Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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More surgeology

John McCain, "blogging" here. An additional problem with a short surge is that our enemies can just hunker down until we leave, which, if the Democrats have their way, will be sooner rather than later. And Rich Lowry has more here.

Discussions - 10 Comments

Here is a hopefully inspiring message for NLT’s young, able-bodied readers, as well as young Ashbrook Scholars who may be interested in taking a sabbatical of sorts to participate in the glorious and noble SURGE.

The hope of the surge is that, by the time the troops leave, the Iraqi army and its government will be strong enough to cope with the return of the enemy. But I agree that’s not going to happen unless we do something about Sadr and what amount to sanctuaries and resupply in Syria and Iran. As long as the administration is going to make the Dems mad, might as well make them really mad and get on with decapitating Iran and Syria.

Craig Scanlon -That’s nasty and grouchy. Do you have any suggestions?

Yes, that if Bush gets his escalation, that the additional troop levels be filled purely by the keyboard and campus commandos who have been cheering on this ill-advised misadventure from the get-go. I’m sure we could even find enough who meet the military’s age and health requirements without tapping into our reserve of tenured academics. For maximum effectiveness, the front lines should be composed strictly of the truest of true believers in the cause (whatever it might be from one day to the next). It’s important that these people start training immediately, however.

Considering your scathing opinion of the war in Iraq from the get-go, it’s hard to consider anything you "suggest" as viable or serious, even when requested. Are you saying that the "truest of true believers" are not already on the front lines? That the volunteer forces already there have no idea what they are doing there or why?

Please do not insult the Ashbrook scholars with your scorn. One has already served and others are joining to serve. Scorn the war, scorn the president, but please do NOT scorn those who DO serve.

Craig Scanlon - Suppose it was an "ill-advised misadventure"; even suppose it has been incompetently pursued. What now? How do you evaluate the consequences of the practical alternatives?

Steve Thomas - The primary (and really, for all intents and purposes, sole) justification for charging into Iraq was to protect Americans from Weapons of Mass Destruction. Despite the delusional insistence from former Sen. Santorum and a small fringe of "true believers" the WMDs were not found. Saddam is dead and our military presence in Iraq is probably not preventing any future terrorist attacks. The self-defense justification for continuing to stay strikes me as quite hollow.

As for the "we broke it, now we must fix it" idea behind staying, I’m also not buying that. In addition to losing more soldiers in this war than the number killed on 9/11, the event which was insinuated as a true, root casus belli for attacking Iraq, we have also killed a hell of a lot of Iraqi civilians. Actions like this will likely radicalize a portion of moderate Muslims who wouldn’t have previously considered signing up for a kill-Americans mission.

I can’t keep track from one day to the next if the mission we’re trying to accomplish there is, in a general sense, to help the Iraqis or kill them. If it’s to help them, it doesn’t look as if much progress has been made (I know, I know, the America-hating media keeps forgetting to tell us about those schools), and regardless of that, it seems that if we want to go with the "we care about Iraqis; we want to help them build a better country" then it appears that these subjects have had enough of our help. Consider the Aug. ’05 British Ministry of Defence poll in which 82% of Iraqis were willing to go on the record as saying that they were "strongly opposed to the presence of Coalition troops." In the same poll LESS THAN 1% of Iraqis thought that ’Coalition’ forces were responsible for any increase in security! (As well, the poll found nearly half without electricity and nearly 3/4 with clean water and sewage problems) Nearly half of Iraqis were willing to say that they thought attacks on U.S. and Brit forces were "justified," and 67% felt "less secure because of the occupation." Does anyone honestly believe that all/most/any of those poll respondents are terrorists-in-training (I’d guess that terrorists-in-training probably aren’t spending their time answering survey questions)? If the goal is to "help" them, why not just listen to them, and get OUT?

Further, there should be a full, transparent accounting to both the Iraqi and the American people to prove that not a single penny of oil profit has gone or will go to U.S. (or ’Coalition of the Willing’) corporations. Stealing other countries’ natural resources should certainly not be one of the lessons in democracy & freedom that we teach the Iraqis. And since it hasn’t been/isn’t let’s get all of the supporting evidence for that on the table.

Debbie, it’s interesting that you say that anything I suggest is hard to consider viable or serious, since I had a "scathing opinion of the war in Iraq from the get-go." Putting aside your mind-reading abilities (I only started reading this blog in late ’04), why is someone who thought that there was good reason to be skeptical of the WMD, 9/11, or the "spreading democracy" justifications - all of which now look pretty laughable - so hard to take seriously? If anything, the folks who were saying "Yep, he’s got weapons, let’s get them!!" and "The Iraqis will greet us as liberators and throw roses at our feet" should be the ones not taken seriously at this point! Right?

Regarding your complaint about my "scorn." I seriously doubt that most of our troops really believe at this point that we will find WMDs; assist in bringing about a solid, unified, peaceful, recognizably democratic state in Iraq (at the barrel of our guns); or win very many Iraqi "hearts and minds." Surely there are some, and I heap no scorn on them for fighting for their delusional (Frank Burnsian) cause, providing that their methods for their lofty goals do not include robbing, torturing, murdering, raping, or otherwise violating Iraqi noncombatants (civilians). None of us should look at The Troops as a wholly homogenous, monolithic block (and I don’t) - that is why I make that an important condition of my support for our troops, be they in Iraq or Afghanistan. To the extent that they don’t engage in those activities, I support them and hope they all return alive ASAP. Believe it or not, Debbie, even lefties like myself might know - or even be friends with! - some people serving over there. My impression from talking with them (when I get a chance to) is that there has been an increasing number of troops who either DON’T know why they have been deployed to where they are, or they are highly skeptical of the given justifications (from the current administration) for their deployment. Some of them doubt the very idea that they are, somehow, "serving" America in any real way. Some will even claim that the mission there, as it’s increasing the likelihood of future attacks, is a DISservice of sorts, however unintentional it is on their part.

Well, I don’t know how many Ashbrook Scholars there are, but if it’s a highly elite program then I guess the claim that "One has already served" and (vague) "others" are joining to serve would indicate that the group is really putting their money where their mouths are. (I’m also aware that the program is a magnet/haven of sorts for conservative undergrads in those relative disciplines at Ashland) If there are 100 Ashbrook Scholars, though, then it seems that some more ought to be signing up, esp. now as the "surge" is imminent. Show me the percentages, please. If you read the cartoon I linked to, you should have noticed that it heaps scorn on those who cheer for more war but always seem to find, conveniently, "other priorities." So, it should be obvious that I’m not heaping scorn on those who have signed up.

Debbie - following up on my previous response to you, please see this military survey of active-duty soldiers. It might shed a little light on the idea that not all of the troops are true believers. Many of them disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war, many say we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq, and perhaps most interestingly, at least as many soldiers see the U.S. presence in Iraq as a wholly separate mission from the so-called Global War on Terror as do see it as a component of the GWOT.

If you really want to WIN this your way, then I think you might need more true believers - thus, my call to Ashbrook Scholars and young, able-bodied NLT folks! (I haven’t seen much of dain lately, could he have made the big step???)

You’re welcome to your opinions, Craig, but the military survey you cite isn’t very revealing, as the results aren’t very clear. Thus 42 percent disapprove of Bush’s handling of Iraq, while 52 percent approve of his handling of his job. What does that mean? Moreover, 50 percent of the polled have never served in Iraq, and 85 percent have never served in Afghanistan. BTW, Craig, as a Vietnam combat veteran, I’d be delighted to go to Iraq as a soldier, like some of my young friends in the 1st Cav who are there now, but they haven’t raised the entry to age 62 yet. I do keep hoping. Combat soldiers seldom are "true believers" concerning themselves with policy formulations. They focus on service and comradeship.

Thank you for the go-ahead on my opinions, Mr. Stanley.

The survey says what it says. Do you think that if the survey was strictly of troops in Iraq/Afghanistan (or of those who are or have served there), that the numbers would be more favorable toward Bush and the war? I don’t.

One thing worth a look is the DIRECTION some of those numbers seem to be going in. Compare last year’s survey with this year’s (see link above).

Bush’s handling of Iraq:


Approval went from 54 to 35%


Disapproval went from 25 to 42%

Should the U.S. have gone to war in Iraq?:


"Yes" went from 56 to 41%


"No" went from 26 to 37%

Chances for success in Iraq?:


"Not very likely to succeed" went from 17 to 31%

Do these tell you much?

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