Eric Earling has a lot invested in wasting even more American blood and treasure in Iraq.
There are few true certainties in politics, but it seems quite likely political observers are about to witness the explosion of liberal minds across the country once President Bush finalizes deliberations on a revised Iraq policy, then announces it to the nation. If such changes include some variant of the “troop surge” then I’m not just talking about a garden-variety explosion, I’m talking about a full-bore, Moveon.org rattling eruption of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Keep some earplugs handy.
It’s not wanting dead Americans, or other people syndrome. It’s opposing escalating a war that’s going badly just so President Bush can pretend he has a big penis syndrome.
Stilwell over at the Northwest Progressive Institute gives us a preview. Putting aside the high comedy of a liberal now whining about a prominent conservative criticizing the Bush Administration’s handling of Iraq, stilwell actually offers some revealing material. He says, “whatever slim chance there was to build a ‘stable, democratic Iraq’ is long gone.” Further, we have reached the point where “insurgents will decide whether the conlflict escalates…the U.S. has lost all initiative in Iraq.” Of course he also says “conservatives are never wrong and never held accountable for their actions in this country by the media.” Perhaps he missed the year in politics that was 2006.
No, the media have been cheerleading the troop increase. And no matter how badly he fucks up, it’s always good for him in their eyes.
Getting back to the defeatism that rules the liberal view of the Iraq conflict, including stilwell’s, history shows such a view is only correct if a country lets it be. In other words, armed conflicts are often won by the side that perseveres through the inevitable mayhem and setbacks of war with the greatest vigor and resources.
What the fuck are you even talking about? Bush doesn’t have a strategy. He’s probably going to throw more people into the meat grinder without even knowing what he wants them to do. Maybe a brilliant Commander in Chief with the best advisers and who was willing to listen to all sides might be able to salvage something. But that’s not what we have, so stilwell is quite correct that the war can’t be won.
Michael Barone gives a brief but fascinating analysis in direct contrast to stilwell’s tone while recounting in part the “less-than-optimum choices” faced by FDR and Churchill during World War II. That conflict was riddled with severe strategic and tactical challenges that were not without cost. Long before Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, Iowa Jima, and Okinawa rattled the American public, costly battles at Guadalcanal, Tarawa Atoll, Kasserine Pass, and Cassino gave the country serious pause. Through it all political leaders and the military perserved and, as Barone pointedly notes, at times those political leaders pushed the course of the war forward over the hesitancy of military commanders.
Yeah, but after Guadalcanal, and all those other battles, we didn’t leave and give the territory back to the Japanese and Germans. And we had a plan to win all of those. And we were done this far out of the start of the war.
That point hits right to the heart of Lowry’s argument, stated both in yesterday’s column that has stillwell’s dander up and in an earlier column as well: Bush has erred mightily in giving too much credence to his military advisors. As Lowry recounts, Bush’s fear of falling into LBJ’s Vietnam pitfalls has resulted in an over acceptance of military advice, in direct contrast to prosecution of past challenging armed conflict in our nation’s history. Beyond FDR, Truman’s relieving of McArthur – and disregarding his advice – as well as Lincoln’s famous activism in the selection of commanding generals are historically obvious examples.
I see. So now the people in uniform who said that we would need more boots on the ground, that the war would cost more money, that we needed to pacify the country and that we needed a counterinsurgency doctrine put in place were the crazy ones. And if only President Bush hadn’t listened to them, things would be OK.
One would think a liberal like stilwell would embrace a conservative saying such things about Bush, and even conceding the MSM had a notable portion of the Iraq story right . But no, that would mean accepting the notion that more troops are indeed the correct solution, unless one just wants to get out of Dodge now, victory or not.
That time Cheney shot his friend, remember that? If he’d shot another friend, it wouldn’t have made the situation better. If he just kept indiscriminately shooting until all his friends had been shot and then demanded assault weapons, Eric Earling would be cheering him on.
Seriously, if it was 2 years ago, maybe conservatives saying Bush isn’t quite perfect and there are some problems would be appealing. But the idea that you finally acknowledging that, but saying that we need more dead Americans should make anyone jump for joy? Fuck you.
Lowry accurately points out the weakness of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq, largely because the U.S. military has for a number of reasons, not entirely of its own choosing, not engaged in such efforts with any consistency or sustained effectiveness. Lowry cites The Army and Vietnam to support his conclusion. Tom Clancy’s non-fiction account of the Special Forces, Shadow Warriors, also supports the same lesson in its study of what principles did and did not work in the military’s counterinsurgency efforts in Vietnam. The short version of the analysis is that the current military, particularly through the vision of Donald Rumsfeld, has failed to adopt the policies necessary to make sure Iraq didn’t become what it is today.
Rumsfield wasn’t a general, fucknut. The generals mostly served in Viet Nam and spent their careers avoiding the bullshit. But Rummy outranked them.
In fairness, Rumsfeld will leave a substantial legacy of success. He took on the incredibly arduous challenge of revamping perhaps the most inert organization on Earth, the Pentagon, to face the reality of threats facing the United States in a post-Cold War world. Gone is the focus on heavy combat (Rumsfeld having famously nixed the costly Crusader artillery program), in its place is a focus on more agile forces, nimble enough to move quickly across the world yet with the superior firepower to still decimate today’s enemies. Tank-heavy divisions still have their place, but interchangeable brigade formations – including the Stryker brigades – and Special Forces play a greater role in modern conflicts.
In fairness, who gives a shit? More people have died in his bullshit adventurism than on 9/11.
The rapid, successful conclusion of the combat phases of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq speak to the power of Rumsfeld’s vision. The challenges of Iraq since that time, however, seem destined to haunt his legacy as well.
Also the crumbling phase of Iraq and the letting Bin Laden get away phase of Afghanistan. It’s pretty fucked up to say about anybody, except for all his failures, he was brilliant. Especially someone who failed so spectacularly.
From a historical perspective, this entire discussion is not at all strange. Civilian and military leaders sometimes disagree about the best course of action in difficult situations. In democratic governments where civilian control of the military is final, the eventual winner of such policy disputes is clear. Moreover, armies are good at breaking things; the U.S. Armed Forces being immensely superior to their modern counterparts on that score. They’re not so good writ large, however, at fixing things unless prodded to. Rumsfeld resisted that, as did many military commanders. And President Bush was too slow to overrule that choice.
The commanders were begging him to do the thing right.
He seems to have realized the mistake now that Iraqi inability thus far to form a cohesive society has magnified the problem brightly. He further seems inclined to rectify the problem by following the best available advice in attempt to achieve the conflict’s goal of a stable, democratic, and allied government in Iraq. The alternatives likewise seeking some semblance of a positive outcome such as diplomacy or merely a modest phased withdrawal are unrealistic and doomed to failure due to the details and dynamics of actually attempting to implement such plans. The alternative embraced by liberals like stilwell (see but two other local examples here and here), is simply a question of how quickly can we get the hell out, no matter what sort of situation we might leave behind.
The longer we stay the worse the situation will be when we do leave. But currently there is genocide. The people we’re training are torturing people. But maybe the secret plan to magically get enough troops to go to Iraq and a secret plan for what to do with them beats that.
Sane Democrats realize that isn’t a good option, and won’t go so far in their own policy announcements. They’ll whine bitterly about Bush’s policy changes – see Joe Biden’s proclamations over last weekend – but they won’t call for the rapid pullout their liberal base demands. Thus, a cacophony of left wing angst is nearly a sure bet after Bush’s pending policy announcement.
This post, however, offers no bitter whining.
Consider yourself warned. And on a more long-term basis, look for the related evolution of the Iraq war debate to benefit an interesting dark horse in the Democratic field: John Edwards. He has a number of strengths largely overlooked in the current media palpitations over Clinton v. Obama worth exploring at a different time. For this topic, however, he has the most starkly anti-war position of any of the prominent Democratic candidates in the ’08 field. Moreover, unlike Obama and Clinton he won’t be tied to difficult votes in the Senate during the coming months related to Iraq policy. Once the liberal base is done venting in the wake of Bush’s post-New Year announcement, don’t be surprised if it gives Edwards a more serious look.
Um, Obama’s been against the war from the start. Clinton was the first prominent Democrat to oppose the insane escalation, and has been pretty good on the war since about 2005. Edwards certainly has tacked left now that he isn’t tied to North Carolina, and he sees the war going badly. But so have most of the rest of the presidential hopefuls, regardless of if they are sitting in the Senate or not. But I’m particularly amused by the notion that Clinton and Obama are going to be forced to take a right turn to accommodate the voters of New York and Illinois.