December 20, 2006

"We're not winning, we're not losing."

Says President Bush on Iraq. The headline is the "We're not winning" part, which isn't surprising, especially since only last month he was saying "Absolutely, we're winning."

91 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is possible to be neither winning no losing, but not for long.

DCWilly said...

Now if John Kerry made those two statements back to back, he'd be accused of egregious flip-flopping. How is this not a flip-flop?

Ann Althouse said...

Internet Ronin: I disagree. I think one could carry on in an ambiguous stasis forever.

Anonymous said...

I think one could carry on in an ambiguous stasis forever.

Only from the your little outpost in Madison does the situation in Iraq look like "ambiguous stasis."

It's a worsening civil war.

Michael Farris said...

Anytime you have a government (real or proxy) fighting insurgents either:
1. the government is clearly and unambiguously winning
2. it's losing.

Not winning is the same as losing in that situation.

Governments in conflict with each other can persist in an ambiguous stasis for a long time (see the US and Cuba) but not insurgents and governments.

So, the US is losing in Iraq and has been for some time now.

The (meager) upside is that a government that's strong enough in some ways can kind of afford to be losing for a long time before either turning things around or falling. But every day of non-winning against insurgents is another day closer to government collapse and the less sugarcoating that harsh fact gets the better.

I have no idea what can be done in Iraq.
If there is something that can be done to turn things around I'm fairly convinced that the current administration is not prepared to do it (as they seem to think in traditional narrow ways and don't seem to be good at listening to people).

Gahrie said...

Doesn't a civil war have to involve a nation, rather than a small segment of a nation?

What is happening in Iraq is an insurrection. 80% of Iraq is peaceful, prosperous, and becoming more prosperous everyday.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I'd say if we're not winning, then we are losing. Tens of thousands of Iraqis losing their lives, many thousands of young Americans losings their limbs if not their lives, hundreds of thousands of Americans kept from their friends and families indefinitely. Not to mention the billions upon billions of dollars that could be put towards winnable battles. I agree with Doyle that "ambiguous stasis" is a pretty detached way of looking at the situation.

Anonymous said...

Gahrie: no, and you're full of shit.

Too Many Jims said...

Bush's new strategy: Let's play for a tie.

Tim said...

"Not to mention the billions upon billions of dollars that could be put towards winnable battles."

O.k. assuming the metric that the war against terrorism should be fought with "winnable battles," pray tell, what are they, and what would you do if confronted with a seemingly "unwinnable battle" brought to us by the enemy?

And how does leaving Iraq help us win the larger war on terror? Who do you think wins in Iraq if we leave; and why do you think we won't have to fight those who win?

Or do you think the enemy never capable of forcing an "unwinnable battle" upon us?

Zeb Quinn said...

I say it's just another case of Bush foolishly throwing a bone to his yapping critics, hoping in vain that they'll back off.

And I say watch for "clarifications" from the WH about what that meant, perhaps multiple. It can't stand as is, if only for troop morale reasons, if no other.

MadisonMan said...

Only from the your little outpost in Madison does the situation in Iraq look like "ambiguous stasis."

Where does she say that the situation in Iraq is an ambiguous stasis? You need to read more carefully.

Why, if the President says we're not winning and we're not losing, did the interviewer not ask what the heck we are doing? Spending billions a month to tread water? The problem with treading water is that eventually the locals will see no progress and get fed up, even if the alternative is unknown or perilous. I agree with michael farris' last paragraph. I do not expect much out of an administration that has lead us into this tarpit in the first place.

Gahrie said...

Doyle: Well in that case, we have been fighting several civil wars in this country for the past thirty years.

There's one going on in South Central LA, another in Washington DC, another in Philadelphia.......


And as for Iraq:

Their GDP is rising faster than any other country in the world. Their average income is rising faster than any country in the world. Their access to clean drinking water, food, medical care, education and consumer goods is better than it has been for twenty years and is getting better.

The fighting is almost exclusively isolated to the Sunni Triangle.

The fighting is being domne mostly by foriegn jihadists attacking Americans, and Iranian supperted insurgents targeting the democratic government. Were the borders sealed, and outside influences erradicated, there would be almost no violence in Iraq.

Tim said...

The real news isn't the Post's headline; its that Bush has agreed to Shoomaker's request to enlarge the Army (and the Marine Corps too). Unfortunately, the defense draw down begun by G.H.W. Bush and continued by Clinton has hurt our ground forces most; base closures for both the Army and Marines have made making the Army and Marines bigger much more difficult and expensive; Shoomaker's request to add only 7,000 new soldiers per year reflects how the Army's limited infrastructure constrains efforts to ramp up.

This nation is profoundly unserious about defense matters, short-sighted and unwilling to pay the price. And for as bad off as we are relative to what we should be doing, our allies are even worse off. Outside of the British, who are significantly limited compared to us, our allies have virtually no capability to project power in any meaningful sense. The cost in treasure and blood to defend Western Civilization from militant Islamic fascism will be disproportionately borne by American soldiers and taxpayers.

And the Democrats and liberals have absolutely no plans whatsoever to address this - and Rangle's sham draft bill certainly does not qualify.

Anonymous said...

I have to read more carefully? To what could IR and Ann have been referring, besides Iraq?

Ricardo said...

Exactly two years and one month, and counting. Tick tock.

hdhouse said...

Gahrie said...
Doesn't a civil war have to involve a nation, rather than a small segment of a nation?

What is happening in Iraq is an insurrection. 80% of Iraq is peaceful, prosperous, and becoming more prosperous everyday."

First I wanted to throw up after reading that. Second I wanted to tell Gahrie to come in from play time and take a nap. Third, what definition of "civil war" don't you get? Fourth, during our "civil war" vast territories of US were unaffected. Did it mean we didn't have a civil war?

Last, you dolt, that is a line that the Bush-nuts trot out. The populated geographic sections of that country are in ruins. The rest only lacks the essentials for daily life. The Kurds are doing fine but when we leave, they are going to get it from all sides.

When YOU surrender to your sillines we will all be better off.

Paddy O. said...

Exactly two years and one month, and counting. Tick tock.

Yay! Republicans will control Congress again.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Tim: assuming the metric that the war against terrorism should be fought with "winnable battles," pray tell, what are they, and what would you do if confronted with a seemingly "unwinnable battle" brought to us by the enemy? And how does leaving Iraq help us win the larger war on terror? Who do you think wins in Iraq if we leave; and why do you think we won't have to fight those who win?

I did not say we should withdraw from Iraq. I do think we should choose battles we can follow through on and have a chance at winning.

An enemy did not bring this battle to us. Osama bin Laden and al Queda attacked us. Our government, at the request of the Bush administration, decided Iraq was an appropriate place to fight. I don't claim to know what the best course of action is right now, whether withdrawal or more troops, but three things are quite clear to me: (1) we are losing in Iraq, (2) our invasion of and continued presence in Iraq have not furthered our interests in combatting terrorism, and (3) the terrible state of affairs in Iraq today was a completely a predictible consequence of our decision to invade.

Gahrie said...

hdhouse:

I bet you believe we lost the Battle of Tet too...

Patrick J. Shea said...

Ironically, Bush seems to be taking Rumsfeld's most interesting and apt advice from that pre-election memo on Iraq policy: water down expectations to nearly zero. By pulling back on the "we are winning" rhetoric, it will become easier for the public to accept the usual bad news as just more of the same ambiguous up and down. There's less congnitive dissonance between bad news and "we're not winning or losing".

The big question is what this signals for long term strategy -- is it an attempt to ease pressure for withdrawal or is it an attempt to gain cover for some sort of honorable withdrawal. Given the recent talk of increased (albeit unsustainable) troop levels, I'm guessing the former, but who knows at this point.

Anonymous said...

Gahrie –

It may take you a while to remove your head fully from your ass, and you almost certainly lack the inclination to do so, but maybe it would be a good start if you stopped comparing the violence in Iraq to that of US cities.

As for your patently phony economic data… I just don’t know where to begin.

Lastly, even the Pentagon now admits that the greatest problem in Iraq are the indigenous Shia militias. Not every problem can be solved with tighter borders.

Paddy O. said...

First I wanted to throw up after reading that.

And after this?

My mechanic is a big fan of what America has done. This is interesting because he is an Iraqi immigrant, from a ways farther north of Baghdad. In August he took his teenage son to visit extended family. Said they are prospering like never before with their businesses. Absolutely loves America and the work we've done there.

Joseph Hovsep said...

gahrie: The fighting is being domne mostly by foriegn jihadists attacking Americans, and Iranian supperted insurgents targeting the democratic government.

Sadr Army is called top threat in Iraq.
A Pentagon report cites the danger of the Shiite cleric's militia.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely loves America and the work we've done there.

Let me know when he decides to move back.

SteveR said...

Wow, some pretty impresssive smack-down debate going on here. I'm not messing with you guys.

Paddy O. said...

Let me know when he decides to move back.

I'll do that. Though, he likes what America has done here too. His family has absolutely no interest in immigrating, so that likely says something.

Too Many Jims said...

Paddy O. said...
"he is an Iraqi immigrant, from a ways farther north of Baghdad. In August he took his teenage son to visit extended family. Said they are prospering like never before with their businesses. Absolutely loves America and the work we've done there."


Out of curiosity, do you know if he is a Kurd and visited family in Kurdistan?

Anonymous said...

Paddy: If it's so prosperous and peaceful, why are so many people fleeing?

Tully said...

U.S. Troops Turn Over Najaf to Iraqis

Top Shiite Cleric Is Said to Favor a Coalition for Iraq

The political process enters a new phase

Talks under way to replace Iraq PM

Heh. It's up to the Iraqis to come up with their internal political solutions, and always has been. They know it too.

The Exalted said...

Gahrie said...
Doesn't a civil war have to involve a nation, rather than a small segment of a nation?

What is happening in Iraq is an insurrection. 80% of Iraq is peaceful, prosperous, and becoming more prosperous everyday.


uh, no. just the opposite.

Pogo said...

Re: It's a worsening civil war.

I disagree, but we're merely parsing words. The battle rages; East versus West.

Doyle, Exalted, hdhouse: Should the West win? Why or why not (and avoiding the question proves you are a fool)?
Do you support victory for the West? Why?
Given that Islamic terrorists are going to continue this battle in England and Spain and the US, what force are you prepared to use?
What plan do the Democrats have for defeating the ideology, cells, and nations that want to destroy us?

Paddy O. said...

Too many Jims, he's not Kurdish, though that was my initial guess too. He takes great pride in being a Babylonian. :-)

Why are people fleeing? Well, I guess because things aren't always black and white. Some places are bad. My mechanic is from a part of Iraq that is doing very well.

That's the trouble with so much Iraq commentary. It's either win or lose, black or white. If a bomb goes off in one place the whole country must be doing bad.

There's just no understanding nuance with some people.

Pogo said...

And dammit, I want specifics, not mealy-mouthed Kerryisms. Not "discussions". Not "dialogue". Use of same means you are a fool.

AJ Lynch said...

Their comments make it apparent Doyle and Hdhouse desperately want us to lose. That is a sad sad way to think about your own country.

Fritz said...

One must chuckle at the Post's reference that this war has cost more than Vietnam. Not even close. If such methods could be used, most of today's persons living in poverty, should be considered middle class. In real dollars, today's persons living in poverty were the 1960's middle class.

If the Senators that visited Damascus really wanted the United States to win in Iraq, they would have been in Paris.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Henry said...

Ronin - It is possible to be neither winning no losing, but not for long.

Ferris - Not winning is the same as losing in that situation [insurgency].

That depends what your timeframe is. Pick a date at random between 1950 and 1990 and ask yourself:

NATO vs. the Soviet Bloc: Winning or Losing?

United Kingdom vs. IRA: Winning or Losing?

Peru vs. Shining Path: Winning or Losing?

Israel vs. PLO: Winning or Losing?

For long protracted struggles against terrorists and other ideological opponents, just showing up is important. Winning may take a very long time, but the side with resources and strategic advantage can outlast its weaker, more ruthless opponents.

Yes, there are still bitter-ender Basque, IRA, and Maoist terrorists at work; the PLO's nihilistic progeny still attack Israel when not attacking each other; Russia is still a destabilizing power.

Sure, Iraq is a bad situation and will likely be a bad situation for a long time to come

But the idea of a painless, consequence-free retreat is a fantasy. You've got to pick your poison. Hard times now, or disaster tomorrow.

Fritz said...

Henry,
Dead on! Iraq is not settled and the asymmetrical warfare tactic is to make the paper tiger retreat. The terrorists allies are the leftist Democrats and Euro leftists. President Bush knows his responsibility, he must settle Iraq as a victory.

The Drill SGT said...

Ann Althouse said...
Internet Ronin: I disagree. I think one could carry on in an ambiguous stasis forever.


Unfortunately Ann is wrong and Mike Farris is right on this narrow point.

I want victory in Iraq, but we're fighting an insurgency. I don't remember who said it, maybe Mao, maybe Giap, hell maybe Churchill about Malaysia, but the fact is that there is a truth in:

An insurgency wins by not losing

The point being, they don't have to win, they just need to stay viable in order to wear down the government forces.

We need forward progress in order to have a chance at victory. The bad guys just need chaos.

Gahrie said...

Doyle, hdhouse and all the other lefty defeatists:

If I ask you, or the average American, how many Medals of Honor and Silver Stars have been awarded in this war, how many will know the answer without looking it up?

If I ask you the number of hundreds of thousands of tons of food and medical aid the US military has distributed in this war, how many will know the answer?

If I ask you how many schools, hospitals, power plants, sewage treatment plants, telephone lines and water wells the US military has built in Iraq and Afghanistan how many will know the answer?

The ideological left and our enemies are using the MSM yet again to sap the American will to fight a war we are winning.

Wade_Garrett said...

Could this be at all related to the fact that he no longer has to lie about the state of the war to help Republican candidates campaigning in the biblebelt? Naw . . . that'd be cynical of him.

Michael Farris said...

"Ferris"
(sic my name is FARRIS)

"Not winning is the same as losing in that situation.

That depends what your timeframe is. Pick a date at random between 1950 and 1990 and ask yourself"

"NATO vs. the Soviet Bloc: Winning or Losing?"

Alliances of governments against each other not the same thing at all as a government vs an internal insurrection. Almost the entire cold war was stasis with the occasional blip.

"United Kingdom vs. IRA: Winning or Losing?"

Losing in that the IRA got the british government to negotiations and most of what they wanted. But framing the conflict as IRA/UK is simplistic as it ignores the loyalist paramilitaries which all together were more violent than the IRA.

"Peru vs. Shining Path: Winning or Losing?"

The Peruvian government was mostly winning that in that Shining Path never got broad peasant-based support and only ever had any success in a few provinces.

"Israel vs. PLO: Winning or Losing?"

See-sawed but the PLO basically won the first (long round) gettingtIsrael to negotiations and concessions from them. Yes, being Palestinians they quickly squandered the fruits of victory but the first intifada was very much a Palestinian victory. Though again that's not so much government - insurgents as a long protracted territorial conflict that will continue in stasis until one side or the other gives up as there's not enough will on either side to get along.

Getting back to Iraq, the problems are far more extensive than the simple US/Iraqi government vs insurgents. The sectarian paramilitaries are more interested in killing each other than the occupiers or their proxy government.

Nationalism in Arab countries is always a problematic thing as Arabs are highly motivated by questions of group loyalty that are only activated at a higher level of opposition. That is, Iraqis don't exist in Iraq but only in contrast to Kuwaitis or Egyptians. There's no positive value being Iraqi for its own sake. Within Iraq, group loyalties are tied up with religious and ethnic identity (though there's always been lots of intermarriage). That is, there aren't 'muslims' in Iraq there are Sunnis and Shias who can only unite against the threat of another (non-Muslim) religion.

So, fighting for the future of the country is a non-starter for most Iraqis, fighting for the future of their family, clan or religious sect is something they believe in very much.

Pogo said...

Wade, you're still carping about the past.

Answer the damned question:
Should we win or lose?
How?
Be specific. Very, very specific, or I'll know, and all will know, that you are a fool, another mere defeatist.

Fritz said...

Gahrie,
The MSM is one in the same as the lefties.

Fritz said...

Democrats winning Congress was a victory for the terrorists. Has it sent an indication of lessening staying power of the United States, of course it has. It has made the President's job harder and adjustments to off set this set back is proper.

Gerald Hibbs said...

It may make you throw up, but Iraq is indeed experiencing a booming economy.

In what might be called the mother of all surprises, Iraq's economy is growing strong, even booming in places.

Lest you think the source is some righty site, it's from Newsweek.

"Roadside bombs account for fewer backups than the sheer number of secondhand cars that have crowded onto the nation's roads-five times as many in Baghdad as before the war. Cheap Chinese goods overflow from shop shelves, and store owners report quick turnover. Real-estate prices have risen several hundred percent, suggesting that Iraqis are more optimistic about the future than most Americans are."

A civil war is when elements from inside the country are attempting to take over the government. Since the primary source of fighters/money is actually from outside governments I'm skeptical the term fits.

Whatever term you want to use, it seems clear that right now we are unfortunately treading water when it comes to fighting the terrorists in Iraq. Since the enemy uses guerrilla tactics mandated by the fact they can't take us on head on the never ending trickle from outside is enough to keep us from victory. We kill them, they send in more.

Fortunately the war is multi faceted in that part of what we are doing is a holding action while we bring Iraqi resources up to speed.

Part of the problem is that a central tenet of the enemy is that America won't stay the course but bug out. Since half our government is encouraging them in that view (thanks Dems!!) and it isn't politically feasible to take on the governments who are actually fighting us we are stuck in this position for now.

However, once the Iraqi government is able to take over things there will be a tremendous shift in this war. It won't be possible to think that the Iraqi government is going to bug out and leave the fight. Further, the Iraqi's will have the ability to drop the hammer on enemy forces in a way that we can't/won't. Finally, while there is a lingering mistrusts of cooperating with American forces (in large part due to bad past experience -- thanks GHWB!) that fear won't be in place when the Iraqis are in control.

Pogo said...

Madison:
I agree that ...Arabs are highly motivated by questions of group loyalty ...

If so, then what?
Unfortunately, the Western left has historically found authoritarian rule worse than communist rule (I mean unfortunately for the 100 million dead). Pinochet was felt to be worse than Mao and Stalin and Fidel.

My view is that the left will bitch at the outcome no matter what. They have no substantive answers at all. Just bitching.

So, what's your very very specific plan? A strongman? Communism? Run away? The Dems have been complaining for 6 years. What will they do? In detail.

dklittl said...

Gahrie,

Your silliness seems to have no bounds.

1 - I'm sure hundreds of awards and metals are handed out just as there are in every war. What the hell does that have to do with winning a struggle? I really don't even know what the hell your getting at.

2 - Again, WTF? We handed out water and food in Somalia too. That has nothing to do with winning a struggle.

3 - Ask yourself how many schools and hospitals have been destroyed or have been shut down because of their uses as insurgent bases of operation.

Your flights of fancy about our success in Iraq only show how willfully ignorant you are of the situation there. You should read Rich Lowry's latest column at NR. Conservatives only discredit themselves with their blinders on Iraq. A few built schools, some people killed and a couple happy Iraqi's does not a country make.

Henry said...

Michael Farris -- Thanks for your undaunted responses to my questions, but I think you missed my point. I didn't mean to ask "who won in the end?" I'm saying "pick a random date and tell me who was winning at that moment."

When you say that framing these conflicts the way I do is simplistic, I completely agree. That supports my point. We have created a unstable front in a protracted war and there are no simple solutions. Attempting to disengage will be just as messy and bloody as any other proposal and maybe moreso.

Are we losing battles and winning the war? Are we winning battles and losing the war? No one knows. But I'm reminded by history that many thought Fascism would win out in Europe; that many thought Communism would outlast the decadent west.

Predicting a win is hard. Throwing the game is easy.

Gahrie said...

dklittl:

Thanks for proving my point. As and to why these things are important, it is about the American will to win the war. The only way we can lose the war is to lose the will to win. That is something our enemies understand. Their aim is destroy the American will to win, and the Left and the MSM are explicitly helping them to do so.

We never hear about American heroes, only supposed villians.

We never hear about the opening of a hospital, only about bombings.

We never hear about the 80%+ of Iraq that is peaceful and prosperous, only about the insurgency.

Gerald Hibbs said...

My last post was poorly written:

"Since the primary source of fighters/money is actually from outside governments I'm skeptical the term fits."

Alright, in the interest of being clear change that to, "primary source of money, weapons, trainers." I appreciate that a large portion of the actual fighters in Iraq are Sunni Arab Iraqis afraid of Shiite governmental control. As such the term "civil war" is certainly strongly arguable. My point is that when foreign governments are interceding in the internal affairs of another country "civil war" doesn't quite cover it. When we invaded Afghanistan we got help from local people does that mean it was a civil war?

Michael Farris said...

"Attempting to disengage will be just as messy and bloody as any other proposal and maybe moreso."

I agree that willy nilly withdrawal would be a massively bad idea at present as it would create a power vaccuum that would likely be filled by some new version of Saddam (or the old one if he's still breathing by then), theocracy of some stripe or even nastier sectarian conflicts.

In the largest analysis at present there don't seem to be any great options.

hdhouse said...

gharie...i hereby nominate you for the shithead of the year award. its for the idiot who has his head up his ass so far and for so long he enjoys it.

Michael Farris said...

Pogo, you quoted me, were you addressing me and not madisonman?

If so, I've already admitted I have no idea of what to do (beyond it should be rather different than what we've been doing so far).

I also feel no real need to supply a theoretical course of action since no one would listen to it and I was against the initial invasion in the first place (mostly because I thought the current administration wouldn't do a very good job after the initial invasion).

I will say that having some idea of the realities of the middle east in general and iraqis in particular would be a helpful place to start looking for some better tactics / strategies.

Pogo said...

hdhouse offers his usual nothing, framed in shit, and then mistakes it for intellectual humor.

The Jerk said...

Pogo,

Before you demand specific plans from others, you should offer your own. If you don't you are a fool.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Gerald: I appreciate that a large portion of the actual fighters in Iraq are Sunni Arab Iraqis afraid of Shiite governmental control.

Actually, according to our Defense Dept., the domestic Shia militias are the chief source of violence.

Pogo said...

Re: Before you demand specific plans from others, you should offer your own.

Bullshit. My plan got voted out.
Democrats are in control. They can't blame anyone else for what happens next.

So what's the plan now?

Pogo said...

P.S. and I do think it representative of a fool's approach to, as you've done, avoid the specific question and pretend you are not repsonible for a very very specific answer.

I'm calling the Democrat's BS on this one.

Anonymous said...

Noted war hobbit Mark Steyn has some fans here I see. It's just a test of will, and we must continue on this grand and epic battle against jihadis, and make more white babies.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit. My plan got voted out.
Democrats are in control. They can't blame anyone else for what happens next.


The plan got voted out, but what gives you the idea Bush will follow it? To the contrary; in spite of the election, our military warnings, and support from a vanishingly small percentage of people, Bush will escalate it, and dump it on to the next President. Now that's arrogance.

MadisonMan said...

I'm calling the Democrat's BS on this one.

Just look how well the Republican Plan was working! Just as promised! In and out. Hailed as victors. Don't need a big army.
Iraqi oil will pay for it!

I thought the Republicans lost the House, btw, because of scandal. But don't blame me! I voted against the Democratic Incumbent in November.

Incidentally, the 65th Wisconsin soldier has died in Iraq (he was also the second soldier who was an alum of West Bend West High School). Wisconsinites comprises <2% of the US population and >2% of the Iraqi war deaths.

Pogo said...

Re: Incidentally, the 65th Wisconsin soldier has died in Iraq
More MSM-style reporting.
Imagine WW2 if this had been the criterion for success in the Battle of the Bulge, or Bataan, or D-Day.

The Democrat approach: Give me liberty, but not if it means any deaths, ever ever ever. Because nothing's worth dying for.

Re: Now that's arrogance.
The arrogance is that Democrats can't admit they haven't the foggiest idea what to do, and have been told that they cannot in fact cut and run like they wanted to. Now they are stuck having to actually do something, and they still want to blame it all on Bush. I just knew they'd bitch as soon as they got in, and fail, and lose, and blame someone else.

What chickenshits.

knoxgirl said...

80% of Iraq is peaceful, prosperous, and becoming more prosperous everyday.

I just listened to a podcast with Michael Totten and he basically said this. He's no right-winger, either, and he probably knows as much about the Middle East as anyone can who doesn't live there full time.

(bracing myself to be called every manner of idiot, liar and full-of-shit fool)

Joseph Hovsep said...

Pogo: Bullshit. My plan got voted out. Democrats are in control. They can't blame anyone else for what happens next.

Curious logic for conservatives to employ. Bush designed this war and has run this war and will make all decisions regarding this war until someone replaces him in the White House. Democrats and war critics do have plans of their own, but winning Congress doesn't give them the power to implement them. Plus, this is Bush's war and always will be Bush's war. The task of cleaning up Bush's war will belong to whomever takes over the White House in 2009, but the wisdom and execution of the war itself is all Bush.

Even if the Democrats haven't offered a sufficiently "specific" plan (and let's be honest, no plan would be "specific" enough for you to not call its proponent a fool), the Bush plan is hardly a good defense. In fact, its worse than the GOP talking points about the Dems' "at least we're not Republicans" political strategy. Where the Dems supposedly just say we want change without offering substantive alternatives, the GOP puts on blinders and pretends the war was well thought-through and is going just as planned. Personally, I'd rather have an ambiguous plan offered by someone who recognizes harsh reality than a specific plan that has been tried, has not been working and will not work offered by someone who thinks things are going fine.

The Jerk said...

Bullshit. My plan got voted out.

Good dodge, but nobody's buying. Can you explain what that plan was? You've already had three and a half years to explain it but I'm charitable. Instead you want to make other people explain how to clean up the mess created by the policy you advocated. All your bluster and profanity can't disguise your complete lack of substance or your pitiable foolishness.

Cedarford said...

Michael Farris said...
Anytime you have a government (real or proxy) fighting insurgents either:
1. the government is clearly and unambiguously winning
2. it's losing.

Not winning is the same as losing in that situation.


Not true. Many insurgencies go through periods of stalemate then the side that can bear the attrition the best wins. The US has won other insurgencies - the Seminole, Apache, Huks, Confederacy of course, and Cold War by willingness to spill blood and wear down the insurgents into dust.

Winning in Iraq would have required much less squeamishness on the sanctity of enemy life than we have chosen to take. Or more resistance to the old, tired MSM "death count" chant they have been on for 5 fucking years. We lost 329 people an hour in WWII, when we had less than half our present population. We lose 60,000 to 95,000 a year in preventable medical events we can't seem to allocate a few billion to work on, or the 1800 motorcycle deaths...
Unbearable number of US deaths in Iraq?????????
As Lefties who honestly don't care at all for the troops blubber and women who think with their hearts instead of their brains insist??
We are losing less than 2 soldiers a day since 9/11. Tragic no matter what the number is, but "unbearable"??? The Soviets lost and managed to "bear" the loss of 14,000 people a DAY in WWII.
***************************
Pogo is right on the MSM death count mantra.
That said, given our current constraints and the truth of the Arab Sunni and Shia's ingratitude and suicidal stupidity - WE ARE LOSING at present. It is not a stalemate, but an insurgency we let grow then fought ineffectively with halfass measures, a pack of Iraqi shitheads with no interest in risking their own asses for a nation, just their tribes -- and a feckless ROE policy.

And Bush was an absolute moron for deciding to launch his "we're actually winning on our current course and Rummy will be with me the whole way!!" campaign tour.

Coming from a family of Reagan Democrats and huge pro-defense vets, it was disgust with Bush, and the economy of the Elites, and corruption that returned most of us to remembering the "Democrat" part of being Reagan Democrats.

************************
Tim - "Unfortunately, the defense draw down begun by G.H.W. Bush and continued by Clinton has hurt our ground forces most."

Don't forget Bush II. He is as much a part of it as his predecessors and has far less of an excuse for having less fighters, subs, bombers, surface ships, tanks, reservist eligibility, bases AFTER 9/11 than what Clinton handed over. And after China's huge buildup in missiles, subs, and army modernization started. Rumsfeld to the end believed we needed LESS grunts and MORE "high tech supersoldiers like the million dollar ones with college degrees now being blown up by IEDs planted by illiterate peasants for a 150 dollar payment by Iranian agents, Sunni moneymen".
Rumsfeld wanted to go from 10 Army divisions down to 8. Good riddance to him. He had some good ideas, but his opposition to a larger military and support of Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and growing the Fed Gov't by 40% in 6 years all but quaranteed that he would paralyze America by having our smaller ground forces bogged down in Iraq, burning out from overuse, and unable to act elsewhere (much to the glee of Chavez, Iran, N Korea, and Syria)
*******************
If I ask you, or the average American, how many Medals of Honor and Silver Stars have been awarded in this war, how many will know the answer without looking it up?

Only 2 Medals of Honor. Very stingy compared to other wars, And one was for a grenade-flopper. With another flopper award pending. Only one was for a true hero that performed an astounding feat of valor and skill in the face of a superior enemy. And even SGT Smith died. Somehow Bush's Pentagon has decided to get a MOH requires you to die - otherwise several Marines and SEALs that did Audie Murphy proud would have theirs. (A grenade flopper is just a soldier that sacrifices himself for his buddies by instinct, like the thousands who died spontaneously deciding to lead charges on machine gun nests so others could get close enough to grenade or mortar the nest and live. Or people like the Japs that came at us as suicide bombers.) Better we gave a few more out to living soldiers who did great feats of valor and skill - in WWII and Vietnam grenade floppers got theirs, but the military was far better at making awards for true feats of valor that helped win battles, not just "taking one for the team".

Anonymous said...

"We're not winning, we're not losing."

In the spirit of the season, let me say just one word:

Humbug.

hdhouse said...

knoxgirl said...
80% of Iraq is peaceful, prosperous, and becoming more prosperous everyday."

ok. i'll bite. which 80%? not in population as that would mean everywhere but the capital and thats not true. so it must mean geographically....ahhh thats it isn't it. misdirected statistics. the heartbeat of the GOP.

ohhh and
Gahrie said...
hdhouse:

I bet you believe we lost the Battle of Tet too..."

Moron. It was the Tet Offensive. What you said is akin to the Battle of Christmas or the Battle of Labor Day. Please think before you write...although it does give most of us a good laugh.

and now it is the democrat's war? the president is the commander and chief or did you skip that day in civics? the democratic congress HASN'T been sworn in yet you putz.

but you can count on day one of the new congress that finally a party with balls will say to bush's strawdogs "get your asses in here and explain what you are doing".

if you think that performance today by mr. bush was anything other than psychotic you need to get the wax out of your ears.

hdhouse said...

knoxgirl said...
80% of Iraq is peaceful, prosperous, and becoming more prosperous everyday."

ok. i'll bite. which 80%? not in population as that would mean everywhere but the capital and thats not true. so it must mean geographically....ahhh thats it isn't it. misdirected statistics. the heartbeat of the GOP.

ohhh and
Gahrie said...
hdhouse:

I bet you believe we lost the Battle of Tet too..."

Moron. It was the Tet Offensive. What you said is akin to the Battle of Christmas or the Battle of Labor Day. Please think before you write...although it does give most of us a good laugh.

and now it is the democrat's war? the president is the commander and chief or did you skip that day in civics? the democratic congress HASN'T been sworn in yet you putz.

but you can count on day one of the new congress that finally a party with balls will say to bush's strawdogs "get your asses in here and explain what you are doing".

if you think that performance today by mr. bush was anything other than psychotic you need to get the wax out of your ears.

hdhouse said...

what is most bothersome now having read this entire thread is that president bush stood there and said we are not winning, the incoming sec of defense said we aren't winning, any number of generals say we aren't winning and this thread is filled with neo-con buttheads who say we are...slipsliding through some sort of Hannity/Limbaugh fantasy land.

that is truly sad. you pathetic morons need to get real.

Gahrie said...

hdhouse:

Ok asshole..play semantics...You still never answered the question.

Did the United States win the Tet offensive?

For that matter, did the United States lose any battle in the Vietnam war?

The Soviets and the North Vietnamese have both acknowledged that the only way they were able to win was by destroying the American will. So they funded and organized anti-war protests, used fools like Hanoi Jane and Kerry and then the Left did their dirty work for them.

And now the jihadists are doing the exact same thing again, and it's working.

The only question is..are you a tool or a fool?

You want to know what the supreme irony is? If the jihadists did eventually get their way....you'd be one of the first up against the wall.

MadisonMan said...

The news that >2% of the dead soldiers in Iraq have hailed from Wisconsin, with <2% of the USA's population, was meant solely to show that Wisconsin supplies its fair share of patriotic soldiers.

Anonymous said...

Gahrie:

You miss the point. Using your logic about 'winning' and 'losing,' the U.S. must have lost the Revolutionary war.

In Vietnam, the Viet Cong and the NVA suffered over 1.1 million deaths at the hands of U.S. military superiority while the U.S. lost 58,000 soldiers, for about a 20-1 kill ratio.

But it was a meaningless statistic. Our opponents considered us as foreign invaders who they were defending their home turf against. Ultimately they were more willing to lose a million men than we were to lose fifty thousand. They were fighting in a state of 'total war,' whereas we were not in a state of 'total war' and never really had a good definition of what the heck we were doing over there.

In Iraq, I don't doubt that we have killed many, many more insurgents than we have lost Americans. But again, it is a meaningless statistic. They have shown they are willing to lose that many and continue fighting against us as a foreign invader, while on the other hand it is hard to justify anything we are doing there as being worth thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. The ever changing mission, which has gone from regime change to finding WMD to fighting terrorists to establishing democracy to ending violence just seems to be another way of saying that we don't know what the heck we are doing over there.

The idea that patriotism is limited to us is a fool's pipedream, and only fools think that we can invade a country and be thought of as other than an invader.

Gahrie said...

The insurgents in Iraq aren't attacking us out of patriotism.

Most of the attacks against US troops are from non-Iraqi foriegn jihadists, who would be attacking us no matter what country we were in, or here in the United States, as they did on 9/11.

Most of the attacks on Iraqis are by Iranian backed insurgents trying to seize power for their branch of Islam.

Almost no one in Iraq considers themselves primarily to be an Iraqi. They are firsy a member of their tribe or religion. That is one of the reasons it is so hard for us to create a democratic Iraq.

hdhouse said...

gahrie..no offense but man you have to get a grip. your posts are neurotic at best. please try and get some sort of grasp on history before you write on it. do some source checking (no, rush, sean and faux news aren't good sources but you'll find that out when you hit your teens).

get a grip

Pogo said...

So I posed a question to the anti-Bush crowd: what is your plan?
What are you going to do now?
How will you handle Iraq and worldwide terrorism?

As I figured, you've got nothing. Nada.
Oh, except another McGovern plan(McGovern. Good God!) detailing how to lose a war.
Uninspired defeatism. Anti-military pablum. Weak submissives to an increasingly irrational Iran hellbent on our destruction.

hdhouse, your kind are in office. Quit complaining about Bush. Every death in Iraq is now on your cowardly little head. Deal with it. What's your plan? You got nothin', son. You pretend to understand and know history, but your remarks are, besides insulting, hindered by being erroneous. What's your plan? It's your war, house. Fix it. Now.

Pogo said...

What the hell?
It's been 15 minutes, and you haven't fixed it?
Waaaah! hdhouse and the liberal Democrats have created another Vietnam! Babykillers!

Gahrie said...

hdhouse:

Please refer to a single factual inaccuracy in any of my posts, and suppy citations to.

Or just shut the hell up. Ad hominen is not only fallicious, it's boorish.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Pogo: hdhouse, your kind are in office. Quit complaining about Bush. Every death in Iraq is now on your cowardly little head. Deal with it. What's your plan? You got nothin', son. You pretend to understand and know history, but your remarks are, besides insulting, hindered by being erroneous.

Unless you think hdhouse is a Republican, his kind are NOT in office now. Bush is still in office and, as Commander in Chief, he still makes war decisions. Your remarks are, besides insulting, hindered by being erroneous.

Joseph Hovsep said...

gahrie: Please refer to a single factual inaccuracy in any of my posts, and suppy citations to.

Some statements you've made in this comment thread:

Doesn't a civil war have to involve a nation, rather than a small segment of a nation?

As noted above, no. And even the GOP acknowledges that what we're facing in Iraq is civil war or borderline civil war.

The fighting is being domne mostly by foriegn jihadists attacking Americans.

Even the U.S. Defense Dept. admits that the chief threat is Shia militias and that most of the fighting is between Shia and Sunni. Certainly, the killing is by far almost exclusively Iraqis killing Iraqis. Only a few thousand Americans have died in Iraq.

The Soviets and the North Vietnamese... funded and organized anti-war protests... And now the jihadists are doing the exact same thing again, and it's working.

The jihadists are funding and organizing anti-war protests and motivating 70% of the country that opposes the war? I don't know where to begin...

Most of the attacks against US troops are from non-Iraqi foriegn jihadists, who would be attacking us no matter what country we were in, or here in the United States, as they did on 9/11.

These non-Iraqi jihadists may very well want to attack Americans anywhere, but these guys would not be in the U.S. if we weren't occupying Iraq. They're in Iraq because they're Muslim, Iraq is in the middle of the Muslim world, and the U.S. is occupying the country.

Most of the attacks on Iraqis are by Iranian backed insurgents trying to seize power for their branch of Islam.

As noted above, the "most of the attacks on Iraqis" part is flat wrong. And the Iranians would presumably support the current Shia control of Iraq.

Pogo said...

Re: his kind are NOT in office now

Joseph, you poor fool.
Don't you understand how Washington works at all?
Geez, how utterly embarrassing for you.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that the we-are-losing crowd here is (intentionally?) ignoring who is killing whom and why. As Gutrie noted, almost all of our battle casualties come from attacks by Sunni Arabs, whether indiginous or foreign (most often Saudi), primarily it appears funded by our strong ally, Saudi Arabia. And to some extent, the recent rise in casualties can be attributed to our troops entering Sunni Arab neighborhoods that they had stayed out of before.

But the vast bulk of the casualties right now are Sunni Arab versus Shiite Arab. And, yes, the Sunnis appear to have Saudi backing, and many of the Shiite militias have Iranian backing.

But what seems to be lost here is that this isn't really two fairly equal factions fighting for control, but rather that we ousted the 20% minority and installed the 80% majority (offering of course that the 20% could have their 20% of power, which they mostly rejected).

But the 20% had not maintained power for at least almost the previous 80 years through acts of generocity. Rather, it was through ever increasing levels of violence and brutality. It got esp. bad after GHWB pushed the Marh (Shiite) Arabs and Kurds to rebel.

So, for the first three or so years after our incursion into Iraq, the 20% minority (plus foreign helpers) tried to regain power the way that they had retained it - through indiscriminate violence and brutality.

The 60% Shiite majority responded for a long time by listening to their clerics, turning the other cheek, and participating in the democratic process. The 20% Kurds also participate, but keep the violence down by keeping the Arabs out.

Somewhere around six months ago though, the 60% Shiite Arab portion of the population started hitting back. Hard. There is a decent chance that part of that is due to the Iranians using this to hit back at us for our pressure on them for the nuclear weapons.

Nevertheles, what is becoming ever more evident is that the 80% have decided that the only way to live in some safety is to neutralize the 20% (actually, it appears that it is now 85%/15% and may be 90%/10% by the end of 2007). This is being done by forcing the Sunni Arabs out of mixed neighborhoods, and optimally out of Iraq itself, or killing them.

So, what we really have now is terrorism on the part of the Sunni Arabs aimed at regaining control over the other 85% of the population, and ethnic cleansing on the part of the Shiite Arabs, aimed at neutralizing the recalcitrant 15%.

Now back to winning or losing. We aren't winning because people continue dying. But we aren't losing because if this keeps up for the next year or so, the Sunni Arab percentage of the population will most likely be down to the projected 10%, and it will be mostly contained in Sunni enclaves. And as the Sunni Arab threat is neutralized, the primary spiritual leaders of the Shiites are likely to regain control of their people, and the violence is likely to reduce as the Shiite militias lose support.

In other words, the we-are-losing depends on the assumption that the basic facts are static on the ground there. They aren't. The Sunni Arabs are losing, badly. They are being rapidly pushed out of shared areas and even out of Iraq. The more this happens, the less they are going to be able to fight. Time is on the side of the 85%, and, thus stablity.

The biggest thing that could throw a wrench into this is that Sunni Arab prestige is on the line, and our "allies" the Saudis are starting to panic. So far, their aid has been non-governmental (both financial and jihadists). But the Saudi govt. is making noises about getting actively involved to protect the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq. And if they do, then we really have lost (partially because the Iranians would also feel compelled to formally intervene).

BTW, this is why the Baker "Realist" school is so problematic here - it looks at things from the point of view of the Saudis and Sunni Arabs and ignores the demographic realities of Iraq.

Bruce Hayden said...

Joseph Hovsep

Not quite sure of all of your points, but I do agree that the Iranians are happy with a Shiite majority democracy in Iraq.

But that doesn't end the debate there. Rather, the next question is whether Iraq is in danger of having an Iranian style theocracy installed, and the answer to that is no. Rather, interestingly to me, the Iraq experience is having an affect on Iran, instead of the other way around.

What must be remembered is that there has been a dispute about the soul of Shia Islam for the last couple of decades, with the two schcols basically being the Khomeni school that came to power in Iran and the Khoi/Sistani school. The difference is that the Khomeni school is seeking (by many Shiites account) to Sunnify Shiite Islam. The Iranian clerics running that school were able to minimize the theological impact of the Khoi/Sistani school for a long time because of Saddam Hussein, etc. But all of a sudden, Iranian Shiites can now pilgramage to Iraqi holy sites, and come back recharged with traditional Shiite values - notable by the resurgence in shrines and all the pictures of imans going up across Iran.

The Khoi/Sistani view of Shia Islam is far more popular in Iraq, and is becoming popular (again) in Iran. And that view is a lot more traditional than has controlled Iran since 1979 - including that there should be a mosque/state division.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Bruce:

I don't necessarily disagree in general with your description of the interethnic conflict in Iraq (though I'd dispute that the Shiites just started fighting back six months ago), but I'm not sure I understand the policy prescription. With a population of about 27 million, even if the Sunnis are killed off and chased out to the point that they compromise only ten percent of the population, that's still millions of people.

First, why do you think more of this violence will "neutralize" the Sunni threat? I just don't see how more of the same will somehow convince Sunnis that continuing to fight is in vain in the next year or two. Where is the logical tipping point where the killing will stop (even assuming no Saudi intervention)?

Second, if beating the Sunnis into submission is really what's going to eventually be the solution to Iraqs problems, does the U.S. presence help or hinder that process? If more bloodshed is the answer, maybe the U.S. should leave and let the Shiites do their dirty work?

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, but I'm not sure what policy is appropriate based on your analysis.

Gahrie said...

Joseph Hovsep:

1) Well you're not hdhouse, But you have your own form of fallicious arguement, intentionally misquoting me.

2) Re: Civil War
I still say that the fighting in the Sunni Triangle and Baghdad is not a civil war anymore than the fighting in US inner cities is a civil war. However, that is really an opinion, not a fact.

3)The fighting is being domne mostly by foriegn jihadists attacking Americans.

Now this is dishonest, and an attempt at a strawman. The actual quote was: The fighting is being domne mostly by foriegn jihadists attacking Americans, and Iranian supperted insurgents targeting the democratic government. (original mispellings uncorrected)

Your misquote makes it seem like I am ignoring the Iraqi on Iraqi violence, which actually comprises the majority of the violence. My true quote is a simple statement of fact. You have made a dishonest strawman arguement.

4)The Soviets and the North Vietnamese... funded and organized anti-war protests... And now the jihadists are doing the exact same thing again, and it's working.

By artful use of ellipses, you make it appear that I make the absurd statement that the jihadists have organized and are funding the anti-war moverment. It is actually clear from my original statement that my point was actually that the jihadists are attempting to destroy America's will to fight like the Soviets and Vietnamese did by using the anti-war movement and the MSM as tools. Again, you have made a dishonest strawman arguement.

5)These non-Iraqi jihadists may very well want to attack Americans anywhere, but these guys would not be in the U.S. if we weren't occupying Iraq. They're in Iraq because they're Muslim, Iraq is in the middle of the Muslim world, and the U.S. is occupying the country.


Really? Tell that to the sailors of the USS Cole, the embassy workers in Kenya and the people of New York City. And are you realy so certain that they would not be fighting us in Afghanistan?

One of the reasons we have not had anymore attacks here in the U.S. is because we are killing the terrorists in Iraq.

6)And the Iranians would presumably support the current Shia control of Iraq.

Not if it was a democratic government, as I originally said. (you do seem to have a problem with ignoring important parts of people's arguements) The Iranians are totally opposed to the growth of democracy in Iraq, and want a theocratic state either allied, or merged, with Iran. To this end, they are funneling arms and fighters into Iraq to kill Iraqis and undermine the government.

Joseph Hovsep said...

gahrie: I did not misquote you at all, let alone "intentionally" do so. All quotes are taken directly from comments you left above, available for anyone to see. I didn't cut and paste everything you said because you asked for the factual inaccuracies, which I highlighted, and excluded what I considered nonfactual or accurate.

As for your point (3), I separated the two factual inaccuracies out and addressed them separately and stand by the fact that they are each wrong, whether taken separately or together.

As for my "artful use of elipses" in your point (4), your statement that the Soviets and Vietnamese had real influence over the 1960s-70s antiwar movement is just as false as your statement that the jihadists are doing the "exact same thing" today. There are lots of reasons that most Americans don't support the Iraq War. The jihadists' infiltration of the U.S. media or American support for the jihadists are not among them.

As for your point (5), I agree that there are terrorists in Iraq today that would like to kill Americans anywhere. But I don't think there is reason to think that those people (1) have the means or ability to come to the U.S. to attack Americans or (2) would necessarily have become terrorists if not for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. I think there are lots of reasons a Muslim terrorist would want to attack American troops occupying a Muslim country, but not necessarily Americans in the U.S. You stated, as a matter of apparent fact, that the people attacking American troops in Iraq would be attacking Americans in the U.S. if they weren't attacking us in Iraq. I think that is sufficiently baseless to be deemed factually inaccurate.

As for your point (6), I apparently wrongly read your comment to mean Iranians were supporting overthrow of Shia-controlled Iraq, which is wrong. Your explanation that Iran seeks to overthrow democracy in Iraq is more plausible, but I think its still wrong and basically defer to Bruce's latest post on that.

Gahrie said...

As for my "artful use of elipses" in your point (4), your statement that the Soviets and Vietnamese had real influence over the 1960s-70s antiwar movement is just as false as your statement that the jihadists are doing the "exact same thing" today.

I don't know where you are getting your facts from, but mine come from Soviet and North Vietnamese officials, and documents released from KGB files. The KGB has released records showing they funded and organized the anti-war movement. (and funnily enough, the most active anti-war organization today is ANSWER, which is also a Communist organization) General Giap, among others, has admitted they could not have won the war except for the American anti-war movement. There is a reason that pictures of Hanoi Jane and John Kerry hang in Vietnamese war museums.


There are lots of reasons that most Americans don't support the Iraq War. The jihadists' infiltration of the U.S. media or American support for the jihadists are not among them.

This is true. But you see the jihadists didn't need to infilitrate, just use the tools that were already available. The basic point that you continue to avoid is that the US lost in Vietnam, and can only lose in Iraq, due to a loss of will. Our opponents realize this, and thus adopt this as their strategy. Why is it we see videos of the terrorists making statements and killing hostages, but never see videos of Iraqis thanking American soldiers for restoring water and power? Why is it we hear about soldiers being courtmartialed for atrocities, but we never hear about soldiers performing acts of heroism?

Do you think it was responsible for the MSM to show footage obtained from the jihadists of a jihadist sniper killing American soldiers? What effect do you think that footage had on the american people's morale and will?

The Jerk said...

The basic point that you continue to avoid is that the US lost in Vietnam, and can only lose in Iraq, due to a loss of will.

I think you're confusing the real world with a Green Lantern comic book. It turns out that wars are fought by soldiers, not emotions.

hdhouse said...

you morons are really rolling downhill now.

we lost in vietnam because it was not winable. get it? there was no military solution - only a political solution.

we are loosing in Iraq because of 3 similar reasons. 1. President Bozo cannot describe victory so there is no goal. Define victory please aside from all of our troops leaving Iraq. What other victory do you have in mind?

2. We are in the middle of a civil war. Real people who make real decisions and are close the event say so, it meets every definition of civil war and our military is the traffic cop on the corner during the shoot out.

3. Bush is commander in chief. He and his ilk staked out this escapade, clearly had no idea what to do after the first 90 hours and so here we are. that is so strickingly similar to vietnam as to make the heart stop. We oozed into both and once there found out it was a one way ticket and the return train has left the station.

dream on. it won't win. dreams don't win. reality wins. we have lost. now deal with that.