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October 19, 2006 4:53 PM   Subscribe


 
"Finishing the job is better than leaving a mess. And if we can finish the job, the war won't be remembered as a mistake."

Yes, well, that's lovely to say. But does anyone in the administration have any clue about how to do this? It really doesn't appear so...
posted by chasing at 4:57 PM on October 19, 2006


Honestly, Goldberg really is an execrable idiot.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:02 PM on October 19, 2006


Am I right in understanding that there's only one sentence in the entire damn thing (aside from the title) that asserts that the war was at all "worthy?"

The WMD fiasco was a global intelligence failure, but calling Saddam Hussein's bluff after 9/11 was the right thing to do.

Then, he goes back to saying that it was wrong to go there but we shouldn't leave. No details, no possible evidence for the assertion that it was "the right thing to do" or "worthy."

Yup, he still sucks.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:04 PM on October 19, 2006


I think he's generally an idiot, but I like his idea about the Iraqis voting on whether we stay or go.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:06 PM on October 19, 2006


Like "Postal Worker", "Worthy Mistake" is an oxymoron.
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:09 PM on October 19, 2006


Jeez, what a moron. Must be a tough pickle for the warhawks to admit that the war was a mistake. And it's absolutely galling that folks like this sidestep the WMD issue, since it's the reason we went there in the first place. But we've been there before, not worth repeating, right?
posted by zardoz at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2006


Seems to me they're already voting with their ammunition.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2006 [4 favorites]


If we go there will be trouble
And if we stay it will be double
posted by hal9k at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Truth is truth. And the Iraq war was a mistake by the most obvious criteria...
posted by caddis at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2006


Just a little copyediting:

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction is a side central issue. The WMD fiasco was a global U.S. intelligence failure but and calling Saddam Hussein's bluff after 9/11 was the right thing to do totally out of left field, especially after since we hadn't finished the job in Afghanistan. Washington's more important intelligence failure lay in underestimating what would be required to rebuild and restore post-Hussein Iraq. The White House did not anticipate a low-intensity civil war in Iraq, never planned for it and would not have deemed it in the U.S. interest to pay this high a price in prestige, treasure and, of course, lives. anything beyond the first week of the conflict.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


>>very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are
>>abstractly pro-war.
Simply not true. Anybody willing to go to war based on the adminstrations propagranda is certainly not anti-war.


>>If we had known then what we know now, we would
>>never have gone to war
A ridiculous claim for both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans for hearing what they wanted to hear (from intelligence sources) and Democrats for not questioning at the outset (but who did not because they knew they could later, disingenuously, claim that they had been tricked)

>>The failure to find weapons of mass destruction is a
>>side issue
No, it is not. It was ostensibly adminstration's basis for going to war in the first place. It was not so much an intelligence failure as it was the administration contorting information to suit their needs.
posted by allelopath at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2006


All this talk about pulling out, or sticking in, is interesting, especially since we're effectively gang raping that part of the world.

Jonah's first sex tape!
posted by Peter H at 5:12 PM on October 19, 2006


We are in Iraq for good reasons and for reasons that were well-intentioned but wrong. But we are there.

Jonah, welcome to Democratic Party dogma, circa late 2003. Thank you for gradually (if not gracefully) sliding into this position, and I look forward to your future slow descent into anti-Bush moonbat raving.
posted by suckerpunch at 5:13 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


I, for one, would like Jonah Goldberg to go to Iraq.

And not leave.
posted by psmealey at 5:17 PM on October 19, 2006


GOldberg lives on "debating" unnamed straw-man stereotypes of liberals. Even in this "mea culpa" he spends most of his time taking potshots at them.

He's a passable writer, but only has any kind of audience because he'll defend the Republican party line on 90% of issues. He'll please conservatives who don't like to know about, much less engage, arguments from real live humans who disagree with them.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:18 PM on October 19, 2006


chasing writes "Yes, well, that's lovely to say. But does anyone in the administration have any clue about how to do this? It really doesn't appear so..."

I was gonna ask... has anyone who advocates "staying the course" advanced a strategy for winning in Iraq other than, you know... "staying the course?"
posted by brundlefly at 5:20 PM on October 19, 2006


Second, the antiwar types aren't really pacifists. They favor military intervention when it comes to stopping genocide in Darfur or starvation in Somalia or doing whatever that was President Clinton did in Haiti. In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests (or, allegedly, President Bush's or Israel's or ExxonMobil's interests).

Damn those antiwar types and their trivial reasons for going to war.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:21 PM on October 19, 2006


Pull out today, Live to Stick it elsewhere tomorrow!
posted by Peter H at 5:22 PM on October 19, 2006


I was gonna ask... has anyone who advocates "staying the course" advanced a strategy for winning in Iraq other than, you know... "staying the course?"

Amen. Or to quote Bill Paxton from Aliens, "I don't know if you're up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked."

I would love for someone in the administration or the military or wherever to explain to me how a strategy that has resulting in being bled to death by a thousand knife wounds, while all social order in Iraq collapses is somehow going to lead to victory.
posted by psmealey at 5:25 PM on October 19, 2006


Honestly, Goldberg really is an execrable idiot.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze


I thought the phrase was 'useful idiot'. Rather than be some kind of ivory tower latte sipping journalist....why is he not over in Iraq making things better?

I hear they need help.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:26 PM on October 19, 2006


Neocons and warhawks remind me of the spoiled child who cannot stand to lose any game, and perpetually change the rules of the contest. It's happening quicker and quicker, as their clay feet crumble after just a few steps nowadays. When ever their position weakens, they simply assume a new one.

I wish they'd just take their ball and go home.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:27 PM on October 19, 2006


Holy crap - - Goldberg is every bit as big an idiot as everyone says.

I'm struck speechless that he gets paid for writing a column like that.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 5:28 PM on October 19, 2006


calling Saddam Hussein's bluff after 9/11 was the right thing to do.

Wait a second, what exactly was Saddam's bluff?
posted by number9dream at 5:31 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's a pretty crappy writing job, and he's glossing over the problems that got us there in the first place.

That said, I agree with him that we should stay and try to fix the place up, since we've broken it so badly.

However, the current administration is absolutely incapable of fixing things. We need some people who are more worldly, capable and open-minded to handle the job.

Oh wait... we're talking about politicians. Boy do I feel sorry for the Iraqis.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:32 PM on October 19, 2006


He claims he can't serve because he's a parent and he's too fat.

Which is weird, because plenty of fathers (and mothers) are serving and dying as we speak. And basic training pretty much takes care of the fat issue.
posted by bardic at 5:35 PM on October 19, 2006


Breathtaking in its lack of grace. Just breathtaking.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:35 PM on October 19, 2006


"...the antiwar types aren't really pacifists."

Hmmm, you know... I really do think some of the anti-war types are pacifists. Me? Heavens no, no, no, no, not me, I LOVE KILLING REPUBLICANS TOO MUCH TO STOP NOW. But it's not always about me. Unfortunately.

"A doctor will warn that if you see a man stabbed in the chest, you shouldn't rush to pull the knife out."

Oh, certainly not. Wrong wrong wrong-o. The only appropriate response is to stab him again. And again. With a bigger and sharper knife!
posted by naomi at 5:38 PM on October 19, 2006 [4 favorites]


The Grand Chessboard

Mate in 08.
posted by Twang at 5:39 PM on October 19, 2006


I would love for someone in the administration or the military or wherever to explain to me how a strategy that has resulting in being bled to death by a thousand knife wounds, while all social order in Iraq collapses is somehow going to lead to victory.
posted by psmealey at 5:25 PM PST


From the 'or wherever' department

Daddy Warbucks - the mutual fund Profit is a FORM of victory.

Another victory would be if you were looking to have troops leave the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, were looking to create fiscal overspending in your target, cause fear to be widespread, have a shooting war with long supply lines for your target and have others do the shooting, and manage to erode support for your target in the rest of the world.

There is alot of victory, you just have to look in the right places. You just aren't willing to tell the POSITIVE messages of the 'wherevers'.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:42 PM on October 19, 2006


He claims he can't serve because he's a parent and he's too fat.

A mother impregnated with terror and giving birth to stinky little trouser babies maybe. And fat from too many servings of rich creamy cowardice.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:47 PM on October 19, 2006


It's only a worthy mistake if you learn something from it, and I don't see the american people learning much of anything these days.
posted by nightchrome at 5:47 PM on October 19, 2006


hey, at least if we leave, the news coverage of mass murder won't be as extensive as when we were there.
posted by unpoppy at 5:50 PM on October 19, 2006


Ok, I grabbed this guy who I thought said something to my wife. I thought he might have a gun so I started breaking some bones. And his wife and kids were there so I threw a couple of kicks into them to make sure they were incapacitated. The wife was bigger so I had to shatter her kneecap. Well, as it turns out he wasn't armed, but he was fighting back so I had to defend myself. Also, as it turns out, it wasn't him who had said anything. His wallet came out of his pocket when I got him in an omoplata and it had a lot of money in it, which somehow became lost. So I switch to a hadaka jime and I'm choking him out and he's losing consciousness. But then he grabs my nuts. And I'm thinking "Jeez, I don't want to fight this guy anymore."
And then I think - well hey, I'll ask him and his family if they want me to leave.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:52 PM on October 19, 2006 [7 favorites]


Plenty of parents serve in the armed forces. And basic would, in theory, get him in shape, but he's such a shameful lazy turd that he'd never make it through. If I looked like him I would probably blow my head off.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:54 PM on October 19, 2006


When someone keeps doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome every time, that person should be called clinically insane.

That is all.
posted by clevershark at 5:58 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


"He claims he can't serve because he's a parent and he's too fat."
He looks pretty solid to me...


Oh, wait...
posted by Smedleyman at 5:59 PM on October 19, 2006


bardic writes "He claims he can't serve because he's a parent and he's too fat."

Well, isn't the future of his children cause enough for him to rush to the recruitment office and enlist? Why does he hate his children so much that he won't make a little sacrifice?
posted by clevershark at 6:00 PM on October 19, 2006


"A doctor will warn that if you see a man stabbed in the chest, you shouldn't rush to pull the knife out."
He will also tell you that you should put panties on that mans head and make him crawl around on a leash.
That's why you should never listen to doctors.
posted by 2sheets at 6:02 PM on October 19, 2006


"the shabbiness of the arguments on the antiwar side."

The gobsmacking hypocrisy of this makes me want to punch myself in the cock.
posted by docgonzo at 6:02 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that to the antiwar crowd this is too little, too late, and that's fine because I'm not joining their ranks anyway.

Oh, snap. I'm wounded.

In the dumbed-down debate we're having, there are only two sides: Pro-war and antiwar. This is silly. First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war. Second, the antiwar types aren't really pacifists. They favor military intervention when it comes to stopping genocide in Darfur or starvation in Somalia or doing whatever that was President Clinton did in Haiti. In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests (or, allegedly, President Bush's or Israel's or ExxonMobil's interests).

They aren't pacifists, they support war when it undermines America. Way to raise the quality of debate, prick.

I must confess that one of the things that made me reluctant to conclude that the Iraq war was a mistake was my general distaste for the shabbiness of the arguments on the antiwar side.

Yeah, I can see how "Let's not go all guns a blazing into Iraq until we've exhausted diplomacy and are certain there is an immediate threat" could be considered shabby. And it's not like the concerns over the aftermath had any merit, right? Or troop levels. Or even the economic concerns. I mean, just make a list of the main antiwar assertions pre-war and compare them to the current situation. Shabby indeed!

And the claims from Democrats who voted for the war that they were lied to strikes me as nothing more than cowardly buck-passing.

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction is a side issue. The WMD fiasco was a global intelligence failure [...]


Talk about buck-passing.

Bush's critics claim that democracy promotion was an afterthought, a convenient rebranding of a war gone sour. I think that's unfair, but even if true, it wouldn't mean liberty isn't at stake. It wouldn't mean that promoting a liberal society in the heart of the Arab and Muslim world wouldn't be in our interest and consistent with our ideals.

I thought the argument was: preemptively invading a country hardly qualifies as "promoting a liberal society."

If we pull out precipitously, jihadism will open a franchise in Iraq and gain steam around the world, and the U.S. will be weakened.

This is speculation. As cartoonish as "they will greet us with flowers."

In war, you sometimes end up having to defend ground you wouldn't have chosen with perfect knowledge beforehand.

No you don't. Inflexibility in foreign occupation is bad strategy.
posted by effwerd at 6:09 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


The most important part of all was left out of this argument!
If we had ignored Saddam, he would have been (as he was) a countervailing force to Iran. With Iraq out of the equation,Iran has now stepped in to be the dominant force in the region, getting even Syria to play ball as a secondary power. Wiuthb Iran held in check, we would not I suspect be confronting the Iran/nukes issue in the same manner we now are. Irtan has been sending in help to the insurgents and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Thus by invading Iraq we have destabilized the entire region.
posted by Postroad at 6:10 PM on October 19, 2006


Smedleyman: you've got it just right. Good call.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:15 PM on October 19, 2006


calling Saddam's bluff..?

I am in no way defending Saddam Hussein, but in what way was he bluffing..? He allowed the inspectors in, he continually said that he had no WMD's. Bluffing would have been going back to the days of the "Mother of all Wars" rhetoric. In this case, however, it seems more like Saddam had laid his cards face-up on the table and the administration didn't believe what was on the table, to continue the metaphor...
posted by WhipSmart at 6:17 PM on October 19, 2006


Invading a country who is not attacking another country or committing some sort of genocide within its own borders is wrong. Every time. It saddens me that the debate turned into weapons of mass destruction. It should never have made it that far.

The greatest failure of the Iraq invasion is not that it was not ultimately a success. It is that it removed the idea that it is wrong to attack a sovereign nation that is staying within its own borders.
posted by flarbuse at 6:18 PM on October 19, 2006


If you're making a post about Israel or Lebanon or Hezbollah or even Iraq you should reconsider, as many recent threads have ended in shouting matches that do nothing good for the site or the community. If you do insist on posting about those subjects, make sure it's actually something of major importance or at the very least interesting, and not just another news blip about war.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:22 PM on October 19, 2006


In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests...

This is my straw man, I shall now whack it to pieces.
posted by taosbat at 6:28 PM on October 19, 2006


Operation 'Together Forward' in Iraq not working - NBC video.
posted by ericb at 6:38 PM on October 19, 2006


This isn't a shouting match, it's a shouting chorus directed at a two-bit nepotism case. If Goldberg would like to pony up his $5, perhaps we could turn this into a proper shouting match.
posted by aaronetc at 6:42 PM on October 19, 2006


Baghdad Security Plan 'Failing'
"The US military has said a security initiative aimed at reducing violence in Baghdad has failed to meet expectations and is being reviewed.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said there had been a 'disheartening' 22% rise in attacks in Baghdad since the end of last month.

His comments came as a wave of bombings across Iraq killed at least 41 people.

...Launched in June, Operation Together Forward is a joint US and Iraqi security drive in which thousands of extra troops have been deployed in Baghdad.

The operation was seen as key to asserting the authority of the Iraqi government over all of the capital and eventually the rest of the country, paving the way for the withdrawal of US forces.

But Gen. Caldwell said attacks on US troops and Iraqi forces in Baghdad has risen significantly in the first three weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in the last week of September.

'Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas but it has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in... violence,' he said.

Gen. Caldwell said 73 US soldiers had been killed so far in October, which was heading towards becoming the deadliest month for US forces in Iraq for two years.

The senior US commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, has now ordered a review of the strategy."

[BBC News | October 19, 2006]
versus...

Dick Cheney on Rush Limbaugh's radio broadcast two days ago -- 'Overall Situation’ In Iraq Is Going ‘Remarkably Well.’
posted by ericb at 6:45 PM on October 19, 2006


But there's a third option, and, funnily enough, I found it in an old column of mine (journalistic taboos be damned!). I think we should ask the Iraqis to vote on whether U.S. troops should stay.

I think that we should definitely have the Iraqis vote on our foreign policy! They're a democracy, dammit, and when they get done voting on our foreign policy, maybe they can vote on some of those other troubling issues in our country. Abortion. Doctor assisted suicide. Gay marriage. They need practice in their democracy and they may as well practice on our country.

And then I think that in future wars, we should engage or not, by the vote of the possible enemy country. That's a perfect way to export democracy to other countries--let there be a democratic vote on whether or not we invade your sorry-ass country.

Yeah, he's brilliant all right.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:45 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman, don't forget how it started-

This one guy gave me a black eye, so i busted into his neighbor's house and proceeded to etc. etc. as you said.

Oh yeah, and i bought a bunch of neat guns and stuff on credit to do it. 300 billion bucks worth.
posted by Miles Long at 6:50 PM on October 19, 2006



The WMD fiasco was a global intelligence failure, but calling Saddam Hussein's bluff after 9/11 was the right thing to do.


His bluff? What the fuck is he talking about? How is "I don't have any WMDs, please let the inspectors finish their jobs before bombing me!!!" a bluff?
posted by delmoi at 7:00 PM on October 19, 2006


Man. I've been busy lately, and haven't been keeping up. It's kind of funny to realize that while I was off working, the right went through multiple incompatible sets of talking points.
posted by verb at 7:03 PM on October 19, 2006


Aw, did doughy pantload get a FPP?
posted by fleacircus at 7:19 PM on October 19, 2006


He claims he can't serve because he's a parent and he's too fat.

But he speaks fluent Simpsons, so he's got that going for him.
posted by homunculus at 7:21 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Perhaps this is about a Republican having a crisis of conscience, and almost literally going insane when he realized the sheer enormity that he and his cohorts have committed on the world.

It certainly explains the incoherence and cognitive dissonance that permeate his arguments.
posted by clevershark at 7:29 PM on October 19, 2006


Bizarre.

"We were wrong. BUT THE LEFTIES WEREN'T RIGHT!
We shouldn't have gone. BUT WE MUSTN'T LEAVE!"

I'm thinking it's the room with the mattress wallpaper for this guy.

On preview, clevershark said it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:32 PM on October 19, 2006


maybe jonah should get a medal of honor for all his prewar cheerleading like the rest of the f*ckups did ...
posted by specialk420 at 7:38 PM on October 19, 2006


Here is what is going to happen if we leave.

Any areas in Iraq will go to whatever group can project superior power in that area. If one group can't actually conquer another region, then the country will be split up based on geography. Special emphasis will be placed by various groups on securing oil.

In other words, they are going to slaughter each other everyone else is either dead, subdued, or too far away to hurt them.

Now, I think you can make a moral argument that if U.S. forces could prevent that, it would be better if we stayed. I honestly do believe that we could curtail the violence somewhat, and insure that less horrible groups come to power.

Unfortunately, that would mean huge sacrifices for the U.S, far outside the benefit to ourselves. So on purely a selfish basis, I say we should leave.

It really is a shame that we got ourselves into this incredibly horrible situation. But I didn't vote for any of these idiots, so it's not my problem.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on October 19, 2006


But I didn't vote for any of these idiots, so it's not my problem.

Huh?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:44 PM on October 19, 2006


he speaks fluent Simpsons

Actually, when he references The Simpsons it reminds me of that scene in A Fish Called Wanda when Wanda is laying into Otto for being such a stupid ape. "Apes don't read philosophy," says Otto. "Yes, they do, Otto," snaps Wanda, "they just don't understand it."

Consider, for example, this Jonahvite gem (scroll down a bit to the "This is Kent Brockman" subhed), wherein he uses the scene from "Deep Space Homer" in which Kent Brockman becomes convinced that the world's being invaded by giant space ants as support for an argument that . . . "intellectuals" (and/or "the media generally" and/or "the talking heads") tend to overestimate the ability of current conditions to, uh, maintain equilibrium or something, which means . . . um . . . Orwell said also . . . that just because, you know, it looked like the US was letting Bin Laden and his cronies get away in Afghanistan now didn't mean they didn't have a plan, a solid plan . . . give them time . . . and the liberal intellectual talking heads are stupidpantses.

As opposed to seeing Brockman's willingness to relentlessly kiss the asses of whoever he thought was now in power as a comment on the abject sycophancy of the news media in contemporary America. Which interpretation might've forced dear Jonah to look his own fat empty head in the mirror a few years sooner.
posted by gompa at 7:50 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Jonah can be a tool, but this represents his nadir.
posted by caddis at 7:52 PM on October 19, 2006


I'd love to be at the NR water-cooler tomorrow. Ramesh and Katie and D'nesh are totally not going to speak with him.
posted by bardic at 7:56 PM on October 19, 2006


This is a terribly written piece, but I find it hard to disagree with his substantive position about the future. We shouldn't be in Iraq, but we are. It would be a bad idea, and immoral to leave now. We've created a mess, and we need to fix it. Pulling out is just ignoring the problem. He's right, pro-war and anti-war are stupid sides to be on right now. We've got a war, the sides should be about how to end if effectively.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:56 PM on October 19, 2006


Never is the question asked, "Is our pundits learning?"

Seriously, is there any reason whatsoever that Jonah Goldberg should be considered a voice worth listening to? Is he a Middle East scholar? A well-read layman? Someone with a background in policy-making?

No? Well then, his opinion doesn't really count for much more than mine, now does it?

Yes, I heard he's an editor, so apparently he knows how to correct grammar and punctuation when one of his writers hands him a column. Why this means his opinion on Iraq matters and why he is considered worthy of regular space in the LA Times is beyond me.
posted by deanc at 7:56 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


We've created a mess, and we need to fix it. Pulling out is just ignoring the problem.

Well, would YOU care to go there and "fix it"? Or are you also fat and with kids?
posted by c13 at 7:59 PM on October 19, 2006


I am fat, but if it comes to a draft, I would serve. Right now, however, the military doesn't need me. It doesn't need more men, it needs a better plan. The current administration doesn't seem to have one, but I think a future one will. Either way, the fact is, fixing the problem now is an investment in saving American lives. Leaving Iraq mired in civil war, even aside from the frightening immorality, will cost us, dearly.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:06 PM on October 19, 2006


We should ask the President what he believes the best course of action would be. We should then do the exact opposite. If at this point you have to ask why, you are part of the problem.
posted by mullingitover at 8:09 PM on October 19, 2006


He's right, pro-war and anti-war are stupid sides to be on right now. We've got a war, the sides should be about how to end if effectively.
posted by Bulgaroktonos 10 minutes ago


Put soldiers on planes and fly those planes back to the United States. Amend the Constitution to make preventive war - whatever the fuck that means - unquestionably illegal. Apologize to the people of Iraq and the world, and stop fucking in other people's business.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:10 PM on October 19, 2006


He claims he can't serve because he's a parent and he's too fat.

Which is weird, because plenty of fathers (and mothers) are serving and dying as we speak. And basic training pretty much takes care of the fat issue.
posted by bardic

via Smedleyman


My son, who has been to Iraq twice with the 10th Mountain Division and is now a recruiter, was a bit overweight when he joined and he now has a candidate who is also overweight. While Robert has some real sympathy for the guy, he's only doing what any recruiter would do, by the book: give him tips on eating and exercise and suggest he check with his doctor on a proper weight-loss program.

The guy seems motivated so it may work out.

What deanc said; and, please, what song is this, hal9k...it's bugging me.
posted by taosbat at 8:14 PM on October 19, 2006


Optimus Chyme, doesn't that seem amazingly short-sighted? If we fly the troops home right now, what happens? Well, for starters a lot more Iraqis die. If you're looking at "excess deaths" because of the war, they'll be even higher even if we pull out. Iraq is a mess right now. We made the mess. We have a duty to see that it is put right. Come on people, this is basic morality. If you set your neighbors house on fire you don't run away, you stay and help him fight it, then help him rebuild it. Running away from the problem will not make our mistake go away, trying to fix it just might.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:15 PM on October 19, 2006


The problem is that the best course of action now is to let the (demographic majority) Shia rule. There would be bloodletting of course, but it would end eventually. The US is bending over backwards though to let the Sunnis maintain a piece of the pie (many of whom were evil despot-lovers under Saddam, and now are our "friends." Same exact people.)

But Bush can't allow the Shia to take full charge, because Iraq will become an extension of Iran. (I'd argue it already is, under the table at least.)

So, we continue to pour billions of dollars and thousands of lives into a situation that is actually worse than it would be if the US pulled out.

Want peace and an end to the civil war? Pull the US troops out, but leave behind some of their equipment and infrastructure for the Shia authorities. But the US doesn't want peace, it wants to prolong the inevitable pro-Iranian government from taking full power as long as possible. And that means more American kids die.
posted by bardic at 8:18 PM on October 19, 2006


We have a duty to see that it is put right.

No can do.

We made the mess.

Yup.

If you set your neighbors house on fire you don't run away, you stay and help him fight it, then help him rebuild it.

When just your presence is fuel to the fire?
posted by taosbat at 8:24 PM on October 19, 2006


If we fly the troops home right now, what happens? Well, for starters a lot more Iraqis die.

I disagree. Seriously. We can't prove a hypothetical, but the American presence is inflaming tensions between Sunni and Shia, not quelling them. What we do know is that hundreds of Iraqis are dying every day, mostly Sunnis being killed by Shia, but not exclusively. Tell the de facto Shia leadership (including al Sadr) that we've had enough, and that they're going to be left in charge over the Sunni. I'd bet you'd see violence decrease dramatically. Right now both sides are fighting for a presumed piece of the coalition government pie. The Sunnis are desperate, and acting accordingly. The Shia are happy to retaliate. Cut deals with the Shia telling them they can have their pro-Iranian theocracy as long as they back off the Sunni, and tell the Sunni it's over -- they have to live under Shia leadership, and if they have money they should move to their cousin's place in Syria or Jordan (this is actually already happening). I think this would do more to quell violence than any number of US soldiers who are simply targets for both sides right now, literally.

Shorter: Prolonged US occupation =/ fewer Iraqi deaths
posted by bardic at 8:26 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Taosbat: Should I Stay Or Should I Go, The Clash
posted by maryh at 8:26 PM on October 19, 2006


It doesn't need more men,

Really?

God, I'm so sick of militant aggressive dorks! Fixing the problem now is an investment is saving American lives? Which Americans? The ones that are getting shot at now?
We have a duty to see that it is put right. "WE"!? Where exactly do you come in? I don't think that 101st Keyboarder Division is an actual military unit.
You're proposing sending Americans into harm's way for no good reason for as long as it takes for "some future administration" to come up with a plan, yet you will not do anything about it yourself, unless ordered by the State. And yet you talk about morality!
posted by c13 at 8:34 PM on October 19, 2006


The Washington Post: Major Change Expected in Iraq Strategy.
posted by ericb at 8:37 PM on October 19, 2006


Well, bardic, you're talking about something very different from just leaving. You're talking about setting up a theocratic government under the Shia before we leave. Even if we assume that this government would arise without our help if we just leave, we can not assume this system would arise quickly or without even more bloodshed. There would probably be a long and violent conflict to establish it, the help of Iran might speed it along, but it wouldn't make it less violent.

Would there be less violence under this sort of government? Possibly, although I'd expect you'd still see a lot, both in the form of Sunni resistance and in now legitimized violence by the Shia population. The question at the point becomes, is this a legitimate solution to the problem? Like I said, I feel we have a moral obligation to resolve this problem is the best way possible for the Iraqi people, insofar as it is in our power to see it resolved. If the best outcome available seems to be Shia run theocracy, I'll take it, but I'm not sure we've established that as our only option right now.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:42 PM on October 19, 2006


Pull out of Iraq, and into Afghanistan. Finish up the first damned job. Yes, Iraq will descend into civil war. It is a shame. Perhaps if we can, as a collective of nations, agree to finish off what was started in Afghanistan, we'd find we'd get it accomplished quickly and effectively; we could then cooperatively turn our attention to Iraq. You know, working together? The USA used to pretend toward that.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 PM on October 19, 2006


Thank you, maryh, it was really bugging me.
posted by taosbat at 8:47 PM on October 19, 2006


Bulgaroktonos writes "Like I said, I feel we have a moral obligation to resolve this problem is the best way possible for the Iraqi people, insofar as it is in our power to see it resolved."

What you consistently resist is the realization that it's not within your power. I'm sure the intentions are good, but the ability to be a positive force just isn't there.
posted by clevershark at 8:50 PM on October 19, 2006


As for Iraq, the problem is that you can't force a democracy on them. Their society is based on families and tribes, for gods' sakes! Hell, out toward Pakistan they don't even have a concept of belonging to a country: they are a people and borders are an invention of other cultures.

So I'm guessing the appropriate solution to Iraq is to simply admit this simple fact and get on with identifying the tribal groups — hopefully the Kurd, Shia, Shiite trio will suffice — and the most effective top-level leaders of those groups. They need to sit together and solve their problems within the country of Iraq. They will be facilitated by western nations of their choosing. The process will be overseen by the UN/¿US?

One would hope these leaders would eventually see their way to democracy, but so long as their peoples are able to have safety and stability, who cares? At this point the most important thing must be to bring peace and moderate prosperity to the area, so they can get on with having nice lives.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:55 PM on October 19, 2006


c13, there's nothing wrong with holding a political position that you are do not back up with actions, everyone does it all the time. I believe police should protect the peace, but I am not a police officer. The same goes for firefighters, paramedics, etc. The fact that I am not a soldier does not disqualify me from having an opinion about how our military should be used.

I gain that right as a citizen of the United States. I get the right to say "we" by virtue of the fact that I am member of the community that owes the obligation. Part of that membership also requires me to be willing to put my life on the line, if need be. Right now, our leaders have not determined that I am needed. If they decide I am, or if I disagree with their judgment I will join up.

I would also caution you not to go tossing around phrases like "militant aggressive dorks." I'm not a hawk; I opposed the war. I consider myself conservative, but I have been unable to bring myself to vote for any Republicans in recent years, chiefly because of the war. I am, however, a pragmatist, and I believe that leaving Iraq in the state it is in now is a mistake.

Let's tone down the snark okay? Not everyone who disagrees with you about the right course for Iraq is a war mongering imperialist and you don't need to have served to have an opinion about the war. Our civilians control our military, every civilian has a right to say how that military is used.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:56 PM on October 19, 2006


"Let's Divide Iraq into Three Regions " source]

"White House spokesman Tony Snow branded as a 'nonstarter' an idea to divide Iraq into semi-autonomous Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish regions — an idea raised by an ally of Bush, Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison." [source]
posted by ericb at 9:00 PM on October 19, 2006


"a bunch of hooey"
posted by taosbat at 9:05 PM on October 19, 2006


But I didn't vote for any of these idiots, so it's not my problem.
Huh?


I mean it's not my responsibility to take do something that will hurt Americans in order to protect Iraqis, because I didn't start the war.
posted by delmoi at 9:17 PM on October 19, 2006


Optimus Chyme, doesn't that seem amazingly short-sighted? If we fly the troops home right now, what happens? Well, for starters a lot more Iraqis die.

A lot of iraqis are already dying. There is no evidence that more will die if we leave, it violence will probably spike, but might not last as long. There is no way to prove which direction will cause less death in total.


If you're looking at "excess deaths" because of the war, they'll be even higher even if we pull out. Iraq is a mess right now. We made the mess. We have a duty to see that it is put right.

A country is not a person. Why should any individual solderer have to die for some old man's duty? The people making the choices and the people dying are not the same.

If George Bush wants to go over there and pick up a gun and try to fix things with his own life and money, more power to 'em, but it's not our duity.
posted by delmoi at 9:29 PM on October 19, 2006


The fact that I am not a soldier does not disqualify me from having an opinion about how our military should be used.

You can have all the opinions you want.

I am, however, a pragmatist, and I believe that leaving Iraq in the state it is in now is a mistake.

It might be bad for the Iraqi's, but not for us. Why is that our problem? Most Americans supported the war because they were lied too. Agreements reached by fraud are not legally binding. Supporting a war based on lies is not morally binding.

Hell, since when is morality pragmatic in the first place? The "pragmatic" approach would be to let the Iraqis slaughter each other and then make a deal with the Kurds for all the precious, precious oil in the north.
posted by delmoi at 9:34 PM on October 19, 2006


First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war.

I do think a good portion of the US actually enjoy war. Some people in the early 70's still supported the Vietnam War... not many... but some did. One of the biggest supporters of Vietnam were WW2 vets.

There hasn't been a war America hasn't liked... The hasn't been a war the military brass hasn't liked. There hasn't been a war Veterans haven't liked.

Now... we don't like to lose wars... so you see some people jumping ship, but Americans aren't anti-war at all... we kind of like it. The war with Iraq doesn’t have to be an intellectual debate... it was revenge for 9-11 and we could.

I feel the Iraq War is just political now. It's more like a war on liberalism. It doesn’t matter what is going on, just don't give points to the libs by admitting anything is wrong. Just support the war because the New York Times is against it... and let's smite them.
posted by DougieZero1982 at 9:46 PM on October 19, 2006


No, trying Orange Chicken instead of General Tso's is a worthy mistake.

Invading Iraq was just fuckin' stupid.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:42 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Optimus Chyme, doesn't that seem amazingly short-sighted? If we fly the troops home right now, what happens? Well, for starters a lot more Iraqis die. If you're looking at "excess deaths" because of the war, they'll be even higher even if we pull out. Iraq is a mess right now. We made the mess. We have a duty to see that it is put right. Come on people, this is basic morality. If you set your neighbors house on fire you don't run away, you stay and help him fight it, then help him rebuild it. Running away from the problem will not make our mistake go away, trying to fix it just might.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:15 PM PST on October 19


If someone broke into my house and raped my wife, killed my pets, stole my shit, then set the house on fire, no, I wouldn't want him sticking around to help fucking "fix" it. I'd just want to kill him.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:56 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


We could bring the troops home, spend the taxpayer's cash we're giving to Lockheed Martin and Halliburton instead on public works projects to rebuild our broken country.

Lord knows our public infrastructure (schools, health, fire and police, streets, etc.) is in disrepair.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:18 AM on October 20, 2006


If we had ignored Saddam, he would have been (as he was) a countervailing force to Iran. With Iraq out of the equation,Iran has now stepped in to be the dominant force in the region, getting even Syria to play ball as a secondary power.
posted by Postroad at 6:10 PM PST


Wasn't that one of the arguments given "back in the day" when Rumsfield and others were helping Saddam?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:00 AM on October 20, 2006


With 14 permanent military bases in Iraq, the US is not going to be leaving. They, and the UK, can get the hell out of the cities though. Immediately. There are plenty of other organisations that can step in to assist the Iraqis.
It always amazes me that there are people who think that the presence of US/UK troops would lead to stability in countries where they are the invading force. It boggles my mind. The worlds worst offenders for spreading terror and violence in the past 60 years are not well liked internationally.
For example, Iraq may be free of Christians within a few decades due to the current situation. I would imagine that might anger the global Christian community. But they can always forgive, as Bill Hicks would say.
Archeological remains of the cradle of civilization? The costs of this blundering attempt to secure the dwindling supplies of petrochemical resources for the biggest profligate on the planet will be felt by the human race for a long time, possibly for the rest of human history.

Ideally, the US and UK government leaders will be prosecuted for their war crimes (like the Nazis who were prosecuted for the illegal invasion of Poland) and this will send a signal to the globe that sanity has returned to the Western world which would have a calming effect on the global situation. Obviously US bases in Iraq would also be dismantled, along with Diego Garcia and Guantanamo.
But sanity is not on the agenda.
posted by asok at 2:51 AM on October 20, 2006


Sorry, Bulgaroktonos, but I don't believe you. I'm pretty sure the reason you're so cavalier with our "obligations" to "set things right" in Iraq is precisely because it costs very little to you to hold these opinions, in terms of physical safety, personal finances or invested time. And if our leaders did indeed decide that your presence on the battlefield is required, you will most certainly reevaluate them. But for now I'm sure it feels good to be all responsible and consistent, from afar. Very pragmatic indeed.

As far as Iraqis go, they have been dying as a direct result of American actions since the first gulf war. Pretty much every way to destroy a country has already been tried. Perhaps it's time to forget about the good intentions and "morality" and just leave them alone.
posted by c13 at 4:02 AM on October 20, 2006


preventive war - whatever the fuck that means

It means preemptive war.
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:35 AM on October 20, 2006


we're effectively gang raping that part of the world

It's hardly a gang rape, is it? It's basically the U.S. giving a bit of the old in-out, with the U.K. standing there, holding your jacket with a growing unease, looking around in case of witnesses and moaning "But you said she was asking for it, George, you said she was asking for it..."

The rest of the gang (such as it was) melted into the night a long time ago.
posted by Grangousier at 5:57 AM on October 20, 2006


I don't really buy the argument that Iraq will turn into a giant terrorist training camp if US troops leave. But I do worry that there would be an orgy of ethnic cleansing a la Srebrenica.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:16 AM on October 20, 2006


I sympathize with Bulgaroktonos' position. After all, it was our callous feeding of the war in Afghanistan and then dropping it immediately afterwards that caused it to spiral into chaos and become Taliban and al Qaedaville.

But the problem here, of course, is that the same idiots who got us into this are the ones trying to get us out. And they have stated very clearly that they are not willing to learn from their mistakes. Thus the desire to just bring'em home.
posted by fungible at 6:22 AM on October 20, 2006


sinking ships, rats, etc

a sad spectacle, really
posted by matteo at 6:36 AM on October 20, 2006


In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests...

So pissing away our super power status was all part of some master plan to advance our interests?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:29 AM on October 20, 2006


Perhaps its time for those who feel America has a moral obligation to sorting out the problem need to really think how that could be done.

You have had a fair few years to do something but its not happening.

Maybe you should just admit it is beyond you.

I mean if i walked into a nuclear power station and triggered a meltdown i might feel a moral obligation to help out but i would have to admit to not knowing shit about physics and get the fuck out of the way while smarter people did the job.

Shit or get off the pot, i say. Either come up with a solution or admit defeat and let someone else sort it out.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:46 AM on October 20, 2006


I give you, for your reading pleasure, the onion who, in 2003, had a more accurate prediction of the future than jonah, Bush, or any of the chickenhawks.

The god damn motherfucking onion.

Tu Stultus Es indeed.
posted by Freen at 12:04 PM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


One might consider the administrations' actions as a deliberate, purposeful action to enrich themselves. Y'all seen Halliburton's stock price lately? Noticed how much money Halliburton can not account for? Wonder why every man woman and child in the USA is in debt up to his eyeballs for this fruitless war?

One of the sensible explanations is that it was a corporate raid on the public treasury.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:14 PM on October 20, 2006


The Onion also predicted the entire Bush presidency.

"You better believe we're going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration," said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. "Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?"

On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.
posted by ibmcginty at 12:20 PM on October 20, 2006


“I am fat, but if it comes to a draft, I would serve. It doesn't need more men, it needs a better plan.”
posted by Bulgaroktonos


Reading over your other points I can appreciate your position and I don’t want to reiterate what fungible expressed so well about the administration self-avowed postition of not learning from their mistakes.
I will point out that soldiers are tools of ill omen (to paraphrase) and if you have a hammer, all problems tend to look like nails.
In this phase of the Iraq “war” - even calling it a war is problematic and deletrious to a peaceful and honorable solution - violence is ultimately self-defeating.
What your argument is predicated on, is that this administration is seeking, or is at all interested in seeking, a solution.
Now I grant, once you’re in a fight the only objective is to win. But once you discover the conflict is predicated on a mistake or falsehood, etc - you should disengage.
The course your argument implies is analogus to the healing process afterwards. The “I’m sorry”s and such. I grant we can do that in occupation, but we are neither geared up to do that nor is there the strategic shift necessary to do that which would come from the civilian leadership.
We should not stay there because Bushco wants to keep fighting. Not because we couldn’t remedy the situation. And we could, if we had more men, if we were mobilized as a society to do that (shift out manufacuring base a bit to fill wartime equipment quotas). The impact snipers are having alone shows the flaws in our occupation strategy. You need to soak into a society with a good countersniper program. It’s an intensive operation done with well-trained individuals. We should, were we anywhere near able to shift to healing Iraqi society, have made sniping a near impossibility. Instead we’ve immobilized ourselves except for the patrols, etc.
The raw mechanics to make that shift aren’t there. They could be, but that would take a policy shift from the civilian leadership. (Plus time to make it operational) But that hasn’t been forthcoming.
One can only conclude then, the administration isn’t interested in anything but continuing to fight. And that their goals are something other than “fixing” Iraq in any meaningful sense of that term.
Which renders your argument into “continue to trust the administration” - which, I believe, you’re not saying but is the practical upshot of it, all things considered.

I will point out that the military does, in fact, need more men. That were you drafted you would have no choice but to serve (ergo a false dilemma) or flee. And that a hitch in the military would do you (and nearly anyone) a world of good. If only to see how policy directly affects people’s daily lives in more than an abstract way.
I would add that the only thing that has kept me from re-enlisting is the immorality of the conflict itself. Otherwise I’d be trying to do something to help my brothers out in the field. Best I can do right now is help when they get back.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:46 PM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


And that a hitch in the military would do you (and nearly anyone) a world of good.
Do you know any veterans? They aren't quite like in the commercials where the dad thanks them for "looking them in the eye and shaking their hand," for the most part, they're decent, working-class guys with some post-traumatic stress, big, 200-pound-plus guys who cry about what they were forced to do when you get a few beers in them. These are guys from gulf II, "He tried to kill my daddy: the rematch." At least in my experience.
posted by oxonium at 8:18 PM on October 20, 2006


I don't really buy the argument that Iraq will turn into a giant terrorist training camp if US troops leave. But I do worry that there would be an orgy of ethnic cleansing a la Srebrenica.

It's already a giant terrorist training camp, it's just that they are busy killing Iraqis now.
posted by caddis at 11:04 PM on October 20, 2006


"Do you know any veterans?"

Matter of fact I know a lot of them. I see them a lot at the DAV, the American Legion, VFW, etc. And I have a lot of friends. Some of them are still in. And I happen to be one.
There are more combat vets now, which helps with the realities of war. Too many REMFs out there looking back fondly and being lapdogged by the 'fighting keyboarders'.
Had more than a few rough nights myself. Still, bit of an oversimplification in your stereotype there.

I also happen to think a hitch in the peace corps would do many folks a lot of good. But in terms of understanding politics and the impact of foreign policy on the real world, I don't think there's anything better than the military. Probably be a lot less hawks. Notice how the (few) vets in congress tend to be reluctant to engage the military?
That's not only the understanding of the blood and guts and pain of it, but also the nuances in the use of force. There are things force applications can do. There are other things they aren't suited to do.
It's like (very young) virgins talking about sex. "Oh, it will be in a castle in the clouds and we'll ride horses and...." etc. etc.
There are very unrealistic expectations as to what force can and can't do when one does not fully understand it.

Although I understand IT guys get the same kind of crap. I think folks should know a bit more about computers so they're not looking for the 'any' key and such.

Of course, the stakes aren't as high. And if you haven't had your life in peril because some asshat in an office some place who's never been to war thinks you are all Chuck Norris (Norri? Norrises?) and ride superbikes with missle mounts on them into battle, you really don't get the full impact of what even a minor miscalculation - by someone else who bears no responsibility for the outcome - means in terms of foreign policy.

I suspect if more people had military experiance there would be (well, granted more political assassinations/riots/etc.) but certainly less apathy and more participation.

Of course, that would take the gumption to be involved in some way or another in the first place.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:10 PM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


Great, great post, Smedleyman.

Notice how the (few) vets in congress tend to be reluctant to engage the military?

The studies bear this out. The more veterans in Congress, the less likely we go to war.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:26 PM on October 20, 2006




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