November 20, 2006

"The Bush administration, or large parts of it, is now cutting if not actually running, and it is looking for partners in the process."

I have to link to a second Christopher Hitchens column today.


Brent said...

Christopher Hitchens is one of the most brilliant writers /thinkers /intellectuals on the planet today . . .

. . . when he agrees with me.

The other 50% of the time, he is a pompous, scatter-brained windbag.

Maxine Weiss said...

Off Topic: Is Althouse planning on acknowledging Thanksgiving?

Or does Thanksgiving simply not exist in the Althouse world....

So, like, when does the Althouse Blog go into Thanksgiving mode?

Peace, Maxine

JohnF said...

Hitchens is commenting on Kissinger's remark that "the political processes of the democracies" will not support the time it will take to form a stable Iraq.

So what is the answer? Apparently, get the hell out.

The realization seems to be, as all terrorist organizations have been saying for the last gazillion years, that there is nothing that Americans will fight for if it takes longer to succeed that the average sitcom run.

hdhouse said...

and symour hersh reports in the new yorker that cheney and his ilk are trying to talk us into Iran.

if you have a no brainer for president you get exactly that. no brains.

Tim said...

"and symour hersh (sic) reports in the new yorker(sic) that cheney(sic) and his ilk are trying to talk us into Iran."

Indeed. Seymour is my most reliable source when I want to get it exactly wrong.

Regardless, Hitchens has long had an ax to grind against the "realists," especially Kissinger. And while I generally think Hitchen's characterization of Kissinger and Baker is not entirely on point, our initial failure to remove Saddam in 1991 serves a cautionary tale for those ever so eager to leave Iraq in defeat.

It would confirm to the rest of the world, especially moderate Muslims, that few allies are more unreliable than the U.S.; it would confirm to our enemies our ability to sustain light casualties in war is slight; it would confirm to friend and ally alike that our enemy's will to defeat us is stronger than our will to defend ourselves. It has other problems too, such as handing an oil-rich country over free and clear to terrorists.

These are all reasons why we probably will not be leaving Iraq anytime soon, no matter how fervently the Surrender Now! caucus aches for our doing so.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the U.S. will be leaving Iraq completely anytime soon. We have long term interests there, and our soldiers aren't afraid of a fight; it's just that those "political processes of the democracies" don't have the stomach for it, and we have to deal with that while trying to fight a war.

That's too bad. It's easy to leave troops where they don't come under fire (Kosovo, Korea, Europe), but isn't that precisely their job? To come under fire? Shouldn't they be where the fight is? We should support our troops, but we should also realize that they are doing the job they signed up for. And quite proudly, for the most part.

Their willing to fight. We should be willing to back them up.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, "They're" willing to fight.

PatCA said...

I wish I believed in the sensible analysis of Tim and albatross, but I think Bush and his party want some sort of "peace with honor" which they know will be oh so dishonorable but might help the party's fortunes in 2008.

How deep and tragic is their misunderstanding of the American people! He is a dynasty politician, not a populist, and lacks "the vision thing" as did his father. It's all a political equation to them. Bush's legacy, if he exits like Bush 41, is that he will be reviled by his enemies and his friends. And how the Iraqis and us eventually will suffer for it.

Freder Frederson said...

Their willing to fight. We should be willing to back them up.

Well hasn't that been the problem since day one? All you proud and capable fighting 101st keyboarders are willing to let the soldiers fight this war for us--and of course back up the troops. As "backing them up" doesn't involve anything more than calling liberals traitors, spending a $1.98 on a yellow magnetic ribbon to stick on your SUV and maybe sending a letter or care package once in a while.

God forbid you actually do the hard things that would really be necessary to win this war. Like keep the depots open more than eight hours a day so our soldiers don't have broken down equipment in the field. Here's another novel idea, how about actually producing some new, useful equipment for our military instead of the pathetically inadequate materiel we have produced over the last three years or actually increase the size of the military so the soldiers you claim you support don't have to be deployed for, in some cases, two years out of every three. Or how about simply facing up to the cost of this war and actually paying for it instead of borrowing the money from China.

You people make me sick.

Palladian said...

"You people make me sick."

Then why don't you quit puking all over our carpeting and get the hell out of here?

Freder Frederson said...

Then why don't you quit puking all over our carpeting and get the hell out of here?

Because someone needs to call you out for your pathetic whining about how we shouldn't give up in Iraq when you aren't willing to do anything to back up all your tough talk.

Tim said...

"God forbid you actually do the hard things that would really be necessary to win this war.

I cannot do them as I'm not in the chain of command.

Regardless, your facile analysis should not mistake my assessment that the defeatists are horribly wrong on Iraq for unqualified cheerleading for how the war has been conducted. I have my complaints, as I know many who support winning in Iraq do.

But the political conversation, especially now that the defeatist have elected their congress, has concentrated on how to best lose the war quickly rather than win it. Were we to have a better opposition to the current implementation of the policy in Iraq wishing to discuss how to win rather than how to quickly lose, we could have that conversation and my criticisms would be more apparent.

But that isn't the situation, so I can see how you might confuse my preference for winning, even winning ugly, over losing as uncritical acceptance of our situation in Iraq.

Internet Ronin said...

Freder: You don't have a clue what most people around here believe or not. You are just a self-righteous partisan attack-dog that snaps at anyone who dares to question your condescending twaddle, and a rabid one at that.

Anonymous said...

Freder: "God forbid you actually do the hard things that would really be necessary to win this war. Like keep the depots open more than eight hours a day so our soldiers don't have broken down equipment in the field. Here's another novel idea, how about actually producing some new, useful equipment for our military instead of the pathetically inadequate materiel we have produced over the last three years or actually increase the size of the military so the soldiers you claim you support don't have to be deployed for, in some cases, two years out of every three. Or how about simply facing up to the cost of this war and actually paying for it instead of borrowing the money from China."

Actually, I don't disagree with you here. I think we should be spending more time and treasure on our military. This war is global, and we should be approaching it with a Cold War attitude instead of a Gulf War attitude.

P.S. I don't have any magnets on my car.

Internet Ronin said...

Palladian: I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps it is a weird sexual fetish - to make up for inabilities (or shortcomings) elsewhere.

hdhouse said...

ahhh "president cutandrun"...he'll wear that title to his grave.

certainly an issue you neo-con faithful didn't consider is that you threw that boomerang out without a lot of thought..just a soundbite smear that you are all so famous for...and we ducked and frankly we aren't going to warn you of its return.

sy hirsch gets it right. he always gets it right. he has been getting it right for 40 years. that's why he is where he is and you are blogging away in your sillyland of "we are winning". we aren't winning. we aren't going to win. there is no plan to win. there is no telling what winning would look like even if we could. and the worst part is the "we" business.

neo-cons define "we" as "other people's children".

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...


We can all make sacrifices in this war. How about supporting the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretap or SWIFT program. You weren't talking about that kind of sacrifice were you.

knoxgirl said...

Yeah, I am still like "Why??? Why???" whenever anyone starts talking about James Baker taking this over. It wasn't even that long ago. Talk about being doomed to repeat history.

monkeyboy said...


I'm a reservist recalled to active duty, and have used and been issued quite a lot of gear, none of it crap, and none a good as what the Army and Marines are developing.

Do I have the moral authority to call you a useless ass?

Goesh said...

Freder has some good points, as much as it pains me to admit. Until we change our rules of engagement, it really doesn't matter how many men and how much equipment and how much high-tech bullshit we have. We want to look like the good guys doing a job that involves killing other humans. We would still be engaged with the Germans and Japanese if our current rules of engagement were in force back then.

Goesh said...

-and I wanted to say since when in the hell is Henry Kissinger in the loop of things? That pompous old jackass couldn't distinguish a Marine from an Imam. He hasn't had his dirty hands on an intelligence report in 30 years. He sees an occasional, 'sanitized' synopsis at best.

RIRedinPA said...

The unfortunate thing of Iraq is that the American political process is driving the strategy. The American people were correct in sending a message to Bush that his stay the course policy is no longer acceptable. However, my fear is that those reading the tea leaves of that, the incoming Democrat majority, may see that as an impetus to leave Iraq. So, without agenda and free of charge I offer my solution:

1. Retain a large enough force within Baghdad to clamp down on the sectarian violence and protect the Maliki government from a coup/overthrow.
2.Redeploy the bulk of US forces to the relatively calm north and south of the country and reduce their visibility.
3. Leave the insurgency/sectarian violence resolution up to the Maliki government, that is an internal Iraqi affair which we have no business in nor experience with. Give the Iraqi government the necessary tools needed to resolve it, financial, military, development, etc.
4. Meet with Iran/Syria. Place them on warning while at the same time offering a realistic olive branch.
5. Maintain a sufficient special ops force to rapidly move on al Queda forces in Iraq when intelligence dictates their locations.

Al Maviva said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Al Maviva said...

Freder, if we make you sick, maybe you need to get a higher dosage of your meds.

Speaking from the right, I find grave fault in Bush's failure to match up his Kennedy-esque rhetoric about freedom with real leadership on the issue of what providing freedom for others takes. It costs money, and it costs blood, and sometimes the endeavor fails. But it always fails if you don't work at it hard enough, and his failure - and the failure he is continuing to engineer in Iraq - comes more from a desire to half-ass it, more from fear of domestic political consequences, than from any legitimate flaw in the ultimate goal of spreading liberal government and a concept of universal human rights. The immediate cost of our cut & run and return to vicious strongmen in Iraq will probably be millions in the middle east; the long term cost will be millions, including a lot of western casualties. The lesson of 9/11 was that Chomsky isn't entirely wrong. A real root cause of terrorism is our support of tyrants when it serves our purposes, and the return of Jim Baker and the realists (along with the selective ignoring of the radical House of Saud and the Egyptian tyrant, Mubarak) means we're climbing back into bed with them - as if we ever actually got completely out.

As for your chickenhawk comments, I'm guessing you aren't familiar with the commentariat here. A few of the regular commenters are veterans. Some of us have served, to protect your ability to exercise the highest form of patriotism, your right to dissent. I believe you cosntrue that right liberally, as the right to insult us freely. Kinda makes me feel good about having served, to see you exercising your freedoms so extensively. Maybe you can join up with the Code Pink girls and go insult some wounded soldiers - if dissent is the highest form of patriotism, then something *that* dissenting must merit a gold star. I've got a friend who's staying at Walter Reed for 6 months of R&R while they put his head back together. He still believes in the cause, and I'm sure he'd be impressed to see you exercising your rights. Because, y'know, it's so tough in these Hitlerian days to speak truth to power, and all, it carries so much risk, why they could just throw you in Gitmo, and it is so brave of you to stand up for what you believe in...

Freder Frederson said...

They're willing to fight. We should be willing to back them up.

That is the comment that set me off.

The truth is that we have done precious little to "back them up" since day one. For all the president's tough talk he has never acted like this is a real war. Rather, he went in with no long term plans to stabilize the country, ignored the advice of Generals and others who warned about the dangers of the occupation, and then refused to take the steps necessary to "win" in Iraq.

Now I fear we are in a situation where winning are impossible yet you continue to pretend the war is going well.

I apologize to anyone who has served or is currently serving. To imply I was smearing the troops is certainly an unfair interpretation of my post. My frustration is borne out of a concern, not a disdain, for our military.

knoxgirl said...

The truth is that we have done precious little to "back them up" since day one.

Althouse is a pretty odd forum to rail against on this front... I am confused that you interpret the pro-victory commenters here as unwilling to support the troops and the effort? I can't remember people here ever having said anything that would make you think we resist the "sacrifices" you listed. You're making some pretty big assumptions.

I can just about guarantee that if sacrifices were requested by our leaders in this war effort, the "neocons" and supporters of the war would be up for it. We have consistently wanted a tough effort and support for the troops. If our leaders don't ask for it when they should, I'll be the first to agree that they are making a mistake.

Unless you can explain why you feel justified in attacking the commenters here, of all places, I'll conclude that you just hate anyone who you perceive to be on the right of your worldview, and that you project your frustrations on them accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Freder: "My frustration is borne out of a concern, not a disdain, for our military."

As is mine, Freder. I'm sorry my comment set you off. When I said, "We should be willing to back them up", I meant that we, as a whole society, should not go weak-kneed and pull our troops out of combat simply because the fighting gets ugly. This is war. We, as a country, should adopt a war attitude.

And, this war is global, not simply regional. The enemy has brought the to fight to us. In New York, in England, in Spain, and wherever the Western way of life is predominant. If you're not happy with the way the war is being conducted, that's fine. Everyone has a difference of opinion. But the solution would be to change tactics and continue the fight, not pull out and hide behind peace banners. Eventually the enemy will find you behind those banners and slit your throat.

The troops deploy to keep the enemy from doing that. We should be thankful for the job they do, and we should support them, not insult them. And I will support any president, Republican, Democrat, or whatever, that vows to continue the fight.

Anonymous said...

War separates the men from the boys, and President Bush and his administration officials have clearly shown themselves to be little boys with lethal toys. I will grant you, they know how to break things. But real men know how to break things and then put them back together. That is called leadership.
Or as Colin Powell warned President Bush during the run-up for the invasion and occupation of Iraq: "You break it, you owe it." But Colin was an adult, a seasoned public servant, who had seen war as a young army captain in the central highlands of Pleiku during two tours of duty in the Vietnam War. What was Colin's reward for his honest and cautious counsel? He was driven out of the administration in a very unceremonious manner after President Bush won his re-election bid for a second term. Colin had committed the fatal mistake of viewing the world though the eyes of a realist.
Brent Scowcroft wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal pleading his case against an invasion of Iraq. He thought it would set back diplomatic relations in the Middle East for many years and open Pandora's box of ethnic and religious hatred along the Sunni/Shiite/Kurdish fault line that could implode in Iraq. Again, a seasoned realist, former national security advisor and elder statesman of President Bush's father, was disregarded for his honest and cautious counsel.
So it really doesn't surprise me that Hitchens would weigh in with the boys in the debate over the next big move in the Iraq War. Although Hitchens loves the sauce that has pickled his brain, I really doubt that he has seen a good bar fight let alone a war.
Perhaps he could be sent to Iraq and debate the insurgents, jihadis and militiamen into submission or boredom, whichever comes first.
I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam from 31 May, 1967 ti 31 May, 1968. So I saw the human face of war, divorced from the flowery slogans and tinny jingoism of the political leaders, who promoted and prosecuted that war. It was not a pretty sight and a concrete, visceral experience for me. The political leaders squandered the blood and treasure of a nation in an insane attempt to justify what was at that time the worst foreign policy debacle in American history. Denial is more than a river in Vietnam. Or is it in Egypt or in Iraq? Well, I think you get my point.
Now I have seen the same syndrome of the miscalculation and application of miliary force into a conflict that cries out for a political solution. Throwing 20,000 or even 200,000 more American soldiers into the boiling cauldron will not solve the internal political problems of the Iraqis at each others' throats. It would only provide the insurgents, jihadis and miliitamen with a more "target-rich environnment," to borrow a favorite phrase from one of Donald Rumsfeld's press conferences when he was basking in the glory and success of the Afghanistan War.
Greek classical writers warned against the fatal human flaw of hubirs. So did the prophets in the Bible: Pride cometh before the fall. But it still is headline news in America. God, if there really is such a thing as karma, I want to come back as a civilian in my next life.
But given my personal experiences as a young man, I take a dim view of this patriotism thing having seen where it can lead. The Vietnam War and the Iraq War are like all wars, even the last good one we are so nostalgic for, World War II. War is a beast with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. It always has been and always will be. That is just the nature of the beast, whether it is fought by draftees or volunteers. I think my observation is grim but realistic and a little undiplomatic to say because I live in a nation of civilians, who get a volunteer army to do the dirty work for them.
That's all I learned as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. I was just another egg trying to avoid becoming part of an omelet for LBJ. So you had better have some pretty damn compelling reasons based upon a realistic assessment of the situation when you send men and women off to war. You have a moral obligation to them and their families. The Iraq War never met that litmus test for me and still doesn't. It was the height of human folly from my subjective perspective.
One last thing that has been bothering me are the comments from fellow citizens in this blog, who have said that this war was defending the dissenters' basic rights to criticize this war. All citizens in this country, whether they have served in the armed forces or spent their entire lives as civilians, have a right to their opinion on this war. Their right is guaranteed in a little piece of paper that we call the Constitution of the United States. We are the people of the Constitution, bloggers, whether we are war veterans or civilians. Free speech is protected in our Bill of Rights. You don't need a war campaign ribbon to exercise your right to free speech. Being a citizen is the only requirement. So lets step back from that tired old argument you hear in country western songs and see on bumper strickers that "freedom isn't free."
But every morning I get up out of bed and I am so thankful my arms and legs are attached to my torso. I am a war veteran but really much better at being a hardcore civilian. I think indoor plumbing is a greater invention than Guttenberg's moveable type and I detest camping in the great outdoors after my tour of duty in the sand pit called Cam Ranh Bay. And I am against a resumption of a national draft. We have better things to do that to make slaves out of our citizens to prosecute unjust and unnecessary wars in Vietnam and in Iraq. And the rich and influential will surely avoid actually fighting in a war as both past baby-boomer presidents did during their youth, one dodged the draft and the other hid out in the Texas Air National Guard, along with a certain vice president who had other priorities at the time and got five deferments. Or so he says. I met a lot of wounded grunts in Vietnam who had other priorities at the time.

Charles Giacometti said...

I'm a veteran, and I agree with Freder 101%.

Charles Giacometti said...

And George's comment is brilliant, and very moving.

hdhouse said...

ahh for a president who rode in front of his troops rather from the podium at a fundraiser