May 29th, 2007

Post-Memorial Day questions: is the cause honorable, and is it still achievable?

This comment by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle on yesterday’s Memorial Day post makes an excellent point that needs to be addressed:

Suppose that a war is commenced, based on incorrect assumptions which at the time of going to war were not understood as incorrect. However, with the progress of the war, it becomes clear that the assumptions were, in fact, incorrect. In such a situation, continuing to “have the will” to prosecute the war isn’t honorable — it’s just stubborn. This logic leads to the mindset that more lives need to be sacrificed just so that the lives sacrificed earlier can be justified. As I hope is clear, this leads to an infinite loop and the war becomes never-ending.

Ninja Turtle is using what might be referred to as the John Kerry argument against “staying the course.” In a 1971 statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry famously said of the war in Vietnam (in fact, it may just be the most famous thing he ever said), “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

The argument, then and now, Vietnam or Iraq, hinges on the meaning and definition of that one word, “mistake.”

If you read Kerry’s entire statement you will find a number of assertions that are taken as articles of faith by the Left. I could (and many have) spend a great deal of time attempting to demonstrate that they are in fact, “mistakes”—amassing evidence of errors, evidence that readers could then argue about for the next few decades, as we have for the past thirty or so years.

Suffice to say that Kerry’s statements were primarily based on the testimony of the exceedingly controversial (and probably mostly bogus) Winter Soldier investigations that he conducted, assertions that have enraged many Vietnam vets ever since (see this and this for background on why); that his assertions about the number of war crimes committed by US forces were enormously inflated; that his assertions about the Vietnamese not knowing or caring whether they lived under democracy or communism have been given the lie by the mass exodus known as the boat people; and on and on and on (see this for a more thorough discussion of some of the many myths of Vietnam).

But of course Iraq is not Vietnam, although the arguments used to show it was a “mistake” are sometimes similar. In his/her comment, Ninja Turtle is making the point that the original justification and expectations for the course of the Iraq war were erroneous, and that therefore there’s no reason to keep sacrificing US lives there in order to justify that mistake.

The issues of initial “mistake”(or, at times, “lie”) have been debated ad infinitum and ad nauseum (did Bush lie or was he mistaken? Did Saddam have weapons of mass destruction that were hidden in the long buildup to the war? Would Saddam have had the capacity to reconsitute his weapons program, and was he eager to do so once sanctions were lifted, which they soon would have been? Were the planners of the war too sanguine in their expectations for its aftermath?). We’re not going to solve those issues today, either. What I would prefer to discuss is whether any of this matters now.

Let’s concede for a moment that much of this was error, and that there were no weapons of mass destruction there and that the planners were too optimistic in their projections about the difficulties of reconstruction. This doesn’t obliterate any of the many other arguments for the war: humanitarian, Saddam’s future intent, his violation of UN resolutions and the terms of the earlier ceasefire. And the fact that miscalculations were made in the prosecution of the war and especially its aftermath isn’t a compelling reason for saying the entire endeavor was an error, either. As I’ve reiterated before, mistakes are part and parcel of every war.

The important questions in deciding whether to continue with the sacrifice (for this is the conundrum we now face) are these: is this war being fought for a good purpose, and is it still possible to achieve that purpose?

Those who cry “No blood for oil,” “Imperialism,” and the like believe the answer to the first question is “no.” If that’s true, the answer to the second question is irrelevant, although I’m sure they would answer it the same way: “no.”

I believe the answer to the first question is “yes,” and have discussed the reason for that belief many times. Which brings us to the extremely important second question; I believe the answer to that one is “yes, ” as well (and have written about it at length before)—with the following qualifications: it will be difficult, and it will not be quick. One thing is certain: that purpose cannot possibly be achieved if we lack the will to do so.

That is the context in which I agree with Bush’s words spoken yesterday, Memorial Day, “Our duty is to make sure the war is worth the sacrifice.” If you don’t believe it was worth the sacrifice at the outset, either because the cause was unjust and/or because it was inherently unwinnable, then the sacrifice of more men and women makes no sense, just as Ninja Turtle says. But if you believe the goals to be both just and still achievable—although difficult—then it really doesn’t matter whether mistakes and errors were made, either at the beginning or up until now. Oh, it matters in that we all wish there had been no errors, just as we all wish not a single American life nor a single innocent Iraqi life would have had to have been lost. But none of these are realistic expectations or demands.

Our abandonment of South Vietnam in 1974/1975 was driven by ideas such as Kerry’s that the war there was both a moral error and unwinnable. Note the last paragraph of Kerry’s 1971 statement, in which he imagines that people thirty years into the future might look back on American’s part in the Vietnam War as a “filthy obscene memory,” and that a pullout would be the way to reverse that tide. But one must also remember that when we ultimately did pull out of Vietnam we had no fighting forces left there, and it would have taken just a small sum of money to keep the South Vietnamese army fighting—-money which we denied them, thus sealing their terrible fate. As Melvin Laird has recently written:

…during [1973-1975, when US combat forces had withdrawn], South Vietnam held its own courageously and respectably against a better-bankrolled enemy. Peace talks continued between the North and the South until the day in 1975 when Congress cut off U.S. funding. The Communists walked out of the talks and never returned. Without U.S. funding, South Vietnam was quickly overrun. We saved a mere $297 million a year and in the process doomed South Vietnam, which had been ably fighting the war without our troops since 1973….

This guaranteed that the entire sacrifice, both of American and Vietnamese lives, was indeed in vain. And for what? In the end, it came down to saving a sum of money that was miniscule in the grand scheme of things; the cost of further support was small, the stakes high. In that sense, even though the Vietnam War had been going on for a very long time, the final withdrawal was nevertheless premature, penny wise and pound foolish.

Things are different in Iraq. American fighting forces are still involved there and their lives are still being sacrificed; that makes the cost to the US much higher, although the US casualty figures don’t even begin to reach anything like those of the Vietnam era. But the nasty fact (and one that Democrats and other antiwar activists generally fail to confront) is that much is at stake in our participation in Iraq that would be lost by our withdrawal, and not just for the people of Iraq.

Right now there are reasons to believe that the new approach of Petraeus is bearing fruit—for example, the populace seems to be trusting the US soldiers more and informing on terrorists, leading to finds such as this. I submit that any withdrawal in the next few months would be premature by definition,and would guarantee that the previous sacrifices we and the Iraqi people have made there will have been in vain.

60 Responses to “Post-Memorial Day questions: is the cause honorable, and is it still achievable?”

  1. gcotharn Says:

    Excellent post. I would only add – for as long as I have voice – that our most formidable enemy is not the Osama/Jihadis who now exist. Rather, it is the culture which creates them.

    If Osama had not downed the WTC towers, the culture would have produced someone else who would have downed them. Children pouring out of madrassas are filled with love for Sharia, and warped rationale for murdering all who oppose Sharia. There are more Osamas amongst them.

    These children may already be lost to a Tribal/Sharia culture of backwardness and hatred. The next generation of children – yet to be born – may already be lost. At some point, we must interrupt this assembly-line which is streaming hatred and backwardness into the world. This assembly-line of hatred and murder represents the true threat to our own children; and the true threat to the last, best hope for the world.

  2. Charles Frith Says:

    It’s just not that hard to tell right from wrong. And if it is hard, it usually takes a long long explanation.

  3. william jonas Says:

    The real question that won’t be asked or forseen for a generation or more is ,” who will fight the next war ?”
    Do we suppose our children will find honor or purpose for the next war in our classrooms of today? Will the history being passed on to that generation be filled with praise for our defense of democracy and freedom ? The domination of leftist education and culturization guarantees this will be our last military effort . All future rationale to defend our sovereignty will be argued to death while our destruction proceeds.

  4. Danny Lemieux Says:

    Let’s not forget, neo, that it wasn’t just the Vietnamese that we abandoned in 1975 but also the Cambodians. For Cambodia, the consequences were far, far worse.

    I still remain convinced in my own heart and mind, recalling the Nixon Derangement Syndrome of the Left during those years, that many of the Democrats cut that $297 million in funding, which we were obligated by treaty to provide, solely to deny Nixon a legacy.

  5. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    The particularly mind-bendingly odd thing about the question “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” and sticking it out, is that sticking it out changes the only mutable portion of the question – whether or not the conflict is a mistake.

    Any conflict you lose is a mistake. Pulling out is losing. And therefore pulling out makes the last person who died in the conflict the proverbial last man.

    In any of the wars that we’ve fought and won, pulling out would have made any and all of our engagement a mistake. The same choice confronts us here – do we want to make the war a mistake?

  6. Dave in FL Says:

    Every young military member that dies in Iraq is dying because of the “mistake” of abandoning Vietnam. Our enemies, then and now, percieve that if they can only be paitient enough; if only they can kill and wound enough of our military; then we will abandon the fight once again.

  7. vegas art guy Says:

    How many reasons did we give to go into Iraq? 22 or 23? So if 1 or 2 are wrong it’s all wrong? It’s not like Saddam was a saint, or that he was continually in violation of the cease fire agreement from 1991 or anything. We were right then, we’re right now. The left is willing to do anything to regain power, including turning Iraq into another Vietnam. Thanks, but one Vietnam is enough for me. And let me ask those on the left this question. Why don’t you lay any of the blame for Iraq at the feet of Iran?

  8. Ken Larson Says:

    vanityfair.comI am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

    Politicians make no difference.

    We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703

    Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

    There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

    The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

    So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

    This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

    The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

    For more details see:

    http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2006/11/inside-pentagon-procurement-from.html

  9. alphie Says:

    “Peace talks continued between the North and the South until the day in 1975 when Congress cut off U.S. funding. The Communists walked out of the talks and never returned. Without U.S. funding, South Vietnam was quickly overrun.”

    I’m having trouble confirming Laird’s claim (and the pro-war mythology) behind the above quote.

    The only thing I could find was Congress denied a request by Ford for $722 million in emergency military funds for South Vietnam that he made just a few days before Saigon fell.

    Congress didn’t even actually deny the money, Saigon fell before they could act.

    Does anyone have a link to any legislation that would back up Laird’s claim?

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    alphie: I’m not sure about the exact dollar amount Laird cites, but I’ve written several posts on the subject of the Vietnam funds cutoff. See this, this, and this.

  11. alphie Says:

    presidency.ucsb.eduneo, in the first link you wrote:

    “Congress’s betrayal of the South Vietnamese to their fate was part of a foreign policy appropriations bill, the Foreign Assistance Act of December 1974, which was vetoed by President Ford but overridden and passed by the hugely Democratic Congress of the time.”

    That is not true, Ford signed the act:

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=4660

    And that act continued military aid to South Vietnam through June of 1976 anyway, long after Sagon fell in April of 1975. So that act was not the culprit.

  12. Jimmy J. Says:

    instapundit.comThe overarching reason for going into Iraq was the belief that the best way to fight Islamic terrorism was to introduce democracy and free market economics into the Muslim world. It was generally accepted by strategic thinkers (Thomas Barnett and Thomas Friedman as two examples.) that Iraq, sans Saddam, would make a good candidate for such a transformation. It was a generally secular country with seemingly high levels of trained technocrats and bureaucrats.

    Many things went wrong in trying to implement this idea. Few recognized how zealous the Sunnis would be in trying to maintain their grip on things in Iraq through force and intimidation. Additionally, foreign jihadis who were religious zealots swarmed into the country for a chance to make the fight against the Great Satan. Tribal politics, Shia religious ambitions, and the lack of preparedness of Iraqis to stand up for themselves all complicated the issues. Violence and chaos with seemingly small/no advances toward the goals of democracy and free markets have been discouraging to the citizens of the U.S.

    The amazing thing is that the very people who seemingly ought to be discouraged are the warriors that are on the ground doing the job. Reading military blogs and bloggers who are embedded with the military gives a totally different picture than what we get from the MSM. They are not discouraged. They believe in what they are doing. They are mystified by the lack of support by the home front.

    At no time have the Sunni insurgents, Al Queda in Iraq, the Mahdi Army, or any other miltant group in Iraq been able to gain any semblance of a victory over our forces.

    One thing that is obvious. There is a lot of money flowing into the terrorists in Iraq. Every IED or VBIED costs lots of money. They seem have no lack of money for weapons, ammo, bribes, and salaries. Someone (Saudis? Iranians? Syrians? Muslim charities? or ????) is pouring a lot of money into this fight. The supply of foreign suicide bombers and jihadis is huge. (Probably 100 million out there in the ME.) So it isn’t any wonder that not much progress is being made.

    This is the crucible. If we withdraw the Islamic terrorist cause will be strengthened immeasurably. It will prove Osama’s thesis that we do not have the will to perservere and defend our beliefs.

    There has been a sudden recent development that may be the first ray of light in the gloom. Oil and gas have been found in Anbar Province. This is huge! Previously only the Kurd and Shia areas had oil and gas fields. The Sunni insurgents seemingly have been fighting to insure they get their fair share of the oil revenues. Now, with oil and gas in their province, they won’t have to depend on the charity of the Kurds or Shias.

    What is really interesting is that peace is suddenly breaking out in Anbar Province. Go to Instapundit
    ( http://www.instapundit.com/) and read the two recent e-mails he received from Michael Yon, the blogger who is embedded in Anbar. What Michael is seeing in Anbar is very unusual. The Sunni sheiks are beginning to try to set their houses in order. I think they see oil money coming their way and they want to get their fair share. I could be wrong, but it seems plausible.

  13. Ymarsakar Says:

    General Lee didn’t think the South should have fought for keeping slavery intact.

    But he fought nonetheless because of loyalty binds and ties.

    Just cause you’re fighting for the wrong side doesn’t mean you lack honor.

    It is something that those who postulate these fake scenarios that aren’t even connected to any historical accounts or even well done fiction, will not recognize. Because to recognize honor in one’s enemies when it is present, requires understanding and acting on human nature.

    You can postulate as many fake scenarios as you want, but if your actors don’t obey the right rules that govern human nature, what you get is simply a puppet play where you pull the strings. Not a real reflection of possible events.

    In such a situation, continuing to “have the will” to prosecute the war isn’t honorable — it’s just stubborn.

    So Lee was going to abandon his soldiers at Antietam because someone told him that he was being stubborn. That would nice, for his enemies that is. But alas the US would have become a different nation without Antietam and Gettsyburg. Maybe that’s the point. changing the fate of Iraq. That is what the fight is over. One side wants the fate to be theirs, the Islamic Jihad wants it to be theirs, we want it to be ours, and every other faction operates on the same principles.

  14. H. Roark Says:

    Never Forget 9/11…before 2005. Haven’t you seen the newest bumper sticker proudly plastered on that Subaru’s tailgate? It reads: Never Forget 11/2000.

    3000 dead US civilians, you say? Seriously folks! We’re playing big boys games here. We’ve got a neocon administration to destroy!

    The hungry left, having eaten all of its young, has started on its own tail. Already gone from their rhetoric and activism is removing facist dictators; completely erased from their ideology is the promotion of freedom and liberty for oppressed people. In their place stands a new tenet: Unquenchable vengeance against Bush and his “cabal”.

    What gets tossed out the window next, abortion? Gay rights? Ethnic sensitivity? Moreover, what does the effortless shedding of such core beliefs say about the ideology itself?

  15. susan Says:

    The pro-Saddamists in America base their entire argument on the premise that radical Islamic terrorists are everywhere BUT Iraq so we should redeploy to Okinawa to save Dafur.

  16. Trimegistus Says:

    This war is worth fighting because of the enemy. If Al-Qaeda in Iraq and its kindred terror gangs were supporters of Santa Claus and the Care Bears it would still be right to fight them. Terrorism, kidnappings, and human shields make them wrong. We must defeat _them_. Never mind why we’re there, never mind our goals for Iraq: destroying the beasts in human form who have chosen to oppose us is the real mission.

    What is really shocking and disgusting is how the Left manages to talk themselves into siding with these monsters. Apparently no evil, no horror, no degradation is too great for them if it means striking a blow against America. They’ve abandoned their old position of pompous moral self-satisfaction — now they wallow in sheer blind nihilistic rage. The old pretexts of “building a better world” are forgotten. The old appeals to morality are forgotten. Now the Left openly and loudly gloats over dead Americans, dead Iraqis, devastated mosques, chaos, terror, and misery. They are no longer even excused as means to an end. Apparently nowadays those _are_ the end for the American Left.

    If we abandon Iraq, we are abandoning that nation and the world to nihilistic horror. A regime of terror will take over there. Democracy movements all over the world will be snuffed out — because people will see that democracy and decency cannot stand against terror and brutality. We are not fighting in Iraq for oil, or for Bush, or even for America. We are fighting for civilization. If we lose, the world will face a new Dark Age of nuclear-armed barbarians and savage warlords with surveillance cameras.

    Lefties frequently mock conservatives for referring back to World War II in our rhetoric about Iraq, but in a very real sense this is a continuation of that conflict. The enemy is the same: nihilistic tyranny and violence for its own sake, opposed to civilization and humanity. Instead of one Hitler we’re fighting dozens of little Hitlers. If we fail, all the blood shed since 1939 is in vain.

  17. Richard Aubrey Says:

    The consideration of whether Iraq is the wrong place to fight, or the right place, depends on how much one thinks of the WOT–or the war against Islamofascism–as a connected whole.
    If it’s Iraq in isolation, that’s one thing (we’re still right), if it’s part of a whole, then the connection is how it fits in the big picture.
    Some people say we should dump Iraq and go fight where the al Q is. Two problems. That would mean greater effort in Afghanistan and most of the rest of us doubt they really mean a greater effort anywhere. The other problem is we aren’t in a position to go after only those whose names are found on al Q membership rosters. There are lots of other enemies doing the same thing for the same reason.
    The strategic importance of defeating the enemy anywhere is immense. Iraq is a particularly good place to do it. With good luck, they can sustain themselves with oil until they get themselves organized to do other things. They can mostly feed themselves. An Iraq on our side would threaten Iran indirectly by being an example to Iranians who don’t like their mullahs, and directly by being a base for military action if necessary. Syria would find our presence there in a largely stable Iraq a problem, as would Saudi Arabia.
    Now, all this is speculation based on some thought. But so is the judgment that if we leave things will be better or at least no worse.
    “stubborn” is a pejorative generally applied to an effort one wishes would go away and which, if it succeeded, would be inconvenient in the extreme.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    alphie: you didn’t follow all the links I gave you. One was to a post I wrote about whether Ford actually vetoed the particular bill (or bills) in question. Here it is again. And, as I say in that post, the money was not totally ended, but it was reduced to the point of being worthless, leading to the collapse of the ARVN and the South Vietnamese government.

  19. Bacchus Says:

    Liberate two countries from brutal regimes and people are still questioning if the cause is honorable? Of greater consequence, in my opinion, is how those liberations change the dynamics in the war against Islamic radicalism (which is what threatens us). It’s taken longer than anticipated and mistakes were made, but Iraqis throughout their country are organizing now and are openly rejecting what Al-Qaeda has to offer. I think they’ve finally decided that they don’t want to be an Islamic fundamentalist state. Secular Islam is not only possible in the middle east but it seems now that it’s desirable. Wasn’t that the plan? It appears to me that it is still achievable.

  20. Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Says:

    Great post, Neo — but there were actually two parts to the argument. You primarily address the first one:
    The argument, then and now, Vietnam or Iraq, hinges on the meaning and definition of that one word, “mistake.”

    In fact, TMNT makes the much stronger claim:
    more lives need to be sacrificed just so that the lives sacrificed earlier can be justified. As I hope is clear, this leads to an infinite loop and the war becomes never-ending.

    He claims the war becomes never-ending.
    The Vietnam war ended in 1975, with the S. Viet loss (our ally), after 20 active years. The Cold War ended after 45 years, with the fall of the Berlin Wall — our win.
    45 years is MUCH LESS than “never-ending”.

    The Left seems to truly believe the lie that “more than 3 years (or so) is equal to never-ending”.

    [Had the US kept funding the S. Viet forces, they could have kept fighting and defended themselves better -- the US should also have trained more S. Viet fighter bomber pilots and sent more planes.]

    The big truth is this — nobody knows how long it will take before the pro-democracy Iraqis, supported by America, can gain control of Iraq.
    The big lie is this — because nobody knows when democracy will win, the Left says the uncertain end is the same as never-ending war. I fear that this is the bigger lie, and the mistake or not argument is a distraction.

    However, those who believe, perhaps like TMNJ, that ‘democracy can NEVER win’ in Iraq, these folk need us to leave to be sure that their belief is never falsified by democracy winning. And similarly, those like myself who are sure that democracy CAN win, given enough time, need us to stay to prove that possibility.

    I just wish Bush was more honest/ competent about how long it will still take — if he claimed another 10 years, for instance, the “never win”ners would become ‘not worth 10 years of effort’, which is not nearly as strong.

  21. gcotharn Says:

    This comments section rocks.

    Trimegestus: your comment was awesome, until the final assertion that the lives lost since 1939 might prove to have been in vain. I understand your sentiments, yet wish you would reconsider your opinion about that.

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    Tom Grey: I hadn’t yet seen your comment when I posted today’s rumination on the subject of “undending war.” See this.

  23. alphie Says:

    “And, as I say in that post, the money was not totally ended, but it was reduced to the point of being worthless, leading to the collapse of the ARVN and the South Vietnamese government.”

    That’s a rationalization, neo.

    Money has very little to do with victory.

    The poor military strategy of the South Vietnamese government doomed it, not some fractional cutback of U.S. funds.

    The North Vietnamese troops used the South’s own equipment for its final push.

    We’re outspending the bad guys in Iraq by a ratio of 1000:1 and still losing to them.

  24. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    “January 8, 1975 – NVA general staff plan for the invasion of South Vietnam by 20 divisions is approved by North Vietnam’s Politburo. By now, the Soviet-supplied North Vietnamese Army is the fifth largest in the world. “

  25. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    Alphie,

    Just a quick question for you while you’re out trying to support your assertions. You note: “Money has very little to do with victory.”

    Which is, of course, why things like Lend-Lease and Rationing and War Bonds are all myths, because we just fought the Second World War by… um… by um… you know, not spending money.

    Yeah. That’s the ticket…

    Or something.

    BRD

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    alphie: you didn’t follow all the links I gave you.

    Did you expect something else Neo?

    It is pretty apparent that after Ford vetoed the bill, Congress overrode it, which forced Ford to sign it into law or else violate the Constitution.

    A veto after all is just not signing the bill.

    Why didn’t you mention the air support issue, Neo? Without air support, South Vietnam was basically doomed, because air support is the greatest equalizer on the battlefield. It makes a small force in number, Afghanistan, as powerful as an army division.

    The poor military strategy of the South Vietnamese government doomed it, not some fractional cutback of U.S. funds.

    Why do you act as if you and your allies know anything about military tactics, strategy, or proper logistics?

    You think the armchair generals here in the US criticizing the South Vietnamese, like you,were more competent than the Vietnamese actually fighting the war? Poor indeed.

  27. alphie Says:

    BRD,

    If Bush pulled our troops out of Iraq, I don’t think anyone would mind him funding Maliki & Co. to the tune of, say, an amount equal to Iraq’s GDP each year…or about half we’re spending there now.

  28. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    Alphie,

    Now I’m really truly and deeply confused. According to you “Money has very little to do with victory.”.

    And then you turn around and say “I don’t think anyone would mind him funding Maliki & Co. to the tune of, say, an amount equal to Iraq’s GDP each year…or about half we’re spending there now.”

    So, if money doesn’t have anything to do with victory, then clearly giving Iraq money won’t, according to you, prevent Iraq from going under. So therefore, to avoid Al Qaeda from overrunning the country, we have to keep our troops there.

    I mean I’m just going by these self-evident “truths” you keep generating, evidently from thin air.

    BRD

  29. alphie Says:

    I don’t believe money has that much to do with victory, BRD, but the pro war crowd seems to (note their focus not on Nixon pulling our troops out, but Congress trimming a few million offa S. Vietnam’s pork bill).

    You can guys can give Maliki $50 billion a year and America saves $50 billion and 1000 lives a year in the bargain

    Think of it as a bribe, not an endorsement of your beliefs.

  30. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    Alphie,

    So, basically, you’re assuming that if you throw money at Iraq on our behalf we’ll be happy and content?

  31. alphie Says:

    Not really, BRD,

    What does your happiness and contentment have to do with it, though?

    You guys had your chance and you blew it.

    Pulling our troops out of Iraq but funding Maliki is probably the best offer you’ll get in a few months.

    Why not get out ahead on this instead of losing it all?

  32. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    Alphie,

    Why is it that the chance is “lost”?

    All you’re arguing is what way in which you would like to lose the war. Your only suggestion thus far is that we lose the war today by surrendering immediately, versus losing the war in a few months by surrendering in a few months.

    Or, to put it another way, your policy argument is that we turn Iraq into a genocidal bloodbath that will only result in the imposition of an Iraqi Taliban as fast as we possibly can, rather than selling 27 million people down the river in a few months.

    I’m not going to back you on either option.

    BRD

  33. alphie Says:

    BRD,

    The only people who think Iraq willl turn into a genocidal bloodbath after we leave are, coincidentally, the pro war crowd.

    And not even your bloodthirtstiest pals are stupid enough to believe al Qaeda will take over Iraq when we leave.

    Quite the opposite, they would be destroyed shortly after we left.

    Hatred of the American occupation is the only thing they share with the citizens of Iraq.

  34. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    By the way, quick question for you, do you actually have any information to support your assertions – or am I keeping you from providing your research with all these questions?

  35. Patrick Tyson Says:

    I’ve reviewed some history subsequent to the August 9, 1974 inauguration of Gerald Ford and the December 30, 1974 Statement on Signing the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974.

    During that period President Ford vetoed the following bills (overrides noted):

    8/13 Vetoed Legislation To Reclassify and Upgrade Deputy United States Marshals.
    8/15 Vetoed Animal Health Research Legislation.
    9/30 Vetoed Legislation Providing for the Sale of United States Phosphate Interests in Florida.
    10/12 Vetoed Railroad Retirement Benefits Legislation. (OVERRIDDEN)
    10/12 Vetoed Atomic Energy Act Amendments.
    10/14 Vetoed Continuing Appropriations Resolution. (Containing an Amendment Suspending Military Aid to Turkey.)
    10/17 Vetoed Second Continuing Appropriations Resolution Providing for Suspension of Military Aid to Turkey.
    10/17 Vetoed Freedom of Information Act Amendments. (OVERRIDDEN)
    10/22 Vetoed National Wildlife Refuge System Legislation.
    10/29 Vetoed Legislation for the Relief of Alvin V. Burt, Jr., and the Survivors of Douglas E. Kennedy.
    10/29 Vetoed Legislation for the Relief of Nolan Sharp.
    10/29 Vetoed Farm Labor Contractor Registration Legislation Containing Personnel Reclassification Rider.
    10/29 Vetoed Vocational Rehabilitation Act Amendments.
    11/26 Vetoed Vietnam Era Veterans’ Education and Training Benefits Legislation. (OVERRIDDEN)
    11/26 Vetoed Zinc Tariff Legislation Containing Tax Riders.
    12/18 Vetoed Willow Creek, Oregon, Flood Control Project Legislation.

    The Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) was one of the appropriations bills that Congress had not enacted when the fiscal year began on October 1st. That meant that the continued allocation of funds for the operations for which it provided were subject to the passage of one or more continuing resolutions until such time as the FAA was enacted or the fiscal year ended. The President vetoed a continuing resolution on October 14th and another on the 17th over restrictions on military aid to Turkey. While the House sustained the veto both times, the Congress persisted in passing continuing resolutions with the restrictions attached. The President signed on October 18th. Sometime thereafter, Congress passed the FAA (probably just before recessing for the holidays and/or the expiration date of the continuing resolution) and on December 30th the President signed it.

    End of Story.

  36. Jen Says:

    Strangely, I think you all missed the most obvious problem with TMNT’s statement:

    Suppose that a war is commenced, based on incorrect assumptions which at the time of going to war were not understood as incorrect. However, with the progress of the war, it becomes clear that the assumptions were, in fact, incorrect.

    I think it is clear that the incorrect assumptions TMNT is referring to are the assumptions regarding WMD’s. Yes, there were many other reasons for invading Iraq, but I do believe Saddam’s (assumed) possession of WMD’s was top of the list. And yes, it turned out that he didn’t have what we thought he had.

    But TMNT’s argument is still nonsense because WMD’s are not why we are there now and have nothing whatsover to do with whether troops should stay or not. Just consider, for a moment, what our current position would be in Iraq if we HAD found WMD’s. How would it be any different?

    The WMD argument for the invasion of Iraq had as it’s goal the removal of Saddam and the destruction of his WMD arsenal. So, pretty quickly, we removed Saddam and went to look for his arsenal. We didn’t find it. So what then, should we have re-instated Saddam, apologized and left the country? If we had found the WMD’s and destroyed them, would we then have just left and everything would have been fine in Iraq?

    TMNT, we are not still in Iraq fighting because of WMD’s. That war is over. We won: Saddam has been deposed, tried, convicted and executed, and there is no longer a WMD threat from Iraq. Yes, we had some incorrect assumptions, but they are not still influencing our dealings with Iraq.

    What we are fighting now is the long war against militant, political Islamists. It’s what Bush calls the GWOT (though I, like many of you, hate that term. For heaven’s sake, we really need to clearly name this enemy!) This war was not even started by us, so it has nothing to do with any assumptions, false or otherwise. It was started by Al Qaeda, in a series of attacks culminating in the destruction of the World Trade Center, at which point we finally realized we weren’t just facing Lilliputians, and we had to fight back.

    The WMD assumption was part of the reason Iraq became one of the fronts of this war, and it’s not going to stop being a front simply because there were no WMD’s. I ask again, how would our situation there be any different if WMD’s were found? Would you still be expecting us to just go home as soon as the WMD’s were destroyed? Are you aware of the real war we are in at all?

  37. alphie Says:

    BRD,

    If the pro war crowd actually cares about Iraqis, perhaps you could explain to me when you are going to get around to helping these 1.2 million Iraqis who have fled the heaven on earth you have created:

    http://tinyurl.com/yq6bz4

    Sitting back and watching them rot for the past few years has certainly cost the “moralists” quite a bit of support.

  38. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    Alphie,

    I don’t know about you, but I think working with the Iraqis to increase security, reduce the influence of foreign fighters, and stabilize the country might be a great place to start. What do you think?

    It seems to me that your answer to increased insecurity is to further decrease security and increase the influence of foreign fighters, uncontrolled militia, to augment the influence of other hostile governments and to weaken the central Iraqi government.

    I’m not really certain how your solution – losing as fast as humanly possible and leaving the field of battle to those for whom the slaughter of civilians is a form of artistic expression is going to make things safe for people like those you link to in your article.

    Maybe I’m missing something in your logic here.

    BRD

  39. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    Alphie,

    By the way, are you one of those irredeemably silly people who think that “War is Not the Answer?” Or even worse, one of the irresponsible fools who are ignorant enough to imagine that phrase actually means something?

    Just curious.

    BRD

  40. alphie Says:

    I notice you dodged my question about the 1.2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, BRD.

    You first.

    I you guys care so much about the Iraqis, why are you letting millions of them rot?

  41. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    Alphie,

    No, actually, I didn’t dodge. I simply noted that anything and everything you’ve suggested thus far would serve only to exacerbate the problem. Just to refresh your memory of something that was written two comments ago, please, allow me to recap. My suggestion on what to do about the situation:

    I don’t know about you, but I think working with the Iraqis to increase security, reduce the influence of foreign fighters, and stabilize the country might be a great place to start. What do you think?

    And in the interests of fleshing out why I think that this is a better approach than anything you’ve suggested along the lines of bravura displays of abject cowardice:

    It seems to me that your answer to increased insecurity is to further decrease security and increase the influence of foreign fighters, uncontrolled militia, to augment the influence of other hostile governments and to weaken the central Iraqi government.

    I’m not really certain how your solution – losing as fast as humanly possible and leaving the field of battle to those for whom the slaughter of civilians is a form of artistic expression is going to make things safe for people like those you link to in your article.

    And, in the evidently misplaced hope that you might actually have the attention span needed to actually consider another point of view as anything than a substrate for sophistry, I closed with:

    Maybe I’m missing something in your logic here.

    But, alas, my hopes and dreams that you might utter some thought that wasn’t shallower than a drop of spit on a sidewalk have, yet again, been cruelly dashed.

    BRD

  42. alphie Says:

    BRD,

    Answer my question and I’ll be happy to answer yours.

    Pretty simple.

    Still waiting for someone to offer up some proof for the claim that Congress cut off funds to South Vietnam, too, btw.

  43. Bravo Romeo Delta Says:

    Alphster,

    Pretty simple.

    If that’s how you want to self-describe, don’t let me stop you. I mean, I certainly don’t feel the need to write that about you in a comment, but, hey, you can refer to yourself however you please.

    So, moving on.

    At the risk of being pedantic, I’ll write using simple words, short sentences, and explain things in more detail. Then you might be able to ask a more explicit question rather than just pouting. Granted, this isn’t exactly the Small Wars Manual, but I’m not super-confident in your level of comprehension.

    1) Many people are fighting in Iraq to try to topple the Iraqi government.

    2) When all of these people fight, it makes Iraq unsafe for some of the Iraqis in the country.

    3) Some of these people who feel unsafe have left Iraq.

    4) But if we work with the Good Iraqis, we can make the country safe.

    5) When the country is safe, people won’t be scared.

    6) When the Iraqi people aren’t scared any more, they will be happy.

    7) The happy Iraqi people will then be able to go back to their homes.

    Now, as far as I can tell, the only solutions you have offered look something more like this:

    1) Many people are fighting in Iraq to try to topple the Iraqi government.

    2) When all of these people fight, it makes Iraq unsafe for some of the Iraqis in the country.

    3) Some of these people who feel unsafe have left Iraq.

    4) But stopping the Bad Guys is Hard Work.

    5) And we shouldn’t try to work with the Good Iraqis, because they are not perfect.

    6) So we should run away and hide, just like the Bad Guys want us to do.

    7) If we run away and hide, then everything will be OK and nothing bad will ever happen again.

    So, please, bear with me if I save myself the trouble of distilling everything for you, and allow me to copy a section of an earlier comment:

    But, alas, my hopes and dreams that you might utter some thought that wasn’t shallower than a drop of spit on a sidewalk have, yet again, been cruelly dashed.

    Oh yeah, I was also waiting for someone to offer up some proof for the claim that the fall of South Vietnam was inevitable, regardless of the betrayal of our country.

    Pretty simple, neh?

    BRD

  44. Lee Says:

    Alphie,
    All you gotta do is read (you obviously can “type”) the responses to your questions above and you can plainly see they have been answered multiple times. Perhaps you don’t “agree” with them, or maybe you think the answers are “wrong”, but they have been answered. Just read.

    Pretty simple.

  45. harry Says:

    BRD, I dont know how you have the patience. They just arent going to figure it out. I run into that so often, and Im either speechless, or profane. I mean, forget that the issue exists. Just the argument alone. When you reply to them, you hope they have the cognizant ability to understand your argument. Instead, like Alphie, they demand that you answer a question you’ve already answered. Its a bit like talking to a rock.

  46. alphie Says:

    Haha,

    Ignore a straightforwad question, spam the board with low-quality Rush Limabugh nuttiness, call it a day.

    Hello, total withdrawl.

  47. Lee Says:

    Too hard for poor Alphie to debate, I guess..
    Just puts his hands over his ears( amazing, considering he can’t find his ass with both hands) and says “LA, LA, LA, LA, LA,…” over and over.

  48. alphie Says:

    Lee,

    In the reality-based world (which America will soon be returning to), “debate” means an exchange of ideas.

    It is no longer just a contest to see who can come up with the best bad-Limabuagh post.

  49. Lee Says:

    Either way, Alphie, you’re losing.

  50. Lee Says:

    Besides, you get what you give. When you stop Air-Americanizing, I’ll give up Limbasting you.

  51. harry Says:

    alfie:
    “It is no longer just a contest to see who can come up with the best bad-Limabuagh post.”

    Maybe this should be a contest to see who can pay attention.

    My God, it already has been hasnt it?

  52. stumbley Says:

    ‘“debate” means an exchange of ideas.”‘

    Something which you have demonstrated time and time again is completely beyond your ability.

  53. Steve Rosenbach Says:

    cnn.comlib.umich.eduDavid Kay’s interim report and testimony before Congress (12/03-1/04) and Charles Duelfer’s final report made this crystal clear: Saddam was an even greater threat than we though prior to the invasion.

    Read the reports:

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/10/02/kay.report/

    http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/duelfer.html

  54. tom Says:

    This argument is sad.

    If we want the nation that you describe here, let us have it. Institute a draft, raise an Army of at least 12,000,000 men, and I am saying men, I don’t think we need any more girl soldiers like the 115 pound wonders we have now, and let us start being feared and respected around the world. Let us finish the job in Iraq ands get a government we like; let us enforce all UN Resolutions; let’s even go back to Viet Nam and overthrow that slave master regime.

    But no more talk and no more half measures. Let us have a country that is a military power first and foremost.

    Neo neo is a wonderful warrior and certainly like her hero Joe Lieberman a scourge to liberal traitors everywhere, but she is too old and too female to actually fight anywhere. We need young men trained to wage war at the drop of a hat.

    And Neo neo is correct about history too. I think My Lai was either staged or an act of bravery and I have long wondered why author Tim O’Brien is allowed to claim he served a Tour of Duty in Nam, like Oliver Stone claims, even as these two are allowed to claim soldiers in war zones do terrible things and then claim they witnessed such acts.

    By definition good men like Americans cannot do evil, even in war. We need better history and artists and filmmakers besides patriotic text books. I recommend Japan which admits no guilt over WW 2: Japan honors its dead.

    Our army is a volunteer army that is overextended in a war that a real military power would have ended two years ago by force.

    Again, sadly, I wish people who get the warrior religion in their old age were useful as fighters but they are not. Especially when they are women.

    Solution? sweep the Liberals out of text books, teach an Ann Coulter America as wise and good caretaker of freedom everywhere and always, and teach boys on Sesame Street that someday it will be there privilege, honor, and most of all duty to fight and die for their country as it fights enemies everywhere they dare to even squeak against us.

    Then we will have freedom and peace and then Neo neo won’t have to experience a change of life conversion in which she discovers that everything she thought was wrong and everything the other side thought was right.

  55. harry Says:

    “Solution? sweep the Liberals out of text books, teach an Ann Coulter America as wise and good caretaker of freedom everywhere and always, and teach boys on Sesame Street that someday it will be there privilege, honor, and most of all duty to fight and die for their country as it fights enemies everywhere they dare to even squeak against us.”

    You mean like they do in Palestine? That would be great, because you know, the Palestinians cannot be criticized. Neither should we.

    We can just tell our victims to examine the root cause of why we hate them.

    God, liberals are so clever.

  56. DonkeyKong Says:

    Tom, Stephan Colbert could not have said it better!

  57. Ken Larson Says:

    vanityfair.comd-n-i.netd-n-i.netThe U.S. Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more that 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

    It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

    Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and “Rice Bowls” which are never mixed.

    Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon’s many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years.

    What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing and SAIC. If you would like to read how they control our government, please see:
    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703

    Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues – with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

    Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank’s emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can’t figure out how he got his superior’s permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.

    http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/spinney_testimony_060402.htm

    The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon’s own arrogance. It will implode by it’s own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

    If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting on this blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

    http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2006/11/odyssey-of-armaments.html

    On the same subject, you may also be interested in the following sites from the “Project On Government Oversight”, observing it’s 25th Anniversary and from “Defense In the National Interest”, inspired by Franklin Spinney and contributed to by active/reserve, former, or retired military personnel.

    http://pogo.org/

    http://www.d-n-i.net/top_level/about_us.htm

  58. stumbley Says:

    Geez, neo, you’ve got them all coming out of the woodwork now…

  59. Keyser Soze Says:

    In Economics there’s a concept that fits the things you’re talking about. It’s called “sunken costs”. It refers to costs you’ve outlayed in the past and which can’t be recouped; what counts for your decision-making now is the benefits and costs of the future……..

  60. WEVS1 Says:

    hoover.orgc-span.orgBRD, I don’t think Alphie was arguing that money makes no difference in large-scale war but that money is not the most important variable in the present conflicts in Iraq which are counter-insurgency operations. If money was the most important variable, the Soviets would have defeated the Afghans and we easily would have defeated the insurgents.

    There are a variety of small-scale, counter-insurgency conflicts being fought in Iraq right now. Former U.S. Marine and journalist for “The Atlantic”, Bing West, compared Iraq to the Old West of the late nineteenth century. There is no unified presence of the state. Every region, every town, is a little different. He was on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program about a week ago (5/24/07) and I highly recommend people have a look. His perspective was refreshing compared to what one gets from the MSM or FOX News. He definitely doesn’t think we have “lost” and this man has been to Iraq 13 times in the past five or six years. He is an unflinching critic of Islamic totalitarianism and is willing to say where he thinks the Bush administration has made mistakes.

    Here is a good article to read and share with friends. Especially those who say the GWOT has been a failure because of our war in Iraq:

    Mark Harmon
    The Myth of the Invincible Terrorist
    Policy Review
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/6848137.html

    “We are in a hard march in rough country. The “Global War on Terrorism” requires patience and perseverance, and yet notes of pessimism have become audible among our ranks as citizen-soldiers. This is not surprising. After five years we still have not caught up with fugitive Osama bin Laden. Hard-working military officers wonder aloud if the polity back home will keep supporting its military services. Politicians sound more and more partisan. Academics are no better: A professor at Harvard declares that the president’s war on terror has been a “disaster,” while at a conference in Washington in September two well-known national security analysts say we are “losing” the war on terror.

    In fact, there are good reasons to judge that we are winning this global war against terrorists. And not only because we have arrested or killed two-thirds of the middle- and lower-level leaders, as well as some of their superiors and commanders. It is because terror groups all have vulnerabilities. They are human organizations with human problems; al Qaeda is no exception. For all the talk of the new “flatter” al Qaeda organization, rarely does anyone ever mentions that a flatter organization means less organization, and that in global war, that cannot help Osama bin Laden.

    The history of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency is rich, and the last four or five decades offer good lessons in terrorism’s vulnerabilities and counsel on how to exploit them. What follows here is a review of some of those. ”

    [article continues]

    He was on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal 5/2707. Check that too, if you have a chance.

    You can find links to Bing and Harmon’s segments here:

    http://www.c-span.org/videoarchives.asp?CatCodePairs=Series,WJE&ArchiveDays=30

    Lastly, it’s pretty clear to anyone who has even spent a bit of time studying these sort of things that it will get much, much, bloodier when the U.S. decides to leave. Sunni are not killing Shia and Shia are not killing Sunni because of the occupation. If anything, the presence of U.S. forces is unifying these people against us. Once we’re gone they will start killing each other with a vengeance. This is a society where the Shia majority was kept down with a brutal use of force for decades. A lot of people have family members who were killed by the Baathists.

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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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