Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Concentrating on Baghdad

This strikes me as in the neighborhood of being correct:

[Sen. Johnny]Isakson [R-GA], who had sat silent throughout the conversation with Frist, spoke up. ” I’m sorry, I can’t keep quiet on this,” he said. “The terrorists and those that are trying their best to attack us – and a lot of that is coming out of Iran – are concentrated on Baghdad. It’s a reflection of the success we’ve had in the majority of the country. If you confront that concentration now with the appropriate force and in conjunction with the Iraqi army and you can break its back, it has the chance to be a very optimistic result. If you turn the other way and say you’re failing, then you’ve handed them a victory. You have to remember the terrorists don’t have to beat us to win. All they have to have us do is quit and go home and they declare victory. You saw what Hezbollah did in South Lebanon.”

There are a couple of other hot spots, I think, but even Fallujah, as I recall, is peaceful now. One explanation for this may be that the religiously and/or ethnically relatively homogeneous places are relatively peaceful. And others may--fortunately or unfortunately, you be the judge--be sorting themselves out in that way, with some internal refugee flow.

But strategically it makes sense for all those who want the U.S. out and who want the Iraq experiment to fail to concentrate their efforts on Baghdad. That’s where the international press is. That’s the most target-rich environment. It can’t be isolated or circumvented that way other enclaves can be. And a Baghdadi "failure" can relatively easily be billed as a general (U.S. and Iraqi) governmental "failure."

Discussions - 28 Comments

One of the first orders Creighton Abrams gave when he assumed command of MACV was that Saigon must be made secure. And it was. There was no reason for the South to have lost that conflict. They had effectively fought off the North’s insurgency campaign, and their later conventional invasion attempts. Sad, very sad.

Yes, this is quite true. Well, it is not as if I am some military historian, and I will be happy to be corrected, but to lose a country, mustn’t the capital fall or be given up? What else constitutes winning a nation?

That is why Vietnam was a military win, if messy, but a political loss.

And, this is why, again, Iraq could be a military win, not very messy, but a political loss.

Which brings us back to the question that has been in the background and raised on occasion ... "Do we have the will to win this war ... or any war?"

I think we do and we are clearly demonstrating this, but there is a significant portion of this country which wants us not to win, for whatever reason.

In a similar vein, that rapidly shrinking safety zone around George Custer at the Little Big Horn may have looked like a desperate, dangerous harbinger of defeat for Custer and his surviving cavalry, but it was really a beacon of progress. The intensity and sophistication of the Native American attack on Custer was really a sign of Custer’s brilliance; indeed, it demonstrated that the Federal strategy to annihilate the indigenous peoples of the West was in fact a devious red herring. Fight them out there, or fight them in Boston, Albany, and Washington, D.C..

Not only that, but critics of the U.S. plans for Sioux, Arapahoe, and Cheyenne genocide secretly rejoiced when their sons and brothers were killed in pursuit of those plans, because criticism of a goal is exactly the same as wanting innocent people to die, if that is what it takes to be proven correct.

Fung, just about the time I am ready to revise my opinion of you, you troll-out. You have no’ve had none since 9/11.

Hi Dain,

Long time no insult!

Surely, you don’t pretend that you and yours have a solution to terrorism, or to the Iraq predicament? Please tell me how and when you all plan to have this solved?

Until then, the journey may be more important than the destination, and I have plenty to do along that road. One fun (and instructive) activity is to point out when people are trying to spin a bad situation into a good one. It is one thing to allow people to describe FUBAR as a hopeful sign, but it is another to swallow that message without critique.

As GWB said, " Fool me once, then shame on me, and fool me shame, then --- um-- three of you."

Fung, you’d have more credibility in my eyes IF you’d ever cheered our troops when they SUCCEEDED. Rather, you have been silent when things went well but have positively crowed when the chips were down. There’s a word for know it.

Dain --First, my credibility isn’t the issue. At issue is the credibility of people who perpetuate the "war is peace," "up is down," stupid is smart" spin cycle.

Second, if you want cheerleaders, you should look among people who support and have supported this Iraq invasion from the beginning. If you recall, many of us were against it from the beginning, and to cheer its progress would be labelled "flip-flopper" or "hypocrite."

My point exactly -- your purpose is not to "police" the spin-doctors, but to cheer our enemies. It’s what you have done all along. Don’t try to pretty it up by saying that your goal is to "point out when people are trying to spin a bad situation into a good one. Your goal is to gloat, pure and simple...sickening when people are dying, but par for the course with Lefties.

Have fun, but I suspect Bush will have the last laugh when the history is written. And we are STILL waiting for all those solutions you people claim to have.

The problem with Baghdad is that it is so huge. There are thousands of little nooks and crannies for the terrorists to lay low ’til the heat’s off. What they need to do there is to break the city into very small precincts and to have the locals appoint/elect a highly respected individual to be precinct captain whose responsibility, as a matter of personal pride, stature and monetary gain will be to make sure violence neither emanates from nor is committed in his/her precinct. When violence occurs, it will be the responsibility of the precinct captain to find out who did it, and who the enablers were, and to assist in bringing those persons before the criminal justice courts. Kind of like neighborhood watch on steroids. In those precincts where no one will come forward to be precinct captain or fails at the job, very large, very well equipped, very intimidating IRAQI policemen will set up shop and more or less close the precinct down: Random house searches, especially of homes where there are males between the ages of 14 and 40, will be the norm and vehicular traffic will be prohibited until the violence in that precinct, or emanating from that precinct, comes to a halt. Oh, and they have to quit playing with chaps like Mooktotter(sp?) al Sadr and send him to his virgins.

Dain- Your strategy seems to be to change what I said, since you cannot argue with what I DID say. I have never cheered for our enemies. Instead, as elections draw near, it is important to remind ourselves about who got us into this mess. What a bunch of "leaders" we have, to hurtle into an invasion of a country whose complexities were too banal to worry about -- then to point the finger at those of us who opposed the war in the first place, and ask US for solutions!

The best solution at this point is to rid our government of the jerks who landed us in this mess. Then, perhaps we can elect in their places some REAL leaders who will acknowledge their own responsibilities and accountabilities, instead of blaming their messes on their political opponents.

But Fung, getting rid of the "jerks" and electing the "REAL leaders" aren’t two separate actions; they’re both part of intelligent voting. Even if what you say is true, how can we tell who the "REAL leaders" are, unless they tell us--before Election Day--what their alternative plans are? If they don’t, isn’t it entirely likely that we’d be exchanging one set of jerks for another? Or are you simply defining "REAL leader" as "anyone but Bush"?

John -- Good point. I’ll have a more precise answer when I know who is running for President. I have heard a number of solutions, from Murtha’s "Get out now" (I think a very bad idea) to scheduled and planned reductions in force, and also "staying the course" and its new cousin "being flexible in order to win."

Of course, it remains the responsibility of the current administration to find a solution to the current administration’s debacle. If Congress were conducted a bit more even handedly, then we might hear a bit more from Democrats. First, of course, the majority would have to agree to stop treating every offered solution as traitorous, or as "failing to support a wartime President," or as "Cut-and-run" cowardice.

Well, I guess "debacle" is in the eye of the beholder, although I think the current "debacle" is a media-creation. Certainly it doesn’t begin to compare to Vietnam, and given what’s being accomplished (e.g., anchoring terrorism OVER THERE, slow democratization of a perfectly horrible region), I think our boys who are making sacrifices know what they are doing. I hope they know how important they are.

Oh, you don’t believe that part about anchoring terrorism in the Middle East? Well, Dr. Fung, there is "evidence" for that perspective. Check it out:

Enders, Walter and Todd Sandler. 2006. "Distribution of Transnational Terrorism Among Countries by Income Class and Geography After 9/11." International Studies Quarterly 50: 367-93.

These boys are over in that heat, among those hostile people, taking the heat for people like you, Fung. They are literally human shields...and I think Bush and Co. know (and honor) that fact. On the other hand, people like you can only whine and think of ways to bring death back home.

Dain - Vietnam after three years wasn’t as bad as Vietnam after 10 years, either. How many more families do you want to add to our current total before you admit that Iraq is a disaster? Are you suggesting that anything that has not yet descended into Vietnam’s category is not a debacle? That falls into the "I’m better than Hitler" argument, I think.

As for preventing terrorism OVER HERE, it looks like the intelligence community in Britain is doing at least as much as is our military over there.

No one argues that our soldiers over there are taking the heat. The military does what it is directed to do. That is not the question. The question is, rather, whose interests are being served by the current direction?

In Vietnam we were losing over 600 soldiers A MONTH (on average). Even then, many have argued we could have had a Korea-like outcome there had the Democratic Congress stayed the course. Of course, they didn’t, and those lives were essentially wasted.

What’s going on in Iraq is a low-intensity civil war. I favor partition (as does Biden, I guess). As for the U.K., have you looked at their civil rights laws? They have more abilities than Bush ever dreamed of asking for...and he’s had to fight for what little capacities he has gained. And who has been resisting him? Why, or wonderful liberals, like yourself.

Let’s just face aren’t concerned about military lives. You want to see us fail, the quicker the better. Shameful.

Do they have to pull you off the roulette table at the casino before you gamble away your wife’s vital organs? You seriously argue that at 600 deaths per month, the best policy during Vietnam would have been to stay the course? Just another few months of this -- just a few thousand more families --- and you accuse ME of not caring about military lives? I hope your fans are listening, Dain, as you argue for spending more lives justified by more failure. While you argue for less individual freedom, modelled after the country that we fought a Revolution to separate ourselves from.


The Vietnam era is a complicated history, and this thread simply won’t accommodate it. All I said was that some people have seriously argued that a stalmate was possible in that war had Congress staid the course. Do I agree? It’s never been something I’ve studied intensively, so I have to remain agnostic about it.

One thing I do know is that Iraq isn’t Vietnam. We have a similar problem (Iran=North Vietnam), but Iraq simply isn’t as bloody as Vietnam, and yet the stakes are a lot higher. Unless we succeed there, we will encourage another cycle of terrorism...that’s the way the Muslim mind seems to work (if we succeed, it was a Jewish conspiracy, if we fail, we are weak and need to be conquered). If I were President I’d partition this place, throw my lot in with the Kurds, give the Sunnis to the Saudis (with lots of strings), and do my damnedest to isolate Shialand.

Will Bush do anything like this? Probably not...I’m not happy with the way he’s running the war. But as Lincoln said of Grant: "I can’t spare this man -- he fights." I don’t see a single liberal Democrat who is 1) likely to run for POTUS, and 2) likely to prosecute even needful wars. You folks just aren’t trustworthy when it comes to security. I think it has to do with hating Amerika.

Of course, I meant "stayed the course."

"All I said was that some people have seriously argued that a stalmate was possible in that war had Congress staid the course. Do I agree? It’s never been something I’ve studied intensively, so I have to remain agnostic about it."

I, too, am not an expert on Vietnam. The difference between me and both you and this administration then, is that you seem positively sanguine about committing American lives to a place like Vietnam or Iraq, or Iran without becoming an expert! In both places, we have fought a guerilla-type war with conventional tactics; failing to recognize (a) the quality and quantity of hate against Americans, (b) how vulnerable our forces are to highly motivated insurgents with long memories fighting on their own turf, (c) how stupid and gross our military smart technology is, killing more innocent Iraqis than militants.

So, while I agree that Iraq is not Vietnam, I would argue that our administrative mistakes are very Vietnam-like. Our mindset and vision have not really advanced much in the past 30-40 years. This is the difference between pansy Liberals and Conservative Cold-war retirees run amok: Liberals acknowledge the complexity and fragility of a situation like the Balkans, or the Middle East, and refuse to attempt surgery with a mallet. The mallet-wielders (and manufacturers) respond to intelligent, precise foreign policy with trepidation, the way Detroit responds to an impending oil shortage, and they label thinking people as cowards, and hedging flip-floppers, but that is because it is the only response of a monolithic, one-trick miltary pony with zero imagination, and zero respect for the complexities and intricacies of other cultures, or even of their own history.

So, everyone scoffs at Clinton’s attempts to hit Bin Laden with an airstrike, the same way that posters on this blog have scoffed at Carter’s failed raid in Iran. But, as I have argue before, the costs of those failures have been tiny drops in the bucket compared to the costs of Bush’s failures since (and including) 9/11. I wish people would remember who was at the helm when THAT happened.

You talk out of both sides of your mouth, Fung. This same Bill Clinton dealt out death to the Serbs from 30,000 feet...WITHOUT Congressional approval. And folks like you said NOTHING about it.

I’m not an expert on Vietnam or Iran, but if we went by your standards we’d NEVER fight needful wars. And, you know, our adversaries don’t follow those ever so cautious rules you are talking about...and that’s probably why they win occasionally. I just love liberals. "Ok, boys, go fight, but don’t hurt anyone, and please don’t succeed...we’ll be hated if you do!"

Again, I don’t believe you are sincere about preserving the lives of our troops...I think you want America to pull back, to change, to fail, to morph into Fungland.

I don’t care if you believe I am sincere. Just look at what YOU write: If liberals have their way, we won’t get to have any more wars! We need war! What will we do without them?

Again, you make my points so much more eloquently than I do. And, I don’t have to distort or deny our words to have something to argue with.

When you get frustrated, try closing your ears and going "La-la-la-la-la! I can’t hear you!" That tactic is entirely as sophisticated as simply denying what I say.

Just listen to YOURSELF -- "war is never the answer." How stupid, how unrealistic. No wonder Americans don’t trust liberals to run their foreign affairs. If only Fung had had his way, we would never have had to fight the Nazis, the Japanese Imperium, or the Soviet Bloc. After all, war is NEVER the answer...nope, no such thing as a needful war.

Have it your own way, Neville.

For a rational person or society, it is never the first answer, it is never the best answer, and it is only necessary because someone failed to identify, or care about, the better alternatives in time.

In the case of Iraq, Bush never cared one ounce about any alternative.

What alternative was there? Saddam wasn’t about to change his spots, the sanctions "regime" was corrupt (and crumbling), and he had every intention of buidling WMD if given half a chance (Iraqi documents prove this last point). After Afghanistan (and Iran...which is still considered too hot to engage), Iraq was the rogue state most likely to add terrorists (given that it already had a track record of subsidizing Palestinian suicide bombers, had tried to kill Bush Sr., and had thumbed his nose at the "international community" time and again) was the next stage of a (perhaps too ambitious) attempt to change the Middle East.

We’ve been over this before. You haven’t listened to evidence or reason in the past. Not sure why I bother. If hatin’ on Bush give you a thrill, by all means hate away! I just hope your myopia (and that of others) doesn’t harm the country more than it has already.

I agree. We have been over this before, and I have no desire to go through it all again. Bush himself said recently on TV that there was no link between Iraq and 9/11. Then, of course, he had to lie and insist that his administration had never suggested that there had been such a link. Lie after lie after lie.

I hope that there is some country left to SAVE after this bunch is done with it.

Well, I guess we’ll wrestle into the dusk. We’ve been through Bush’s "lies" about the Saddam/9/11 link everything else, you didn’t listen. Bush DID link Saddam with Al Qaeda...and there is evidence for that. He NEVER linked Saddam with the 9/11 operation. In short, he never lied...people like you just want (desperately) to believe that. How sad.

Will there be a country post Bush? Sure, but it will be a weaker country, but not because of Bush per se. The real problem is that both parties are refusing to deal with two major threats -- deindustrialization and uncontrolled migration. The Dems won’t do anything more than the Republicans on those scores, and those two things are what will ruin the country in pretty short order.

Okay. On to the next.

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