Think of a wonderful thought…

by Ted on September 8, 2003

From Donald Rumsfeld:

Mr. Rumsfeld did not mention any of the domestic critics by name. But he suggested that those who have been critical of the administration’s handling of the war in Iraq and its aftermath might be encouraging American foes to believe that the United States might one day walk away from the effort, as it has in past conflicts.

From Christopher Durang:

You remember how in the second act Tinkerbell drinks some poison that Peter is about to drink in order to save him? And then Peter turns to the audience and he says, “Tinkerbell is going to die because not enough people believe in fairies. But if all of you clap your hands real hard to show that you do believe in fairies, maybe she won’t die.”

So, we all started to clap. I clapped so long and so hard that my palms hurt and they even started to bleed I clapped so hard. Then suddenly the actress playing Peter Pan turned to the audience and she said, “That wasn’t enough. You did not clap hard enough. Tinkerbell is dead.” And then we all started to cry. The actress stomped off stage and refused to continue with the production. They finally had to lower the curtain. The ushers had to come help us out of the aisles and into the street.

You hear that? CLAP LOUDER!

More from Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Arthur Silber, Kevin Drum, Atrios, and Tim Dunlop.

{ 48 comments }

1

kelley b. 09.08.03 at 9:11 pm

What is the sound of no hand clapping?

2

PG 09.08.03 at 9:22 pm

Good thinking. Clap, and don’t get paranoid about censorship.

3

BAA 09.08.03 at 9:39 pm

Love the Peter Pan reference, but is it poor taste to point out that Rumsfeld is obviously correct?

Domestic dissent does yield the appearance of disarray, and those not versed in the interplay of democratic politics may dissent may well infer weakness of will. We may believe these costs worth bearing (for good Millian reasons), but they are costs nonetheless.

4

Bob 09.08.03 at 9:53 pm

if there is enough to dissent to give hope to the “terrorists” then obviously there was enough dissent that those in charge of our side should have been concerned with the support of such an endeavor in the first place. Instead, they decided to invent and construct support through a nationalistic fervor.

Therefore, because the leaders decided to drum up support that they should have been aware was built on a flimsy house of cards, and would waver if all didn’t go as “planned”, it is SOLELY their responsibility if any terrorists now find dissent in American to be a good thing.

Therefore, our leaders have already made our nation look silly in the eyes of the terrorists, regardless of dissenters.

5

JRoth 09.08.03 at 9:56 pm

Is the sheepishly named baa putting us on? Did we lose WW2 because (mostly honest, loyal) Americans questioned FDR’s prosecution of the war? Right down to holding a Congressional Inquiry on what the president knew, and when, about Pearl Harbor – during the war?

It is true that those in closed societies may not understand our open, free democracy (I’ve been told by men who were there that Germans expected Americans to quit fighting when FDR died). That’s an interesting fact. It should not be used as a bludgeon by those in power against those who would hold the powerful responsible for their failings.

Or is Mr. Rumsfeld as unfamiliar with the free exchange of ideas in a democracy as German civilians in 1945?

6

Steady Eddie 09.08.03 at 9:57 pm

baa: Not to belabor the obvious, but since it seems to have eluded you — Our level of resolve, much less unanimity, is irrelevant to the stakes for Iraqis fighting our presence. Just as in Vietnam, they want to control their own country, regardless of whether or not it’s for what we or most people around the world would consider a laudable end — certainly not in the case of Baathists, or even Iranian-oriented Shiites. We are outsiders, and they will go on fighting until we leave. Only if it’s virtually all the world fighting them — in the form of the UN, under international goals and reconstruction direction (which means Halliburton doesn’t get endless fat contracts) — will they eventually give up.

7

Narrator 09.08.03 at 9:59 pm

I think terrorists pay little if any attention to American politics as a whole. Their priorities are going to be the marines around them, the populace they’re trying to rally into revolt, and maybe our strategic military action, but I don’t see Bin Laden sitting in a cave and analyzing CNN for weakness of spirit.

So I don’t think Rumsfeld really has a point here, certainly not one worth mentioning like he did. I’m afraid it was purely political.

8

Billmon 09.08.03 at 10:00 pm

is it poor taste to point out that Rumsfeld is obviously correct?

Correct? Absolutely. Which is why Hitler was able to do such a brilliant job directing the German Army — at Stalingrad, the Battle of the Bulge, etc. Because, you see, he didn’t have deal with all those carping domestic critics questioning his strategic decisions.

Ditto Stalin in the summer of 1941 — meeting the Nazi invasion head on, and only losing half of his armies and most of his major cities, because he, too, didn’t have to worry about those pesky critics second guessing him. Those big officer purges helped, too — no more grumbling in the ranks. No siree.

And Kaiser Wilhem, tightly in control of the German press and parliament, deliberately launching a two-front war in 1914.

Or Czar Nicholas in the winter of 1916, driving his exhausted and ill supplied armies into reckless offensives against German artillery and machine guns – secure in the knowledge that nobody in St. Petersburg would dare to question his orders.

Yep, mindless conformism is the key to military success all right …

9

Narrator 09.08.03 at 10:06 pm

I don’t know, Billmon… I don’t think debate and open discussion help military action, but I don’t think they paticuarily damage it either. I’d have to chase down a US grunt or ‘Baath Party Remnant’ and confirm this, but I would assume that all this seems petty and far off to them.

To take the obvious comparison, a Vietnam veteran was much more concerned about personal safety than who was on his side.

Do the terrorists feel heartened by our divisions? I’d be surprised if they even knew about it or gave a shit.

10

Swoosh 09.08.03 at 10:43 pm

Does Rumsfeld (or anyone else in the administration) know WHO the terrorists are that we’re “fighting?” I see rather random sweeps of the Iraqi countryside by US forces, who occasionally find arms caches and “detain” prisoners. But mostly I see US forces hunkered down in secure camps, pretty much accepting the total lack of order.

So what are we spending the $87B on next year? Better troop shelters?

How, exactly is this helping in the fight against terror?

Wouldn’t $87B be better spent say, actually mounting an operation to capture Osama bin Laden?

Just asking…

11

BAA 09.08.03 at 10:57 pm

My, I seem to have inadvertently raised the bile level here. Glad to see the WWII references flying hot and heavy as well.

So let me bleat briefly. Was Rumsfeld “playing politics”? Yes. He’s an embattled cabinet secretary — expect nothing less!

Was his point correct? Well, as much as one would prefer a focus group of Al Queda plotters, let’s go theoretical. Let’s imagine a US poll is published tomorrow showing 80% support of sustained nation-building in Iraq. If you were a ex-baathist trying to force US retreat by bombing pipelines, wouldn’t that bum you out? It would bum me out if I were a murderous ex-baathist! So too, I imagine those hoping to drive American forces out of Iraq would prefer to see the headline of the Post read “criticism of Iraq occupation grows” than “strong bi-partisan support of Iraqi nation-building.”

Again, I think dissent — defined as criticism honestly offered in the efforts of improving American policy — is worth the costs (Soldier on Joe Biden!). What might *not* be worth the costs are transparently unserious criticism advanced for political purposes. Lucky there aren’t any of those!

12

kq 09.08.03 at 11:08 pm

I just need to back this up a second and ask if I’m the only one disturbed by the creepy head game ‘Peter Pan’ played on a room full of children. That just seemed warped…

13

BAA 09.08.03 at 11:20 pm

tinkerbell was within the margins of acceptable risk. the sooner kids learn this, the better.

14

zizka 09.08.03 at 11:21 pm

I thought the Peter Pan story was hilarious. Reminds me of an episode in Shakes the Clown, a Bobcat Goldthwaite cult movie. Or Robin Williams as Mr. Roberts: “I guess that ought to hold the little shits for another day”.

Note that these people who are looking so carefully at op-ed pages and public opinion polls are the same ones who we’ve been describing as crazed murderous lunatics all these years. So suicide bombers are really quite sensible when you get to know them, eh?

15

holofernes 09.08.03 at 11:25 pm

kq-

Welcome to the world of Christopher Durang.

16

NBarnes 09.08.03 at 11:41 pm

A typical misuse of language. It is not obvious that dissent makes us weaker. In fact, dissent makes us stronger as a nation. We would not be stronger if we all clapped as hard as we could, we would be weaker.

17

radish 09.09.03 at 12:00 am

baa, is that a position that you’ve actually thought through?

First you offer an 80% approval of long term US presence as an example of something that would “bum out” a terrorist, and offer as evidence only the fact that it would bum you out (more on this later). Then you silently and mysteriously substitute “transparently unserious criticism advanced for political purposes” (TUCAPP) as the type of activity that you are criticising. Not only is the latter situation fundamentally different from the former, but even American strategists don’t pay attention to TUCAPP except as Kremlinology. Or do you honestly think that terrorists’ strategies are sensitive to whether Chuck Hagel or Joe Biden rips into GW in the WaPo?

second, I can’t wrap my head around that “bummed out” argument without reaching the conclusion that you are either a pacifist or very poorly informed about history. Frankly, if the roles of Iraq and the US were reversed I wouldn’t (and I suspect neither would you) give a rats ass whether a majority of Iraqis thought me ungrateful, or supported the rebuilding of the US as a liberal democracy, because it would long since have become apparent that the occupiers lack either the capability or the intent, or both, of dong so. Or do you honestly think that the average Iraqi is better off (or even has a reason to believe that things will get better soon) under the CPA?

Sorry if this is harsh, but the “imagining” of Iraqis’ responses to US behavior without any basis in fact is what got us into this mess. I’ve lived in the Middle East, which has a lot to do with why I am personally willing to defend the US Constitution with my dying breath, and is also why I can tell you with some confidence that there are plenty of Iraqis, Wahabbis and pan-Arabists who, should they feel that the occupation has the broad support of the US populace, will be perfectly happy to take us on in a battle of wills.

18

danuube 09.09.03 at 12:48 am

Some day maybe, but I doubt it will happen anytime soon, the jackboots will stop fantasizing about WWII and realize that this is not a war the way they dream about it. Read my lips: THE US IS NOT FIGHTING A SOVEREIGN NATION. The radical fundamentalists are NOT interested in the U.S. leaving Iraq, they thrive on the constant state of violence and turmoil (anyone see Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or any other militants in the ME moving to make peace and create stable [in a western sense] societies?

Bush’s (Rumsfeld) invasion and occupation of Iraq is a fanatics dream come true. From inciting anger at the US to having easy access to taking pot-shots at American soldiers, the occupation is just what the fanatics want. What would make anyone think that they want us to leave? I hate to break the news to Rumsfeld, but the ME fanatics have the US right where they want us.

19

Avedon 09.09.03 at 12:54 am

“…might be encouraging American foes to believe that the United States might one day walk away from the effort, as it has in past conflicts.”

I think baa should take note of that last clause. No amount of clapping our hands, waving flags, or anything else is going to snow the opposition into thinking we have the brains and guts to get it together when we have such an abysmal track record. They may smirk at what we say, but I betcha their real inspiration comes from what we do.

20

citizen k 09.09.03 at 12:59 am

As Bob points out, if this stupid theory of Rumsfelds were correct, or if Rumsfeld even believed it, he was criminally irresponsible to push a divided nation to war. What a brilliant theory:
Step 1: Ignore opposition to the war
Step 2: Screw up BIGTIME
Step 3: Blame the opponents for not cheering loud enough.

21

baa 09.09.03 at 1:18 am

Well, I’m not going to try too hard here, as I seem to be struggling against a will to misunderstand. Also, not all the criticisms here cohere. And,So real fast:

1. There seems to be some consensus that at times in the past, the us has ‘stuck it out’ in conflicts (korea, WW II). other times, not so much (beirut, somalia, vietnam)
2. If one were trying to dissuade the US from sticking it out, the prospect of imminent success is more likely than not to spur one’s efforts.
3. The belief that US resolve is wavering would count as evidence the success is imminent
4. Dissent can be/often is interpreted as evidence that resolve is wavering.
5. Conclusion: dissent might make enemies of the occupation think this was one of those times america might not stick it out, and try extra hard.
6. just a note. Obviously I, like everyone else here, has no idea through what kind of fun-house mirror opponents of the occupation are viewing american morale/resolve. Can we admit that *some* level of correct interpretation exists? If so, Rumsfeld’s point holds. Sure, it’s a cynical, political statement at the same time. Alas, the devil Rumsfeld in this case does not instantiate all vices simultaneously! Try again tomorrow.

7. Last, as I’ve tried to make clear (but hey! let’s try again!) this doesn’t mean dissent is *bad*, it means dissent has costs. The advantages of serious democratic deliberation outweigh the costs, so boolah boolah dissent!

22

zizka 09.09.03 at 1:27 am

The US did stick it out in Vietnam. 1965 (escalation) — 1973. More than seven years.

23

citizen k 09.09.03 at 2:21 am

:1. There seems to be some consensus that at times in the past, the us has ‘stuck it out’ in conflicts (korea, WW II). other times, not so much (beirut, somalia, vietnam)
——
Consensus can’t substitute for facts. The US signed an Armistice in Korea that left a large part of the country in “enemy” hands – i.e. we tied, at best. We lasted 7 years in Vietnam, not counting special forces and we dropped more tons of bombs than we dropped in Europe during WWII. So you start with confused premise 1.

:2. If one were trying to dissuade the US from sticking it out, the prospect of imminent success is more likely than not to spur one’s efforts.

Wrong again. The Vietnamese, faced with huge odds and a punishing bombing and artillery campaign “stuck it out”. The US did the same when it beat the British Empire. People fight against odds and collapse on the suspicion of opposition. No such principle as you propose exists.

:3. The belief that US resolve is wavering would count as evidence the success is imminent
—————————-
How about the belief that the US has no strategy, can’t pay for the war, has offended all its allies, and is managed by a dimwitted religious fanatic with no idea of how anything works other than the remote control on his TV? How about that US policy is controlled by ignorant clowns who are using every day to illustrate why “talk softly and carry a big stick” is a lot better than “bray loudly and stick your head up your ass”?

:4. Dissent can be/often is interpreted as evidence that resolve is wavering.
——————
Can you make a single coherent point here? Apparently not. People who think God is on their side don’t need complex theories to conclude that they are winning in the long run.

:5. Conclusion: dissent might make enemies of the occupation think this was one of those times america might not stick it out, and try extra hard.
————————
Conclusion – don’t be a fucking idiot.

:6. just a note. Obviously I, like everyone else here, has no idea through what kind of fun-house mirror opponents of the occupation are viewing american morale/resolve. Can we admit that some level of correct interpretation exists? If so, Rumsfeld’s point holds.
————————-
So you don’t know how they think, but it follows that Rumsfeld’s “point holds”?

:7. Last, as I’ve tried to make clear (but hey! let’s try again!) this doesn’t mean dissent is bad, it means dissent has costs. The

So does stupidity.

-

24

Caw! Caw! Caw! 09.09.03 at 2:44 am

I’ve suspected for some time that, if anyone walks away from ths war, it is likely to be the W. Bush administration. As the costs mount, and the death toll mounts–and remember Saddam Hussein got his start as a torturer and assassin; he knows how to make things hurt–there’s going to be a lot of pressure to bail. But no sensible policy-maker is likely to do so, for any number of reasons, notably (1) it would confirm the radical Islamic critique of the USA and (2) it would be a victory for terrorists.

But an incumbent administration in trouble, with a budget to balance on an shrinking tax revenues, economic and ecological problems hitting hard,… they might declare victory, go home, and hope to win the next election.

25

jalisco 09.09.03 at 2:45 am

umm, no political ideology or political might (the US) can overwhelm nationalist drives (the “natives”). That was the lesson we were supposed to have learned from ‘Nam. It’s their freaking country. Who are we liberating it from now? Now they see themselves as liberating themselves from their oppressors. Not saying who’s right or wrong – but it’s inevitable that many military lives will be lost, many “normal Iraqi” people will be drawn in to fighting, and the circus will be reduced to soundbites. We’ll fight until we give up. Iraq was never Japan or Germany, but it is more like Korea, Somalia or Vietnam.

And we’ll get lied to, a lot. My father-in-law, a Vietnam Vet, distrusts Rummy just because of his Vietnam/Nixon connections. Should we expect any less?

26

ogged 09.09.03 at 4:18 am

It’s nice to see the good liberals here at Timber assuming that any Arab with a grievance immediately takes leave of his senses.

Will anyone here grant that the likelihood of the success of an endeavor affects one’s fervor for carrying it out?

Is baa “a fucking idiot” for remembering that Al Qaeda used American retreats in Somalia and Beirut as fodder for its propaganda and that Bin Laden has quite an appetite for American news?

Would it surprise any of you to hear that–in Iran, at least–Michael Moore is very well-known, since criticism of the administration by American’s is broadcast ad nauseum?

baa has said 1)Rumsfeld is playing politics 2) dissent is to be encouraged no matter what Rumsfeld says 3)assuming that some people opposed to the American presence in Iraq think in a way similar to us, Rumsfeld has a point.

For this, he gets pilloried?

27

Bob 09.09.03 at 4:44 am

It seems the applause for Bush is waning.

“The latest Zogby America poll indicates President Bush’s performance rating is at its lowest point since his pre-Inauguration days.” – from: http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20030907-050336-4389r.htm

28

citizen k 09.09.03 at 5:28 am

“Will anyone here grant that the likelihood of the success of an endeavor affects one’s fervor for carrying it out?”

Only a knucklehead would agree or pretend that there was any merit in Rumsfeld’s self-contradictory bullshit. What do you think – that a show of resolve in the form of a loud uniform baaing of contented sheep will terrify bin Laden? – “Oh help me, momma, the infidels are united, I’m giving up Islam and becoming a Unitarian, let’s lay down our arms in fear”? Wake up.

29

ogged 09.09.03 at 5:34 am

Ok, anyone else?

30

raj 09.09.03 at 1:57 pm

“but is it poor taste to point out that Rumsfeld is obviously correct?”

Whether or not he is “obviously correct” it is more than a bit of chutzpah on his part to try to stiffle dissent–which is what he is trying to do.

The fact is that the dissenters told him he was wrong before they went into this quagmire, and he just doesn’t want to hear the “I told you so’s” And, partly as a result of his inattention to the real war on terror, the Taliban are–as has been reported–regrouping in Afghanistan.

31

eric 09.09.03 at 2:17 pm

Don’t bother ogged. K obviously has made up his mind.

K seems to forget that everybody pointed to all those Iraqi ‘street’ demonstrations before the war as proof that Arab world was ‘united’, ‘would fight to the death’, etc…etc… Right.

Oh, and comparing President Bush and the US government to Hitler and his government like they are the same thing again just shows what a complete flaming idiot you are.

32

baa 09.09.03 at 2:37 pm

Hey thanks ogged. Crooked Timber has 6 Ph. Ds running the blog and troglydytes in the comment section. Meanwhile Matt Yglesias has Tim Scanlon in his threads. Go figure.

It’s a terrible error to assume that one’s preferred position has no costs. That seems to be the trouble here. Dissent has costs — appearance of disunity/weakness of will. See-no-evil rallying around the flag has costs — it conceals and countenances immoral or ill-planned government policies. I thought this point was as close as one could get to a lay-up. Oh well…

33

Mr. Nosuch 09.09.03 at 2:55 pm

At the beginning of the Iraq invasion, a large majority of US citizens were supportive. There was plenty of dissent then too.

Now that the reconstruction is floundering, support is waning.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that Americans like their wars as long as they are succeeding. Now even the average citizen on the street is thinking that Iraq is a mess. This isn’t due to dissent, it’s because the occupation is being done badly. If the occupation was going well, the dissent wouldn’t matter.

This was true with Vietnam. Most Americans supported Vietnam until it became clear we weren’t being successful any more. Then support collapsed. There was dissent the whole time. The dissent didn’t make the war go badly.

You cannot make bad policy good policy by wishful thinking. It’s not about resolve, but about success. And the administration is proving is knows little about successful policy.

Basically if you do a good job at something, criticism doesn’t matter.

34

SCOTT SOLOMON FANETTI 09.09.03 at 4:18 pm

The idea that criticism of a poorly planned and executed policy is in some way an encouragement of an adversary is ridiculous. If anything, criticism is an indication that a course correction is in order – and that a strategy with a higher probability of success is available. The fools that refuse to take advantage of criticism – and instead choose to vilify critics – cut off any objective analysis of their ideas and look inward for solutions to their problems. Since they created their problem to begin with, they often cannot envision a solution that makes sense to them. Consequently, they continue to plod along in their predetermined direction – hoping that their steely resolve will solve the problem in the long run.

Iraq is a great example of this. Iraq has nothing to do with “The War on Terror”. It is a war for strategic control of the resources of the middle east. Before the war, the proponents of this adventure convinced themselves that we could invade and occupy Iraq, while converting it into a jewel of Democracy( an American vassal stste ). They accused anyone who pointed out that this invasion would be far more difficult and costly of being objectively pro Saddam/ terrorist sympathizers/ liberal pacifists/ etc. They stuck their heads in the sand and refused to listen to reason.

Now that the chickens have come home to roost – so to speak – these same people are still villifying critics for pointeing out that their policy is not working. This criticism will not cause American resolve to weaken. The poor policy is what causes American resolve to weaken. The criticism is an attempt to convince the people in power that a course correction is in order.

If things were going hunky-dory in Iraq, no amount of criticism in the world would affect public opinion. If things were going poorly in Iraq, no amount of propaganda or villification is going to convince critics to be silent and let our leaders throw our children’s lives, money, and our nation’s good name down the toilet.

I would support Rumsfeld if his policy was sound. It is not, so I will do my best to let anyone I can know about it. My words do not strengthen terrorists’ resolve – Rummy’s folly is enough encouragement for them.

35

Elias 09.09.03 at 9:39 pm

Just testing to see how to post…

36

Mithras 09.09.03 at 9:48 pm

If anything, criticism is an indication that a course correction is in order – and that a strategy with a higher probability of success is available.

Exactly. Far from being a sign of weakness that encourages terrorists, dissent is the mechanism by which we will abandon a disastrous policy and adopt an effective one! Our enemies want to antagonize us into prepetuating the Bush/Rumsfeld mistake, because that mistake aids Osama et al.

There are no costs to dissent to be balanced against its benefits. It’s either dissent or disaster – and Rumseld, ogged and baa seem to be against dissent.

37

Andrea Harris 09.10.03 at 2:22 am

Okay, now that everyone has finished (I assume) congratulating each other on their cleverness on thwarting that mean ol’ Rumsfeld’s attempts at crushing Dissent™, maybe mithras will tell us what that better, “more effective” policy is to be. Or maybe one of you other clever people have some ideas. Some constructive ideas.

38

Curtiss Leung 09.10.03 at 3:15 am

Constructive ideas:

  1. Get Rummy, Wolfie, Perle, et al. to resign.
  2. Launch a real investigation into the WMD lies they—and Powell—spewed.
  3. Set a date to get the hell out of Iraq, and do it.

39

Andrea Harris 09.10.03 at 3:34 am

Let’s see: Curtiss’ idea of “constructive” is 1) firing people he does not like, 2) starting a costly and useless “investigation” of political figures — sounds familiar, and 3) up and leaving Iraq and the Iraqis to fend for themselves, because — oops — Mr. Leung does not think we should be there in the first place. Yup, real constructive.

40

sr 09.10.03 at 3:56 am

Baa says that “So let me bleat briefly. Was Rumsfeld “playing politics”? Yes. He’s an embattled cabinet secretary — expect nothing less!”

Rumsfeld is not an embattled cabinet secretary as much as he is a thin skinned one. He was riding the gravy train so far with his short sighted policies which won him the war but left gaping holes in the reconstruction effort. He now sustains flak for the first time and he short circuits.

41

Nabakov 09.10.03 at 5:46 am

“1) firing people he does not like,”

Yup, if yer managers fuck up bigtime – sack ‘em. Even an MBA should be able to grasp that.

“2) starting a costly and useless “investigation” of political figures”

Like Watergate or Iran-Contra? to find out what went wrong as a first step towards making sure it doesn’t happen again.

“3) up and leaving Iraq and the Iraqis to fend for themselves”

Works for me. Iraq has the basic infrastructure, a rich source of revenue and one of the region’s most highly-skilled, literate and non-secular middle classes whom I’m sure would love to be left alone to get on with it without being screwed around by homegrown tyrants or imported military-industrial complexes. Nations in worse condition are often left to fend to for themselves and manage to work it out.

Your turn now for constructive (for Iraq, not Bush)suggestions.

42

Andrea Harris 09.10.03 at 6:35 am

1. Uh huh.
2. No, more like the Clinton-Monica “investigation.” (Yes, I realize that as a “righty” — ie, someone who disagrees with you — I am supposed to be a fan of L’Affaire Blue Dress, but I think it was a waste of time and money.)
3. You can’t be serious. Then again, I guess it’s okay to be all for dropping the Iraqis like hot rocks mid-“quagmire” so long as it makes the Bush Junta™ look bad.

Here is my constructive suggestion:
the coalition continues to do what they are doing. It’s called “finishing what you started.” It’s not a fashionable stance, apparently, but I’ve never been a slave to fashion.

43

Nabakov 09.10.03 at 8:57 am

“the coalition continues to do what they are doing.”

You mean like the Flypaper Strategy?
Or building bridges to Iraq hearts and minds like this?
http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/2003_08_01_riverbendblog_archive.html#106208201838841818

44

Curtiss Leung 09.10.03 at 5:17 pm

Andrea: The current coalition—if you want to call it that—can’t continue doing what it’s doing; that’s why Dubya is asking for the 87 billion, why Powell is trying to mend relations with "Old Europe," and why Paul Wolfowitz of all people told the Senate Armed Service committee yesterday "We have no desire to own this problem or to control it." Never mind that the resolution Powell is taking to the UN puts the US in charge of the UN forces there—something I’m sure the members of the committee know—he wants to paint himself as a multilateralist, and anyone with a memory knows that’s false.

The human and monetary costs of the war were underestimated, the casus belli a tissue of lies, relations with former allies badly damaged in the run up to the war: these show that the Bush administration is inept and dishonest. It is our continued presence there that is destablizing not just Iraq but the entire region: that means that we need to get out. 

45

Sigivald 09.10.03 at 8:46 pm

Bob said: “if there is enough to dissent to give hope to the “terrorists” then obviously there was enough dissent that those in charge of our side should have been concerned with the support of such an endeavor in the first place.”

Really? How’s that follow? If a small minority scream really loud, that can quite easily enough to encourage terrorists, ba’athists, and their ilk… while at the same time being effectively insignificant in terms of domestic support.

Plus, well, the implication that “anything that is loudly disapproved of shouldn’t be done” (ie, they should be “concerned” about it – but what’s the point of that concern if you think they should go on and do it anyway? Hmm?) is itself foolish, especially since it’s become transparently clear that a good number of the loudest protestors will reflexivly naysay anything done by either (depending on the protestor, this could be an either/or/and situation) the US or by President Bush. Reflexive political blinkers don’t make for good policy decisions, or even constructive, useful dissent.

Curtiss said “The human and monetary costs of the war were underestimated, the casus belli a tissue of lies, relations with former allies badly damaged in the run up to the war: these show that the Bush administration is inept and dishonest. It is our continued presence there that is destablizing not just Iraq but the entire region: that means that we need to get out. “

Say what? I think you’ll find that casualty figures were overestimated by opponents of the war, not underestimated by proponents.

If the casus belli were a tissue of lies, it’s odd that the world intelligence community was as a whole so very, very sure that Iraq still had Those Bad Weapons, and that Iraq itself, if it had in fact disarmed voluntarily, refused to admit it and thus both disarm US wrath and get out of UN sanctions. How, please, do you explain this proposition you’re making?

As for former allies, well, they (France, Germany) haven’t actually been allies, properly speaking, in decades. Allies, you see, act like allies, not leeches or enemies. France and Germany, indeed, damaged their relations with the US, by their actions. Intersting that you blame this on US actions alone, and pretend they were Really True Blue Allies before That Bastard Bush ruined everything by actualy asking them to act like it.

For an administration you think is inept (I imagine no argument will convince you of its relative honesty), they sure seem to have managed pretty well so far. (And why this fetish for “stability” in a region run by dictators and oppressors?)

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Curtiss Leung 09.11.03 at 1:43 am

Sigivald:

  • I think you’ll find that casualty figures were overestimated by opponents of the war, not underestimated by proponents.

Whatever estimates were put forward by opponents of the war aren’t relevant here; we’re talking about the architects of the war in the Bush administration. And in fact, Rumsfeld did underestimate the forces needed: over the objections of senior officers in the Army and Marine Corps, Rumsfeld wanted—and got—a drastically ground force. Effects based operations, popularly dubbed "shock and awe," were supposed to be sufficient not only to win battles but destroy psychological resistance. Rumsfeld’s disgard for what his senior officers were saying should become the textbook example of underestimating resources needed. The Wall Street Journal was reporting on this tension between Rumsfeld and military commanders even back in November.

  • If the casus belli were a tissue of lies, it’s odd that the world intelligence community was as a whole so very, very sure that Iraq still had Those Bad Weapons

    This is false, plain and simple: the divisions in just our own intelligence community were quite deep before the war: see the article Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence at the Washington Post.

  • I would accept a valid argument showing that the Bush administration is honest and competent. Merely stringing together transparent falsehoods is not even an argument, and will convince no one.

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    citizen k 09.11.03 at 9:50 am

    “K seems to forget that everybody pointed to all those Iraqi ‘street’ demonstrations before the war as proof that Arab world was ‘united’, ‘would fight to the death’, etc…etc… Right.”

    This is a lie. Lie. Lie. Lie. The opponents of the war have been shown right. The liars and their marks dragged our country into a disaster and now seek to blame the lack of cheers for their monumental failure.

    See:http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030317&s=scheer20030304
    Or read:
    ——–
    In addition to possible ongoing guerrilla action by Saddam Hussein’s supporters, American occupation forces would likely be faced with competing armed factions among the Sunni Arab population, not to mention Kurdish and Shiite rebel groups seeking greater autonomy. This could lead the United States into a bloody counterinsurgency war. Without the support of other countries or the UN, a US invasion could leave American forces effectively alone attempting to enforce a peace amid the chaos of a post-Saddam Iraq.

    http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20020930&s=zunes

    ———–

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    M. Simon 09.11.03 at 7:57 pm

    I expect the quagmire to begin real soon. Possibly any day now.

    It is obvious from the latest Iraqi poll that with only 50% of the Iraqis on our side we are losing the war. Especially when you consider that the political dissent in Iraq is armed.

    What a clever way to determine elections. I hear this was the electoral method of the last regime. They never get near enough credit these days. Well no dollars for oil I always say. Or is it no oil for blood? Or no blood for dollars? No oil for plastics.

    Besides with all that oil why aren’t we rich? Oh, I see. We didn’t steal enough yet. I will be really glad when Iraq becomes a paying proposition like the American German and Japanese colonies.

    Why should Americans be taxed to make Iraq a better place for the Iraqi people? It is so unprogressive. Globalism has gone too far.

    It is all the fault of the Republicans and the Democrats who vote with them. And Dean. The waffler.

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