I have a question

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Bush is going to be making some speeches on Iraq. That got Gale and me talking. He said that he thought Bush was being way too nice not only in Iraq, but with some of the other crazies in the world. He asked me if I thought that the people who did the news and made policy etc had any idea what the average guy in the boonies was saying and I said "Probably not." Gale has always supported Bush [as much as he can support any politician] because he felt he was more genuine than the other guys. I wonder how much of Bush's fall in support on Iraq is not from the left, but the right, from guys like Gale who want him to kick some ass and get it done.

I think maybe the Democrats read the polls and their answer is Ned Lamont when in fact it should be Harry Truman. But then again, the country abandoned Harry Truman.

So my question is given the choice of staying in Iraq and winning or just running away, which would most Americans choose?

32 comments:

David Thomson said...

Never forget what happened to George McGovern in 1972. Most Americans, in their heart of hearts, want to finish the fight in Iraq. President Bush will destroy his political effectiveness if he appears wimpy on Iraq. However, I do agree with Dick Morris---the president must emphasize national security in his speeches. This is the Republicans strong point.

Knucklehead said...

The "dismal failure in Iraq" meme from the "left" is basically the "war is not the answer" gang. There are subsets of this overall category.

The "leftish" disapproval re: Iraq is mostly different than the "rightish" disapproval.

There's the isolationist overlap, of course; there are both left and right who don't think we should ever stick our noses outside our borders when it comes to foreign affairs. Beyond that they'd be at each other's throats about the details but they agree we shouldn't be in Iraq.

Other than that the "rightish" disapproval consists, largely, of those who agree with Gale that we should be prosecuting things with much more vigor. What "vigor" entails and how much of it is right is subject to discussion and wide-ranging disagreements but it is largely "stop being so nice and start kicking some butt!"

There are other elements of "rightish" disapproval. There is, of course, the "nuke 'em till they glow so we can hunt the survivors in the dark and let Allah sort them out" gang. There is also a contingent among the right who that somehow we could and should get far more international support. And then there is a contingent who just believes roughly the same resources could be used to much better success.

Unfortunately for Bush - and any POTUS - he's got to live within the painful realities of our political spectrum. It isn't a dictatorship and the idea that we could have a overwhelming public agreement on how to proceed is a pipe dream. I suspect Bush could get away with pushing harder but not nearly as hard as some of us want.

Pastorius said...

I've recently decided that it is likely that we will fail in Iraq if we don't change our course.

I am livid over this prospect. And, I am angry at Bush.

For a long time, I subscribed to the poker player theory, which states that Bush holds his cards close to his vest, so he likely has strategies that we are not privy to.

However, the fiasco of the Hizbollah peace treaty and the mismanagement of the Iran crisis has left me believing that Bush does not have a plan, or at least none that goes in what I would believe to be a realistic direction.

I have resigned myself to the idea that this was will leave million, if not tens of millions dead.

Until the last few months, I believed we had a chance to win with relatively little blood spilled.

Fresh Air said...

Pastorius--

The president is not responsible for Israel, and this half-assed, 5-day war is hardly the last skirmish with Hezbollah. Wait another six months and see what happens.

As for Iran, who knows? The choices are bad and even worse. My own belief is that Iran will obtain a crude nuclear weapon, but probably lack the ability to deliver it surgically or in large numbers. And for this reason, will never use it, the nutcase running the country notwithstanding.

Knucklehead said...

Pastorius,

What options are or were available to Bush (or anyone who might be POTUS)?

What is the realistic range of "what the heck happened there in Lebanon?" possibilities? I, among many of us, wanted Israel to wipe out the Army of God. They didn't. What I have no way to know is if that was realistically possible. It is certainly possible that either their leadership was not up to the task or the IDF itself was not up to it.

What could the US have done to alter that? We could have joined the fight directly in various ways. I don't think the US populace has the stomach for that. Our contibution would have been, it seems to me, to go after Syria and/or Iran directly. I do not believe for one second that Bush would have gotten approval from Congress to do that and Congressional approval is still necessary for a POTUS to conduct any sustained, large scale military operation.

What "diplomatic" options were available? The US could have prevented the ceasefire agreement but that would have been a meaningless gesture if Israel was unwilling to continue the fight. I suspect that Israel indicated it was ready for a ceasefire. I have no idea why that would be the case but Israel does not have unlimited ability to wage war. The IDF is a very impressive fighting force but Israel has very real limitations.

Like you I am not happy with the outcome but I have no information that makes it clear to me another outcome was possible.

If Bush announced he was sending our military to blast the crap out of Syria and Iran I'd be one of the folks saying, "Good. It's about darned time!" You'd probably be standing alongside me cheering but I seriously doubt we'd have more than 15 or 20% of Our Fellow Americans standing with us and we'd have half or more shrieking about it.

I am fearful of the same outcome you mentioned (millions will die later because we're unwilling to take the gloves off now) but I just don't see any evidence that the US population has the stomach for taking the gloves off now. That's unfortunate but I don't think it is Bush's fault - it's our fault.

Pastorius said...

Knucklehead and Fresh Air,
I will admit up front that I may be ignorant of military strategy, but it seeemed to me the President was angling towards being able to join the war against Hizbollah. I think he saw it as his ticket to be able to attack Iran. Why else would he have made such blatant statements about Iran and Syria supporting Hizbollah?

When the war broke out, Israel and the United States made bold statements, and Israel made the bold gesture of having an F-16 buzz the home of the Syrian President.

As the days wore on, Israel and the United States became more tentative. Clearly, something broke down.

My hunch is Bush lost confidence in the Israeli leadership and at the same time lost confidence in his own ability to sway Congress and the people of the United States to do what needed to be done.

Alan said...

I agree with Pastorius. Bush's leadership in Iraq has been a failure. Letting al Sadr go was predictably stupid. Now we're fighting his militia...go figure. This post here sums up my feelings on the war.

Syl said...

The Right has to STOP THIS SHIT about what went wrong in Iraq.

It doesn't matter now. What matters is that we finallly WIN.

I watched Bush's speech today on MSNBC because I wanted to see the Left's reaction to it.

Nora O'Donnell rolled her eyes as usual.

It's all political framing for November that the Reps know what the real deal about Iraq is and the Dems don't.

But Nora pointed out that the Reps are complaining almost as much as the Dems so that doesn't work.

She's right.

The other thing she was all excited about was her guy in Baghdad saying the military brass in Iraq are telling him that al Qaeda in Iraq is essentially toast. The insurgency has all but died out. And what's left is sectarian violence.

She was delighted because to HER and the left that means Bush is lying about the importance of winning in Iraq and that Iraq is about the war on terror.

She's wrong. The point in Iraq is to leave only when the democracy is secure--and it doesn't matter what is causing the violence right now, if the government should fail al Qaeda will be right back in there.

Not to mention the perception in the muslim world that we can't finish what we start blah blah blah.

But this is how the left is going to frame it.

(1)Reps don't agree with Bush, so don't listen to his framing of Iraq in terms of Reps vs Dems.

(2)Iraq isn't about al Qaeda, it's about civil war.

Pastorius said...

Terrye,
You say, "The Right has to stop this shit. - the important thing is we have to win."

Yeah, but the problem is, if we don't change our strategy, I don't think we will win. And, the only way to get the Administration to change their strategy (which they've been pursuing for five years now) is to say what we think is wrong, and voice support for what we think is right.

Generally, all the complaining on the right is about how we need to use more force, and be bolder.

Certainly, if voiced clearly that doesn't hand any cred to the Left, does it?

terrye said...

pastorius:

Syl said that not me, but I do agree with her to some extent.

For instance a great many people on the right are assuming that Bush is control of everything all the time.

I would have been happy to see alSadr go, but the Iraqis had other ideas, perhaps they were afraid he would become a martyr like his dead family members. But it is not over yet.

As for Iran and Hizbellah, come on. Bush is a president, not a king, there are limits to what he can do and he can not make Israel fight and he can not just go into Iran and blow the place up without support.

People may be disappointed in Bush, but I am disappointed in a lot of people on the right who stayed with Bush just so long as it was easy, but when things got tough and they realized this was not going to be over in a couple of years, they bailed.

I look at history and how long it took the south to recover from the Civil War and how long it took to settle the west and how long it took to make South Korea and Japan modern countries with a democratic government and I wonder if we could do it today or if our collective attention spans have just gotten so short that we are not capable of hanging in there anymore.

terrye said...

alan:

Stupid? That is harsh, really.

A couple of things, there things you don't know and it might well have been that if the US forces had taken out Sadr then they would have made a martyr of him, the same way Saddam did when he killed other Sadrs in time past. That might well have created an even greater backlash.

terrye said...

Pastorius:

I forgot to say, yes it does help the left. very much so.

Pastorius said...

Have I really "abandoned Bush" if I would vote for him again, if I had the chance. There are no politicians I would trust more at this point.

Pastorius said...

Have I really "abandoned Bush" if I would vote for him again, if I had the chance. There are no politicians I would trust more at this point.

terrye said...

I think the thing that troubles me is that here I sit in my little house at my computer hammering away on my keyboard when I should be cleaning the kitchen floor.

And I am willing to admit that there are all kinds of things I don't know. I don't know if Bush failed in Iraq, because I don't know exactly what people think success is supposed to look like nor do I know what is really possible to accomplish. I am not an expert, but I do know that Bush wants to succeed, his legacy and his fortunes are at stake. And he is in a position to know a lot more about what is going on over there than we are. So before I give him advice or scold him for not getting rid of alSadr or whatever, I have to ask myself, do I really know any better than he does or than Casey does or all the experts he has at his disposal what the best and right thing to do is. No, I don't know. I think there are a lot of people who are under the impression they know more than they do.

Alan said...

Harsh? It was predictable and obviously so.

So making Sadr a martyr is worse than his rallying a militia now? It seems to me that setting these thugs free only breeds contempt. Hell, they think they're resilient. I'd rather them fear us. We need to make martyrs of them all. We need to take the wind out of their sails and put them back on their heels. If we aren't going to take the gloves off we aren't going to win. It's become painfully obvious Bush isn't capable of getting it done.

Knucklehead said...

Pastorius,

I was not suggesting ignorance on anyone's part. There are very few people who have any good idea of what happened in Lebanon and why.

But herein lies the point I'm trying to make:

My hunch is Bush lost confidence in the Israeli leadership and at the same time lost confidence in his own ability to sway Congress and the people of the United States to do what needed to be done.

That, essentially, lays "blame" at Bush's doorstep. He "lost confidence". Well, why would he lose confidence? If the events and information moved toward, "Israeli leadership - or the IDF - can't achieve what we hoped they could" whose "fault" is that and is it a negative against Bush? Would it be a positive for him if maintained some false confidence?

And if Congress wasn't willing to back him then how on earth could he have "confidence" in them?

I just cannot see how any POTUS can do anything but live within the realities of the times. The last time we had a wartime POTUS who didn't live within reality that idiot Johnson screwed the pooch in Vietnam.

At least Bush isn't feeding 500 American soldiers each week into a fight nobody wants to back him on.

If Bush sat down in front of the cameras tonight and put out an excellent case telling us that nothing in this world was more important right now than kicking the living crap out of Iran and Syria half or more of the nation would stand up shrieking against him and 90% of the rest of the world would join them.

In the current political climate how is Bush supposed to "take care of" Iran and Syria? Should he just decide he doesn't care about who says or does what, just bring him the darned "football" and tell him which buttons are for targets in Iran and Syria and let the chips fall where they may. On dark days I think we're going to wind up there anyway so why not get it over with now and get to the cleanup that much sooner. But I don't have responsibility for being the chief executive of 300 million people and a $12T nation. I think he's got bigger worries than whether you and me are "satisfied" with Iraq or Lebanon.

Part of playing poker is dealing with the fershit hands you get dealt and managing your pile of chips. You don't always have the cards and you can't always bluff your way to taking the pot. Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run. There's no reason to run but a whole lot of people want exactly that.

Knucklehead said...

The point in Iraq is to leave only when the democracy is secure--and it doesn't matter what is causing the violence right now, if the government should fail al Qaeda will be right back in there.

Thank you, Syl! Alan declares Iraq a failure because we didn't "get Sadr". The fact of the matter is that the "Sadrs" and "Saddamites" are Iraq's problem. We need to get them to the point where they can deal with their problems. That is what success will look like. When Iraq has a government strong enough to survive "getting Sadr", and dealing with the Saddamite mafia, then there is victory.

There were, and are, costs involved in "getting Sadr". The cost, way back when Alan thinks it should have been done, would probably have been a large pile of US lives, a much larger pile of Iraqi lives, but most importantly the collapse of the process of building an Iraqi government.

The Bush policy in Iraq has been, all along, to break down the power structure that existed and put a new one in place. That's not an overnight job and it is far larger than "getting Sadr" or even "getting Saddam".

Back when this all started there was no end of screaming that the Iraqis needed to stand up and fight and die for their own nation against the murdering thugs within it. Yet somehow the more that becomes reality the louder people scream that everything is screwed up in Iraq.

It isn't an easy fight but the Iraqis are standing up and fighting it. How on earth does that qualify as a dismal failure?

Syl said...

alan

Sheesh, man.

All this crap about more force and killing Sadr and blasting through Baghdad with guns blazing is..

IDIOTIC.

Iraq has a government now, or didn't you notice?

We are working WITH the government and the Iraqi forces now, or didn't you notice?

Let's just do a Dresden on Baghdad and be done with it?

Your solution is as utopian as the left's one of leaving then all will be fine.

Pastorius

You want to punish Bush for mistakes made a year ago, or two years ago? Right, do it now! Turn over the House to Pelosi. That'll learn him!

Sheesh

Syl said...

Knuck

Back when this all started there was no end of screaming that the Iraqis needed to stand up and fight and die for their own nation against the murdering thugs within it. Yet somehow the more that becomes reality the louder people scream that everything is screwed up in Iraq.

::applause::

terrye said...

alan:

You have no way of knowing. none.You are looking at facts and assuming that if this and that had been done two years ago then voila! there would be no militia. That is not true, Iran would have found someone else. The point is the Iraqis have to do a better job of dealing with their own.

Alan said...

And what of the cost having not killed Sadr? God forbid he were a martyr to rally around. And BTW, where is Sadr getting the resources to supply his "Mahdi Army?" Never mind, let's just continue to ignore that little detail.

terrye said...

alan:

No one is ignoring anyone. You do not know that. My point is Sadr does not exist within a vacuum. He is not the only one of his kind. His family members were killed by Saddam. They are already martyrs. Sadr city is named after them.

If we want to go back in time and arm chair general the war we could just as easily say that if Zarqawi had been caught before he managed to kill so many Shia and if the Sunni had been willing to become part of the process at the beginning Sadr would have remained a marginal figure in terms of national importance...Sistani cautioned against responding in kind, but Sadr said go after them, fight back and that gave him more of a following.

I am saying there are a dozen scenarios we could come up with and none of them might be right. We can not know what would have happened.

terrye said...

alan:

What do you suggest, Bush declare himself King and nuke Iran?

Alan said...

How many times in history has an enemy been allowed to escape only to come back and fight again?

I remember when Arafat was chased to the end of a Beruit Pier in the early eighties. He was let go only to create the culture of death the Palestinians live in today. Their survival, their resilience is the rallying cry, not martyrdom. We've seen this done over and over again. It's insane to think it would work differently each time.

Success in Iraq isn't the end of the WoT. We're sitting on our asses letting Iran and Syria muck it up when we should be moving on to overthrow those terrorist regimes.

Peter UK said...

After the propaganda coup at Qana(Khuraybah by Hezbollah,the was no way that ANY US president could have supported the offensive in Lebanon.Secondly the Israelis lost a principle means of prosecuting that offensive,air power,other than using armour and infantry to fight its way through the in depth defences in southern lebanon,perhaps taking months of vicious hard slog in the face of almost complete international objection.In truth Israel's government did not have the stomach for this.

Valuable lessons were learned from the brief campaign in Lebanon,it can be regarded as being analogous to the Spanish Civil War.It was an opportunity to observe Iranian strategy and tactics at close quarters.Hwzbollah was better trained,better armed and had well prepare positions.Doubtless military observers from many countries were taking note.

It was not for any of the Coalition to assassinate or arrest al Sadr,that is for the Iraqis,no doubt in the fullness of time an Iraqi solution will be found

terrye said...

alan:

We have to stop this second guessing and constant bitching. The truth is we have created a situation here where a couple of thousand crazy people can bring down a super power. We did that, not them.

We did not "allow" Sadr to excape. No doubt the US military has known where that little bastard was every moment since he came back into Iraq. He did not go anywhere without them knowing it. If the US military were to go over the top of the Iraqis and kill that bastard, it might well do more harm than good. I do believe that if the President were told by Casey and Abizaid tomorrow that they think Sadr should be taken out, he would be.

terrye said...

Oh yes, answer to your question, when did we ever let them live to fight another day: Pancho Villa, the Mexicans got him..not Pershing. Because after all, he was Mexican.

terrye said...

BTW, the 140,000 troops in Iraq are not sitting on their ass doing nothing.

luc said...

I just wonder what is the meaning of Iraq has gone bad. Everybody seems to have an answer to that. But let’s ask the opposite question: What would the situation in Iraq be for people to say Iraq that was really a successful endeavor?

Just for a moment do the exercise and write down the answer to this question. Once the answer to what a successful situation in Iraq would look like has been firmly established and written down then and only then ask the next question important question:
Is it reasonable to expect that outcome?

If the answer to the second question is negative, I suggest that what people expect out of Bush is not a possible thing to accomplish! In such case Bush should not only be cut some slack but should be praised for what he has accomplished to date in spite of the overwhelming lack of support.

gumshoe1 said...

a friend
paraphrased a Bush II quote
the other day:

"hindsight isn't vision,
and second-guessing isn't leadership."

leadership has become a "bad thing"
in the PoMo worldview,
but the navel-gazing
and self-loathing that gets you,your family and your neighbors killed is way worse in my book.

anybody here wish Jimmy C.
was back in office?

knuck said it well:
...Bush is dealing with the realities of global
events and a democratic society.

and our enemies inside and outside
the country are attempting to leverage every advantage they can get out of both.

terrye said...

gumshoe:

Agreed.

And Jimmy C is what they will get if they are not careful.

A half dozen attacks a day can make for ugly pics on TV but we can't expect bush to just make all that go away.