Sunday, August 14, 2005

"It's only a matter of how much humiliation..."

I remember a couple of years ago I saw or read someone experienced in foreign policy say, in essence, that the US had already "lost" Iraq and that the only question left was how much humiliation the US would reap by leaving then or later.

I don't know if the US has "lost", failing to achieve its goal in Iraq. I don't know what the US goal is because the Administration does not have a clearly defined goal, at least one that lasts for more than a few weeks. And I haven't heard any that appear to be achievable at this point. The Administration has put us in a situation where there are no good alternatives.

I was not a proponent of invading Iraq. When the invasion was inevitable, it was my fervant hope that the US forces would win the shooting war as quickly as possible and with the fewest possible casualties. This is one facet of the effort that was successful. However, due to the stubborness of Rumsfeld and his adherence to policies which were at odds with those who had knowledge and experience with invasion and occupancy, the Iraq effort was lost within the first thirty days following Saddam's ouster. The failure to provide enough military strength at the beginning to secure the country, its people, and its infrastructure was critical. The opportunity for success was destroyed by the chaos that began with the looting of the national museum and continues today with the daily car bombs. Like a precious vase shattered, it cannot be glued back together.

The Washington Post today reports that "The US Lowers Sights on What Can Be Achieved in Iraq." Here's the money quote:

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning." [emphasis added]
Frank Rick in today's New York Times says, "Someone Tell the President the War is Over." I recommend reading this. Rich writes:

"Nothing that happens on the ground in Iraq can turn around the fate of this war in America: not a shotgun constitution rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline, not another Iraqi election, not higher terrorist body counts, not another battle for Falluja (where insurgents may again regroup, The Los Angeles Times reported last week). A citizenry that was asked to accept tax cuts, not sacrifice, at the war's inception is hardly in the mood to start sacrificing now. There will be neither the volunteers nor the money required to field the wholesale additional American troops that might bolster the security situation in Iraq."

Someone please tell me what realistically possible outcome in Iraq will have been worth the sacrifice of life, limbs, treasure, and reputation that the US has lost since April of 2003.


Blogger curtis said...

From a historical perspective, quite a bit. If the Iraqis manage to create a democracy in the middle east, there are far-reaching ramifications that could improve that region by a substantial amount, not just in Iraq, but in other countries.

Millions of people are no longer under a dictatorship- and regardless of how much money the United States (stupidly) gave it in the 70's/80's, that is certainly a good thing.

Women are winning rights that were previously unheard of.

Perhaps Saddam won't be able to attempt genocide again.

Oil for Food is being investigated, and literally billions of dollars are no longer being stolen from the world's oppressed.

For all of the criticism of how the United States runs its military, it still remains the most powerful armed force in the history of mankind. That the New York Times seems to think that force should be immune from the same problems that have plagued every fighting force in history is certainly noble, but not realistic by far, and thus making pronouncements against those in charge simply because they face the same problems and difficulties as their predecessors (and their predecessors' predecessors) is nothing but uninformed idealism at best and rampant, dishonest partisanship at worst.

9:59 AM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger Gretchen said...

All that will come of this is more American deaths. The 'president' wanted his name to go down in history and it sure will, as the "man" who turned America into a third world country.

Everyone hates us because of his illegal actions, Americans are now second class citizens in our own country and English isn't even the main language in several states. Now WTF is that all about?

11:06 AM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger curtis said...

America as a third world country?

You clearly are either dishonestly exagerrating or poorly informed. America is many things, but a third world country isn't one of them. The war in Iraq has done many things to America, but turning it into a third world country isn't one of them.

That you put "president" in quotations shows that you are clearly not able to effectively engage in reasonable debate- rather than address issues, you simply attack the man.

Also, your ignorance is showing in your accusation that the war was "illegal". It may have been unwise or uncalled for, depending on your point of view, but it was clearly legal. The first missile fired on our aircraft after the first gulf war insured that.

In total, your post says almost nothing, and I'm sorry to say, displays little other than ignorance. As I've said multiple times to multiple people- there are perfectly reasonable reasons to oppose the President and his policies, including the Iraq war- but these are not them.

4:39 PM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger Jim said...

If the Iraqis manage to create a democracy in the middle east...

I don't think anyone would disagree that turning Iraq into a democracy would be a great thing. But there is more to achieving that goal than sending 140,000 soldiers over there, throwing out Saddam, and crossing your fingers. The military has performed admirally, but they are not equipped and they don't have the numbers to provide a secure and stable country in which democracy can occur. The list of incompetencies, of poor (to be generous) decisions by the administration are too numerous to list here.

Millions of people are no longer under a dictatorship. . . that is certainly a good thing.

Of course it is! And billions in China are under a dictatorship, too. But what price would we pay to end THAT dictatorship? If you asked Americans in 2003 to support the war in order to free Iraqis from a dictatorship, you would have been laughed at. And that's why this reason was never offered until after WMD was not found.

Women are winning rights that were previously unheard of. Under Saddam, Iraq was a secular state. It is looking more and more like the "new" Iraq will live under Islamic law where women have few if any rights.

Perhaps Saddam won't be able to attempt genocide again. Perhaps (it's still in dispute that he did), but that's not why we went. And while preventing genocide is good, I don't think Americans would have gone to war to stop Saddam's "genocide." That's why it was not given as a reason before the invasion.

I think you are misunderstanding the Oil for Food program and scandal. The program was to allow Iraq to sell oil ONLY to get money to help the Iraqi people. The scandal was that certain people, including some Americans, arranged to buy and sell Iraqi oil in a way that would bypass the restrictions and allow Saddam to make money for things besides food.

Any military endeavor faces problems, but these problems can for the most part be mitigated by careful, logical planning. Listening to the experts who DID plan for the post invasion period (the State Department among others) and the generals who have previously invaded and occupied would have gone a long way to prevent the disasters that have occurred.

uninformed idealism? I am not uninformed. Dishonest partisanship? I may be partisan but I am not dishonest. Blindly parroting the administration talking points is at least as partisan, and the honesty of these talking points is very much in question.

9:19 PM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger Jim said...

I don't believe Gretchen "attacks[s] the man". She attacks his motives and policies, and that's legitimate.

Third World country? I admit, I don't get that. "Banana Republic" maybe. :-)

I think you will find thousands of reputable (non-ignorant) legal analysts who believe that the war is illegal. To blindly accept that the war was legal because the administration claims it's legal is ignorant.

9:26 PM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger curtis said...

To blindly accept that the war was legal because the administration claims it's legal is ignorant.

To begin with, that says nothing about the legality of the war, merely that you seem to think I blindly accept the administration's claims.

Well, that isn't true, nor was it apparent in my post.

Iraq is in clear violation of SCR 687, 705, 707, 1441 among others.

See here for more.

9:53 PM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger Jim said...

If I implied that you were ignorant, I apologize. However, my point was that it is not "ignorant", to use your characterization, to suggest that the war is illegal.

You cite Bob. Bob? Who the heck is Bob?

I will cite Eurolegal Services which includes the following passage:

"According to articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations Charter, no member state has the right to enforce any resolution militarily unless the UN Security Council determines that there has been a material breach of its resolution, decides that all nonmilitary means of enforcement have been exhausted, and then specifically authorizes the use of military force."

This language refutes the suggestion that Iraq's violation of a UN resolution, by itself, justifies unilateral military action.

I invite you to learn more by going to the above page and searching for the following text: 15 January 2003.

This is one of several sites that argues for the illegality of the war. Now, neither argument by itself makes the other invalid, but it should put to rest the suggestion that to claim the war is illegal is to "show your ignorance".

9:59 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger curtis said...

Well Jim- here's one thing you and I can agree on- comment spam sucks.

7:54 AM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Jim said...

No doubt! :-)

8:50 AM, August 17, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone else out here seeing Curtis’ slow evolution (intelligent design if you prefer) of thought

“…If the Iraqis manage to create a democracy…

…regardless of how much money the United States (stupidly) gave it in the 70's/80's,…

…that the war was "illegal". It may have been unwise or uncalled for…

…there are perfectly reasonable reasons to oppose the President”

I applaud young Curtis’ brave new stance and wish him well as he “comes out” as a thinking democrat.

He will need to widen his news sources though.

Curtis gives us:

“Women are winning rights that were previously unheard of.”

While reports of female circumcision are making headlines, but not in the corporate media…

And how anyone with an opinion different from his is “ignorant” and “clearly not able to effectively engage in reasonable debate”…and then he shuts down the debate…because the right is so use to defining the debate and momma aint havin no more o that.

Bush Lied

Our kids died

Oh, that Bob.

6:12 PM, August 17, 2005  

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