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Eliot Cohen has second thoughts
July 11, 2005 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Eliot A. Cohen has second thoughts on the Iraq war. Cohen is a neoconservative, and a member of the Project for a New American Century; he's the author of Supreme Command; and he has a son going to Iraq as an infantry officer. Via Belgravia Dispatch and Brad DeLong.
posted by russilwvong (50 comments total)

 
Hmm...
posted by delmoi at 12:46 PM on July 11, 2005


Very much follows my line of thinking. Although I didn't take for granted that the post-invasion would be managed well and expected some corporate corruption. But to be fair I don't think anyone not planning to loot the place thought it would turn into what it is.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:51 PM on July 11, 2005


But to be fair I don't think anyone not planning to loot the place thought it would turn into what it is.

Really? Why do you think all those people were saying 'quagmire' before it began?
posted by belling at 12:58 PM on July 11, 2005


I don't see his second thoughts about the war. He still considers President Bush a great man with strong convictions who made the right decision. He still believes in the rationale for the war. The issues he has are with the application of the Bush policies, and he blames the military for not carrying out the objectives properly. This isn't an interview of someone whose opinions have changed because his son's life is being put at risk, but rather an interview of a father with concerns for his son's safety. I wish his son, and all our troops all the best and a safe tour. Cohen, on the other hand, is entitled to the ulcers he gets worrying.
posted by Eekacat at 1:00 PM on July 11, 2005


I hope his son makes it through it OK, and is back in America fishing, or whatever is gig is, soon.
As I wish for all of the soldiers.
I wish the civilian command would pull their heads out of their asses much like this father did as soon as possible.
We'll wait to see how that goes.

And what Eekacat said.
posted by Balisong at 1:04 PM on July 11, 2005


what I took to be the basic rationale for the war still strikes me as sound. Iraq was a policy problem that we could evade in words but not escape in reality.

So post 9-11 the biggest 'policy problem' that we as a nation had was a cantankerous dictator who had pretty much been pounded into containment 10 years earlier? The only reason Iraq is now a bad idea is because it's not going as the spoiled brats in the administration planned? Come on.
posted by spicynuts at 1:04 PM on July 11, 2005


[I have] disdain for the general who thinks Job One is simply whacking the bad guys and who, ever conscious of public relations, cannot admit that American soldiers have tortured prisoners or, in panic, killed innocent civilians. Contempt for the ghoulish glee of some who think they were right in opposing the war, and for the blithe disregard of the bungles by some who think they were right in favoring it.

Wise, wise words.

I always thought all the focus of PNAC as conspirators in the Iraq war was over-hyped. At core, I agreed with their recommendation that we need a more mobile military. What they were really arguing was that Total Wars were outdated and that we were spending too much money on bulky Cold War machines. It alluded that a war in Iraq was very likely, and it was even under Clinton. At core was Rumsfeld's vision of "force transformation," wherein we try to make most of our armed forces as quick and deadly as the 101st and 82nd.
posted by trinarian at 1:05 PM on July 11, 2005


You mean hawks get less hawkish once they realize that their children are involved in wars? Stop the presses!

It's interesting how he brings up one of the "side benefits" of the war -- the possibility of moving US troops out of Saudi Arabia, and brings up the name of Osama bin Laden in that context. One has to wonder if the neocons realize that moving the US out of SA means pretty much conceding one of OBL's long-standing demands. At the very least it's an inauspicious move in the "war on terror".

One paragraph seems particularly interesting:
More than this: Decades of American policy had hoped to achieve stability in the Middle East by relying on accommodating thugs and kleptocrats to maintain order. That policy, too, had failed; it was the well-educated children of our client regimes who leveled the Twin Towers, after all.
Has a neocon finally broken down and admitted that Saudi Arabia is ruled by thugs and kleptocrats basically kept afloat on little besides US policy? Wow. They'll probably revoke his "Weekly Standard" subscription for that.
posted by clevershark at 1:10 PM on July 11, 2005


cockamamie schemes

operative words, ahoy!
posted by telstar at 1:10 PM on July 11, 2005


Eekacat : If things went flawlessly, and I never once thought they would, Bush's utopian vision would have completely changed things. Had we rolled in and the Iraqi military surrendered in the numbers they did in '91, had we been welcomes as liberators, had the Iranians not already done more post-War planning and leadership building than we had done, had the Iraqi population stood stronger against the insurgency... had all these things happened and a liberal democracy got off the ground, it would have caused a revolution. We could have moved out the massive troop presence out of Saudi Arabia and kept one or two airbases in Iraq for regional special ops and force projection.

But, alas...

I argued from day one that though most Iraqis hated Saddam, they don't love us. Mogadishu and Beirut should have taught us noble intentions mean jack shit. Foreign policy can’t be based on either dreaming or “I told you so.”

posted by trinarian at 1:13 PM on July 11, 2005


I wish his son well too. I wish all the soldiers serving in this farcical war well and hope they all come home intact, both body and mind.

That said, his article appears to try and find rationalizations for the war because the public reason was and is bunkum.

Also, I truly hate his style of writing. I don't know how his condescension comes through so clearly but I hate reading stuff that feels like lecturing.
posted by fenriq at 1:14 PM on July 11, 2005


I think that it's super that this guy bent over backwards to pull his head out of his ass and level with us for a few minutes.

I hope his kid doesn't die in the war he helped to start.
posted by illuminatus at 1:18 PM on July 11, 2005


trinarian writes "I always thought all the focus of PNAC as conspirators in the Iraq war was over-hyped. "

It's not really a conspiracy if it's out in the open, you know.

Those guys have been pushing for an invasion of Iraq since 1998 -- over 5 years before the actual invasion of Iraq. You'd think they would have had a better grasp of the situation and been able to draw better plans, especially considering that Donald Rumsfeld was also a signatory to the famous letter.

Mr. Cohen seems to be going to rather great lengths to *not* question himself, but rather question everything and everyone else.
posted by clevershark at 1:18 PM on July 11, 2005


clevershark: Both the Bushes and Clinton supported the kleptocratic House of Saud. It doesn't take very much digging to figure out why... they were friendly and relatively well behaved in a very rough neighborhood. It's not a very hard political calculation to keep a friendly government in control over the lifeblood of your economy. Rather them than any other Wahhabi hacks in the country.

Wouldn't it be nice, with gas already at $2.50/gallon, for their to be serious discussion within OPEC of, "perhaps we should demand a full US withdrawal from Iraq and naval presence in the Persian Gulf or we cut production 75%."
posted by trinarian at 1:21 PM on July 11, 2005


clevershark: I had only read "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century," a document everyone was pointing to a few years ago. You're right, that letter is pretty specific though I would counter it's language is not far removed from Clinton's stated policy and seemed merely to match his words with deed.

My point is that before 2002, removing Saddam militarily was openly talked about within both parties. I applaud the Democrats for ultimately backing down because of the sheer lunacy of it all, but they were talking a lot of shit before the ships started sailing.
posted by trinarian at 1:29 PM on July 11, 2005


Two years ago I was a neocon. I supported Bush’s war on Iraq and I called everyone who didn’t a liberal Kool-aid drinker. I voted for Bush in 2000 and I listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and just about any right-winger on the radio that I could get a four-word talking point from to use against liberals. I would say things such as "liberals won’t defend America," "shut up and sing," "freedom is on the march," and "you’re a great American." I supported the war at first because I bought into the lies and propaganda.

I no longer do. I’m a recovering neocon.

The fact is, the neocon movement is a lot like a cult. I don’t remember how I got so involved and the details are hazy on how I got out. I just woke up one day and said "WTF!" and then ran outside to rip the "bring it on" sticker off of my car bumper. What pulled me in to the neocon cult however was a combination of American nationalism and group mentality. It was a time when questioning the government’s response to Iraq divided you between being with your country and government at a time of need, or against them. I wanted to be with them.


I Used To Be a Neocon
posted by y2karl at 1:35 PM on July 11, 2005


Rather than fretting about support at home, let them show themselves dedicated to waging and winning a strange kind of war and describing it as it is, candidly and in detail. Then the American people will give them all the support they need.

He may very well be right about this. I think support for the war is waning in no small part because of the wide gap between the perceived truth about the war and what the public hears from the administration and perhaps even more importantly how the administration seems to be incapable of taking responsibility for its mistakes and correcting them.
posted by caddis at 1:39 PM on July 11, 2005


Contempt for the ghoulish glee of some who think they were right in opposing the war...

I've seen plenty of snarky I-told-you-so type comments about the way the war has been going, but I don't recall any war critics writing, speaking, or acting in a way that I would consider gleeful over the mounting casualities.

Have I just missed it? Are there pundits on TV saying things like "12 more US Marines died in a car bombing today... and I'M GLAD! Mwahahaha!"? Are there even water-cooler chats that go this way?

Or is there (as I suspect) some projection at work here?
posted by Western Infidels at 1:40 PM on July 11, 2005


Nice link y2karl. I think the cult is bigger than just the neocons. It extends to a huge anti-liberal machine in which people define themselves by their dislike of liberals, and employ easy answer catch phrases like "liberals hate America," and "liberals are weak on crime, terror, morals, etc." If liberals are bad and you are not a liberal then you must be . . . ? The feel good aspect of bashing another group, like racism, can be a powerful magnet, especially for the weak and scared who seek simple answers to complex questions.
posted by caddis at 1:55 PM on July 11, 2005


once they realize that their children are involved

What do you mean "they?" This is the first neocon war booster I've *heard* of who has a kid serving in the war. Most of them haven't got any such stake in the thing. One of the most shocking through-the-looking-glass things in this whole shabby affair is that the civilians in charge of this war have mostly never served, and mostly don't have kids who are serving. Ironically, it's the anti-war dems who have distinguished combat service records, which seems to be a reason for the repubs to try to destroy them (think Cleland, Kerry, and Rangel). Chickenhawk punks are ordering other peoples' kids to fight. So one of them finally puts his kid where his mouth is (was) and NOW he changes his mind. Lovely. I bet about 1800 other dads would like to kick him in the ass right about now.
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:05 PM on July 11, 2005


caddis writes "It extends to a huge anti-liberal machine in which people define themselves by their dislike of liberals"

The funny thing is, that this first came to the forefront when the elder George Bush was running for office against Dukakis in 1988... that's when "liberal" became just "the l word" in American politics. Of course that was before the TV show decided to reclaim the expression.
posted by clevershark at 2:06 PM on July 11, 2005


I think the cult is bigger than just the neocons. ... The feel good aspect of bashing another group, like racism, can be a powerful magnet, especially for the weak and scared who seek simple answers to complex questions.

An interesting self-validating statement. By your logic the fact that the "other side" allegedly bashes others makes them "weak and scared", but it's okay to bash them as being a "cult" since you're right?

In other words, you just proved yourself to be "weak and scared" by your own logic.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 2:10 PM on July 11, 2005


trinarian: You're right on what policy should be based on, not just foriegn policy. The problem is that people don't question their own party on either side. Rather than looking for the right answers it's become about the little letter behind your name designating your affiliation. A battle of ideologies rather than a discussion searching for right or wrong, good policy and bad. My comment regarding Cohen above has absolutely nothing to do with politics or if the policy in Iraq ultimately was correct, but rather why wasn't he asking these questions before?
posted by Eekacat at 2:55 PM on July 11, 2005


2008.
posted by nervousfritz at 2:57 PM on July 11, 2005


Your logic is flawed devil, as not all bashers are weak and scared. Further, the only members of the cult are those who define themselves by their hatred of liberals, not all conservatives (the "other side"). However, I will admit that this kind of behavior is not limited to conservatives alone; many a liberal defines themselves by their hatred of conservatives, and it is just as pathetic.
posted by caddis at 3:16 PM on July 11, 2005


"Really? Why do you think all those people were saying 'quagmire' before it began?"

Really, belling.
I was alluding to the cornholing of the American taxpayer by the administration pimping for the MI corporations.
I believed it would be a strike hard and fade op. Whether we were successful in removing Saddam or not. Whether we found WMDs or not.
This faith was grounded in the common sense of self-preservation. Much like you trust your mechanic not to plow snow with your Ferrari, I trusted the Admin to have the basic intelligence not to needlessly run our military - designed for containment and lightning strikes, like a WWII occupation force. I was wrong.
It was this that lead to the quagmire, not the other way around.

I still believe we need to safeguard our energy futures. But again, I didn't think "they" would sell out for short term gains what could eventually result in the deaths of billions if not the entire world.
It was this "WMD" misdirection that led me to believe they were, at the very least, considering it as a factor. That is - they knew that there was a high probability that other countries and groups would base their pursuit of WMD programs based on what occured in Iraq.

Apparently not so much.

So now, or 20 years from now, we face the blowback of what's happening there. Someone else is going to have to clean up that mess. It could well be nuclear.
I didn't believe anyone was crazy enough to put the whole world at risk - later - for the sake of some extra money now.
Think I'm overstating the case? WWIII was only narrowly averted many a time. Those ICBMS are still on hair trigger alert.
It's something that has to be dealt with and dealt with extreme deliberation. Some oil money fucks jerking the system around doesn't help any.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:24 PM on July 11, 2005


Eekacat: why wasn't he asking these questions before?: I think hawks, since Vietnam, have had a surrealist take on conflict that we lose because we don't dedicate enough resources. If only we had made Hanoi a little flatter, if only we had deployed half a million troops earlier, had we not slowed down bombing campaigns to bring Minh to the table...

I think this is an extension of that, except now it's "had we only planned better." While there's some validity to that, one of the foremost rules of war is flexibility. The way we're fighting the insurgency now changes every day because of evolving insurgent tactics. Truth be told, I think a lot of things could have been done differently and we'd still be in the same boat we are now. Firing generals isn't going to make the insurgency stop.

In fact, the opposite holds true. What would think of al Qeada if they started firing top commanders? Though Rumsfeld should have resigned, a mass firing of generals would have had the same effect as dismissing a cabinet - it shows a complete lack of confidence and destroys moral throughout the ranks. This is the one instance where Bush's thick-headedness will pay off. "Staying the course," isn't just the best option, it's our only real option. We fight until they lose.
posted by trinarian at 3:47 PM on July 11, 2005


Western Infidels: The "Glee" is an exaggeration of a certain truth. Though no one in America is happy to see body bags coming home, there is a certain feeling of validation that comes with it to that's impossible to show tactfully but still comes out here and there. Every suicide bombing, assassination, beheading, and IED is a small "I told you so..." for the antiwar left in the most polarized debate of our time. It's a zero-sum game, politics is. For every peaceful day without casualties and power outages is an "I told you so..." for hawks, wherein their policy is validated, and every normal day is one for us. It's horrible but true.
posted by trinarian at 3:54 PM on July 11, 2005


For every peaceful day without casualties and power outages is an "I told you so..." for hawks, wherein their policy is validated, ...

Has there been even one single day like that yet? And yet they still believe and are implementing their mistaken and deadly policy.

There's absolutely no glee or even happiness at all over this horrendous shit going on. None.at.all. There's disgust and anger and hatred and fear and repulsion and sadness. Every single dead and wounded person (ours or Iraqi) is condemning straight to Hell those who planned and implemented and led us into Iraq and who delusionally continue to "stay the course". It's not glee, honey, nor is it happiness, nor even satisfaction in being right.
posted by amberglow at 4:07 PM on July 11, 2005


We fight until they lose.

Or until next year's midterm elections, whichever comes first.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:12 PM on July 11, 2005


nor is it happiness, nor even satisfaction in being right.

certainly no, it's mostly horror and sadness and disgust. but when Galloway kicked major ass in Capitol Hill, then, for a single day at least, I admit there was some sort of temporary happiness.
posted by matteo at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2005


""Staying the course," isn't just the best option, it's our only real option. We fight until they lose.
posted by trinarian at 3:47 PM PST on July 11 [!]'

I agree with your comments, but I'm unsure of that last statement.
I'm not clear on what the goal is in Iraq. Nor am I clear as to what constitutes a win for our side or a true loss for...whoever it is we're supposed to be fighting.
I have seen little evidence that we're actually fighting al Qeida*. Or at least fighting them in any real way. I'd think that requires engagement.
Then again, I really don't care. They kill less people than a hurricane, car accidents, etc. etc.

I'd like to see gas prices go down, MPG standards go up, and research money poured into alternative fuel sources while we maintain enough control over enough petroleum to jump into that place.
For me that'd be a win.


*note: I intentionally misspell al Queida to reflect the continual inconsistancy in spelling in the press as well as the nebulous character of the umbrella group itself. Yeah. Dig it, man, I'm that deep.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:30 PM on July 11, 2005


We have no satisfaction in being right about Quagmire II. Utter sadness, for sure, as amberglow mentions. And utter contempt and disgust for those who supported (and still support, like mindless automatons) this bullshit little excursion.

It didn't take a genius to understand this was going to be Quagmire II, long before the invasion. Now, we'll reap the whirlwind.

For generations.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:37 PM on July 11, 2005


trinarian writes "This is the one instance where Bush's thick-headedness will pay off. 'Staying the course,' isn't just the best option, it's our only real option."

I (and others, I'm sure) think you're quite wrong about this. What will be accomplished by the continued reliance for short-term decisions on people who couldn't even take the right decisions when they were given the benefit of time?

Besides from what has been said on the subject it seems like the real problem at the Pentagon is the Secretary of Defense himself, who has not hesitated to override the judgement of experienced military leaders in order to impose a politically-motivated doctrine on the invasion -- it's well known that Rumsfeld kept pushing to involve less troops in Iraq than he was told by his Generals were needed to do the job. Never mind also that this whole clusterf*ck can be traced back pretty directly to Paul Wolfowitz and the other high-placed civilian chickenhawks at the Pentagon. He called for it in 92, again in 98, and he finally got what he wanted in 2003. Does that mean that he spent all this time studying the situation and making realistic plans? If he did, he's a lot less smart than he wants the world to know -- he's on record as stating publicly that Iraq would surely 'pay for its own reconstruction and quickly too.'

Frankly I really don't see how getting rid of Perle, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld for being incompetent bloody tossers (something they've not really failed to prove) would have caused a loss of morale. On the contrary, it would have given the chance for the top levels of the Pentagon to get staffed by people motivated by an understanding of military realities (generals) instead of Rapture fantasies and political fairy tales.
posted by clevershark at 4:54 PM on July 11, 2005


I didn't believe anyone was crazy enough to put the whole world at risk - later - for the sake of some extra money now.

Yeah, that was the problem. The fact that anybody who jumped up and down and said "we know it's not about WMD's and we know it's not about oil tomorrow, but they've had these plans for years! Won't somebody tell us what it's REALLY about?" Were dismissed as foil-hatters. And I understand why, sometimes. It seems like the most horrible excesses imagined by the conspiracy crowd are tame compared to what this is turning into.

I also found this guy to be a sanctimonious turd. His implications that everyone who opposed this war is pleased that it's turning into a nightmare is ridiculous. Whenever it comes up, people who predicted it are generally sad or angry, which are appropriate emotions in the face of a wholly avoidable tragedy.

That being said, the fact that someone on the neocon side now has a stake in this and is reversing his position is a big story. And it shows just how self-serving and fundamentally savage the neocon outlook is. Nowhere in this article did I see a clear statement that he would feel the same even if his son wasn't going. So then, it's perfectly okay for other people's kids to die. Just not one of mine.

But what I did not know then that I do know now is just how incompetent we would be at carrying out that task.

This really pissed me off. The PNAC report was produced specifically to retort all the reports from analysts who had, you know, been to war, saying that this was going to be a nightmare. If Cohen didn't know it was going to be a budding Vietnam then it's because he stuck his fingers in his ears and screamed "I'm not listening! I had lunch with Henry Kissenger and he said it would be okay!!!"

Still, I do hope this story makes some people reconsider their stance on this utter waste of American lives.
posted by lumpenprole at 6:43 PM on July 11, 2005


Oh yeah, and on second read this:

History provides perspective and context, not lessons.

WTF? That's jaw-dropping. History provides lessons, chum, and America is learning the risks of ignoring them.
posted by lumpenprole at 6:47 PM on July 11, 2005


I would counter it's language is not far removed from Clinton's stated policy and seemed merely to match his words with deed.

trinarian, surely you can recognize and appreciate the difference between a declaration of policy and the instigation of armed conflict. Belittling that difference with "merely" seems not only unthinking but inhuman.
posted by vetiver at 6:57 PM on July 11, 2005


That being said, the fact that someone on the neocon side now has a stake in this and is reversing his position is a big story

I don't think he's reversing his position at all. All's he's doing is whining about the massive failures of the occupation, not what the goals are/were.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:18 PM on July 11, 2005


This faith was grounded in the common sense of self-preservation.

There's your problem right there. You apparently believed Bush was acting for the safety of some immenent threat, and ignored all evidence to the contrary. Bush Sr. understood it clear enough: don't rock the fucking boat.

Much like you trust your mechanic not to plow snow with your Ferrari, I trusted the Admin to have the basic intelligence not to needlessly run our military - designed for containment and lightning strikes, like a WWII occupation force. I was wrong.

With the hubris this administration has demonstrated, and their stated intention to eliminate the political infrastructure of a country that could only laughably be described as "stable", what in the hell did you expect? You don't need Webster to spell it out for you.

History provides lessons, chum, and America is learning the risks of ignoring them.

I've always felt that history's lessons only serve the ones who make the mistakes. Like, your parents put their hands on a hot stove, burn themselves, and vow to themselves that you'll never suffer the way they did. And even though they're older, more intelligent and logical, you still have to touch the burner just to make sure...

This is why humanity is doomed. Cross-generational lessons don't hold.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:55 PM on July 11, 2005


i can't print here what is in my heart, it is to evil to say.
but knowing this has taught me at least one thing.
this war has changed my heart, made it less kind, and made me less willing to care about the fear and doubt of a man, who has sent his own son to die, for noble intentions .

even now that he begins to question his ideals, he only does so for personally reasons.
even now his ideals are informed by a basic belief that he and others cut from his cloth should have the right to reshape the world to their liking.

a reshaping that is and has been and will be drenched in blood.

the question he is finally asking him self is "is it worth it"
some of us who don't have a kid going to iraq , have already asked that question. some of us , ask that question because that question is our millstone.
posted by nola at 9:25 PM on July 11, 2005


Cross-generational lessons don't hold.

Nah, we learn lots of things permanently, even stuff we were not biologically wired to remember: calculus, relativity, etc. We will very slowly move politics towards engineering as our understanding of biology and psychology improves. It will just take an aweful lot of work (mostly scientific work, not political, all politics is transient).
posted by jeffburdges at 5:54 AM on July 12, 2005


" 'This faith was grounded in the common sense of self-preservation.'

There's your problem right there. You apparently believed Bush was acting for the safety of some immenent threat, and ignored all evidence to the contrary."

Civil_Disobedient - not true at all. I suspected the WMD chase was a front for going after the oil. In no way did I think there was an immenent threat. My position is that taking over the oilfields is a good idea for long term energy stability in the U.S.
What I believed was that the admin would not sacrifice the long term energy stability strategic plan and completely abandon the WMD front in favor of simply looting and squeezing money out of the country.

Reminds me of the idiot pioneers slaughtering millions of buffalo for fun.

The WMD thing was a useful facade either way. We COULD have said "Well, we thought they had them" - which we sort of did - but further said "We're going to shut down anyone we think has them"
and North Korea shit in our face.
So instead of falling back on our containment policy in Iraq, pulling out and jumping on N. Korea with both feet, we just sat there.
We haven't even denied they have nukes.

So the lesson to be learned, instead of "aquire WMDs and we destroy you" is instead "Aquire WMDs OR we'll destroy you."


"With the hubris this administration has demonstrated, and their stated intention to eliminate the political infrastructure of a country that could only laughably be described as "stable", what in the hell did you expect? "

I expect, with a room full of reasonable, judicious people, for no one to hand a loaded gun to a monkey.
Again - I'm speaking long term. Perhaps these older fucks think they can get theirs - suck all they can out of life and die before the shithouse goes up in flames. Perhaps they think the rapture is coming. I don't really know.
I simply didn't believe someone that crazy would get that high up and be listened to.
The axis in WWII were bent on world domination, not destruction. The European theater was eliminating certain undesirables not gearing up to destroy the whole world.

So to put a finer point on the 'mechanic & Ferrari' metaphor. I don't expect my mechanic to drive my Ferrari over a cliff with both of us in it simply because he seems to want to be the last one driving it.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:37 AM on July 12, 2005


sorry for my tardiness

amberglow and Matteo: I can't help but propose the opposite: what if we went in and found a "reconstituted nuclear program" complete with details plans inside one of those palaces for putting it on some oil ship and blowing it up on the Hudson. Not only that, but within months a stable and friendly democracy was formed. Unlikely, sure, but you'd be pissed even though we did a service to world security. I am confident that despite your righteous posturing, your mind is as sick as my own. Why else would we have a three day telethon watching over and over again the planes hit, the buildings smoke, the buildings fall. Again. And again. And again. There's a drive in all of us that perversely finds pleasure in horror (how else would it be one of the best selling genres in movies?). There IS satisfaction in knowing Bush is wrong and I believe to say otherwise is but dishonest posturing.


vetiver: Bush would never had been able to to what he did had Clinton not done what he did. There was nothing "unarmed" about Clinton's policy. Operation Desert Strike? Daily bombings on AA and radar facilities? Sustaining and reinforcing one of the most heavily armed borders in the world? Clinton said one day those troops in Saudi Arabia should role over the border. With his help, they did.


SmedleyManand Clevershark: Our goal in Iraq is clear, even if our strategy isn't. Keep a stable government in power and train local forces to take over security all the while destroying those who violently come in our path by killing "collaborators" and our troops. I don't see anything really debatable about this policy if you run the political calculations for the other "options." Complete withdrawel? Come on now... what's that going to turn Iraq into? Phased withrawel? OK, so you want to do what's already going to happen eventually... but add a concession of defeat by announcing it before victory. There is absolutely no political benefit Republicans are getting by keeping 150k troops in Iraq for two years. They want a massive, but not full, withdrawal even more quickly than Democrats do (it's their base their pissing off). However, being that they broke this here vase... we need to stay until we glued this shit back together.
posted by trinarian at 11:44 AM on July 12, 2005


SmedleyMan: Last I checked, Iraq has cost us just under half a trillion dollars so far... where have we "simply loot[ed] and squeez[ed] money out of the country"? I think if this was really about instant gratification, we'd have all 150k troops guarding the oil fields and pipelines instead of the city streets. Oil production today (1.9mb/d) isn't even at pre-war near-embargo levels (2.5mb/d), and half what they have been in the past (3.9mb/d in '79).

Interesting quote I once heard, "We don't want to steal their oil. We're more than willing to pay for it. We just want to make sure it flows."
posted by trinarian at 12:05 PM on July 12, 2005


There IS satisfaction in knowing Bush is wrong and I believe to say otherwise is but dishonest posturing.

You are projecting.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:08 PM on July 12, 2005


sonofsamiam: I know human nature, and I know civilized mans tendency to deny unwanted natural instincts. If it were just me, why the 36-hour loop of the WTC falling and ensuing panic? Why does rubbernecking exist? Why entire genres of music and movies based on horror? Thanatos, my friend, exists alongside libido. Destruction and creation, life and death, are horribly intertwined and inseparable. Most of us are never as offended by horror as we pretend.
posted by trinarian at 12:26 PM on July 12, 2005


"I don't see anything really debatable about this policy if you run the political calculations for the other "options." "

trinarian, man I’d love to play poker with you. Doesn’t matter what cards it looks like the other guy has, if you keep raising, you are winning. I love to play against that strategy.
The other "option" would be the "option" that was working just fine before we started putting boots on the ground. Smart sanctions (which were working despite Republican protestations, and surgical strikes. If necessary some low intensity combat.
It's called strategy. People in the miltary learn that very often it's necessary to have it. Strangely many politicians have strong feelings about pushing papers and making 'policies' which have no bearing on reality. Strategy drives outcome. It doesn't dictate the goal, but you have to determine what strategy is available to you in order to achieve that goal. Our military wasn't built to do what it is doing. Therefore strategy could....
Look - to use your term. If you don't have glue the vase isn't going to get fixed. No matter how many staples you use.
We could be there for 200 years for all I care, I'd like to see progession towards a real goal that benefits the United States.
I'm not seeing that. And I have no qualms about stealing their oil. As long as it is the United States, not certain corporations who have no real loyalties, which benefit from it.
Which brings me to the next point:

"where have we "simply loot[ed] and squeez[ed] money out of the country"? "

- er, we lost a few billon in cash...just lost it....theres... corporations are... haliburton is...
*collapses under weight of evidence*

“I think if this was really about instant gratification, we'd have all 150k troops guarding the oil fields and pipelines instead of the city streets...”

PMCs are...that's all they....what do you think the....
...never mind. If you don’t want to pay attention to current events, I’m not interested in educating you.
Anyway - who's "we" paleface?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:17 PM on July 12, 2005


Further rebuttle (from the logic of suicide terrorism post):

"In the 1970s and the 1980s, the United States secured its interest in oil without stationing a single combat soldier on the Arabian Peninsula. Instead, we formed an alliance with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which we can now do again. We relied on numerous aircraft carriers off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and naval air power now is more effective not less. We also built numerous military bases so that we could move large numbers of ground forces to the region quickly if a crisis emerged. That strategy, called “offshore balancing,” worked splendidly against Saddam Hussein in 1990 and is again our best strategy to secure our interest in oil while preventing the rise of more suicide terrorists."

Pretty much along the same lines as what I was saying. Bases for low intensity conflict, etc. etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:59 PM on July 12, 2005


Perhaps they think the rapture is coming. I don't really know.

I think you're on the right track... perhaps they think they can help bring it here sooner.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:21 PM on July 12, 2005


I also wish his son well, along with the others that the administration is sending to the latest version of an unwinable war. Perhaps if the other neocons had sons that faced the reality of war, they would think twice about the advisability of war to change societies like the Islamic society of Iraq.
The leadership failed to gain control of the former Iraqi military, and the vast dumps of ordnance that was left to supply the insurgents. A dumber start than we saw in the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Vietnam. The Brits started better in Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus etc, and the French in Algeria. But the result was, sooner or later, the same. The peoples of the these places want to run their own lives.
The worst comment from this person, on C-Span: "Perhaps because I am an American, I can't believe that there is any person out there who does not want to be 'free'". The various peoples of the world have many asperasions, only a few of which relate to "freedom", whatever that means to a neocon. Most societies are ordered by principles other than "freedom".
posted by wmackusmcr at 6:00 PM on July 31, 2005


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