May 29, 2006

Partisan squabbling "affects our warriors, who are frustrated by the country's lack of cohesion and the depiction of their war."

Writes Owen West, founder of Vets for Freedom, in a NYT op-ed:
Both Republicans and Democrats agree we cannot lose Iraq. The general insurgency in Iraq imperils our national interest and the hardcore insurgents are our mortal enemies. Talking of troop reductions is to lose sight of the goal.

Second, America's conscience is one of its greatest strengths. But self-flagellation, especially in the early stages of a war against an enemy whose worldview is uncompromising, is absolutely hazardous. Three years gone and Iraq's most famous soldiers are Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England, a victim and a criminal, respectively. Abu Ghraib remains the most famous battle of the war.

Soldiers are sick of apologizing for a sliver of malcontents who are not at all representative of the new breed. But they are also sick of being pitied. Our warriors are the hunters, not the hunted, and we should celebrate them as we did in the past, for while our tastes have changed, warfare — and the need to cultivate national guardians — has not. As Kipling wrote, "The strength of the pack is the wolf."

Finally, today's debates are not high-spirited so much as mean-spirited. To allow polarizing forces to dominate the argument by insinuating false motives on one side or a lack of patriotism on the other is to obscure long-term security decisions that have to be made now.
West calls this "common ground," but I can't help feeling that a lot of Democrats -- and others -- will refuse to stand here.


knoxgirl said...

The constant stream of defeatism from the left is terrifying in its short-sightedness. We, as West intimates, ignored and avoided this war for two decades. I personally believe that it will probably last until after I am dead.

When people talk about packing it in, and we've only been in Iraq for three short years (with a LOT of good progress under our belts, despite some setbacks) I get really scared for my son. Not that he will be drafted, but that he will be killed somehow by terrorists-- because we put our heads back in the sand and gave up.

amba said...

I personally believe that it will probably last until after I am dead.

I think you're right, and I'm sure you're a lot younger than I am.

People are having a lot of trouble understanding that things have changed. That is, the enemy has changed, but it seems the struggle never ends. In the '90s, while the next enemy was preparing for war, lots of people in the West were celebrating "the end of history." We'd have perpetual peace, conquer the world bloodlessly with our gadgets and pleasures, and make money without working by investing in the Internet.

Wake up. It was only a dream.

Jacques Cuze said...

Althouse you're such a coward.

Owen West writes about common ground and makes a statement that somewhat reasonably addresses faults found on the left and the right.

And then you come along and immediately play the game of "It's the Democrats!"

And of course your idiot followers join in.

It's the Democrats! Conservatives are wonderful people whose shit doesn't stink.

9/11 changed everything!!!

This Althouse is your Memorial Day post? To twist a veteran's words into a partisan attack when that is just what he was saying not to do?

Shameful, shameful, shameful.

And cowardly.

Gaius Arbo said...

Thanks for proving the point Ann was making, Jacques.

West said one thing that really resonated. He called it "crisis of expectations that threatens our ability to react to future threats ". I think that's exactly right.

Seven Machos said...

Quxxoo is psycho.

David said...

Knoxgirl; you are exactly right. Jacque protests too much by the way. I spend Memorial Day reminding people I come in contact with that Memorial Day (Decoration Day) is a day that is devoted to those who have died in the service of their country.

Memorial Day used to be on May 30 but was changed so that it created a 3 day weekend. This effectively diluted it's significance for those who choose to avoid the entire concept.

Many have died, and more will make the ultimate sacrifice, so that folks can stand up and make known their personal beliefs, I.E. Jacques in his own inimitable way.

Whether Universities ban military recruiters and still accept federal monies in violation of the Solomon Ammendment, violate the sanctity of military funerals, weaken the war effort by accentuating the news that suits their purpose over the good that is accomplished in the world, the fact remains that nobility resides in the hearts of those who stand against tyranny. True nobility is bestowed on those who pay the ultimate sacrifice.

This is their day and it cannot be taken away from them, and us, by those who take their liberties for granted.


Jacques Cuze said...

Both Republicans and Democrats agree we cannot lose Iraq.

Both Republicans and Democrats agree we cannot win the war in Iraq, some say it was never winnable, others believe it was incompetently managed. Former high ranking military officers agree.

The general insurgency in Iraq imperils our national interest and the hardcore insurgents are our mortal enemies.

It is not clear to anyone, including the American People who now overwhelmingly consider the war a mistake what it is about the insurgency that imperils our national interest. What is our national interest that is imperiled? Finding Bin Laden? Reducing Terrorism? Improving American's sullied image? Reducing the costs of a barrel of oil that strife and instability add? Increasing peace and democracy through useful engagement in the middle east? Enabling America to defend itself on our borders and against nations and terrorists that can attack us here?

None of these are imperiled by our leaving the insurgency to itself. All of these are imperiled by our incompentent actions in Iraq, not to mention our criminal actions at Abu Ghraib and perhaps Haditha.

Talking of troop reductions is to lose sight of the goal.

Speaking of troop reductions is a reasonable strategy to take when faced with an unwinnable war and when considering our true national interests: defense of the nation against other nations and terrorist plots against our nation itself, and increasing peace and stability in the region.

How many more logical fallacies are in West's essay?

Let's just mention one, the conflating of dissent with hazard. It is the absolute right and responsibility of a free people to discuss the actions of its leaders and military.

And I know that that is the common ground for Conservatives and Liberals.

It is a pity so many wingnut partisan attack lawyers would disagree.

Elizabeth said...

I have no doubt that "polarizing forces" will continue to dominate the argument, on this board and in other forums. Too bad this call for common ground is so easily dismissed.

Seven Machos said...

I am a Republican. I think the war is winnable; I think we must win the war even if it takes 3000 years; and I support the war effort. War is a serious matter and a country once engaged in war must win. It's not some policy choice that you can simply change when, like the entire leftist program, it doesn't work.

But Quxxo: I urge you to stop posting here under all names and instead to urgently appeal to all left-wing political candidates that they run in the 2006 and 2008 elections as ardently against the war. "U.S. Out of Iraq." That should be the motto.


Danny said...

When people refer to this "war", are you referring to Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran? All three? Or is it the Middle East + West Asia in general? Does it include Palestine and Israel? Is this "war" geographically defined or is it sort of an non-spatial idea?

I'm not trying to be snarky here.

Ann Althouse said...

Danny: The linked article is about Iraq. That's what we're talking about, unless someone chooses to bring in other subjects, which they will presumably be specific about.

dklittl said...

The problem with the common ground is that Ann in her post immediately went divisive on the topic. Instead of finding what we can agree on, it becomes "the Democrats refuse to stand here."

This is all about the War on Terror which most Democrats truly believe in. The question then becomes what needs to be done to accomplish victory. Those we can find common ground, but at this moment there is serious debate about whether Iraq is helping or hurting in the fight to win the War on Terror. Read the Sunday NY Times article about the resurgent Taliban. I don't think that anyone has the magic bullet yet for how to win this war and so this notion that the Democrats need to just come over to your side of the street doesn't help with the problem that Owen West is truly talking about

Old Dad said...


That you have to ask the question at all (and it's a legitimate one) proves Major West's argument. We suffer from a terrific lack of leadership. The Administration has failed to persuasively explain our war aims and strategies, so much so that many wonder just who it is that we are fighting and why.

I support the war, and sincerely believe that a coherent and persuasive case can be made for it, and I fault President Bush for this failure.

Yet many Democrats have shamelessly demagogued our war efforts, and hurt morale at home and abroad. Major West is right in assessing that much of the opposition has not been high spirited but merely mean spirited. A certain poster on this thread is a case in point. There is no coherent loyal opposition, and we are much the worse for it.

The electorate, I think, sees both failures. That's why the only group polling more miserably than the President is Congress. My God, we've got Senators comparing troops to Nazis, and a Congressman hanging Marines for cold blooded murder without a trial.

Regardless, it is the President's duty to explain this war. The troops understand. Why don't we the people?

dick said...

For sure, read the NY Times and then read the military responses to the NY Times. The NY Times has misreported so much of the war that the paper is called the bird cage liner or the NY Slime by the military. The general opinion is that the WaPo is doing a far better job than the NY Times is reporting this war and they are not doing very well. The newspapers do not appear to have people on staff who really have any idea about military matters at all and keep misreporting things.

Just as an example, read the writing in the NY Times about the use of white phosphorus. If you believe what they write, then you assume that white phosphorus is used like grease guns and napalm to burn people alive and is forbidden. In reality white phosphorus is used mainly to illuminate things and has been in use by the military since WW I. You would never know this by the Times. Then they keep telling us that such and such weapons are heavy armament. This heavy armament is routinely carried in combat by the women and single men. There is nothing heavy about it. You would never know this by the times.

Remember when the Times was telling us all about the quagmire. Then there was the Iraqi election and over 70% of the people voted across the country. Finally the Times admitted that the election had happened and the next day it was all back to quagmire.

There is a lot of information out there about what is going on in Iraq and what is not going on. Some of it is reported in the newspapers while a lot is not. A lot of the reporting is done by stringers who have a dog in the fight and misreport what they think the reporters want to see, not what is going on.

I think the one that really opened my eyes to the media misreporting was back when they were talking about Al Sadr. We read in the NY Times that the city of Baghdad was closed down, schools were closed, businesses were closed, nobody was going outside. Iraq the Model, who lives in Baghdad, went out with his camera and photographed all the businesses open, the kids on their way to school, traffic jams of people on their way to work, the city bustling on a regular day. Kind of makes a point about the reporting we are getting from the media.

Also remember that officer and his wife who talked to the president about the reporting at themeeting in West Virginia. Most of what is going on over there is not reported. We never hear of it. We never hear of the awarding of the Medal of Honor or the Silver Star. We never hear of the heroes and what they did and do every day. We get a casualty toll and whatever looks bad on that day. We don't hear about the Iraq stock exchange or the business that are opening or the training of women and their opening up businesses and going to school.

Instead we hear what QXXOO likes to see and not much else. The US is going to hell in a handbasket and our soldiers are vicious killers and irrational monsters. Read what they have to say for themselves and the photos they send back. Also read about the mayor of the city that used to be controlled by Al Qaeda and is now controlled by the local officials backed by the Marines. The mayor of that city even made a special trip to Colorado to thank the troops for cleaning up the mess in his city. The media never even reported it.

David said...


You are missing the point. The point is when does dissent become disrespect? A resurgent Taliban? Not true. They are responding to the heat being applied to them by our troops on the Afghan/Pakistan border. Iran borders Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan and is currently trying to go nuclear. This is called connecting the dots!

Perhaps we should clarify the definition of democrat. A good case can be made that leftwing ideologues have taken over the party. Whenever asked what they would do differently they reply, in one form or another, I hate Bush.

It is a partisan attack. With memories of Jane Fonda sitting astride an anti-aircraft gun in Hanoi, Murtha prejudging Haditha, constant references to Abu Ghraib,
ex-Generals criticizing from retirement, partisan leaks from CIA, groundless attacks on NSA surveillance, and the list goes on ad nauseum, it appears that the intent, if not the practical outcome, is to weaken our posture against terrorists.

It is entirely likely that Zarqawi with his ties to Iran will mount a TET type offensive against a major target in Iraq before the November elections. Why? Because they are taking a lesson from the North Vietnamese playbook which ended up losing the battle but winning the war. Why? Because of our failure of resolve.

That is what Major West is alluding to!

Elizabeth said...

Old Dad, you take qoxxo as representative of opposition to the Iraq war, and ignore the reasonable and coherant comments from dklittl, then conclude there is no "loyal opposition." That's cherrypicking, and supports the argument that it's not just Democrats who eschew any attempt at common ground.

altoids1306 said...

The one most flagrant incident of NYT anti-war editorialism that I can remember is this:

Letter from soldier killed in Iraq to girlfriend:
"Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

The NYT version:
''I kind of predicted this,'' Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. ''A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances.''

This was late last year. The day I discovered this was the day I decided I would not trust the NYT on any topic, ever, nor ever buy another copy of it again.

Old Dad said...


I referenced Quxxo as an example of mean spiritedness.

I stand by my claim that there is no coherent loyal opposition because I fail to see it--certainly not in Congress.

I'm ready to be educated, though. Point me in the right direction.

BTW, I certainly don't hold that those who oppose the war are unpatriotic or disloyal, and although the context of this thread certainly focuses our attention on the war, I meant opposition more broadly, and across a spectrum of political issues. That wasn't at all clear in my post.

For what it's worth, my post blames the President for much the same thing I fault the Democrats for. They can't articulate their support nor can the Democrats their opposition.

A pox on both their houses.

altoids1306 said...

(As for the topic at hand.)

If goldfish have three-second memories, then we are a nation of goldfish. No one remembers that in 2003, Afghanistan was heralded as the "graveyard of empires", and would be the final nail that does in the American Empire. No one remembers that 20 years ago, we were worried about population explosion rather than baby busts. No one remembers that 40 years ago, we were worried about the next ice age rather than global warming. The media can say literally say one thing today, the exact opposite tomorrow, and virtually no one would care.

We are a nation that shuts down the capital when someone thinks they heard something that sounded like a gunshot. Does the US still have the will to lose 6000 troops in one day, as we did on the first day of Iwo Jima, and resolve to fight on?

A friend's mother once told me "Grow and be strong, because the day will come when that bus only has one space left, and you will have to fight for it." Whether she spoke from experience or not, I don't know - but reading the MSM makes me wonder if that primal instinct for survival has atrophied.

Seven Machos said...

Quxxo: If everyone agrees with you, as you persistently claim (and then hilariously use that very weather vane of popular opinion BOB HERBERT to back you up), why do you argue so fervently? Wouldn't it be the other way around if everyone agrees with you -- that you would not be a gadfly, but part of, you know, the majority?

Also, if a large majority of Americans doesn't want to win the war, why hasn't a broad coaltion of legislators has not tried to de-fund the war? Wouldn't the members of their districts be putting a lot of pressure on them like they are on, say, just for example, illegal immigration? Why haven't the Democrats campaigned on a theme of "Bring the troops home," instead of "We need more troops," or whatever the flavor of the week happened to be in 2006.

Face it, Quxxo: you are in a small, insignificant minority. Americans want to win the war.

Ann Althouse said...

dklitti: "The problem with the common ground is that Ann in her post immediately went divisive on the topic. Instead of finding what we can agree on, it becomes "the Democrats refuse to stand here.""

Pay attention! I wrote "a lot of Democrats -- and others." If you don't show that you know the difference, I'm not going to put the time into reading your argument. Instead of rephrasing my words to distort them, why don't you face up to the reality of my suggestion, which is that West's proffered common ground will be rejected by "a lot of Democrats -- and others"? Because you know how mind-crushingly true it is?

Madison Guy said...

Comparing people to wolf packs always makes me nervous. Kipling to the contrary, it's not like the precedents are that great.

dick said...


I remember that one. I also remember that the NY Times said that the reason they didn't publish the whole thing was that it was out there elsewhere and they saw no need to repeat what was available other places. I think the NY Times lost a lot os respect that day and they should have. Any newspaper that considers it self the newspaper of record and does what the NY Times has done over and over in the past 5 years really needs to take a look at what they are doing and why. It would be a real shame for the NY Times to be a subsidiary of Al Jazeera but they are well on their way.

David said...

What is being alluded to is that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. The more weak links the weaker the chain.

As for the wolf analogy, timid wolves die quickly in the wild.

Strength and unity are key to survival whether it be the pack or the culture. Weak links are easily exploited up and down the food chain to the detriment of the whole.

Gaius Arbo said...

There is so much slanted coverage in the media that it is no wonder public opinion has slipped. A lot of us try - rather hard - to get more complete covergae out, but it is frankly an uphill battle.

knoxgirl said...

The sad truth is that an awful lot of Democrats aren't looking for "common ground," they just want to pull out. There's a constant drumbeat from the left to start troop reduction... hand-in-hand, of course, with the sage observation that there aren't enough troops there to get the job done.

And before they were telling us to pull out of Iraq, they were calling Afghanistan a "quagmire." This belies their supposed desire for an American victory in the war on terror. Again and again they demonstrate that all they really want is to score points against the guy unlucky enough to get stuck in office when the shit really hit the fan.

The struggle against Islamo-fascism is not a problem that is going to be solved quickly or easily. The left wants to call the whole effort a failure before we even get started. Absurdly premature and potentially suicidal.

Elizabeth said...

Old Dad,

thanks for clarifying what you mean by "loyal opposition"; since you offered qoxxo as an example of mean-spiritedness and then in the very next sentence made that statement about loyal opposition, without mentioning Congress or making any other transition, you can understand how I'd be confused.

I still don't understand what yo mean by "loyal opposition," especially since you make clear you're not calling anyone a traitor. How can the opposition both be disloyal and not treasonous?

On one thing we clearly agree: a pox on both their houses.

knoxgirl said...

The question then becomes what needs to be done to accomplish victory.

Right. This really is the million dollar question. And no one really knows the answer... correct?

Democrats have to come up with something besides knee-jerk armchair quarterbacking before they will have any credibility. You have to have some ideas, real, concrete ideas, before you start telling us to abandon the current strategy... no matter how bad you think it is presently going.

So far, all the democrats have offered is a weird back-and-forth mixed message consisting of two opposing stances: PULL OUT! NO, WHAT WE REALLY NEED IS MORE TROOPS! NO, PULL OUT! WAIT, NO, MORE TROOPS! NO, PULL OUT! MORE TROOPS!" into infinity.

I swear I'm not trying to be a smartass. This is truly what the Democratic "message" on the war seems to be. Not awe-inspiring, not even confidence-inspiring.

I am bumming that I never get to hear Sippican's take on any of this. Damn that quckso.

Ricardo said...

To paraphrase Voltaire ...

"Si Quxxo n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer."

Seven Machos said...

If I was the "loyal opposition," here is what I would say (and BELIEVE):

"We think the War in Iraq was a mistake. We understand, however, that American credibility is at stake, regardless of who is president, or who controls the Senate or the House, or what happens to Roe v. Wade. Some things transcend partisan squabbling and demand unity. Therefore, let us be clear: we want what is best for America, what will maintain and enhance its credibility and its economic and political well-being. Here, then, is our foreign policy strategy. Here are the concrete things that should happen."

The trouble, I think you lefties would have to agree is:

1. You are too interested in scoring points against the President, a man you have beaten exactly zero times, and

2. You got NO PLAN! None. None plan. All you want to do is complain.

Ann Althouse said...

"The sad truth is that an awful lot of Democrats aren't looking for "common ground," they just want to pull out."

But a do think that a lot of Democratic members of Congress realize it is important to support the war, but are just loath to show any support for Bush. It's an annoying position to be in. I have some sympathy for them.

Seven Machos said...

During the run-up to the 2004 election, I suggested to my dearest ultra-liberal West Side friends (great people, and ones who actually attend those $1000 a plate dinners) that the thing to do politically would be to support the war 100 percent and to say they would prosecute it much more ruthlessly.

This would at worst neutralize the war as an election issue, which would be good for Democrats because the murky non-position on the war has been an Achilles Heel for the Democrats in their opposition to an otherwise middling president. It would also allow Democrats to win or lose on social issues, their bread and butter according to them.

They obviously didn't listen to me.

The Drill SGT said...

Madison Man,

The best use of a wolf metaphor was I think Glenn Reynolds talking about United 93:

"They were a pack, not a herd"

The Drill SGT said...

Seven Machos,

I think you are advocating the McCain/Lieberman position:

Not certain we should have gone in so fast, should have gone in with more, but now that we're in, we need to win the war, and support the President, even if he makes mistakes along the way.

Reasoned thoughtful support, not blind obedience.

gj said...

After 9/11, Bush had a chance to pull this country together. Instead he chose to take a partisan path. He led us into war, and timed that leading for political advantage of his party. He shut down any debate.

Most of the country bought the con. The Democrats knuckled under. So the debate is happening now, at this terrible, terrible, terrible time.

What is the right way to respond to this war, which was a mistake and never should have been fought? Is "we broke it, so now we own it" any basis to support the morale of our troops? But what else, other than that, is the basis of this war?

Ann --- setting aside any question of Democrats or Republicans --- what would you say today, on Memorial Day 2006, if you wanted to convince someone to enlist, to support the cause that is this war in the most meaningful way? What are the arguments for this war today that make it worth risking one's life over?

Would you want one of your children to enlist today? Do you believe the cause is that noble? And if not, whose sons and daughters should fight?

The Drill SGT said...


I fought in 1 war, served overseas in between wars, served in the Pentagon during a second, and my wife is a serving NG officer today.

I have no children, and I'd be concerned if my child or nephew wanted to enlist. But support him, and be proud of his decision, of course!

We're in a serious fight, with folks who want us and our civilization dead. We'll either ultimately win or go into slavery.

Those who put their mortal bodies in the way of harm directed at their families are the noblest of man.

That's my Memorial Day thought.

HaloJonesFan said...

Ann Althouse:
"But a do think that a lot of Democratic members of Congress realize it is important to support the war, but are just loath to show any support for Bush. It's an annoying position to be in. I have some sympathy for them."

I'll go further than that--they realize that it is important to support the war, but they also realize that their base is so rabidly anti-war that [I]any[/I] show of support will immediately turf them. Look at Lieberman.

And I don't have much sympathy for them. Thirty years ago, they decided Acid-Amnesty-Abortion was going to be their base, and now they're stuck with it.

Daryl Herbert said...

Hmmm... Quxxo's position seems to be:

And then you come along and immediately play the game of "It's the Democrats!"

1 - Ann is being divisive by saying that many liberals/leftists will refuse to accept the message in this opinion piece, which is intended for both sides.

How many more logical fallacies are in West's essay?

2 - Now that I've actually read the West article, let me explain to you why leftists like me believe West's entire argument is totally flawed, and why we will totally reject it.

kmg4 said...

No worries. Despite all efforts of the left to derail the war, victory is inevitable by 2008. The trends are in place.

Jennifer said...

gj: My husband has already fought a year in this war and I doubt we'll go much longer before he goes back. My kids are a little young but someday I do hope my son at least considers the warrior path.

A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

John Stuart Mill was pretty eloquent. I'm not.

Old Dad said...


The loyal opposition assumes a democratically shared understanding of what the Constitution means.

The loyal opposition also loves America, and feels in its bones the wonderful force for good that this country is.

And the loyal opposition sees and resists our manifest flaws and historical injustices. And the loyal opposition fights like hell against anyone who hates America.

I think our bitter politics today is rooted in a lack of patriotism--on both sides of the aisle. Winning a ridiculous political argument has become more important than America. That's where the loyal opposition plays such a crucial role.

My fear is that leading voices of the opposition don't love America.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, Old Dad. Then I have no doubt that there are plenty of us who oppose the Iraq War and are still quite loyal in our opposition, by your definition--with one exception. I'm not on board on fighting anyone who "hates" America; threatens America, absolutely. Hates? No, that's no justification for war.

ChrisO said...

So much talk about how the Democrats are so consumed with hatred that they can't articulate a coherent strategy with the best interests of the country in mind. I think there were some other points made here, but they were hard to discern with all the talk about how "many Democrats have shamelessly demagogued our war efforts, and hurt morale at home and abroad," and "Senators comparing troops to Nazis," and "a Congressman hanging Marines for cold blooded murder without a trial," and "we hear.... our soldiers are vicious killers and irrational monsters," and "it appears that the to weaken our posture against terrorists," and "before they were telling us to pull out of Iraq, they were calling Afghanistan a "quagmire." This belies their supposed desire for an American victory in the war on terror," and "You got NO PLAN! None. None plan. All you want to do is complain," and "Thirty years ago, they decided Acid-Amnesty-Abortion was going to be their base." Yeah, those Democrats are real haters. It's too bad we can't adopt the positive, forward-looking posture of the Republicans as reflected in these statements.

For the record, Murtha didn't "hang" anyone without a trial. He stated that a military report has been prepared accusing the Marines in Haditha of crimes. He's not convicting anyone of anything, he's reporting what the military investigation has already uncovered. But far be it from you thoughtful types to run with half truths for the purpose of scoring political points. That's the Democrats' job.

And the Republicans don't have a plan. Continuing to do what they've been doing may be an easy idea to present, but it's far from a "plan." Have you figured out yet that planning is not this administration's strong suit? The Administration has created a disaster, but somehow the onus is supposed to be on the Democrats to fix it, or the Republicans get to keep running things. Maybe the answer is that there is no easy answer, because the Administration had made such a hash of things. It's like telling the Enron board that although Lay and Skilling are under indictment and the stock is in freefall, they get to keep their jobs because no one has come forward with a plan to return the company to robust profitability. I guess the secret is to make such a mess of things that that it's impossible to figure out an elegant solution, so you keep your job because no one else has a "plan."

And I would find these threads a little easier to stomach if those of you on the right would spend a little more time articulating your arguments, and a little less time representing what you claim to be the liberal positions. Stating your opponent's position in simplistic or downright misleading terms, then constructing arguments against your own straw man ("they were calling Afghanistan a quagmire")is cheap debating and does nothing to advance your ideas.

The Drill SGT said...


I disagree about your Murtha characterization. You said:

For the record, Murtha didn't "hang" anyone without a trial. He stated that a military report has been prepared accusing the Marines in Haditha of crimes. He's not convicting anyone of anything, he's reporting what the military investigation has already uncovered. But far be it from you thoughtful types to run with half truths for the purpose of scoring political points. That's the Democrats' job.

Murtha via AP (17 May)said:

"Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood," John Murtha told reporters.

I don't see any "alleged" or "may have" or "under investigation" or "innocent till proven guilty" sections in that direct prejudging of guilt.

I personally think it's likely they ran amok and are guilty, but I am not a public official and don't make prejudicial statements on national TV.

Murtha was out of line and he should know better.

The Drill SGT said...

I forgot to post the link to the Murtha article:

I was mistaken, it wasn't AP, it was the French AFP.

I love the closer, but can't tell if it was really Murtha sentiment or the AFP reported that had to close by blaming Bush :)

"Murtha is a harsh critic of the war in Iraq and said that such incidents are the result of inadequate planning, training and troop numbers in Iraq."

M. Simon said...

Even if you are on their side in an issue the left doesn't want allies.

I'm not going to wate any more time with those fools.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Gj said: "After 9/11, Bush had a chance to pull this country together. Instead he chose to take a partisan path. He led us into war, and timed that leading for political advantage of his party. He shut down any debate."

That is, one of the reasons Bush chose to invade Iraq was because the resulting division in public opinion could be politically advantageous. The other was swag. Invading Iraq was incredibly risky, but the swag was worth the risk. Bush, Cheney and the Neocons hatched this scheme for swag and because they like war and they thought it could get them some votes. This is the essence of the Left on the War.

(My leftist friends: I know that sounds believable and cool, sophisticated, cynical. But it's not. It's simplistic. It's silly. If what I said is wrong, then perhaps it's something like this: You really do understand the stakes but your feelings are really hurt because damnit Bush is an idiot. Well you need to get over it.)

Gj says, "(Bush) shut down any debate." Gj seems to be ignorant. This is not necessarily his fault. Perhaps he has been living in a cave for the past five years. (There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. I myself was raised in a cave by loving bears). But as non-cavedwellers know, the last five years have seen nothing but debate.

John in Nashville said...

I refuse to believe that our service members are such weenies that they cannot bear full and free expression of diverse opinions at home. That is one reason I remain grateful for their service and proud of their abilities.

Danny said...

Truly excellent point, John.

gj said...

Johnny Nucleo said But as non-cavedwellers know, the last five years have seen nothing but debate.

Johnny, George W. Bush forced a vote in congress one month before the 2002 elections. That election was marked by bitter Republican attacks on Democrat's patriotism and courage. (See, for example, the campaign that Saxby Chambliss ran against Max Cleland, who had fought and lost three limbs in Vietnam. Despite that service to our country, Chambliss accused him of not wanting to protect the United States.)

By timing this initial push for the war during the election run-up, George W. Bush succeeded in getting the majority of Senate Democrats on the record to support the war. That move was very successful in shutting down debate in Congress, and it did great harm to the Democratic party. But it also bittered the waters in a way that we are still dealing with. It used the war as a political maneuver, and it made it once and forever a partisan war.

By contrast, the first President Bush took the opposite approach to the planning and vote on the first Iraq war. He timed the debate and the vote to occur after the election, to keep politics out of it. That ended up being good for the country. He still got the support he needed, but in a much more open, honest way. He did not divide country, he united us.

So yes, Johnny, there has been lots of debate in this country, as everyone knows. But that debate has come too late, after we have troops on the ground and the country is broken, after the country has been divided and there's nothing to do about it. That's a terrible, terrible, thing, and I don't see anyone, Republican or Democrat, who has a prescription for fixing it.

knoxgirl said...


By getting Senate Democrats to support the war, Bush "shut down debate" and forever politicized it...

? ? ?

gj said...

Knoxgirl -

the president politicized the war by forcing an early vote under the pressure of the upcoming mid-term election. The vote on the war was an explicit component of the Republican message that questioned the patriotism of anyone in opposition.

I don't excuse the Democrats for knuckling under this pressure. But remember, this was one year after 9/11 and the Democrats were not exactly in a position of strength to call for a more searching debate.

In retrospect, that debate would have been very beneficial to our country.

M. Simon said...


I think you unintentionally scored one for the opposition:

remember, this was one year after 9/11 and the Democrats were not exactly in a position of strength to call for a more searching debate.

And why were they not in such a position? I'd say because they had no plan. Which five years on is still a problem. Perhaps you could explain why the Dems have no plan (other than to declare defeat and bring the troops home).

Robert Burnham said...

The issue at stake here does not concern specifically Iraq or any other country.

The real issue is making the world unsafe for thugs. Especially thug regimes in control of an area where Western civilization has an existential economic interest.

A couple of points get overlooked in all the debate about Iraq and how the war has been handled:

• Thug regimes have a bone-deep hostility to Western values, and that includes everything the Left holds dear.

• Thug regimes don't go away if you ignore them.

• Thug regimes have to be destroyed, usually by military action from outside. This ends the specific thug regime, and it discourages others.

• Thug regimes cannot be defeated by fighting nicely. If soldiers from a thug regime consider certain ways of dying to be glorious while others are thought to be degrading, then kill as many as you can in a degrading manner. And publicize it.

• Wars end when one side can no longer summon the will to fight.

• Defending civilization from thug regimes requires fighting to win - no negotiated settlements. Thugs must be seen by everyone to be defeated.

• Although our forces are the most powerful in the world, they are still limited in what problems can be tackled. This is why we fight in the Middle East and ignore Darfur, for example.

No matter where you stand in the political spectrum of the West, the preservation of everything you care about depends on putting an end to Islamic Jihadism wherever it surfaces.

gj said...

M. Simon --

In the U.S. it is hard for the opposition party to speak with a single voice. We don't have a parliamentary system where the opposition has a "shadow cabinet" with ministers and a fully fleshed-out platform.

When you have forty-five Senators, a couple of hundred reps, and a couple dozen governors, you're bound to have some variety of opinion.

I don't think, though, that any Democrats have suggested we "declare defeat."

On the subject of plans, what's the current plan of the Republican Party in Iraq? Is it anything more specific than "stay the course?" Last I heard, hope did not qualify as a plan.

David said...

Speaking of 9/11, the unspoken truth behind most democratic ideologues seems to be that the big, bad USA had it coming. With this logic, they can argue that we should not have gone to war but gone wobbly French. Once again, it was not the responsibility of George Bush to prove Saddam had WMD. It was the responsibility of Saddam to prove he did not. Bush should have hammered this point home at every opportunity.

I think of the Dems everytime I see the Dirty Harry movie where Clint Eastwood's character takes out the bad guy holed up in the alcatraz tower. The Chief of Police flies over stating that we have your money and there is a plane standing by to take you wherever you want to go.

Charles Bronson in the Death Wish series addressed the problem inherent in negotiating with lawless psychos.

What part of psychopath don't these people understand when negotiating with killers who want to die?

The Drill SGT said...


Agreeing with you there is another point to make. When Psycho's tell you that they intend to kill you, we need to listen rather than shrug it off.

Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot all wrote clearly about their future plans. The current President of Iran and stated his intent numerous times with regard to the west and Israel.

dick said...


You have been trying to play the Cleland card for a good while now. When are you going to admit that Max Cleland was injured when he was jumping out of a helicopter to go get a beer and dropped his grenade. When it went off he was injured. He was not injured in the actual fighting no matter how often you claim otherwise. He has been playing the martyr for years and it just does not wash any longer.

knoxgirl said...

gj said:

"But remember, this was one year after 9/11 and the Democrats were not exactly in a position of strength to call for a more searching debate."

"In the U.S. it is hard for the opposition party to speak with a single voice."

These are valid points, but they are more illustrative of democrats' failings than Bush's, are they not?

Saddam defied the UN for 12 years. The argument that ANYONE was acting too quickly or rashly in finally taking action is laughable.

ChrisO said...


I'll try to be civil, but you're an a-hole. As an opponent of the war, and a "left-wing ideologue," I can assure you that I have never had the attitude that the US "had it coming," and I seriously resent anyone attributing such thoughts to me or people who think like me. This is exactly what I was addressing in my last post. You attribute such ridiculous statements to the left, then commence with your argument as if you had just stated a fact. I'm curious on what you base your assertion.

And drill sgt., the article you cited contained snippets of quotes. Here's from the MSNBC report: "A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines 'killed innocent civilians in cold blood,' a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

'This one is ugly,' one official told NBC News.

Three Marine officers — commanders in Haditha — have been relieved of duty, and at least 12 Marines in all are under investigation for what would be the worst single incident involving the deliberate killing of civilians by U.S. military in Iraq."

As I said, Murtha was reporting what the investigation found, not just hurling an accusation at our troops.

And Dick, are you or I in any danger of having limbs blown off by a grenade? Probably not, because we're not in combat. Max Cleland has never claimed he was injured on the battlefield. Do you want to go to the VA hospital and tell every injured soldier who wasn't hurt directly as a result of a firefight that his wounds don't mean shit? You can explain that soldiers like Cleland and Kerry aren't considered valorous until Republican yahoos have passed judgement on whether they bled enough when they were injured. You should be ashamed.

dick said...


Whether Cleland did or did not claim that he was deserving of a ribbon or that he was injured in the course of his duties and was therefore a hero, the dems portrayed him that way and quxoo has been playing that theme here for the past several days. The man fought in the war and should be honored for that. The man did not get his injuries heroically and should not be portrayed as such. That is what I was complaining about. We hear from your buddy that the nasty republicans are dissing this war hero Max Cleland. The ones who are misrepresenting the man are the LLL dems and doing it so that they can then claim that the republicans did this to an honest to God war hero.

As to the Murtha bit, while the Marines are investigating the situation and before they can complete it and get to the bottom of the situation Murtha is out there claiming that the Marines are murderous bastards for doing this. The investigation is still going on and if the Marines did this, the Marines will announce it, court martial the men responsible and imprison them. The Marines are just as incensed as the congressman is if these men are guilty. However, let us assume that they are not guilty. Then you have a bloviating congressman out there blackening the name and reputation of men for no reason. How do these men, given that whoever wishes them ill have only to show that this big time congressman told us that they were guilty, get their reputations back and live the rest of their lives as they should? If he were to wait until the ivestigation is completed and based on full facts make these statements, then more power to him. To make these statements on incomplete facts and while the investigation is going on is the equivalent of leaking secrets to the enemy and you can bet that the Al Jazeera newsmen will take full advantage of this. That is what they did in Abu Ghraib when Seymour Hersh damned the military while the investigation was going on and the military was preparing to court martial the guilty ones. Al Jazeera and our LLL media had a field day with that one and the gulty ones could not get a really fair trial if their lives depended on it. Now you are saying that this should also happen to this group which may or may not be guilty. And I thought your group was all for truth and justice and the American way!!

YOu are again missing the whole point of the Cleland jibe with your last statement. The men in the VA hospitals are not claiming that they are heroes and should get the Medal of Honor for what they did. In fact for the most part they think of it as normal everyday actions that caught them. The LLL dems are, however, trying to portray this man as an authentic hero deserving of the Medal of Honor at the least and that is not what his action earned. Big Difference!

ChrisO said...

Please point me to the cite where the Democrats are claiming Cleland should get the Medal of Honor. As for Murtha and Seymour Hersh, you seem to think that we should just leave the military alone to police itself. Are you saying that when something like Abu Ghraib happens, civilians should just butt out? Since when is civilian oversight of the military a bad thing?

And the fact that the military court-martialed some relatively junior officers, and confined blame to those personnel that were on the ground at Abu Ghraib, effectively insulates the Pentagon from having to take responsibility. It's people like Seymour Hersh that keep these guys from doing whatever the hell they want.

dick said...

1. I said that the dems were trying to treat him as if he were eligible for a Medal of Honor. If you didn't read it that way, sorry, that is what I meant.

2. As to the Abu Ghraib situation, the military was investigating what went on and who was involved, the people directly involved had been removed and were being held while courts martial were being prepared for them.

3. The military had already released info about the Abu Ghraib situation back in February and the uncle of one of the men, the uncle who gave the info to Seymour Hersh, had already been shopping it around to the democratic congress critters and senators, including Sen Kennedy, and was getting no takers so he passed it along to Seymour Hersh. Seymour then wrote it up as if he had done all the digging and that the military was hiding this whole situation. The rest of the media piled on and we had a major disaster in the media world wide from Al jazeera to the Guardian to Le Monde. In the meantime the military was trying to investigate and get the truth about this whole mess. Do you think that the investigation should have been stopped so Seymour could get his next 15 minutes of fame or do you think that the military should have finished the investigation and then the piling on could begin? You LLL dems are supposedly in favor of truth and justice yet here you are in two cases, not one, but two, lynching these people before the truth about it is known. Nice to see you have ideals.

Do I think Seymour Hersh should be shut up? Yes, I do think he should be shut up until he has all the facts in hand to write the whole story. In this case he did not have them and we paid for months of daily printing of the photos all over the world and probably leading to the deaths of more of our troops because this little p@ssant wants a Pulitzer because he hasn't had anything that could be reported without being shot down since Mai Lai in the Vietnam War. Printing anything less than the whole truth in cases like this is about as rotten a thing as you can do. Once the facts are truly known and proven, then print away. Until then, you are just guessing and your guesses may end up causing a total miscarriage of justice. But then that doesn't seem to bother the dem LLL's these days.

Bruce Hayden said...

The reason that the MSM concentration about the abu Graihb thing, and the Marines supposedly/apparently killing innocents bothers me is that they fail to point out how rare these things are. If you divide the number of people implicated by the number of troops who have rotated through, for example, Iraq, you get an atrocity level of 1%% to 2%% (which, from Eugene Volokh, 1%% is 1% of 1%, or 1/10,000). I think we would be exstatic if our police had something anywhere approaching that level. And, if you compare it to any other wars we have been involved in, it shows a level of unparallel professionalism.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with assumming that we have failed in Iraq is that it ignores that it has taken a lot of time and energy to train up a credible Iraqi security force there. Yes, we may have made a mistake there by not using more Saddamites. But the reality is that more units are coming on-line continuously, are steadily increasing their readiness levels, and are taking over the brunt of the fighting and policing.

And that is what we need to get out - an Iraq that can take care of its own security issues. And that is what we are rapidly getting - for example, the number of combat battalions that are at Level 1 or Level 2 readiness has doubled in the last year. And, it is still improving at a steady pace.

The other thing that I never see mentioned by the MSM is that the vast majority of those killed by the insurgents are Iraqis these days. And even the Sunni Iraqis are realizing that this is not good. Killing innocents is against Islam, and even the Sunni clergy are now pointing this out to their congregations in their sermons. This significant loss of Sunni support for the insurgency, esp. from their clergy, is new this year.

Yes, most like that we kicked Saddam out, but also want their country back. We want to give it back. They know what it is going to take, which is why when insurgents kill a lot of people in a recruiting line one day, and it is just as long the next.

I expect major pullouts before the 2008 election not for political reasons, but because we won't be needed there at nearly the level we have been. The trends are going strongly in that direction.