country that was 60% Christian before the civil war now only 5% Christian today?
    And DeShawn, Christ never demanded his adherents destroy the non-believers to the last, like Allah says over and over and over. “Christianity” makes no “claim” to be anything but “the way”, and you come to it by choice, not by the sword.

  62. Lee Says:

    Now, if you had stuck to “Catholocism”, or “Anglicanism”, or “Greek Orthodoxy”, etc. you may have had a point, but you chose to lump the Gospel in with these man made organizations, where your blanket condemnation tears.

  63. Lee Says:

    In fact, DeShawn, Is there some particular why Islam cannot stand or fall on it’s own merits, based on it’s teachings and traditions? Is there some reason it must always be seen as a contrast and comparison to “Christianity”, or “Judaism”, or “Hinduism”, etc. All these can be discussed based on the merits of their teachings. Why is Islam the only religion that makes claims such as: “Well, look at Christianity, they kill people, too.” That may be a basis for proving that both are false, but hardly a basis for why one is “better” or more “righteous” than another?

  64. Lee Says:

    Are you muslim, DeShawn?

  65. Lee Says:

    And Torq, that “miliatry occupation” of Germany sure seems to be working out to this day. Same for the one in Korea, and the one in Japan, both working like it was never any other way.

  66. Ymarsakar Says:

    The shameful thing about chickenhawks is that the chickenhawks, that is people who have not served in the military themselves (i.e. have never risked their lives for their country), feel no qualms about sending other people’s children into war. (The even more shameful thing about chickenhawks in the case of Iraq is that this particular war was an unnecessary one, initiated under false premises, and one that has devastated our prestige in the world’s eyes.)-Deshawn

    To apply logic to this, we must conclude then that even if the people that disagree with the Left politically, were to enlist, the Left would still not listen to the military. It seems like a very interesting Cas i n rule. Either you join and become voiceless because you are now military, not civilian, in foreign policy. Or you don’t join, stay out, and be called a chickenhawk that is for a war.

    Nobody said the Left was fair. Not even the Left themselves. Equality was always their false slogan. And indeed it is equal.

    The only correct policy to the Left is whatever policy they decide. The logic certainly does not favor fairness for both sides. It is heavily rigged towards Deshawn being correct.

  67. Lee Says:

    Ymar, what “logic” has DeShawn demonstrated so far? Nothing but contradiction, rationalization, and outright lies, obfuscation, and deflection. I’m still waiting for “logic” from DeShawn.

  68. The Unknown Blogger Says:

    cia.govphrases.org.uk“UB, the war may have ended diplomatically, but it was won by the Shi’a militarilly. Now, if no one side has been completely(some qualifier) eliminated, why does a country that was 60% Christian before the civil war now only 5% Christian today?”

    Sheesh. Re the 5%, source please. Current CIA Factbook shows 39% Christian.

    Isn’t this what’s known as “moving the goalposts”?

    The Lebanese Civil War was ended by the signing of the Ta’if Agreement, a diplomatic and political effort leading to peace. Was it a perfect peace? No, but let’s not let perfect be the enemy of better, right?

  69. Lee Says:

    Remember when DeShawn was just simply a “drive-by” commenter? He’d come along and post one comment, not to be heard from for days.
    What do you think has changed? What’s got his “panties in a bunch” these days that he feels the need to challenge each and everything said these days? Especially if , as I mentioned above, we’re so “irrelevant” to any political discussion now that the “vast majority of Americans have FINALLY awakened to the ‘truth'”, and public opinion “steamrolls” toward the lefties?

  70. Lee Says:

    UB, we asked you to name the war “won” diplomatically, politically, and economically. You cite a war “ended” diplomatically.
    However, you do score one point: I believe I meant to say that Beirut, not Lebanon was once 60% Christian and now 5%, but i can’t find a source or remember where I heard that figure.
    According to wiki, though, no official census has happened since 1932, and linking there to U.S. State Dep’t, it cites “difficulties to distinguish between political and religious differences..” and says “absence of accurate data on the relative percentages of the population of the major religions and groups.”
    So, it’s actually “anybody’s guess”.

  71. Deshawn Q. Williams Says:

    Are you muslim, DeShawn?


  72. Ymarsakar Says:

    # Lee Says:
    April 27th, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Ymar, what “logic” has DeShawn demonstrated so far? Nothing but contradiction, rationalization, and outright lies, obfuscation, and deflection. I’m still waiting for “logic” from DeShawn.

    Logic doesn’t mean you’re right. It is just a set of premises built ontop of others, creating a way of thinking and processing data.

  73. stumbley Says:

    UB and DeShawn:

    Why do you keep citing the CIA for “facts” when the CIA (George Tenet, remember?) said that WMD in Iraq was a “slam dunk”?

    Use them only when they fit your meme, eh?

  74. J. Peden Says:

    I believe that an ultimately prior – and devastating – problem with the chickenhawk argument is that: if you cannot support a war without being directly involved with it, you likewise cannot oppose it.

    So the chickenhawk argument defeats itself. Or else those using it should refrain from making any decision about wars unless they are directly involved with them. But that’s only their principle, not necessarily anyone else’s.

    Of course the Constitution disagrees with this argument, also.

    Any Yamar is indeed right about the Faux Liberals’ basic m.o. regarding truth and policies, to the effect that, “I say it, therefore it is true.”

  75. tony Says:

    OK, I’ve read through all the comments and I declare Lee in the red corner the winner by K.O. over Deshawn in the blue corner.
    [Deshawn…hmmm….sounds very French to me]
    [and that Q in the middle, queer letter for a middle name]
    But seriously folks, Deshawn Q lost every round in this encounter, typical lefty fuzzy thinking.

  76. Torq Says:

    Lee Said:
    “And Torq, that “military occupation” of Germany sure seems to be working out to this day. Same for the one in Korea, and the one in Japan, both working like it was never any other way”

    Yes, that is precisely right. The occupation worked. Mostly because we got out of the way. We empowered the locals to rebuild their cities, we funneled in millions of dollars so that the people could work, earn money and pursue their own happiness. The Germans rebuilt Germany, not foreign interests.
    We added safeguards into their constitutions that protected workers, provided healthcare, labor unions and several other measures of security. These are liberal principals.

    What’s happening in Iraq is a neocon nightmare. Worker safeguards have been removed, what few there were. Privatization has ruined several industries. Infrastructure is in ruins. The people are despirate for work, peace and security.

    We are not focusing on infrastructure as we did in Germany and Japan, we lost our opportunity to win the people early on as we put our focus on building military bases and an ambassador complex instead of rebuilding the electrical grid, schools and hospitals.

    We could have really made a difference in Iraq by putting the people to work, building their own cities, using their own companies and resources.
    Instead, we implemented a plan that would empower multination corporations and import cheaper foreign labor to do the work that the Iraqis know best – rebuilding their cities. Heck, they did it once before. Who better to rebuild?

    Additionally, one of the only laws that Paul Bremmer kept on the books is the law against labor unions. Sadam implemented this law in 1987, although it went largely ignored.
    But the point is this; what kind of signal did we send to these people when we allowed looting and rioting, outlawed labor unions, broke up nationally owned utilities, build safe zones instead of schools, dismantled their army and imported labor and foreign companies to rebuild instead of hiring local talent.

    That is the fundamental difference between the Marshall plan and the Wolfowitz/Neocon plan.

    In the simplest terms, the Marshall plan empowered the locals; the neocons removed power from the locals and placed it elsewhere.
    So far, the neocon plan has been a complete failure at providing the basic essentials of safety, shelter and sustenance.
    It’s not a coincidence that the majority of opposing force in Iraq is Iraqis. It’s also no suprise that they consider themselves an anti-occupation force.
    It’s no secret that the prime minister and president of Iraq want us to leave, so does a majority of the people.

    Our military is finally starting to understand the complexity of dealing with an insurgency that views the occupying force as the enemy – (See NPR.org keyword COIN)
    Our so-called conservative politicians on the other hand are far behind the parade.

  77. Torq Says:

    Hi Stumbly,

    George Tennant recently said that the “Slam dunk” statement was taken out of context.

    Keith Oberman is going to dedicate his show to this development tonight – MSNBC @ 8: pm

    As we hear more and more about the reasons for this war, whether it was the so-called CIA evidence or the Valorie Plame debacle, the facts become compellingly obvious.
    We went into this war to prove that the Liberals had is wrong in 1945, that the Marshall plan is a fluke.
    Some would say that I am over simplifying, but I don’t think so.

    We wend to war to prove that the former Trotsky’s (the Neoconservatives) have it right.
    We went to war to prove that open markets, unfettered free trade, privatization of industry, and spreading democracy by force is what’s needed to reshape the world, not the principled doctrines of liberal democracy.

    The Neocons are afraid of liberal democracy. The find it unstable, open to lasciviousness and majority rule.

    I’m sure that the Neocons also wanted to exert our influence in a region of the world that is typically anti-American and that is rich with petrol.

    So far, the Neocons are very wrong about many of their assumptions. The world is not interested in their style of democracy — leadership by an elite few, open markets, lies and deception as a means to an end (the perpetual myth) and lastly — war!

    I wonder sometimes what Leo Strauss would think of all of this mess in Iraq. I’ll bet that he would be upset that so many people know what a Neocon is let alone the names of the policy makers. A good neocon perpetuates a myth without being well known to the masses.

    Do these modern neocons actually read Strauss? I’m betting, with the exception of William Kristol and maybe Wolfowitz; no.

About Me

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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