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National Strategery for Victory in Iraq
November 30, 2005 8:05 AM   Subscribe

National Strategery for Victory in Iraq. Some might recommend having a strategy for victory before the war starts, but President Bush unveiled our National Stategy for Victory in Iraq (deconstructed here) today at another recitation of his "major speech" on Iraq at a captive audience at a military installation. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha (85 comments total)

 
We've made amazing progress. There was one trained battalion in September; "now more than 120 Iraqi army and police battalions are in the fight." (Or is it 95?) And ignore the casualties and 100 attacks a day; they're just "the metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use."

"The enemy is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists, and terrorists." Here are our goals:
  • Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
  • Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
  • Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:07 AM on November 30, 2005


Member of said captive audience.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:07 AM on November 30, 2005


Sadammists?

These Sadammists, they...
posted by geekgal at 8:08 AM on November 30, 2005


Yeah, I'm watching the speech now and it's just Bush talking about a few successes and not actually laying out a new course for anything. He seems to think that everything is going swimmingly and that there's no reason to actually have a plan.

This rings very very hollow when there are reports of dead soldiers on a daily basis.

This was an opportunity to actually come up with a plan that might turn Iraq into something other than a quagmire, but it's just more of the same.
posted by bshort at 8:09 AM on November 30, 2005


At least he didn't call them "Saddamites"....

Lord C, do dish. If you may. Always good to hear first-hand reports. How is the C-in-C regarded these days?
posted by lodurr at 8:10 AM on November 30, 2005


I can't wait until everyone opposed to the war starts getting called a "rejectionist".
posted by interrobang at 8:10 AM on November 30, 2005


Bush <- "Denialist"
posted by bshort at 8:13 AM on November 30, 2005


Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans, love the sting of battle. ... Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:19 AM on November 30, 2005


bshort: "This was an opportunity to actually come up with a plan that might turn Iraq into something other than a quagmire..."

Not in the slightest. At this point, no amount of vernacular manipulation and propaganda will change the fact that those opportunities were squandered a long time ago.

"...but it's just more of the same."

Agreed. It's all they can manage, hokey stage presentations and scripted events. It's amazing how hollow their words are with all of that blood on their hands.
posted by prostyle at 8:21 AM on November 30, 2005


"stay the course" in other words -- just like his father.

the GOP Congresspeople are scared shitless--watch for symbolic reductions anyway before the 06 elections. They've already been talking up the "progress" in training Iraqis.
posted by amberglow at 8:22 AM on November 30, 2005


National Strategery for Victory in Iraq?

Cut and run. Run like hell from this foreign policy disaster. Cheerleading and patience outlined by the president are not strategies - they are excuses for failure.

The only victory in Iraq has already been won: Saddam is deposed. Now, the US has but two choices: cut and run now (saving the lives of thousands of soldiers who have yet to die), or cut and run later (and letting those soldiers die in vain.)
posted by three blind mice at 8:22 AM on November 30, 2005


prostyle - Yeah, I didn't think they'd necessarily come up with an actual plan. I was hoping that they would show a little bit of competence for once.
posted by bshort at 8:26 AM on November 30, 2005


Listened to a good chunk of the speech on my way in to work. There are a couple of encouraging signs:

1) The President articulated clearly and unmistakably that those fighting against American troops in Iraq belong to a variety of groups with diverse aims. Only one -- the smallest group numerically -- is what we can accurately refer to as 'terrorists.'

2) The President acknowledged (whether intentionally or unintentionally) that his original understanding of Iraq and how it would look after the invasion was incorrect. While I'd like to see this discussed directly, it's at least cheering to see that the Administration and the military that it commands are capable of adapting.

3) A multitude of encouraging statistics regarding the development of Iraqi forces were mentioned. My concern is that we were told the same thing a year ago. In today's speech, the President said clearly that Iraqi police and military forces weren't ready a year ago. I'll leave it to the military wonks to dissect this stuff and figure out what's what.

4) The mention of a clear plan for victory being declassified and released to the public on Whitehouse.gov. This is also a uniformly good thing. Whether I and others agree that the particulars of the plan are realistic, the fact that it's defined in print and available to everyone is great. That's the way our government should work.

There are certainly other concerns that I have -- and major, fundamental showstopping misconceptions I think Bush still has about the war in Iraq and what it will accomplish -- but this is at least a move in the right direction in terms of discourse.
posted by verb at 8:33 AM on November 30, 2005


We've made amazing progress. There was one trained battalion in September; "now more than 120 Iraqi army and police battalions are in the fight."

That does not mean these battalions are ready to fight on their own without US support.
posted by caddis at 8:36 AM on November 30, 2005


Well, everyone claps because, well that's what we do. We clap for everyone.

Many of us are pro-Bush, but it's more of a vauge feeling than anything concrete. Even adamant supporters are admitting a certain haziness to it all. A sizable number question what we're doing and how will we know if we win or not. Quite a few admit the war was a mistake but that pulling out quickly will only be compounding it.

But of course this is under the radar and all. However, I so wish they would have made it a Q&A, though the SS would have probably shot me for endangering the Prez by asking non-cookbooked questions.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:40 AM on November 30, 2005


We've made amazing progress. There was one trained battalion in September; "now more than 120 Iraqi army and police battalions are in the fight."

That does not mean these battalions are ready to fight on their own without US support.



Does it even matter? It's the whole "Vietnamization" business over again, exactly the same. If there aren't "Iraqi forces" ready to fight without US support, it isn't because we're in the process of training them, it's because they don't want to fight a damn civil war. It's always presented to the US people as if it's a matter of training people to defend the rule of law and maintain a peace, but that's just a big lie. We won't ever find enough people to perform our occupation for us.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:41 AM on November 30, 2005


Wow, that quote tells us nothing, while actually looking impressive!

Why can't we have quotes that tell "things"?
posted by parallax7d at 8:43 AM on November 30, 2005


Verb: I'd honestly like to find something positive in this, but the only positive thing I can find is that they show the strategy including the idea of getting out, someday. The rest of it ranges from weasel-worded to delusional.

1: Yes, that's an important step. At least the "foreign fighter" nonsense is mostly gone.

3: These "statistics" aren't statistics, they're marketing rhetoric. I noticed this when I listened to the speech: He transitions from a defined metric (rating on the military's 4-point scale) to a vague, generalized status ("in the fight"). That's what you do when you have a crappy product and you want to rank it beside other products that really do more or do it much better -- you say things like "SuperDuperAppServ is competetive with Dynamo." So now, the President says 120 battalions are "in the fight". Well, what does "in the fight" mean? After all, everyone in that country is "in the fight"....

4: The plan is vague nonsense, and so it does no real good to anybody, except maybe the administration. (Though I doubt it does them all that much good.)
posted by lodurr at 8:45 AM on November 30, 2005


Bullet Points, not bodies.
posted by eriko at 8:48 AM on November 30, 2005


27 seconds:

The time it took President Bush to reference September 11 in this morning’s Iraq speech.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:48 AM on November 30, 2005


If there aren't "Iraqi forces" ready to fight without US support, it isn't because we're in the process of training them, it's because they don't want to fight a damn civil war.

You think that's why they aren't ready? I doubt it. In any event if we walk today, it's civil war tomorrow. We need an orderly transition out, and so far GW isn't offering that. He's offering a wait and see approach. If you do not set a definable time based goal you will wait a long time to reach your goal. I am not even sure that withdrawal of the troops is one of GW's goals. He still has visions of military bases in Iraq in perpetuity.
posted by caddis at 8:53 AM on November 30, 2005


... The more I think about this, the more I conclude that we should take Murtha's proposal seriously. Without a hard withdrawal target, we'll just dick around endlessly, breeding more and more terrorists every day.

There's a cost to letting go and letting the chips fall. But how does that cost stack up against the cost of staying and breeding more and more resentment and hatred against the US and "western" ideas? Well, I suppose it could stack up pretty well if you're a corporate interest, or if your goal is the satisfaction of some pure ideological ideal. While the Bushite regime is in power, the only real hope of getting out with any speed is if corporate interests decide that they have a better shot at exploiting Iraq with the soldiers out of the way, and I just don't see that happening.

The currently likely democratic opponents to the president aren't likely to be much more likely to pull out, frankly. The rhetoric will change. They'll talk about staying in for the good of the country, and protecting the forces of reconstruction.

Feh, I am in a bad mood about this all of a sudden...
posted by lodurr at 8:55 AM on November 30, 2005


Our country is so far in debt. this war is basically being financed by the forgein countries (Saudi Arabia, China, etc) we keep borrowing money from.
Our president is using Federal T-bills like a credit card to the tune of a billion a week to keep his war mashine going.
Just seems like like the money would be better spent here at home on our own crumbling infrastructure read : the entire gulf coast!
posted by differential dude at 8:56 AM on November 30, 2005


lodurr:

I'm reading the document now, and my enthusiasm (as muted as it was earlier) is waning. Just a reprint of his speech -- which was fine for a speech but downright shitty for a strategy.

I still stand by my statement that the distinction between different types of fighters is a Good Thing(tm). At least with the President on record now, the slavering drones won't be able to call me a tur'rist sympathizer when I mention that there are actually different ideologies and factions at play.

Regarding the third point, well... yes. That's the problem. IF they mean what they imply (and that's a huge if) it's good news. They'll certainly be trumpeted as 'news of victory' by conservative war-supporters. My concern is that it's precisely the same stuff we were told a year ago. We're now informed that the year-ago numbers were baseless and left to trust that the new numbers are The Real Good News.

Regarding the fourth point, I do think this is great. The fact that the Administration has presented this piece of fluff as Its Grand Plan For Victory is precisely the sort of acknowledgement I've been hoping for: There is no substantial plan for Iraq, and there is no clearly defined way of measuring our progress, just hollow catch-phrases that can be interpereted however the reader wishes.

I think an even more fundamental problem, though, is a statement that Bush slipped in without any objections: "We all know that free societies are peaceful societies." That's tripe. Anyone who thinks it's a statement of truth would be advised to look at the book World On Fire and study, oh, say, Russia.
posted by verb at 8:57 AM on November 30, 2005


You'd think that the President of the United States could afford to hire a speech coach.

That man is the worst public speaker I've ever seen.
posted by bshort at 9:05 AM on November 30, 2005


I was thinking this morning about what the vibe in the audience was like - so it's great to find a fellow MeFi member who was there. While I don't mean to put the Lord Chancellor on the spot, I'm still a bit curious.

Obviously one has to applaud when the President is there, and sing along with the Navy fight song. But what was the reaction to the bullet points? Were there some who remained silent and impassive? Were there others who would have questioned the President had there been an opportunity?

To what extent do people in the military see through this sort of staged display? I'm reminded of the heavily scripted "roundtable" with American troops and a single Iraqi that took place a few months ago. The stagecraft was so utterly apparent that the administration was forced into some serious damage control.

Were I serving in the armed forces (and I'm grateful to those that do so I don't have to) I'd feel a bit used.
posted by aladfar at 9:07 AM on November 30, 2005


That man is the worst public speaker I've ever seen.

Yeah, that certainly seems to be the consensus.

Well, the bright side is, at least he recognizes the problem even if his solution is near useless. Not much of a light though.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:08 AM on November 30, 2005


Oh, many of us feel somewhat whored out of political purposes. Um, we like singing the Navy Fight song. It's fun. We like hearing that we're doing good; doesn't everyone. But past that, it gets murky. Many were like "What is he telling us." and the fact that it was a canned speech that has little to do with us was very noticable to most. Doesn't mean that all the midshipmen were against it, just that they can tell.

We are respectful; that's what we do, regardless of the occupant of office, and there are many Bush supporters, but it's really starting to strain creditability for us.

During the speech, he would end his sentences loudly and pronounced to make it known that we were to clap. Sometimes we didn't, but more because we didn't understand why would should. We clap though. I golf clapped, if only to keep up appearances, but like many, my heart wasn't in it.

If they would have opened it up to questions, we would hav e torn him a new one, even if we didn't mean to. There are plenty that are politically curious and trained, and they ask questions, even to the best. Richard Armitage came to speak to us earlier this year and many leaped on. However, at least Armitage had a certain sense of . . . verbal dexterity. Midshipmen, however supportive, can be downright blunt, and they can sense when questions aren't being answered.

But alas, it was not so. I feel dirty now.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:16 AM on November 30, 2005


Obviously one has to applaud when the President is there

Um, really!?!

What would the consequences be if one where to refrain from clapping - honestly, because I have no idea in regards to these matters?

I'm assuming the Lord is in the services or similar so would there be ramifications if you showed your dissaproval by staying silent? That strikes me as extremely bizarre.
posted by twistedonion at 9:22 AM on November 30, 2005


Lord, do you guys ever wonder why he only speaks with you guys in the audience? feel used?
posted by amberglow at 9:24 AM on November 30, 2005


Lord C, I suppose it's a bit of a derail, but what was it like with Armitage? How did he deal with the questions? (I ask because I read Against All Enemies a little over the past holiday and Clark takes positive relish therein in recounting Armitage's rather salty language.)
posted by lodurr at 9:28 AM on November 30, 2005


I like how these guys keep having new elections every few months, so we can say "Look, they have democracy!" I think it would get kind of annoying.
posted by delmoi at 9:29 AM on November 30, 2005


I love it...just because some Iraqi doesn't like what the US is doing in Iraq they are now the enemy.

Fuck that and fuck all you wankers who voted for this gobshite.
posted by bouncebounce at 9:33 AM on November 30, 2005


We set it up that way, delmoi---the administration made sure to have pr things to show us every so often--as benchmarks of the "progress"
posted by amberglow at 9:41 AM on November 30, 2005


Lord C, as I listened to the speech, I was holding out hope that one, just one of the appropriately brainwashed and suitably cowed dissenters among the troops--and there must be many in a crowd that size--would have the courage to shout out "Sir, you are a liar!" at a perfect moment.

Yes, he would be carted off quickly, yes his career and his immediate health would be in jeopardy, but he could be the one to finally voice what so many of his comrades are thinking, and the one to start the domino effect that would unravel what veneer of support for this occupation that remains.

I'm not blaming you for not making an outburst. I am curious, though, about why there isn't that sort of courage among so many of the hearts that are ready to sacrifice everything for their country. Doesn't any one soldier recognize the kind of long-term good that could be accomplished with a single act of defiance?
posted by squirrel at 9:44 AM on November 30, 2005


Ah, but wait: you merely golf clapped. Way to stick it to the man.
posted by squirrel at 9:48 AM on November 30, 2005


Thanks for the ringside view, Lord Chancellor.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:50 AM on November 30, 2005


In the December 2005 Atlantic, James Fallows says Iraq has no army (subscriber link) and isn't even close to having one:
Early this year the American-led training command shifted its emphasis from simple head counts of Iraqi troops to an assessment of unit readiness based on a four-part classification scheme. Level 1, the highest, was for "fully capable" units--those that could plan, execute, and maintain counterinsurgency operations with no help whatsoever. Last summer Pentagon officials said that three Iraqi units, out of a total of 150 police and army battalions, had reached this level. In September the U.S. military commander in Iraq, Army General George Casey, lowered that estimate to one.

Level 2 was for "capable" units, which can fight against insurgents as long as the United States provides operational assistance (air support, logistics, communications, and so on). Marine General Peter Pace, who is now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last summer that just under one third of Iraqi army units had reached this level. A few more had by fall. Level 3, for "partially capable" units, included those that could provide extra manpower in efforts planned, led, supplied, and sustained by Americans. The remaining two thirds of Iraqi army units, and half the police, were in this category. Level 4, "incapable" units, were those that were of no help whatsoever in fighting the insurgency. Half of all police units were so classified.

In short, if American troops disappeared tomorrow, Iraq would have essentially no independent security force. Half its policemen would be considered worthless, and the other half would depend on external help for organization, direction, support. Two thirds of the army would be in the same dependent position, and even the better-prepared one third would suffer significant limitations without foreign help.
(Excerpt; NPR interview.)

Thanks for your service to the country, Lord Chancellor (and thanks for the inside scoop).

p.s. Excellent Patton quote from TheJesseHelms.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:52 AM on November 30, 2005


squirrel, consider that the audience was more than mere service members: It was Annapolis midshipmen. In a real sense, they are members of an elite, and they know it. It's hard to get into Annapolis. You have to work to get there; admissions are pretty self-selecting. You get a population who is interested in a military life, whatever that means to them. You have to work to stay there. One thing that they must all share to get past their first year is a willingness to become part of a cohesive unit. They train day and night, even if only by absorbing the example of their leaders and classmates, to become part of a unit.

It's entirely right to expect people to act on their conscience; but I think it's naive to expect midshipmen to be willing to sacrifice not just their career, but let's be fair, their ideals, to do something like what you suggest. This isn't simple pragmatic "don't stand out" "go along to get along" behavior; there's more to it than that.

I also think it's a bit unfair to cast it in terms of courage. Courage and cowardice are not the only dimensions of moral choice.

From what I've been able to learn, our service academies work hard at moral education, because on balance that's ultimately how you get soldiers and sailors to be loyal to one another and to their country. I also wish someone had stood up and shouted out; but I'm not going to say that it failed to happen for someone's lack of courage.
posted by lodurr at 9:56 AM on November 30, 2005


So 38 comments and no one can summarize what the actual strategy for victory is?
posted by aaronscool at 9:57 AM on November 30, 2005


Lord, do you guys ever wonder why he only speaks with you guys in the audience? feel used?

Some of us. A sizable minority at least.

I suppose it's a bit of a derail, but what was it like with Armitage?

Well, it was horrifically scheduled during exams week so everyone just wanted it over. Some poli-scientists asked some questions about current foreign policy, but I can't remember the exact question and answer, other than he sidestepped it like a champ.

I'm not blaming you for not making an outburst. I am curious, though, about why there isn't that sort of courage among so many of the hearts that are ready to sacrifice everything for their country. Doesn't any one soldier recognize the kind of long-term good that could be accomplished with a single act of defiance?

We don't stick it to the Man, we are the Man. As much as we must use judgement, we must maintain obedience. I'm a military member in uniform in public, which means, despite what I may think or vote or say (outside my profession), when I put on the uniform I am the United States. Not necessarily reflecting those in power, but still not making policy ourselves. We should not be politicized. I don't like it when someone uses us for that, but we certainly shouldn't do it ourselves. It's like the General Boykin guy back in 2004 or so; it was disgusting because we are not to do it.

So however much I wanted to say things, open defiance in front of the United States people is not the proper forum. I wouldn't want it in front of Clinton, and I guess that means I don't want it in front of Bush either.

My golf clap was not an act of defiance, it was me being tired from being riled at oh-dark-thirty for security checks and generally not liking the situation.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:58 AM on November 30, 2005


It's easy to say that other people should stand up for your beliefs.
posted by smackfu at 10:00 AM on November 30, 2005


(Which was not meant as a response to Lord C. Shoulda previewed.)
posted by smackfu at 10:01 AM on November 30, 2005


So 38 comments and no one can summarize what the actual strategy for victory is?
The trouble is that the strategy document sets out descriptions of the various 'stages' of victory, and argues that we are making progress. Unfortunately, it doesn't explain:

1) What concrete measurements are being used to determine what stage we are in

2) What steps are being taken (other than 'staying the course) to move us from one stage to the next

3) What the US's role will be once the final 'stage' is reached

There are a lot of assumptions inherent in the document. Those are not documented. It's less a strategy than a set of named goals, and a set of assertions about how great we're doing.
posted by verb at 10:19 AM on November 30, 2005


27 seconds:

The time it took President Bush to reference September 11 in this morning’s Iraq speech.


I was amazed, but not surprised, by this. I too was actually counting. In my opinion, he ought to just start every speech directly with:

"The events of September Eleventh, 2001. {pause for applause} Thank you for inviting me to speak here today Mr...."

And, since you were there Lord Chancellor, were you close enough to the stage to tell if that backdrop, the one with the printed image of brushed steel and rivets, was actually cardboard? God - you'd think they could afford to be a little less cheesy. I know they can - so the question remains: Why the cheesy?
posted by odinsdream at 10:19 AM on November 30, 2005


In any event if we walk today, it's civil war tomorrow.

In case you haven't noticed - it's civil war today.
posted by odinsdream at 10:20 AM on November 30, 2005


It was a cardboard backdrop. Why? The Academy is low on money so they decided most people wouldn't care if it was actually steel rivets.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:23 AM on November 30, 2005


I know for a fact that much of Navy service can be very dangerous(crazy things like like drinking coffee below deck on the USS Cole), but isn't it kind of the Army, Marines, and National Guard's leg that is actually caught in this bear trap?

If the President had any guts he would have made this speech to an outbound NG unit, and looked in the eyes of the thirty-something parents about to be shipped overseas while he peddled this thin gruel.

I bet if the cream of the crop, in education and motivation, like LordC find this sort of stuff "vague", then you can imagine how it would sound to a father of 3 pulled out of his job and looking at supporting transport units in Iraq for the next year.

Oh, and squirrel? Grow up. The military in this country is at the command of the civilian authority, and the military believes and teaches that people serving in the military must respect the civilian authority. And the civilians in this country are damn lucky to have a military that has an uninterrupted history of faithfully upholding the Constitution.

And Lord Chancellor? Get back to work. We need as many good officers as we can get.
posted by dglynn at 10:24 AM on November 30, 2005


Just saw a photo of the conference - is that setup part of the normal Annapolis locale or were all those banners built just for the speech? Is it just me or is it looking more and more like the 1930's again?
posted by mouthnoize at 10:32 AM on November 30, 2005


lodurr, some good points. i tend to agree with you, but we seem to be talking about two different things here:

It's entirely right to expect people to act on their conscience; but I think it's naive to expect midshipmen to be willing to sacrifice not just their career, but let's be fair, their ideals, to do something like what you suggest.

I wasn't suggesting that someone who doesn't oppose this occupation should stand up in defiance--that would be a sacrifice of ideals. I'm suggesting that someone who sees through the Bushco bullshit, sees the amount of damage to the US that this administration is doing, could have decided that, codes-be-damned, he or she is going to take a personal stand.

My point isn't that everyone should have done it, but that someone must have felt like it, and not acted on it. You're right that this audience was picked because it's essentially the last group in the whole world that would contain such dissent. Still, I believe that the dissent was there, somewhere. For that dissenting person, the connection between belief and action is where I see courage, or the lack thereof.

Finally, I've taken a tone of provocation because I believe in what I'm saying, and it's clearer to express this way. I don't mean to condemn those that didn't stand up, including Lord C, despite my snark. I mean to say that, given the running-into-crossfire courage that these individuals possess, I'm surprised that some one of them that opposes this occupation and can see through the transparent lies hasn't stood up.

Remember the story of the emperor's new clothes. Everyone in the parade was clapping and complimenting the emperor until one little child had the courage to say what many others could plainly see... even though it wasn't her place. In the larger scheme of things it is every American's place to stand up for the truth, regardless of who the corporations appoint as president.
posted by squirrel at 10:37 AM on November 30, 2005


Lord C., I think that answer presupposes that there needed to be steel rivets behind the president emblazoned with his catchphrases in embossed colored type. In my humble opinion, it's cheesy, transparent stagecraft that's completely unnecessary and downright insulting to the audience.

But, good to know it was cardboard - thanks.
posted by odinsdream at 10:39 AM on November 30, 2005


if i ever get within 2 feet of george w. bush, i'm going to punch his face. over, and over, and over. i bet he starts to cry.
posted by quonsar at 10:41 AM on November 30, 2005


In the larger scheme of things it is every American's place to stand up for the truth.

That's pretty murky too. We are not the child; we are the palace guards of the story. While the child supporting or refuting a statement speaks only of the child, where he came from, or perhaps the people of the country, the military carries the banner of the state. As much as we feel, and as much as in the very near future, many graduates will be wearing marine combat boots in Iraq, that is not our place is such a setting. The 'truth' we uphold is the Constitution, and whether we voted or not for him, George W. Bush is our President, as per the document. As much as we might think of the current policies as wrong-headed or murderous (many here would feel more the former than the latter), unless it's threatening the Republic, we shall not act as members of the Armed Forces in defiance. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't act as citizens, but that was not the proper venue. You guys look on the television and see me shouting, you don't see Mr. Knucklehead from Minnesota, you see a member of the American military.

It's a very tricky situation we find ourselves in morally, and many question the steps they take. Some resign if they don't feel good about it. I have my reasons for staying, despite reservations. Anyway, would you rather have me in the military or not?

Anyhow, I'm gonna go study. I'll be on later.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:46 AM on November 30, 2005


If the President had any guts he would have made this speech to an outbound NG unit....

Ah, well, see, unscripted appearances in front of Guard troops -- that hasn't gone so well in the past...
posted by lodurr at 10:48 AM on November 30, 2005


The 'truth' we uphold is the Constitution, and whether we voted or not for him, George W. Bush is our President, as per the document.

What if, for argument's sake, the Supreme Court had stepped in and made a mockery of our electoral process by installing Bush as president? You know, hypothetically.
posted by odinsdream at 10:49 AM on November 30, 2005


What if, for argument's sake, the Supreme Court had stepped in and made a mockery of our electoral process by installing Bush as president? You know, hypothetically.

That's still valid under the Constitution. The military makes an oath to the Constitution, not to an ideal of democracy. If the democratic ideal and the Constitution are in conflict, then the military should be taking sides with the Constitution, don't you think?
posted by jefgodesky at 10:50 AM on November 30, 2005


That's honestly a very tough question jefgodesky; I honestly don't have a good answer.
posted by odinsdream at 10:52 AM on November 30, 2005


dglynn, I'm talking about speculations and hopes here, not expectations. I am idealistic, but practical; hopeful but not näive.

the military... teaches that people serving in the military must respect the civilian authority. And the... military has an uninterrupted history of faithfully upholding the Constitution.

Hmm... let's see... unquestioning subserviance to executive branch + uninterrupted history of faithfully upholding the Constitution + executive branch that is dismantling the Constitution = uh oh. Let's see how this pans out, you know, practically.
posted by squirrel at 10:52 AM on November 30, 2005


There is no goddamned strategy.

This is so eerily reminiscent of our non-strategy strategy in Vietnam. What happened when the dozens of divisions of South Vietnamese we "trained" were left to do the so-called dirty work of democracy? They bailed the second we left. And that is exactly what will happen in Iraq. Every one of these "battalions" will subdivide into local militias with their own loyalties or they will boogie out of there.

The fact is there is no honest mechanism in place - no metric - to assess how we are progressing or what we have achieved. Other than the daily car bombings

So how can they even say we have any strategy?

I suppose he did achieve what he thought he wanted. Punished that evil Saddam. Got to wear a nifty flight suit. Talk tough. Hand out cool DOD service contracts to his frat brothers. I think the man feels fine about the war. Outlining "strategery" never entered his mind.
posted by tkchrist at 10:52 AM on November 30, 2005


Lord C summarizes the problem pretty neatly: We have to have armed forces; they have the job of doing some pretty unpleasant things. If we want them to be effective, they have to operate with resolve. That means they have to believe, if not in what they're doing, specifically, then in the idea that they must do what they're told -- in "honor", or something like it, to be blunt.

The "you're hatin' on the troops" argument that comes out of right field basically amounts to saying anything negative in public about the mission we send our soldiers on is tantamount to sapping their resolve. Most often it's phrased in terms of "dishonor".

The counter-argument has to be that it's possible to hate the mission and still respect the soldiers sent to do it. If we're to make that argument (and I would make it), we have to be willing to let the soldiers and sailors keep their honor.

If things get so bad that it's necessary, I would hope that the American military concept of honor favors the nation over the executive. We're a long way from the point where that choice has to be made; if we expect soldiers to make that choice at a point like this, we really would be sapping their resolve.
posted by lodurr at 10:57 AM on November 30, 2005


Yes. Lodurr. Your right.

This war was OUR (the citizens) failure not theirs (the soldiers). You want the Dogs of War to do what they are told to do. As unpleasant and disagreeable as that may be at times. So you gotta be careful when and where you unleash them.
posted by tkchrist at 11:02 AM on November 30, 2005


unless it's threatening the Republic, we shall not act as members of the Armed Forces in defiance.

I would argue that we've reached the point where the actions of this executive are threatening the Republic. I know we differ on this, and that's okay. Thanks for your thoughtful and even-handed responses.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't act as citizens, but that was not the proper venue. You guys look on the television and see me shouting, you don't see Mr. Knucklehead from Minnesota, you see a member of the American military.

For me, that's the point. That's the Cindy Sheehan moment, where the girders of internal support show signs of giving way. The country already knows that Mr. Knucklehead from Minnesota and Mr. Granolahead from California oppose the war. It's news when the top soldiers begin to resist.

Anyway, I've made my point. I'll simmer down.
posted by squirrel at 11:02 AM on November 30, 2005


squirrel: "unquestioning subservience"? We actually have a fair tradition of questioning subservience in the US. When the system has broken down, it's been in times when military discipline was poor (as in Vietnam, or during the indian wars), not when it was good.

Military enforcement of a Bush junta coup in America is a trollish straw man. I just don't see it happening -- or at least, I don't see it lasting, if it did happen. That was one of the reasons that American politicians eventually became such fans of the service academies: They saw them as a way of instilling a moral compass in the officer corps. That's why they bother to teach things like ethics. That's one reason why senior flag officers are so resentful of the Bushites: The civilian authorities are pushing them into ethical ground that they are very uncofortable with, many of them having stood on it in or around the environs of a place called Vietnam.

Not to flog a dead horse, but I could see it happening with the National Guard as enforcers. Most of them have not been in the regular military, and I daresay most of their officers haven't been to the service academies. They don't have a tradition to call upon that justifies resistence to immoral authority.
posted by lodurr at 11:07 AM on November 30, 2005


I think the administration is thinking we're seeing the insurgents' maximum effort, and that it's containable. Therefore we can begin to withdraw. I think that's the strategy.

In Vietnam, we eventually discovered the North Vietnamese could continue to raise the intensity of the conflict more than we were willing to match. I think the administration has decided that's not the case in Iraq.
posted by atchafalaya at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2005


It's news when the top soldiers begin to resist.

I believe several generals and officers quietly "retired" or resigned not so long after the invasion. That is how a good soldier resists. Never really made the news.
posted by tkchrist at 11:14 AM on November 30, 2005


Vietnam comparisons can be instructive, but also deceptive.
posted by lodurr at 11:16 AM on November 30, 2005


Lord Chancellor, I don't know who I feel sorrier for: You and your classmates, who are going to be expected to be leaders to sailors and Marines in a matter of months or years, or those sailors and Marines themselves, many of whom are already dealing with their own disillusionment.
posted by alumshubby at 11:37 AM on November 30, 2005


Dan Froomkin makes some interesting points in his analysis, and points to a new 60-page study [PDF] from the Army's Strategic Studies Institute:
"They also offered this pithy insight: 'The long-term dilemma of the U.S. position in Iraq can perhaps best be summarized as, "We can't stay, we can't leave, and we can't fail."'"

This is so eerily reminiscent of our non-strategy strategy in Vietnam.

It's very reminiscent of Nixon's "secret plan" for winning the Vietnam War that he hinted at during the 1968 campaign. Like this strategy, it turned out to be more of the same. I can't wait for Bush's "silent majority" speech.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2005


Short term: Build democratic institutions and train Iraqi troops.

Medium term: ???

Longer term: PROFIT!!!
posted by darkstar at 11:49 AM on November 30, 2005


squirrel says "Doesn't any one soldier recognize the kind of long-term good that could be accomplished with a single act of defiance?"

Why not join up and be that one soldier?
Oh smackfu beat me to it (and was more polite).
posted by forforf at 12:04 PM on November 30, 2005


Hmm... let's see... unquestioning subserviance to executive branch + uninterrupted history of faithfully upholding the Constitution + executive branch that is dismantling the Constitution = perfect audience for whatever lies Bush decides to tell on any given day.
posted by amberglow at 12:10 PM on November 30, 2005


Turn the Iraq occupation over to the South Vietnamese. They must be ready by now.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2005


What does the Constitution say about invading other countries when they aren't a threat and haven't done anything to us?
posted by amberglow at 12:12 PM on November 30, 2005


Excellent analysis/deconstruction at Think Progess: Rapid Response: Deconstructing the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq”
posted by amberglow at 12:26 PM on November 30, 2005


What does the Constitution say about invading other countries when they aren't a threat and haven't done anything to us?

That it's up to Congress if they want to do that ... or cede that authority to, say, the President.

That's international law, not the Constitution itself. Many things vile are Constitutonal, and many things Constitutional are vile. It shouldn't be mistaken for a synonym for "good."
posted by jefgodesky at 12:29 PM on November 30, 2005


Part of the background for this speech is that Senator Joe Biden recently wrote an op-ed outlining his Iraq plan, and the White House issued a statement saying that Biden's plan was "remarkably similar to the Administration's plan to fight and win the war on terror." Then they had to actually write the plan so President Bush could present it in the speech.

I wonder if Lord Chancellor is one of these sleepy midshipmen waiting for the speech to start.

MetaFilter-related: Instapundit says, "The White House has released its Iraq strategy document. I think it owes a bit of a debt to Steven Den Beste."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:49 PM on November 30, 2005


What does the Constitution say about invading other countries when they aren't a threat and haven't done anything to us?

It doesn't; that's the problem. The President acts as Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces, though war (or military action) must be approved by Congress, which it was. The Supreme Court also hasn't struck down the military use as Unconstitutional (if it did, we'd probably have to give back all that sweet land during the Mexican American War). Likewise, the people of the United States also haven't raised objections to the use of executive power on constitutional grounds. So, as is, expecting us to rebel is rather far-fetched. In fact, I would say that any rebellion of the armed forces, however warranted, would have a massive destabilizing effect on the US. So, if you're going to do it, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons, in the right way, and most importantly, only if there is no other recourse. You guys (and I in my citizen role) offer that recourse. Bush is still the democratically elected head of state, so unless you want a rouge military faction like a failing African state, be at least somewhat understanding.

Anywho, other than CNN.com earlier getting a great pic of us all asleep. . .

The metric of victory is vague, and the assessment of that metric is also vague. But most dangerously, the Executive Branch is the only one responsible for making, implementing, and assessing policy. There needs to be a push for Congress to draft a counter "Victory Condition" and plan scenario. Maybe not a withdrawal plan per se . . . but something that has enough substance to determine whether we're doing well or not, whether we won or not. But that is up to how courage Congress is about taking back its power.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2005


There needs to be a push for Congress to draft a counter "Victory Condition" and plan scenario.

Actually, that's a pretty damn good idea.

They should get serious about it, and present a real plan. Actually try to solve the problem.

Of course, I'm dreaming....
posted by lodurr at 1:01 PM on November 30, 2005


quonsar: if i ever get within 2 feet of george w. bush, i'm going to punch his face. over, and over, and over.

Seconded.
posted by oncogenesis at 2:11 PM on November 30, 2005


Design critique of the strategy document.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:04 PM on November 30, 2005


A strategy for PR victory:

Adumbrate
Obfuscate
Bloviate

Repeat as needed.
posted by rdone at 4:03 PM on November 30, 2005


I dunno what the strategy is either, but did you notice that footnote, which mentions the Bush Administration has requested Congressional funding to disinter and re-animate John Paul Vann's corpse?
posted by orthogonality at 4:24 PM on November 30, 2005


I wonder if "The Eight Pillars" in the strategy's appendix are based more on the Five Pillars of Islam or T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:47 PM on November 30, 2005


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posted by kirkaracha at 9:02 PM on November 30, 2005


What does the Constitution say about invading other countries when they aren't a threat and haven't done anything to us?
It doesn't; that's the problem.


Well, that's very telling right there.

I don't have any more knowledge or understanding than other people, but why didn't they build in something to counter that? And: has there never been a time that the checks and balances have broken down as much as now. There must have been times when the executive, legislative and judicial were all held by the same party, no?
posted by amberglow at 9:26 PM on November 30, 2005


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