Sunday, January 21, 2007

Black marks?

Dan Drezner has a post up apologizing for his dreadful erorrs on the Iraq war.

I wanted to comment on it, buty his comments are suffering technical issues (what we call, technically, "hosed.") But then I realized that it was a comment that needed to be made more broadly, so I brought it back here.

Not only do I believe no apology is necessary, I think people are being damn fools about it, based on not having much of a sense of history or time.

Consider the list proposed at Dan's site:
(1) No WMD found.
(2) Not enough troops to do the job.
(3) Not minimally competent.

Now consider:

(1) significant quantities of WMD were found, and it's clear Saddam had preserved the necessary information and material to resume production when sanctions were inevitably revoked. Including 500 tonnes of yellowcake.

This much is just fact. (Watch what happens when this is brought up: the response, when it's not just "lalala can't hear you", is "Oh, those weren't enough WMD", or "they were old", or even "Saddam would never use them.")

More important, without the Iraq war, we can pretty well conclude that there would be an Iraq/Iran nuclear arms race. Iran is bad enough, the pair would have been infinitely annoying.

(2) Enough troops. Enough for what? Iraq fell so precipitously and completely that the story will be told alongside Thermopylae and Zama, and both the direct invasion and the following occupation have been done with historically few casualties. Enough to settle the internecine tensions of 25 million arabs, kurds, and turkmen? No, but other than ensuring that none of the groups get complete control, what do we care frankly?

None the less, it's as well functioning a democracy as there is in the Middle East (ex Israel), and while we fuss about it, no one is noticing the Iraqi economy seems to be doing quite well.

(3) Incompetence. Yeah, sure. They clearly aren't very good at getting good press coverage; callow young academics don't seem to be happy. But in the mean time, the Iraq and Afghan Campaigns have broken the lines of communication for al Qaeda across Central Asia, eliminated a massive source of funding and support for the Palestinians and for other known terrorist groups (yes, yes, I know people say there was no connection, but it would require self-delusion amounting to a positive fugue state to actually ignore abu Nidal or the monetary payments to suicide bombers. Not to mention the loss of Afghanistan as a safe base for al Q.) While generating a "Cinderella economy". And fairly substantial education reform co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy. And re-election after losing the popular vote the first time, something I don't think was ever done before. And two rarely-done gains in Congress for the President's party, followed by a relatively small change in the 6-year off-election.

What Bush is missing is a way to deal with damn fools who have opinions first, and then think. Too often, the opinion first is "it would have been so much better if they'd have listened to me."


chuck said...

Dan, despite considering himself on the conservative side, is an academic with all the faults that implies. Many of his views tend to be very conventional for that environment. I doubt he will ever really recover and start thinking for himself.

Michael Totten, OTH, is an example of a person whose views actually seem to change in the face of evidence, evidence that he has sought out. You can have productive discussions with such people even when you disagree.

terrye said...

I think the thing that amazes me the most is the sheer self important arrogance of someone apologizing for the War in Iraq when all he has done himself thus far is run his mouth.

Now I realize that I am running my mouth, but then again I am not going to assume that I can call people trying to do something like paccify Iraq incompetent because they are not done yet.

Well how do I know that Drezner and his ilk would not have been far worse? Do they think this stuff is easy? That any competent person can bring peace and prosperity to a tribal culture which has been ruled over by a madman for decades if they were know...competent?

Honest to God, these people do not do anything. Nothing that requires real physical effort and meets with real resistance. They just shuffle their papers and yammer away and pass judgment on people who actually have a personal stake in the outcome of events.

Bitch Bitch Bitch.

My Grandmother Mammy never learned to drive. But I can still see here hanging onto the dash board with white knuckles and panic in her eyes screaming "Mac, you are going to kill us all" at my Dad while he drove. That man drove about 80,000 to 100,000 a mile a year and he never killed anyone. But the old lady without a drivers license just could not refrain from telling him what to do.

Charlie Martin said...

Do they think this stuff is easy?


Reliapundit said...

would dan drezner please also apologize for the arms race, ww2, the cold war, suv's, globalization, and the vietnam war!?!?


the rest of the world owes us an apology for carping on th sidelines when the should have been helping.

drezner is a cowed wimp looking to score points oin campus.

ever since he sought tenure he went leftie/dovey - IT'S THE STOCKHOLM SYNDROME.

buddy larsen said...

I think the most cringe-inducing fake apology I ever saw was Richard Clarkes 911-commission way-overacted apology to the American people "for not preventing 911".

Gag, spit, blind me with a hot poker but puhleeze don't do that in front of me while i yet can see.

truepeers said...

So, it boils down to "i was wrong because i made one big mistake: i did not take into account how dumb Bush is".

But otherwise, if a competent smart guy were in charge, we could have managed in Iraq the fallen condition of humanity, the clashing wills and conflict that has been racking our species since the beginning of time.

Does this guy know how naive and immersed in academic non-reality he sounds? how come they no longer teach what oft happens to the best laid plans? Maybe because that would require chaps stop posing as experts, or sometimes mistaken experts, for a moment and be truly humble; and you just can't do that in today's academy where the celibate monks have all been hosed...

Charlie Martin said...

But otherwise, if a competent smart guy were in charge, we could have managed in Iraq the fallen condition of humanity, the clashing wills and conflict that has been racking our species since the beginning of time.

And had it done in time to invite them all over for tea.

loner said...

...the story will be told alongside Thermopylae and Zama

ROFLMAO. I bet you know what that means Seneca.

chuck said...

Speaking of apologies, when is someone going to apologize for the fact that the first two terms of Roosevelt's presidency were a continuing economic disaster? I mean, really, if a smart guy had been elected it would have all fixed by 1934. The Great Depression would have been just another bump in the road, the Great Pothole, if you will. I think Democrats owe us all a major apology.

terrye said...

Well I am sure Bush will miss him, but somehow the president will struggle on without the approval and support of one more loud mouth know it all.

Maybe he should run for President and show all those incompetent dumbasses out there how it is done.


terrye said...

And while they are apologizing why doesn't someone apologize for Lincoln. I am sure if someone who really had his s*** together had been president he could have lined out that whole civil war states slavery thing in no time.

And don't even get me started on that silly old George Washington and the debacle at Valley Forge.

terrye said...


The military conquest was pretty amazing. The occupation is the hard part. But none the less I think some folks are losing perspective here.

My Uncle Robert was almost killed in WW2, he was in North Africa and Sicily and Italy. North Africa was where he got hit. Talk about a screw up. What a waste that was.

truepeers said...


If they want to start apologizing for FDR, they should start with the creation of the UN and its failure to end war, genocide, inequality and pollution. And they've been at it for 60 years; how long should it take?

buddy larsen said...

The thing about "incompetent" is that it just hangs there doing nothing but demoralizing folks who forget to ask "compared to what?"

What about the enemy's vote?

The Earth is incompetent at suspending gravity every time something falls that shouldn't.

The "incompetentcy-aggrieved" are incompetent at preventing themselves from using half of a comparison--which is to say, incompetent at creating anything more than word rubbish to litter a landscape which cries out to be better served.

Rick Ballard said...

Zama turned out OK - let's skip Ticino, Trebia and Cannae this time.

"Ceterum censeo, Isamism delenda est"


Cato's 'good friend',

Scipio A.

terrye said...

Speaking of incompetent why is New Orleans still a mess? Is Bush supposed to go down there ala Jimmy Carter and start building houses? I see the Bears are whipping the Saints.

buddy larsen said...

so did Thermopylae--the sequence led directly to the war-winning, West-saving Battle of Salamis.

buddy larsen said...

How about an apology for that K-12 system, hey? Costs what, 10k/yr/student and produces education ranking somewhere around 17th in the world? Whatcha wanna bet the out-producers spend less--or even *far* less?

Fresh Air said...

Personally, I would like to see Drezner apologize for taking someone worthy's spot at the U of C. All that great education shot to hell.

Rick Ballard said...

"so did Thermopylae--the sequence led directly to the war-winning, West-saving Battle of Salamis."

Sure, sure, buy the squids version.

Scipio A.

vnjagvet said...

Like being exposed to the Chinese water torture treatment, Drezner has been exposed to the blanketing influence of academia, IMHO.

Only heroic individuals like the late Milton Friedman are able keep their their balance and judgment in that environment.

On the merits, this is a true test for those of us who try to understand and apply historical precedents accurately.

Think for a second how many of our fellow citizens, and their elite leaders believed in Ronald Reagan's leadership principles during the eighties cold war battles. I suspect the poll numbers were as dismal in, say, 1986 and 1987 on his cold war policy as they are on our Iraq policy.

Surely academe, the MSM and the Carterites thought Reagan was a dolt and a warmonger, that Weinberger was a liar and a scoundrel, that Ollie North and Admiral Poindexter belonged in jail, etc., etc., etc.

I still think VDH and my gang at YARGB has it right, but I'm glad I'm no longer working with the "clueless elite" in the big business, big government and big lawfirm environment.

buddy larsen said...

Though all had a much-different ideas of it, all the blind men were faithfully describing the elephant. None were liars.

I just don't think it's so damn hard to see this particular elephant. For example, a mouse would be described the same by all the blind men. This war is not small like a mouse, but the ideas involved are accessible, like all the areas of a mouse would be to the feel of the blind men.

So there's something else at work here, something besides truth-seeking.

cf said...

Seneca's smarter than Dan. Always was.

buddy larsen said...

Seneca's smarter than damn near everybody.

Charlie Martin said...

Yes I do, Loner. And I know he difference between winning a battle and winning a war.

Do recall that military history has a purpose, and provides an insight, beyond knowing the answer on the midterm.

Charlie Martin said...


truepeers said...

So there's something else at work here, something besides truth-seeking.

-yup; it's the experience of a world so unsettling and uncertain that you have to believe in some fantasy (never seen as such) - even including the fantasy that we can't know anything true beyond the knowledge that power and who has it explains everything - to provide some sense of orientation to life and one's vision of the future (one chooses fantasy because it flatters one's desire to acquire special liberating or transforming knowledge, and orthodox religion is back beyond some burned bridges).

buddy larsen said...

Compliments, 'peers--masterfully and usefully put.

loner said...


I know. ROFLMAO.

Syl said...

Damn well said, Seneca.

I, as insignificant as I am, apologize for nothing. I STILL support Iraq. I STILL think we had to do it. I STILL think the Iraqi people can make it but need our continued assistance to do so.

As for the 'mess' in Iraq it was caused by al Qaeda and Islamists. They are our enemy too and we're fighting them.

Whenever you hear of a car bomb going off in some neighborhood or market it is al Qaeda who has done it. Even Iraqi insurgents aren't into suicide bombings, a complaint voiced vociferously by the whining Zarqawi in his missive to Zawahiri.

Sadr is a Nasrallah wannabee but he will fail because the Iraqi government can care for its people so Sadr can't use social services to get the support of the people as Nasrallah does (and Hamas). Right now all al Sadr has going for him is the Iraqi people's wish for the violence to end. When a car bomb goes off in a shia neighborhood, it's Sadr's goons who take revenge.

Our mission STILL is to stop/kill/capture the sunni insurgents and al Qaeda goons. And anything that gets in the way of doing that has to be dealt with too.

I'm tired as is everyone else, but I'm not tired of the war itself. I'm tired of the war about the war.