115,000 troops

by Ted on May 25, 2004

Bush, last night:

Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary.

Last Thursday’s testimony of General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Myers gave one of the most candid official assessments yet of events in Iraq, which marked a further turn away from the administration’s stance that a smaller US force coupled with Iraqi security forces could secure Iraq.

He said General John Abizaid, commander of US forces in Iraq, was assessing what additional forces may be needed on top of the 135,000 American troops already there.

Tim Cavanaugh, who called this the “best Clinton moment” in Reason:

I can see Mike McCurry now, explaining that the President was actually using the pluperfect tense, so his comments were literally true.



Nat Whilk 05.25.04 at 6:50 pm

If you’re not scouring weather reports to see if the White House is giving us the straight story on the weather in Crawford, Texas, you’re blaming President Bush for using the English language correctly. (Who’da thunk it?) What Bush said in last night’s speech was just a continuation of what he said in last month’s press conference:

“Generally, we’ve had about 115,000 troops in Iraq. There’s 135,000 now, as a result of the changeover from one division to the next. If he wants to keep troops there to help, I’m more than willing to say, ‘Yes, General Abizaid.'”


Ted Barlow 05.25.04 at 7:17 pm


Bush was being intentionally deceptive, at the press conference and last night. The commanders have repeatedly said that that they need more troops than the White House has been willing to provide. Bush wants you to believe that they’ve got plenty of troops, that the decision to keep troop strength as low as it is was made by generals instead of civilians, and that he’s just waiting for the request to send more troops. How you can defend that, I have no idea.


Barry 05.25.04 at 7:26 pm

Actually, 135K troops are there due to the fact that the rotation back to the US was delayed for ~20K troops, for the sole purpose of beefing up troop strength.

I notice that Bush didn’t mention that General Shinseki estimated that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of troops would be needed. So Bush was using the phrase “Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict.” in the sense of “people who knew what they were doing said otherwise, but I sacked them, and got some people who’d give the numbers I wanted, which I’m now presenting as if they were the best available estimate.”.

And speaking of the memory hole, Bush also didn’t mention that Paul Wolfowitz was saying that we’d be down to 30K troops by the end of summer, 2003. Bush seems to have forgotten that one, probably because people might recall all of the other pre-war BS that we were fed.


Shelby 05.25.04 at 11:57 pm


Doesn’t the shift from Wolfowitz’s prediction reflect a simple adaptation to different circumstances than were initially forecast? I don’t see why we should be complaining — would you rather that, in Iraq as it actually is now, we withdrew more than 3/4 of our troops to be consistent with that prediction?


Matt Weiner 05.26.04 at 1:23 am

That’s true insofar as it goes, but at the time everyone was saying that the initial forecasts were serious underestimates. So the shift from Wolfowitz’s prediction reflects the fact that Wolfowitz is nuts.
Here’s a great paragraph I dug up (from Feb. 28, 2003):
In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq. He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo. He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that “stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible,” but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. “I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction,” Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.
Let’s see: WRONG, WRONG, right, wrong, don’t know. Remember: Those estimates were made by a guy who thought Iraq had no history of ethnic strife. That’s not a circumstance that’s changed–Wolfowitz was wrong from the get-go.


Matthew Cromer 05.26.04 at 1:34 am

Now I know why I avoid leftist blogs.

They do nothing except point fingers, cast blame, look for things to criticize, while never offering a solution to the problem.

Bush’s theory is that Middle East terror will not be solved until the Middle East joins modernity along the lines of South Asia, Korea, Chile, etc. and the young men get a stake in building a life for themselves instead of just taking lives. It should be clear and obvious to all after 9/11 that their anger, in conjunction with a nuclear device, would be an unparalleled catastrophy for America. Iraq is the first step in transforming the region over time.

The leftists don’t seem to have any plan, or even to really recognize the threat and the fact that militant islam is at war with us, has been for 25 years, and must be utterly defeated for us to be safe.

If there is some other plan, if the professional complainers on the left have something to offer to make me and my family and the economy safe from nuclear attack, I’d be glad to listen.


Zak Catem 05.26.04 at 2:00 am

Cromer: Except that Hussein’s Iraq was not militantly islamic. The new Iraq will be, though, and who might we blame for that?


Shelby 05.26.04 at 2:01 am

Matt W:
So the shift from Wolfowitz’s prediction reflects the fact that Wolfowitz is nuts.

No, the shift reflects the fact that he was wrong. Which you then implicitly recognize.

I agree it was always foolish for anyone to claim there was no history of ethnic conflict in Iraq, though there had been more recent wide-scale conflict in the Balkans (even if you go back to pre-Baathism in Iraq and pre-communism in Bosnia and Kosovo).

Iraqi civilians welcoming US forces: partly right, partly wrong. There has been considerable open-arms-type welcoming, as well as considerable resistance – certainly more of the latter than Wolfowitz predicted. In part, he thought in Feb 2003 that more of the resistance would be initially, by the organized military; that melted away and the military elements that wanted to fight went underground instead. A mistake, yes, but not a stupid one.

As for expecting other nations to help rebuild Iraq, I saw that more as moral suasion — “We expect you to do the right thing.” I didn’t see it as reflecting an actual conviction that France et al would help out, any more than Bush honestly expects Democrats to support military action when he says we are “united”.

Many Iraqi expatriates ARE coming home to help. If we, and the Iraqis, can further stabilize the situation there, I expect we’ll see a lot more of this.

Seems to me there’s only one of these points that Wolfowitz clearly had wrong. I’m not excusing that, just trying to see it all in context. For my money the biggest mistake was in handling first two months post-occupation. This was due in part to the unexpected speed of the US’s military victory (which virtually nobody foresaw), and in part to overoptimism regarding what would happen after “major combat operations” ended.

Note that the State Dept.’s handling of affairs in Iraq has been in no way more successful than the military’s; is this Powell’s fault?


mg 05.26.04 at 3:02 am

Matthew Cromer sez
Now I know why I avoid leftist blogs.

That’s settled, then. The question remains, why don’t you avoid them?


Phill 05.26.04 at 3:19 am


You are right in pointing out that it would be better if liberals were suggesting solutions rather than just pointing out the many failures of the administration.

However the reason that most liberals opposed this adventure is that we could see at its start that it was based on naive, wishfull thinking and that there would be no easy solutions for the problems that this bunch of airheads created.

If you had read the liberal blogs two years ago you would have known that Chalabai was a convicted con-man, untrustworthy in every imaginable sense. The administration only discovered that fact last week when the CIA provided incontrovertable proof that Chalabai passed information to Iran that allowed them to discover that their diplomatic cipher had been broken. Your administration relied on intelligence provided by Chalabai over the objections from the CIA that it was dubious.

It is now clear that Iran played the Bush administration as complete rubes. Instead of being intimidated by the Axis of evil speech they recognized it as bluster, then persuaded one of their declared enemies to eliminate the other. Whatever happens from now on two things are clear, the US cannot maintain a permanent military base in Iraq and once the US leaves Iran will emerge as the undisputed superpower.

At this point there is no good solution to the situation. While some outcomes may be marginally preferable to the pre-invasion situation none justifies the cost.

What we have here is a communication problem. The Iraqi insurgents are mostly fighting because they do not trust the assurances given by Bush. They are not fighting because they hate liberty, most would stop fighting if they were given assurances they considered credible.

At this point it appears that Bush is incapable of understanding the situation in Iraq. He is an abysmal communicator and his advisors appear to be incompetent. The fiasco concerning the destruction of Abu Gharib was entirely predictable.

The best solution to the situation is to replace an incompetent communicator with a proven one. At a minimum Bush should take the same step LBJ did and anounce that for the sake of the country he will not accept renomination.


doghouse riley 05.26.04 at 4:33 am

In part, he thought in Feb 2003 that more of the resistance would be initially, by the organized military; that melted away and the military elements that wanted to fight went underground instead. A mistake, yes, but not a stupid one.

That’s a generous assessment. Guerrila war is the logical response of the vastly outmanned and outgunned.

It seems to be generally accepted in arguing over numbers that the decision on US troop deployment was strategic. This is simply not the case. We might have been able to double our initial deployment, but much more than that would have required a major reorganization, probably a draft, and certainly a considerable delay in jumping off, or, alternately, a large international coalition. As it is our manpower and materiel are fractured, some think seriously so. We have one division in reserve and three at the lowest readiness level, and a lot of overextended troops in the field.

Waiting to bring forces up to reasonable levels, instituting the draft, or seeking international agreement were not acceptable to the neocons, who, it should be remembered, were already shaking their sabres at Iran and Syria when the war started. The insufficiency of manpower was not the result of Rumsfeld’s doctrine so much as political expediency. That it came back to bite him was not the result of a mere miscalculation.


Matthew Cromer 05.26.04 at 4:43 am


That’s certainly a nice little story, if I were being uncharitable I would call it a fairy tale. It certainly weaves all the lefts’ tropes into a single thread in quite the fashion, though.

First, many supporters of this war couldn’t care less about Chalabi. We didn’t need Chalabi to tell us that Hussein trafficked with terrorists, we didn’t need him to tell us Hussein had advanced Chem and Bio programs and weapons which he had used many times in the past and might well use in the future. We didn’t need Chalabi to tell us that Hussein and his sons were right up there with Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, the North Korean hereditary emperors, and Adolph Hitler in terms of vastness of evil and murder against his own citizens.

I think the most plausible explanation is that some administration officials held Chalabi in great esteem, others were neutral, and others distrusted him and thought he was probably a crook.

As for the leftist critique of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I find it flawed. We have acheived a great deal of value. First of all is just some intelligence we have learned.

1) Kofi Annon and the UN were miserably corrupt and complicit in the rape of the Iraqi people under “oil for food”. Ditto for the French government, German government, Russian government, and numerous and sundry politicians. Now America knows exactly what we can expect from these “Allies”. The antiwar people said it was all about money from oil — and now indeed we find for France, Germany and Russia it WAS all about money from Oil — paid out through Saddam’s greasy palm.

2) The Zarqawi cell of Al Qaida has been revealed to have long standing connections with the Baathists in Iraq.

Next comes the tremendous opportunity for Iraq to join the world community as a free democracy. If Iraq can acheive the low standards of a Turkey, everyone in Iraq will be far better off than before. Perhaps some people think that Middle Easterners deserve to live under various torturers, murderers, and theocratic monsters, but I do not, and I do not think we are going to be safe as long as they do.

Next we have the beginnings of pressure on the regimes of the Middle East, with Khadaffi capitulating on his WMD programs and many governments at least making noises about democratic reform. We’d be A LOT more successful at all of these if the left in America and the “European Allies” were not determined to try to undermine the process — the left for political advantage, Europe for corruption and revenge in the “oil for food” wheeling and dealing.

Things you have stated that I find completely off base:

We will be unable to have permanent bases in Iraq. — An assertion and a very dubious one. I would be shocked if the Kurds at least didn’t insist we stay on in their territory.

John Kerry a proven communicator — Well he is proven to speak out of both sides of his mouth and he is proven to say things that are ridiculous “I actually voted for the 87 billion before I voted against it”. “That’s an example of America’s arrogance”. Lying about his throwing away medals. Lying about running into foreign leaders in restaurants.

Finally, you don’t seem to understand that George Bush did not create our problems in Iraq nor in the Middle East. Our basic problem there is that the governments and societies there are miserable failures with a glorious (distant) past (with the exception of Israel and Turkey) and there is a huge amout of resentment and anger about that failure. Bush feels he can turn that around by helping people and countries in the region become democratic and economically free.

The cost of NOT doing anything about the obvious and bleeding pathology in the Middle East is clear. Over 4,000 Americans were slaughtered in the past 25 years by crazed, nihilist middle eastern terrorists. Our economy took an enormous hit from the September 11 attacks. But the damage a large-scale chemical attack, or a nuclear detonation in one of our cities is incalculable. We would suffer 10 years of economic depression, hundreds of thousands would die, and worse yet we would probably fight a war of utter ferocity and destruction instead of wars of liberation in the Middle East, completely losing our moral standing.

I see the left doing NOTHING to prevent this nightmare scenario, in fact I see them trying to break our will to fight the limited, moral war we are engaged in within Iraq. The wishful thinking is on the left — people convinced that if only we did the right thing, the terrorism issue would go away. No, it only goes away when we 1) destroy the extant terrorists and intractable regimes, 2) get the lukewarm regimes such as Libya to capitulate, and, eventually 3) transform the middle east into a place of opportunity instead of oppression. What’s Kerry’s plan? Run away from Iraq?


Matthew Cromer 05.26.04 at 5:03 am

Forgot a couple points.

The left “told” us about Chalabi, also “told” us about the unbearable Iraqi summer, “brutal afghan winter”, tens of thousands who would die in house-to-house fighting entering Baghdad, etc. etc. etc.


daveb 05.26.04 at 6:07 am

Mr Cromer

Where is the connection between Iraq and those ‘ crazed, nihilist middle eastern terrorists’? No one has shown that there was such a tie. Yes, Saddam was an evil dictator BUT is it the task of the US to oust every dictator and install a new goverment afterwards? The US invaded a 3rd rate country whose military had been decimated by their wars with Iran & Kuwait. If the US had gone after Osama bin-Laden and the rest of the AQ after the WTC horrors, most of the world would have gone along with us. However, when Bush & Co go & divert attention to Iraq without proving their reasons for war, someone needs to stand up and ask why.


Antoni Jaume 05.26.04 at 9:47 am

IIRC Kofi Annan was elected at the behest of the USA.



Peter Murphy 05.26.04 at 10:13 am

Cavanaugh’s article was good, but he was better when arguing with some Bush defenders in the article’s comments section:

Oh this is just too goddamn tiresome. Are you really going to pretend that there was no controversy over the troop levels, and that there is not abundant reason to believe that many uniformed commanders indicated they wanted more? Do you read the newspapers? Have you been awake for the past two years? Do you have an ounce of self-respect? What kind of man are you that you pretend you don’t see a Clintonian shuffle when it’s in front of your eyes? That you crawl on your belly to clean up every dropping your fearless leader lets fall?

Beautiful. Now THAT is WRITING. (And Mr. Cromer, I’m thinking of you.)


Matthew Cromer 05.26.04 at 3:52 pm

Yes, that is “writing”. We are in a war to prevent the detonation of Nukes in DC and NYC, and many people are “writing” (fiddling being out of favor these days).

I’d like to see A STRATEGIC VISION from the left on what they plan to do over the next 10-30 years to keep the nuclear attack from happening. Bush has laid his out there — it’s called transformation of the ME. Don’t like it — fine — what’s your plan? Don’t have one, do you.

BTW, peter, you asshole, I have a fistful of disagreements with Bush, but I know there is a war and I know which side I am on — and I am not trying to undermine the right side. You can go fuck yourself for calling me a shit eater. My friends died on September 11, and a lot more of them will die if we don’t fix the political and economic systems of the Middle East. Go do your “writing” while real men are fighting and dying for the civilization that allows you to exist.


Matthew Cromer 05.26.04 at 4:00 pm

Dave B, here are connections between Iraq and terrorism:

— paying Palestinian terrorists who blow up people (including Americans) in Israel.

— trying to assassinate the president of the US in 1993

— harboring Al Zarkawi and treating him for illness and injury

— harboring Abu Nidal

— Iraqi agent meeting with Mohammad Atta in Prague

— multiple connections with WTC bombing in 1993

The bigger connection is that places like Hussein’s Iraq create the conditions of economic and political failure that characterize the region. The plan is to replace and transform the regimes in the M.E. to drain the swamp which breeds terrorists. Iraq had some clear strategic advantages to be the next domino to fall after Afghanistan.


pepi 05.26.04 at 4:25 pm

“They do nothing except point fingers, cast blame, look for things to criticize, while never offering a solution to the problem.”

This is the second time I read this today.

When did people start forgetting about that the solving part is the job of the people who are in charge, while the “criticising” part – or just, you know, critically evaluating how that job gets done – is the job of the opposition, and more in general, of the whole voting public?

When did the concept of accountability start to become “pointing fingers”?


Paul 05.26.04 at 4:52 pm

it’s called transformation of the ME.

That’d be swell if A) the Middle East can be transformed, B) we don’t fuck up the attempt, and C) the attempt doesn’t bankrupt the US; (nevermind D) does “transformation” make us safer and more secure?)

Now A) is far from universally accepted as true while B) looks increasingly true everyday. The jury’s still on C, but only a fanatic would dispute the possiblity. And since there isn’t a plan for this transformation–just hope that after we bust Iraq in the nuts the rest of the region will shape up–D can only be guessed at.

This administration’s plan is to repeat “transformation” over and over while engaging in reckless and ill-advised military adventures, Keystone Kop-stylee. Mr. Cromer’s plan is to write angry comments on blogs (though some grief counseling might be a plan for him, too). My plan is to fire the current CEO and bring in a new one.


Nat Whilk 05.26.04 at 5:55 pm

Pepi wrote:

When did people start forgetting about that the solving part is the job of the people who are in charge, while the “criticising” part – or just, you know, critically evaluating how that job gets done – is the job of the opposition, and more in general, of the whole voting public?

I never started forgetting that because I never accepted it in the first place. Who says that those out of power oughtn’t present affirmative alternatives to policies they detest? Some of those out of power are asking us to put them in power. Shouldn’t we know what they’re for and not just what they’re against?


mccoll 05.26.04 at 6:05 pm

Polemicists participate in lefty and righty blogs all over the internet. For starters, let’s stop pretending about that little strawdog, shall we?

My plan for addressing the terrorist threat would begin with an orderly withdrawal from Iraq. The billions of dollars now being spent in that [q-word] could then be redirected to
1. Our large cities and ports of entry, which right now do not have anywhere near adequate funding to protect those living in and around those areas (e.g., Baltimore has received only a portion of what was promised by state and federal agencies)
2. Programs directly related to ensuring that all containers entering the U.S. are secure. Right now, approximately 3% of shipping containers entering our country are examined.
3. The rebuilding of our military infrastructure and the institution of a draft so that we can have the military might to respond to international terrorist threats. Right now our military is stretched so thin that I shudder to think of what would happen should another major attack happen on U.S. soil.

This is is just a beginning. We can point fingers all day about how we got here. It is clear from recent reports about the strength of Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations around the world that attempts to stop terrorism at the source has been less than effective. What I want from my leaders right now is a set of strong security measures that make Americans safer now, not some distant world revision that may or may not blow up directly in our faces.


Matt Weiner 05.26.04 at 6:42 pm

I would also respectfully suggest that if we were in a war to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in the US, we would have not have sat on our hands ignoring N. Korea’s plutonium processing activities for the past few years. I don’t think there was any satisfactory solution–my favored one was basically appeasement–but the fact that N. Korea has now apparently finished processing enough plutonium for six to eight bombs, and was apparently able to ship uranium to Libya undetected, indicates that there are much bigger threats from there than anything Saddam could’ve dreamed of in this time frame.


jdw 05.26.04 at 7:17 pm


Why would you advocate withdrawing from Iraq _and_ expanding the military? Either the solution to terrorism is conquest and nation building, or it isn’t; if it is, then we ought to do Iraq up right rather than any sort of withdrawal, no matter how orderly — unless the plan is to prompt a civil war there to keep the terrorists occupied for the next years or decade (which actually almost makes a perverse kind of sense).

If we want a stable, relatively liberal government in Iraq, I don’t see how we could have it without maintaining a military presence to guarantee it, for at least the next several years. In any case, there’s no one to deter, so the only use for a large military is to use it — would the point be to pull out of Iraq and give this thing another try somewhere else? If we practice enough, we might get good at it.

And if conquest isn’t the way to end terrorism, there’s no reason to have a large military at all.


mccoll 05.26.04 at 8:41 pm

To respond to jdw: Conquest is not the solution to terrorism, yet there are other reasons to have a strong military. It is not the case that the only use for a strong military is conquest. For example, two of the main missions of the Coast Guard is to provide national defense and maritime security. I’d like a stronger Coast Guard.

I honestly don’t believe that we can create a stable, relatively liberal government in Iraq, and I think that American efforts to do so are not worth the likely outcome. To try to create democracy in Iraq is to divert finite resources away from the U.S.’s more important concern: the safety of Americans at home.


mccoll 05.26.04 at 8:48 pm

An addendum: to learn more about the vulnerability of America’s ports, see William Langewiesche’s article “Anarchy at Sea” in the September 2003 Atlantic Monthly.


jdw 05.26.04 at 9:23 pm


You want to bring back the draft to fill Coast Guard boats? I’m dumbfounded.

Al Qaeda is not waiting with troop transports at the mouth of the Mississippi. Expanding the Coast Guard is one thing, but it seems to me what you’re advocating is very different. If we need appreciably more people in the military, it can only be to wage war — it’s not like we’re 100,000 men short of guarding our ports.

I guess I’m mostly confused by the apparent eagerness to bring back the draft, particularly among Democrats. I’m not sure if it’s a scare tactic, or a desire to move to the right of Bush, but it looks like a death-wish.


mccoll 05.26.04 at 10:01 pm

Yep, put ’em all in boats. Seriously, jdw, the example of the Coast Guard is one of many possible that illustrates that the desire to have a strong military does not equal imperialist goals. One major weakness in the defense of our borders is the fact that shipping containers entering the U.S. are not regularly inspected. Pirates and legitimate companies both routinely break international maritime shipping laws, but the U.S. is not yet capable of addressing the dangers this widely known fact poses. You can laugh about the fantasy of terrorists poling up Ol’ Man River on rafts, but the issue of port security is a real one. Imagine what you could fit in a steel-box cargo container measuring 8′ x 20′, a standard size.

People of both parties are advocating military conscription for many reasons. One is that it’s not so easy to send military forces into a sovereign country for dubious reasons if those forces are made up in part by the sons and daughters of the wealthy and powerful.


jdw 05.26.04 at 10:25 pm

I guess my confusion is twofold: why would you use the military to expand the ranks of postal inspectors, border guards, etc., and why would anyone think that a conscript army makes aggressive war less likely? Using the military for non-military purposes seems inefficient — do we really want a box-checking brigade, rather than more box-checkers?

And the idea that making the military larger and more powerful will somehow make the government less willing to embark on adventures abroad just seems so willfully insensible that I don’t understand how anyone could believe it. Military families are not generally pacifists. If you want to make the government less likely to wage war — I’m thinking outside the box, here — you shrink the military. If you want it to wage more war, you grow it. How the hell did we reach the point where that needs to be said?


Phill 05.26.04 at 10:46 pm

Mr Crommer,

You appear to be unaware that the allegations concerning the UN food for oil program came exclusively from Mr Chalabai. He has repeatedly refused to allow even the US to examine the evidence he claims to have found.

In other words your attempt to present yourself as an expert in this area and left wingers as ignorant results in you repeating yet another line from Chalabai.

Given that you are parroting Chalabai propaganda even after he has been exposed as an Iranian agent it is clear you have not got a clue where the information you rely on comes from.

Like Bush you fail to distinguish between Saddam’s use of terrorism tactics and support for Al Qaeda. This is ignorant and deceptive. Bin Laden is a religious Sunni nut, as such he regards Saddam as an appostate. The fact is that as Richard Clarke observes, Saddam abandonded use of terrorist tactics after Clinton launched missile strikes in 1993. The other claims you make are completely unsubstantiated with the sole exception of ‘harboring’ Abu Nidal. You fail to mention that Saddam had Abu Nidal liquidated shortly after 9/11


vernaculo 05.26.04 at 10:56 pm

Matthew Cromer-

“The leftists don’t seem to have any plan, or even to really recognize the threat and the fact that militant Islam is at war with us, has been for 25 years, and must be utterly defeated for us to be safe.
If there is some other plan, if the professional complainers on the left have something to offer to make me and my family and the economy safe from nuclear attack, I’d be glad to listen.”

This may astonish you, but I am an American, and by my own lights a Christian, and I am not at war with militant Islam, nor do I consider militant Islam to be at war with me. Militant Islam is at war with you, sir, you and your band of cowardly thugs, and you’re hiding behind the rest of us, pretending we’re all in this together.
Which, because of your cowardice and treachery, we are. Like in a bar fight, where the instigating drunk retreats to the safety of his companions.
I’d also remind you that there’s more at risk here than you, your family, and the economy. There is, for instance, my family.
You are the cause of your own peril, and ours. And in order for us to be truly safe, and retain our integrity, it’s you and your blindly selfish ilk that must be stopped.
As far as solutions, the first and most important is to remove the duplicitous and incompetent scum from the wheelhouse while we still have a chance to, and then to as rationally and humanely as possible, with strength and honesty, address the real issues here.
Which are not the reactions of pain-crazed Islamic fundamentalists, but the arrogant sociopathy of Judeo-Christian fundamentalists and Godless capitalists.
Cowardly bleating will not suffice, and treachery is always error. The solution I’d put forward, and many other Christian Americans would also, is to stop allowing delusional villains to pretend they speak for the rest of us; and then to begin the most difficult labor of forgiveness and acceptance, a tradition that supersedes the current bastardizations of both Jewish and Christian religious practice.


robbo 05.27.04 at 3:12 am

Patriotic Republicans relentlessly ridiculed and worked fetishistically to undermine just about every one of Clinton’s foreign policy decision that involved the military. The current Republican Congress goes to great lengths to shut out Democratic voices and influence. That’s why it’s amusing to see some great thinkers here suggesting that Republicans would entertain cogent arguments and workable solutions to the Middle East’s problems if only Democrats would set them on the table.

You got everything you demanded concerning Iraq, before and after the invasion, and you ignored and derided our ideas when they would have mattered. The only question now is whether junior will flame out worse than his daddy did. I guess a corrollary is whether he’ll manage to take the rest of us with him as part of his Armageddon vision-quest. Glad you feel “safer” now. Rubes.


Peter Murphy 05.27.04 at 5:13 am


Think about it. If Bush had stopped with Afghanistan, and given Iraq a miss – he would currently be in the high 60’s in the polls, if not the 80s. His international reputation would be intact. Practically every important country in the World knew that Al Qaeda was a menace, and had to be stopped. You even had those perfidious Frenchies on side. :-) (As far as I know, they still have troops in the country under UN auspices.) And nobody – Kerry, Dean, or any other Democratic candidate you could name – could touch him in the 2004 election.

Instead, Bush launched a pre-emptive war with dubious grounds: those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction – the ones that seem to have gone missing, if they hadn’t already been destroyed. Not only that, him and his team of handlers argued that these weapons could be launched with only “minutes” of warning – not the “10-30 years” argued by yourself. In retrospect, it seems to be one big fib, with lashings of PR and spin.

And to answer your question, I know what SIDE I am on. I think Western Civilization is pretty good, and I want it in good health for the next fifty years, if not the next hundred. Taken that as given, why launch a preemptive war that has fissured it down the middle, made its key player (the US) look malevolent, if not incompetent, and hobble some of the institutions like NATO that held it together. And with the current revelations concerning Mr. Chalabai, it looked like Iran played the Bush administration like a bitch. Yes, a lot of “real men” (and women, remember?) are fighting and dying at the moment. Unfortunately, they seem to be dying less for civilization that for Halliburton. And over the objections of many of their superiors in uniform.

Matthew, I don’t think you know what side you are on, beyond “against leftists”. A shame, but it seems to allow you to namecall the Crooked Timber ensemble (which covers all sorts of persuasions) and Tim Cavanaugh (who is actually a libertarian) with the perjorative of “leftist”. Am I correct in thinking you assume everyone against the war is “left” (not withstanding the fact that there are many small “c” conservatives against it), and that everyone for the war is “right”? Simplistic, I know, but it seems to explain you pretty well. I just hope that you outgrow this childish “left” vs. “right” dichotomy one day. Most of us do. The problem with it is that people you assume are on YOUR side turn out to be just on THEIR side, and they’ll sell you down the river for a couple of kopeks once it is profitable.

(As for Kerry: yes, he may be a jellyfish. But Bush’s record as president has been so utterly appalling that one can reason invertebrates can’t make it any worse.)

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