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Over at the normally cool TPM Cafe, there has been a pretty hot exchange going on between the Liberal Iraq Debacle Hawks (I use the word Debacle instead of War because I think it is important that we be clear that what they advocated for is a Debacle, whether they thought it would be one or not.) and those who opposed the Iraq conflict.

I won't get into the details of the debate - I think Matt Yglesias and Sam Rosenfeld wrote the definitive piece on the issue, but I wanted to note this churlish response from George Packer:

Sam Rosenfeld and Matthew Yglesias have written thoughtfully about the limits of liberal interventionism. They are right to say that it needs to be rescued from the tragedy of Iraq; over a year ago I said the same thing in The New Yorker when I wrote that it will take years to rescue Vaclav Havel from Paul Wolfowitz. They are also correct that some self-scrutiny among those who seem destined to go to our graves with the name "liberal hawks" is in order. Again, I would recommend a look at "The Assassins' Gate." Rosenfeld and Yglesias show no sign that they read it before they accused me of supporting the war to avoid the taint of dovishness and then employing the artful dodge. But something in their eagerness to prove that Iraq was doomed to fail tells me that they have another agenda than the salvation of liberal interventionism.

(Emphasis mine.) Holy catfish! The guy got upset when he felt accused of trying to "avoid the taint of dovishness" and then blithely accuses Yglesias and Rosenfeld of having "another agenda." Sheesh.

He goes on:

They want to win an argument--like some others who contributed to this discussion (it seems to be the default mode of bloggers and commenters on blogs). The inevitability argument has the feel of a very cerebral game played late at night by people who are extremely removed from the real field of play.

(Emphasis mine.) This from a guy who advocated the policy that has led to the Iraq Debacle. Accuses those who disagree with him of delusion. Give me a break.

In the end, here is Packer's problem, besides his enormous ego (yes a pot calling a kettle):

Anyone who spent time in Iraq during those months [after the fall of Baghdad] can't forget the longing of Iraqis for a simple, ordinary life, and their openness to those of us who came from outside. That memory, and the knowledge that, hidden now behind the screen of unbelievable violence, those same Iraqis are still there, makes it very difficult for me to write the whole thing off.

(Emphasis mine.) Well, this is aiming to sound admirable - to caring about the plight of the Iraqi people. And Packer no doubt does. But what does his empathy mean in practical terms of policy making? How does wanting to do something relate to the ability to do something and the wisdom of attempting to do something? This is his essential failing and he still fails to understand.

General Wesley Clark says "If you can do good, you should." The key word is "can." And "how" of course. The idea that anybody in the political discussion would not want a free and democratic Iraq is just nonsense. Everybody wants that. I want a free and democratic China too. I don't see Packer advocating a war of liberation there. Update [2005-10-22 14:20:25 by Armando]: Let me add that there is a certain irony that Packer would try and take the moral high ground of democratization from Yglesias, who like me is of Cuban descent. I don't doubt that Yglesias places a high premium on democratization, including on islands 90 miles frpm Florida.

This kind of sentimentalization of the extraordinarily bad judgment shown by the liberal hawks is exactly the wrong approach to discussing the issue. If their mindset remains mired in this approach, they simply are not credible to discuss the issues of foreign policy that require discussion.

More on the flip.

This sentimentalization approach of Packer's is reinforced in this passage:

Last night I received an e-mail from a soldier I met in Iraq in July 2003 who is now agonizing over the way forward. He wrote: "I hoped all the way until March 2003 that we wouldn't go to war with Iraq. I'd heard all the arguments for it, many of which were good...I just didn't think that fighting a war to fix a problem that had always been a problem and wasn't particularly worse than any number of similar problems around the world was worth alienating so many of our friends and reducing our esteem around the world. And I thought the post-war activities would be miserable in that environment.

You were right soldier. And you left out one other thing. We were not capable of fixing the situation.

But now the sentimentalization intrudes:

Once I exited the C-17, though, my views changed drastically. Particularly after meeting and befriending so many Iraqis as they, it seemed to me, woke up disoriented from a generation-long nightmare, I began to believe very deeply in the morality of what I was involved in there, if not the wisdom of the policy that brought it all about.

Hold up. It is NOT moral to adopt an unwise policy that does more harm than good even if the intention of the policy is moral. Indeed, it is IMMORAL in my view.

And this is the fundamental point. Packer wants to grasp the mantle of the "right thing to do" even if unwise. I categorically reject that. It was the wrong thing to do and not moral.

Not to accept that is to not learn from your mistakes. Packer, it seems to me, and no, I have not read his book, just his posts, has learned nothing.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:52 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  yep (4.00)
    That was always the main problem with TNR types.  They somehow thought it was possible to divorce philosophical consistence from its real world application--though I've always had a sneaking suspicion that it really had a lot more to do with editorial positioning.

    To his virtues be very kind, to his vices very blind.

    by Jonathan Schwartz on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:53:02 AM PDT

    •  The Nation had it best (none)
      ...how is it that few liberals and no leftists in 1968 believed that Lyndon Johnson, arguably the most progressive President in American history, would or could airlift democracy to Vietnam, while many liberals and not a few leftists in 2003 believed that the most reactionary President since William McKinley could and would export democracy to Iraq?

      To me that's a pretty fundamental question.

      I want democracy for Iraq. But to quote Will Durst, I also want to lose weight by eating bacon.

      American arms still go to dictators.

      Our allies are just like Saddam.

      Why would we believe that we can "bring democracy to Iraq?" And why would we believe that BushCo are the right men and women to do that job? Only under the influence of really good drugs would I fall into that trap...

  •  What will it take (4.00)
    To convince the "liberal interventionists" (a/k/a think-tank warriors) that the Iraq war made this country less secure?

    Evidently 2,000 dead American soldiers, 15,000 or more wounded, and a quarter of a trillion dollars down a rathole aren't enough.

    •  Less Secure (4.00)
      I wrote a lot of "Mainstreet Moms" letters for the Kerry campaign in 2004, and tried to convince each voter in Ohio and Oregon that the administration's foreign policy had made us less secure.  

      At this point, the only reason to try to convince the liberal interventionists is to set a policy that will extricate our troops.  Sadly, any new crisis that demonstrates that our status in the world has diminished will probably not change the minds of hawks - it will only strengthen their rhetoric about "supporting our troops" and "staying the course."  

      Perhaps our allies or the UN will think of something to jolt us out of our arrogance.

      Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. - Plato

      by shack on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:04:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One disaster beget another (none)
        I some time wonder how the Obvious is so often invisible. The attack on 9/11 cost 2000+ lives and Billions our adventure into Iraq has cost us far more in lives and treasure.Who has inflicted more damage Osama or Bush?
         I have begun to realize those who Orchestrated 9/11 have succeeded in ways they never could have dreamed. By taking the macho, show em the size of our power option. Bush & CO Opted for a Military adventure into the heart of the middle east and led us into a disaster and politically Locked the door behind us with the idea we cannot turn our back on Iraq and if we do we will appear week and therefore invite more attacks. This is the essence of the debate between the Liberal Hawks and the Yellow liberals. It is a false debate and pure nonsense. It is the same old discredited domino theory repackaged. We can and should set a realistic time table and get out. We and the world will get over it.

        Disabled Viet Vet ret. My snark is worse than my bite

        by eddieb061345 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:33:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I will not change my opinion (4.00)
      till you pry it from my cold dead mind

      Pop-gun president lying with impunity, soundbyte policies and photo opportunities

      by Dave the Wave on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:57:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know what "interventionists"... (none)
      (the guys calling themselves liberal hawks i take it) were supporting in the 1st place with regards Iraq. It was stupidly managed from the get go: no real coalition building, in fact outright beligerance towards some allies and nations with whom we share common interests, no patience, no plan, arrogance, ridiculous claims of being showered with candy and flowers upon arrival, and the callousness of PROUDLY launching "Shock and Awe" against a 3rd world nation.

      Doesn't actually seem like something someone of a liberal bent could support in the 1st place - not what I would call a humanist approach to the problem of Iraq.

      And the BS about WMD's was all known 2-6 weeks after the start of hostilities when the WMD's and bio-labs didn't show up. To continue to support the war in any shape or form after that point on the time line is sheer blind lunacy! It's like chasing "your money" at a Black-Jack table, you always come up a loser.

      A little further down on the time line we find out that Bush et al accepted intel they knew to be questionable from Curveball and Chalabi?! and use that as an excuse to wage war? Well, still in support of the war at this juncture, you are a right-wing, kool-aid addled, flag-waving, jingo spewing, party before country republican.

      To have just now realized that the war was wrong, means you qualify to write punditry for one of our major dailies.

      •  You miss the point Karl. (none)
        Packer's book should be looked upon as a "phillipic," as well as a squirming attempt to justify the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, while releasing Packer's own growing disillusionment at the same time.

        Packer is trying to have all sides, and exit gracefully from the issue.

        I say let him go.  His book might as well be university advanced school "peer review" literature.  He may get read, but by how many?  How many of our under-employed countrymen have the time to wade through Packer's writing?  

        Not very many I am afraid.  

        You want something gory to consider?  Find out all you can about the Syria gambit, that is presently under way.  Team Smirk wants a wider war.  The lies are starting.  Packer's work, "The Assassin's Gate" is a distraction at this time.

        Watch Syria vis a vis Bush and his bloody gang.  this is where the action is.  

        "same old fears, same old crimes-we haven't changed since ancient times.." "Iron Hand" Dire Straits

        by boilerman10 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:58:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Meaning of democracy (none)
      A telling quote:

      Anyone who spent time in Iraq during those months [after the fall of Baghdad] can't forget the longing of Iraqis for a simple, ordinary life, and their openness to those of us who came from outside. That memory, and the knowledge that, hidden now behind the screen of unbelievable violence, those same Iraqis are still there, makes it very difficult for me to write the whole thing off.

      Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! It is a memory. Few people dispute that the vast majority of those Iraqis want us to leave now.

      January 2005: 82 percent of Sunni Arabs and 69 percent of Shiites (who together make up 80-85% of Iraq's population) favor US withdrawal either immediately, or after an elected government is in place. (Zogby)

      We turned their country into chaos and they don't want our brand of "fixing" things. They simply want us to go. So which part of "democracy" are we having trouble understanding?

  •  Must take issue with one thing (4.00)
    Calling TPM Cafe "normally cool", which implies it wasn't in this case. Can't agree. One bad response from George Packer doesn't diminsh the coolness of the site, if for no other reason than it gives a good forum in which to flog him.
  •  Armando (4.00)
    Great post. I can't understand how people thought going after Iraq was ever going to work. I never thought it was. I also don't understand their desire to leave the work in Afghanistan unfinished in order to proceed with their debacle.

    The people who say "Remember September the 11th?" the most are the ones most likely to forget Osama bin Laden.

    There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you. -- Sherlock Holmes

    by Carnacki on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:58:37 AM PDT

    •  The "Remember 9/11" crowd (none)
      When the Iraq war started, a heavy majority of them believed that Saddam was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
      •  Funny... (4.00)
        ...the "Remember 9/11" crowd never advocated bombing the compounds of white-power right-wing militia members in response to the white-power right-wing militia's bombing Oklahoma City.  

        But they'll grab any pretext to bomb the shit out of brown people, especially those sitting on oil reserves.  Doesn't matter if they had anything to do with 9/11 or not.

        Remember the days immediately after the OKC bombing, when Limbaugh and Company called for the heads of the dirty Ay-rabs who they KNEW had to have been the culprits?  And remember how they backpedaled like mad when far-right racist white guys were found to be behind it?  Suddenly, Limbaugh and Company got all touchy-feely liberal on us:  "We must try to understand these poor victims of circumstance -- they were driven to do it by Waco/Ruby Ridge/Fill-in-the-blank!"  (Of course, the really extreme nutters say that Clinton Did It and blamed it on the poor innocent white-power people.)

        Same thing with the Olympic Park, gay nightclub and Planned Parenthood bombings:  Once it was clear that white-supremacist anti-Semite Eric Rudolph was behind them, and not some nasty Ay-rab, then suddenly the GOP/Media Axis sought to "understand" the poor widdle "freedom fighter".

    •  Oh come on Carnacki (4.00)
      Bush made a bold decision to change the entire region rather than just going after Osama. That's big picture thinking and shows inititive.

      And everyone (who watches FOX) knows that Saddam helped plan the 9-11 attack, sponored al Queda, and had nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction! They were their, Saddam just moved them to Syria before we got there.

      Remember, Iraq is central now to the war on terra. It's the center of the terrorist universe. We had nothing to do with that. We're fighting for freedom. Look at all those purple fingers for goodness sakes. We are liberators, spreading Democracy like a plague across the middle east.

      Surely you can see the logic in all this? Osama is small potatos.

  •  I prefer 'illegal invasion of Iraq' (4.00)
    "Debacle" is what it became after the illegal invasion.

    This above all: to thine own self be true,... Thou canst not then be false to any man.-WS

    by Agathena on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:00:46 AM PDT

    •  But big thanks (none)
      to Armando for using the phrase "liberal Iraq X hawks". I have been imploring people not to kick in the teeth those of us liberal interventionist enthusiasts who saw the Iraq invasion as a crock of shit from the very outset. But I hadn't yet thought of an alternative frame. That works for me.

      hawk=someone who may support war, not necessarily the Iraq war

      Iraq hawk=someone who supported the Iraq war

      liberal hawk=liberal who may support war, not necessarily the Iraq war

      liberal Iraq hawk=liberal who supported the Iraq war

      •  By the way (none)
        When is kos going to fix his damn site? This comment thread is unreadable due to the fact that the comments' lines wrap at about two screens wide. Naturally that puts the first comments underneath the adverts, but that's an old complaint and part of the same problem.
  •  Was not Josh Marshall a hawk too? (none)

    This above all: to thine own self be true,... Thou canst not then be false to any man.-WS

    by Agathena on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:04:46 AM PDT

    •  I think Josh was a bit cagey (none)
      IIRC, he was mildly supportive during the initial part of the runup to the war, then at some point before the actual invasion got quiet or even mildly critical. It's very possible that he withdrew his support before the actual invasion, but I'm just not sure.

      Not that I'm very critical of Josh. Heck, I was surrounded by people, including liberals, who were gung-ho for the war, and it was difficult to stand my ground, especially since I'm far from being a pacifist. Since I'm not anti-war but rather anti-Iraq-war, my explanations were somewhat complex and often involved telling people, as diplomatically as possible, that they were being brainwashed with bullshit by leaders (and the leaders' presstitutes in the so-called "liberal media") who were pathologically dishonest.

      Given Josh's position as an up-and-coming liberal pundit and the kind of people who are his peers and colleagues in D.C., I'd guess that Josh was in an even more difficult position than I was.

    •  Josh, Matt and Kevin (none)
      All hawks initially, but always willing to listen (though IIRC Kevin took the most time to come around).

      Ultimately they decided to remain inhabitants of the Reality Based continuum rather than remaining in Packers Realm of Denial.

  •  You Don't Want To Invade China? (none)
    Good point Mando. There's so much wrong with the world, but we have to be intelligent on what we can and what we shouldn't try to right. Packer is the epitome of a so called "bleeding heart liberal", if he is a liberal. His morality arguments are just plain stupid. As stupid as having invaded China to support the Tienamen Square pro-democracy students.

    The wingers? Well, they're just plain opportunists. And maybe that's what distinguishes Packer from them -- I say maybe. Their bleeding heart conservative arguments are an after-the-fact justification for a yahoo foreign policy.

    Just Doing My Small Part In Pissing Off The Religious Right.

    by chuco35 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:06:37 AM PDT

  •  Another way to view this (4.00)
    Great post, especially the point about how we all want to see democracy everywhere, but that doesn't mean the US should go on a serial regime change rampage.

    The way I've argued this, since well before the war started, was in terms of a cost/benefit analysis.

    Did we want Saddam Hussein out of power, replaced by a democracy?  Of course.  But at what cost?  How many innocent US and Iraqi lives, how many billions of dollars, and how much of the US's reputation are you willing to exchange for democratizing Iraq?

    Saddam Hussein was indeed a monster, but after 13 years of sanctions and ongoing weapons inspections he was a toothless monster in a box.  

    Whether you look at this debacle from a world/humanitarian perspective or simply from the much narrower stance of the US, it wasn't close to being worth it.  It wouldn't have been a good idea even if you assume that the US ran the entire effort, from invasion to creation of a new gov't, perfectly--the cost in innocent lives alone was far too high.

    The only way you can justify what the US did is by buying into the "they'll welcome us with rose petals and chocolates" bullshit.  And anyone who pushes that position is a world-class moron or a liar.

    •  Cost-benefit isn't enough (4.00)
      For one thing, it can lead very quickly to "realism."

      But more importantly, it's amoral.

      There's no logical way to defeat the realist argument.  It's consistent and coherent, given its assumptions,  which explicitly exclude moral (squishy, do-gooder, soft, liberal) motivations.  If it's to be defeated, it has to be attacked at its foundations.

      And the American population clearly supports a moral component to our foreign policy.  In the case of Iraq, it was perverted into a "hit the bastards back" kind of reflexive response, but it clearly was the primary motivating force; WMDs were only a convenient excuse.  (And I'm talking about the political reason for the war, not about any hidden oil-centric or geopolitical agenda within the White House.)

      The point I think the TAP article is making is that we need motivations that are both realistic and moral.  One without the other is insufficient and leads to debacles such as Iraq and Rwanda.

      The irony is not lost on me of a liberal argument for "morality" in times when that word is so loaded with fundamentalist-Right baggage, but I think it's the only antidote to Kissinger-ism or pure cost-benefit analysis.

      •  Actually... (none)
        ...that's exactly what I meant when I specifically mentioned lost lives as the first cost to be acconted for.

        How do you account for humna lives lost?  You can't, at least not by dollars.  That's by definition a non-monetary, moral judgment.  And I combined that with dollars and loss of national prestige--which is the mix of realistic and moral issues you described.

        I think we're talking about exactly the same approach, just describing it a little differently.

  •  i think we should be clear (none)
    that what anti-war folks advocated for is isolationism wether they thought so or not.

    guffaw.

    i'm so glad we get to tell people what they advocated for wether they thought so or not.  it's better than actually having a point.

    and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

    by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:14:43 AM PDT

    •  How is (none)
      not attacking Iraq "Isolationism"? Do you even know what "Isolationism" is and why the fringe element of your party support it?
      •  He was being sarcastic (none)

        The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

        by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:21:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  it doesn't really matter (none)
        i just get to tell you what you think you're advocating for.

        we could be talking about paper or plastic.  if you choose plastic, i get to tell you why you chose plastic.

        because i don't really have a point.

        and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

        by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:22:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh I see. (none)
          You are just trolling here, Biminicat.
          •  nope (none)
            all i'm saying is.... if i can't mis-represent your position on something, then i don't have a point.

            that's all.

            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:33:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did I miss your point? (none)
              I think I got it but I can never be sre with you.

              The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

              by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:35:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you can be sure of this (none)
                that i think any conflation at all of a liberal idea of intervention with a conservative idea of colonialism is bullshit.

                if you don't think you conflated these two things, that's great.

                if you did, it discredits the rest of your diary.

                and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:53:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Pardon? (none)
                  Conflated wha?

                  Now you've lost me.

                  I meant that I thought yur coment was sarcasm. Your first comment I mean.

                  The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                  by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:07:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yep (none)
                    the first comment was sarcasm.

                    i don't really think liberal doves who spoke out against this war are isolationists..

                    i also don't think liberal hawks advocated for a debacle.

                    and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                    by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:19:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  they created one (none)
                      and we told them at the time that it would end up this way. intent doesn't bring people back to life, and it does not excuse for an ignorance of how colonial occupations turn out, historically.

                      crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

                      by wu ming on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:25:14 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  no they didn't (none)
                        if someone is getting mugged and you call the cops and the cops shoot both the mugger and victim in a firefight, you really aren't responsible for the death of the mugger and the victim.

                        and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                        by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:28:39 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Bwahahahaha (none)
                          Yes, the world's policeman - we signed for THAT!?!

                          Geez, you just destroyed your argument.

                          Where do I get to report the muggingof the Chinese people? The Cubans? The North Koreans?

                          The Saudis! The Pakistanis! The Kazakhstanis!

                          Oh wait . . . those are our "allies" in the war to protect freedom loving peoples.

                          Give me a fucking break.

                          You are a clown.

                          The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                          by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:46:18 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  this is about handing the mugger the gun (none)
                          and then defending the mugging as beneficial to the person mugged. the war was flawed from the get-go, because it was an unprovoked war of aggression against a populace that did not want the occupation in the first place, and most certainly did not want to become a colony. the hawks got what they wanted, and even if it had been clinton running this debacle, it would have become a debacle all the same. it is empire itself that is the problem, and it is not isolationist to point that out, unless you think that the vast majorities of countries in the UN are isolationist for not invading and bom bing other countries willy-nilly.

                          crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

                          by wu ming on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 02:49:45 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  Nor did I (none)
                      I see your problem, reading comprehension:

                      I use the word Debacle instead of War because I think it is important that we be clear that what they advocated for is a Debacle, whether they thought it would be one or not.

                      If your analogy had made more sense, I would have understood your problem earlier.

                      See, NOT going to war in Iraq in 2003 does not necessarily lead to isolationism.

                      You know how I know? Cuz I supported and support the war in Afghanistan. I supported Desert Storm. I supported the Panama invasion.

                      So, QED, you have no point.

                      The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                      by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:43:28 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  maybe you should be more clear (none)
                        i read it like this....

                        "I use the word Debacle instead of War because I think it is important that we be clear that what they advocated for is a Debacle, whether they thought it would be one or not."

                        if you don't think they advocated for a debacle, then just say so.

                        and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                        by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:49:49 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Only a fool (none)
                          would take the meaning you did.

                          Who in their right mind would advocate for a Debacle?

                          You are being foolish.

                          The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                          by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:58:23 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  george w. bush (none)
                            ..

                            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:07:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thinking it would be? (none)
                            Ridiculous.

                            BTW, you defend those who advocated for BUSH's war!

                            The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                            by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:15:03 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  another specific (none)
                            bush's war included letting looters take control of iraq for 3 months after the invasion.  they're rationale.  this is just what happens.  it was part of the plan.

                            did those who i defend advocate for or against letting looters take control of iraq??

                            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:36:40 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Did they advocate for that? (none)
                            I dunno.

                            But they knew about Bush and Rummy no?

                            But this silly exercise of yours is trivial and ridiculous IMO.

                            I'm done with it.

                            The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                            by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:59:44 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  sorry you think it's trivial (none)
                            "they advocated for bush's war" is a pretty imprecise thing to say.

                            sure.  if in 2002 someone said "regime change.... invading iraq and overthrowing sadam is a good idea," then i guess you could say they advocated for bush's war.  but i think that would be superficial.  and misleading.  

                            if you define bush's war, and then define what they advocated for, it's actually kind of a stupid thing to say.

                            we disagree.  i don't think it's trivial.

                            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 02:41:15 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  They supported Bush's WAR! (none)
                            The one the Congress voted on. The one that began in MArch 2003.

                            This is simply pathrtic of you.

                            The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                            by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 02:54:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  eh (none)
                            i disagree.

                            voting yes on IWR was not voting yes on torture.

                            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:37:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

    •  once again, false analogy (none)
      our criticism of hawks was always about what it would accomplish, regardless of whatever rationale they dressed it up in. we told them, time and again, that this war would turn out like this, and they wrote us off as irrational, ideological and soft-headed. your attempt at a jab once again falls flat here, because it is focused on flawed projection of intent, not the basic fact of the results of their actions. unless you're claiming that the result of our opposing this clusterfuck from the beginning is resulting in isolationism (another falsity, dependent on the assumption that war is othe only way a nation can interact on the global stage), you are making the same mistake of your fellow travelers in the DLC, in confusing intent with real-world effects.

      it is immaterial how these hawks justified their support of this flawed course of action. they enabled it, and the results are as the soft-headed lefties predicted. all this flak you and they throw up does not change the facts on the ground in iraq, and it does not clean the blood off their hands. they and you are the soft-headed ones, despite whatever snark you toss out there.

      crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

      by wu ming on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:23:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  taking it upon yourself (none)
        to tell other people what it is you think they're advocating for is still a stupid way to make your point.

        saying someone who thought regime change was a good idea in iraq is also for the way bushco executed that agenda is every bit as disengenuous as saying anyone who speaks out against the war is for the insurgency.

        and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

        by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:39:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep, Reading Comprehension (none)
          That's your issue:

          I use the word Debacle instead of War because I think it is important that we be clear that what they advocated for is a Debacle, whether they thought it would be one or not.

          The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

          by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:49:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  do you think (none)
            they advocated for a debacle???

            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:53:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes (none)
              The Policy they advocated for was and was necessarily going to be a Debacle when they advocated for it.

              They did not think it would be. As I stated.

              Duh. Neither did Bush.

              Is this your half assed point?

              Sheesh.

              The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

              by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:57:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  bush did actually advocate for a debacle (none)
                the specifics and arguments and strategy, what he advocated for would specifically lead to a debacle.  and did.

                my half assed point is that this is not what liberal hawks advocated for.

                and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:03:50 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  But but but (none)
                  These folks advocated for BUSH's War!

                  BTW, your distinction misses the point of the debate I reference in my post - there were never ever any reasonable plans put forward for Iraq.

                  A name you may remember - General Eric Shinseki.

                  The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                  by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:14:05 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  lets talk about something specific (none)
                    just one thing.  bush's war included torture.  by plan.  by design.   they thought about it enough to write memos justifying it legally.

                    did the people you're talking about advocate for torture??

                    so....

                    These folks advocated for BUSH's War!

                    do you really mean that?

                    and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                    by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:17:49 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Did they advocate for torture? (none)
                      No they didn't.

                      And?

                      The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                      by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:34:06 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  and.... (none)
                        so if bush's war included torture.

                        and the people we're talking about didn't advocate for torture.

                        then i feel more than justified in concluding that the folks we're talking about did NOT advocate for bush's war.

                        and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                        by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:39:05 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Do you? (none)
                          No kidding? Well, you are you.

                          The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                          by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:57:49 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  just stating my case (none)
                            my response to packer down thread should tell you i'm not on his bandwagon.

                            at the same time, i think when you say something like "they advocated for bush's war" then you should be able to define what bush's war is and still be able to make the accusation.

                            this actually should go without saying.

                            it's a bummer it doesn't.

                            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 02:11:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It's a bummer (none)
                            that you wasted all this time.

                            Honestly.  I want to treat you with respect, your a very smart person, but sometimes you are just a waste of time.

                            To argue that they didn;t support every aspect of the Bush plan is hardly the same thing as saying they did not suppoprt the Bush War.

                            And yet that is what you are saying.

                            To me, that is not a serious position and is not worthy of response.

                            The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                            by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 02:53:35 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  just don't think torture (none)
                            is just some aspect of the war.  it's fundamental.

                            i really think this is important.  

                            i'm totally willing to admit liberal hawks fucked up in trusting bush.  worse.  i saw it coming and i'm only some idiot posting my opinions on the internet.  packer, the educated guy who actually gets book deals, should have been able to see it coming too.

                            but most of what packer says in terms what i hope we can support in the future.... i agree with it.

                            kosovo was possible before iraq.  after iraq, something like kosovo will probably not be possible.  i consider that part of the tragedy of iraq.

                            the lessons we learn from iraq are important.

                            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:35:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Of course they (you?) advocated for torture! (none)
                          Unless you thought this would be the one shot, one kill, only the bad guys die war that wannabe warriors think they can produce with "smart weapons".  This war was going to include torture.  Every war includes torture.  We're sending amped up, overworked, overstressed, overwhelmed, overscared, overdesensitized youngsters out there to fight it.  True, most modern leaders don't get memos written to justify it...but torture still happens.  It's like advocating for a pro football game but claiming you don't support illegal use of hands.  Shit happens.  Always.
                          •  to follow your analogy (none)
                            war is dirty.  i can't argue against that.  illegal use of hands should, at least, not be encouraged....  

                            especially if you know anything at all about winning a soft war.

                            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:15:57 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I guess you know less about football then war (none)
                            Illegal use of hands is always encouraged.  It's the getting caught that's discouraged.  You see, the goal is to get your team across the other team's goal line.  Do you need me to explain the concept of war also?
                          •  the raiders haven't done shit (none)
                            in years.

                            i know a little bit about football, and i know what it takes to win games.

                            encouraging illegal use hands doesn't win games.

                            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

                            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:38:56 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Bimini please reread joesig commentary (none)
                            GOP fake Military Ratfucking Troll
        •  there you go again changing the topic (none)
          it doesn't matter one fucking bit if you thought people would welcome you with flowers if the end result of your action is thousands of innocents dead, no WMDs, and a strengthening insurgency. you keep trying to pull this off into the world of intent, when the clear facts of the utter failure of the hawks to evaluate the situation are out there for all to see. you were the soft-headed ones, and you are the ones still desperately trying to live in the world of theory instead of breathing in the stench of smoke and carnage that your past theories have wrought. the hawks were and are wrong, because they do not know theur own country's revolutionary, anticolonial history and because they trust reds over experts.

          in the great leap forward, "experts" were denounced as unpatriotic and insufficiently revolutionary by "reds" who knew that the outcome of following the maoist CW would lead to utopian rapid development. when the  melting down of farm implements led to useless pig iron for industrialization, when planting crops in close bunches and generally buying into whatever mao zedong said led to disasterous famine, the reds still claimed that nobody could have known things had turned out this way, or lamely claimed that local officials down in the bureaucracy were responsible for botching the job. we rightly look at the great leap as mass insanity, and yet hawks do much the same thing when they discounted weapons inspectors's evaluations in favor of the neocons' lies, and then try to avoid responsibility when their grand plans fall apart as predicted.

          i don't give a fuck what you or the hawks intended to happen, i care about what did happen. results matter, and have consequences. your lofty theory doesn't hold water, and must be abandoned. it is soft-headed to assume that it would work better in some ideal world where the empire is led by a democratic president.

          crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

          by wu ming on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:10:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i guess if you're stupid (none)
            then you'd have to assume things would work out the same no matter what strategy you implemented.

            results do matter.

            and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

            by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:42:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  On those who say the debacle was not inevitable (4.00)
    The reason we knew that debacle had to follow the invasion was because we saw the failure of this administration to plan for the post war situation and we saw their stubborness to admit that more troops would be required for post war.

    We also knew that Iraq had the obvious danger to be a powder keg. Even many reporters who refuse to acknowledge that they didn't ask hard questions on the WMD BS admit that they failed to ask hard questions on post war planning.

    Part of the reason it was so hard to ask these questions was because 'liberal' enablers like Joe Lieberman provided cover for the Bush administration.

    On another matter there is, I think, a general belief among us that Rusmfailed didn't do post war planning because he somehow didn't believe in it.  One of the writers at the New Yorker who was on Charlie Rose promoting a book he wrote on the war said that Rumsfailed didn't want to do any post war planning because he wanted to get U.S troops out immediately after Saddam was removed.  Apparently he quotes an aide to Rumsfailed who said "After the war, we don't owe Iraquis anything.  We've provided them freedom, the rest they can do for themselves."

    •  True. In early 2003, before the war... (4.00)
      ...began, Newsweek noted - somewhat skeptically - that many in the administration were privately saying the first American troops would be coming home by Christmas.

      So, give Rumsfeld his wish. Bring the troops home now. The Iraqis have their constitution. Soon they will have their elected parliament. Yes, they face prodigious problems from the insurgency, from splitting forces like Kurdish nationalism, from Iran. And they will face these problems whether America stays another month or another decade.

    •  Debacle was inevitable, because we went in (none)
      without any Arab/Muslim people. The coalition had no Arabic speakers. We didn't look like them, and we didn't speak their language. Could it be that simple?

      The analogy I use is what if your city's policing force was made up of only Chinese, non-English speaking troops. They accidentally kill one innocent neighbor of mine, and I know what I'd be doing-- fighting back.

      Plus, it doesn't help when all of Iraq's neighbors want the US to fail in its bid to democratize Iraq. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, -- none of them want us to succeed.

      New Orleans-- 72 hours later no communications, no drinking water, not enough police/troops. Bottomline, we're not prepared for another 9/11.

      by DeanFan84 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:44:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I guarantee you (4.00)
    when the neocons told Bush after 9/11 that he had to look at the "big picture" he thought "Goody goody, we're getting a plasma screen."

    "The Iraq Debacle."  That's good.  I've been using "Operation Enduring Clusterfuck" in conversations with friends.

    Let's shrink Grover Norquist down to where he can be drowned in the bathtub.

    by jazzmaniac on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:16:05 AM PDT

  •  The most crucial issue at this ... (4.00)
    ...date is that the Demohawks still control the debate about what to do NEXT in Iraq. Essentially, it is more of the same, only now we will do it better. That is: undebacle the war. This, indeed, was John Kerry's approach, and it is Wesley Clark's approach. And they are both wrong.

    From the time of the first opposition to the war in Vietnam, it took us 10 years, tens of thousands of American lives and millions of Southeast Asian lives before the U.S. learned that the way out of a quagmire is to back up.

    Yes, removing our troops from Iraq means leaving behind a mess, a gigantic mess that may well have perilous worldwide implications for years if not decades. Exactly the same outcome as staying. I have yet to see a liberal hawk, or anyone else, provide a plausible roadmap for how to rectify the situation in Iraq with a continuing presence of American armed forces.

    •  The Dem Debate? (none)
      Certainly not the ACTUAL debate on what the government will do.

      The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

      by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:20:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. I'm talking about the internal ... (none)
        ...debate among Democrats.
        •  So in the end (none)
          isn't it a political strategy question for Dems?

          The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

          by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:34:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, strategy covers a lot of ... (4.00)
            ...territory.

            Two issues, at least.

            1)A strategy for winning the next election, for instance, has many Demohawks (and many Democrats who weren't keen on the war) saying we can't opt for the "cut and run" approach because it will show everyone that the Dems are weak on national defense. If I am not mistaken, you have in the past made this argument. I agree that Democrats need a credible national security theme as a leading element of their ...uh...platform, agenda, whatever you wish to call it. But, frankly, I consider the Demohawks arguments on electoral strategy cynical when it comes to Iraq. I'm not calling you cynical.

            2) A strategy for "winning" in Iraq. The "fix-it-we-broke-it" approach sounds good and I might even be persuaded to follow this approach if it could be fixed. And even though I adamantly opposed going into Iraq from the moment the Administration made it clear it was thinking about doing so, let's ignore the moral issues and our leaders' lying rationales for a moment. The Iraq war and occupation probably could have been "done better" with more troops, with planning for the aftermath, et cetera.

            But we're 31 months into it now, and what exactly can we do to correct the policy that has alienated vast numbers of people around the world, killed 100,000+ Iraqis, sparked burgeoning civil war in Iraq, et cetera, an infinitum, ad nauseam? More troops now won't fix things.

  •  If only the Iraqis could understand, the US is (4.00)
    doing this for their benefit!

    Luckily, we didn't help create Saddam in the first place. The United States had nothing to do with the Baathists' rise to power in the 1960's. We didn't help arm Saddam, nor did we encourage him to start a war with Iran that led to millions of Iraqis dead, and the bankrupting of a country.

    Then came Gulf War I, and the United States really wanted to get rid of Saddam then, only we didn't. Nope, instead we wait 12 years of devastating economic sanctions later.

    But now, we have finally decided to do the right thing! The US isn't there for the oil, but we are there for the Iraqi people. Yeah, right.

    P.S. Which country should we "free" next? Saudi Arabia, Libya, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, etc. So many democracies to build. I can hardly wait.

    New Orleans-- 72 hours later no communications, no drinking water, not enough police/troops. Bottomline, we're not prepared for another 9/11.

    by DeanFan84 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:17:43 AM PDT

  •  All together now, Liberal Debacle Hawks: (4.00)
    "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

    "If you give the people a choice between a Republican and a Republican, they'll choose the Republican every time." - Harry Truman

    by Rydra Wrong on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:21:54 AM PDT

  •  Don't get me started on this one, Armando (4.00)
    I have to laugh when I read a guy like Packer accusing others of "not living in the real world."

    Reminds me of my many arguments here with SlackerInc who argues for a U.S. strategy of roaming the world, toppling evil dictators and bringing freedom and democracy to oppressed peoples.

    Now, who is not living in the "real world" again?

    As you point out, the "real world" strategy is picking your spots.  Bosnia was one such spot.  Many will argue that Rwanda may have been one we missed.

    I have news for Packer: Iraq was a debacle before we even started.  And many knowledgeable, informed experts on the Middle East made just such an argument before we went in.  These experts (including people like Skowcroft and other vets of the first Bush administration) were ignored or pushed off the stage by hardcore neocons and by fearful liberal pseudo-hawks like Packer who believed that Democrats had to appear "tough" in order to win elections (hello, John Kerry!).

    Th truth about Iraq and the IWR vote is that everyone in Washington knew full well that Bush and his neocon cabal led by Cheney's office were intent on invading Iraq and toppling Saddam even before the December day that the Supreme Court handed the election to Bush.  Everyone in Washington knew that the Bush team was likely to push for an Iraq invasion some time in Bush's first term.

    The neocons had been loudly advocating just such a strategy dating back to old man Bush's refusal to pursue the Iraqis back to Baghdad in 1992.  And they made their plans "official" in 1996 with the creation of PNAC.

    The leaders of PNAC had buttonholed nearly every elected politician on Capitol Hill at one time or another prior to Bush's election.

    There were no secret agendas (though the trumped up evidence for war was done in secret).  People in Washington knew the score.

    The fact that Bush and company cynically exploited the events of 9-11 to kick start their agenda is what still angers me to this day.  Democrats, particularly those with presidential ambitions for 2004, calculated that they could not stand against Bush's Iraq plan, even knowing full well that the tragedy of 9-11 was being exploited simply as means to enact the first phase of the neocon/PNAC agenda of toppling Iraq, Syria and Iran.

    What we really see from Packer, here, is a glaring defensiveness.  He's no hawk and neither are people like Kerry or Hillary Clinton.  They are political  hawks along the lines of our friends at the DLC who calculate their "hawkishness" on where they think they need to be on national security in order to achieve their political goals, whatever those goals may be.

    Now, certainly, there may be some true hawkish Democrats.  Biden and Lieberman come to mind.  

    But the majority of these folks are poseurs.

    I'm sorry that a guy like Packer has to throw up crap in order to avoid admitting his mistake.  It's embarrassing to have to watch.

    After they're found guilty, put bags over their heads, rendition `em to Gitmo, and shackle them, naked, to the floor.

    by Bob Johnson on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:22:33 AM PDT

    •  George Bush on the Debacle Subject (none)
      "Trying to eliminate Saddam .. would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible ... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq ...there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." -- George Bush, Sr.

      New Orleans-- 72 hours later no communications, no drinking water, not enough police/troops. Bottomline, we're not prepared for another 9/11.

      by DeanFan84 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:46:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well said (4.00)
      "But the majority of these folks are poseurs."

      And Packer joins the ranks of poseurs with this ridiculous statement.  

      Follow his logic:  He's the staunch realist, the guy with the good, the one living in the "real world."

      But what is his staunchly realistic reason for an unplanned, unprovoked war started by a lying administration?   Answer:  his dreamy, gooey sentimentality about people wanting to be free.  It's an answer which is patently romantic, not realistic and it's designed to say:  I'm a better person than that punk Ygelsias, and you.  I want freedom for people.  You obviously don't.

      Like Armando said... damn, I'd love EVERYONE to be free.  But do I advocate invading North Korea?  Hell no.  And neither does Packer, and neither does George W. Bush (as far as we know).   Because we ALL know it would be a goddamned BLOODBATH for the people of North Korea, and we may end up with a government just as bad, and we'd destroy much of our own country in the process.   Which is precisely what has happened in Iraq....and that is precisely why so many of us were against this pre-emptive war.

      Packer is being an immature wanker with this answer.  Grow the fuck up, sir.

      •  I've run into that same argument both here... (none)
        ... and in the "real world."

        I just laugh (or proceed to attack the arguer with vigor, depending on my mood).

        Yeah, I want people all over the world to be free.  And (taking this inane logic to the extreme) I want our government and our military to undertake this principle as foundational belief and cause.  And I want our government to:

        • raise my taxes to fund what can only be an unbelievably expensive undertaking;

        • divert needed resources from other domestic and international programs (such as Social Secuirty, education, health care for the elederly and the poor, roads, domestic security, national parks and forests, the environment, etc.) to pay for this policy;

        • and send my children and hundreds of thousands of other of my fellow citizens off to fight these battles in every corner of the world.

        Is that it, Packer?

        After they're found guilty, put bags over their heads, rendition `em to Gitmo, and shackle them, naked, to the floor.

        by Bob Johnson on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:08:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The key point in your comment is that (none)
      everybody knew that George would engineer an invasion of Iraq come what may. Some were laying odds on when it would come. I half believed the main reason why the Supreme Court stopped the vote counting in Florida and awarded the Presidency to Bush was because they knew that Bush would invade Iraq and Al Gore wouldn't, absent a proximate cause, ergo, in their minds, Bush had won by default (regardless of voters.)

      Many saw the operation in Afghanistan as a distraction from the more important military operations to be inflicted on Iraq. It couldn't end soon enough.

      No one was surprised when the war drums started up against Iraq; hell, the Busheviks had been beating them since well before their seizure of power.

      They were surprised at the depth, breadth and vehemence of the opposition in the streets and among the well-informed, which is why I am convinced they chose to ignore it. Since those who were in opposition had no power on their own, George's famous "who cares what you think?" dictum was in operation.

      They are still unable to deal with principled oppostion to their war.

      Unfortunately few prominent Dems (with a handful of exceptions) ever put up any kind of principled opposition, and there were (are) all these "liberal hawks" who still can't fathom the wrongness of George's position and actions, and so can't fathom or accept the wrongness of their own positions and actions.

      They just can't understand why it is wrong.

      The idea baffles them. They can't understand why so many people in this country and around the world know that the invasion of Iraq under the circumstances is fundamentally wrong. And yet, George the Old understood and stated quite clearly why it was wrong.

      If only more prominent Dems had such insight.

      --felix

  •  Kosovo set the precedent... (none)
    This may not be a popular opinion around here, but I have karma to burn so what the hell.

    The precedent for 'ends justify the means' military interventions was set with Kosovo and that was an action that I don't think we liberals have every really come to terms with.  Yes, it turned out relatively well compared with Iraq:  Milosovic is being brought to justice, no Americans (or NATO) troops lost their lives, and we've been able to extract our forces from the area relatively easily.  But none of that was a foregone conclusion.  With every military action there is significant risk and uncertainty both for the outcome of the specific conflict and for the use of force in international relations more generally.  Without the definitive approval of the Security Council (which did not exist for either Kosovo or Iraq), we as Americans bear the brunt of that risk.

    Perhaps we can accept intervention in Kosovo but reject it in Iraq because the former was done well while the latter has been an incompetent debacle.  But Kosovo set the precedent for Iraq that we didn't need a Chapter VII Security Council mandate to launch a military intervention for reasons other than the inherent right to self-defense from imminent threats.  Quite simply, we opened the door to intervention in places like Iraq for reasons at least partially humanitarian when we went into Kosovo to stop genocide there.

    There is no satisfactory and principled way to reconcile these two interventions.  Liberal hawks, who throughout the 1990s pushed for an expansive definition of when it might be appropriate to intervene militarily for humanitarian reasons, have their hearts in the right place in wanting to stop bad people from doing terrible things to whole populations, but need to own up to the long-recognized risks of any military action.  War and peace is a bitch.

    •  Well (none)
      The difference being of course we COULD and DID succeed in Kosovo and it was reasonable to believe that at the time.

      It was no miracle.

      The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

      by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:33:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hindsight is 20/20 (none)
        And what position are you in exactly to know that success in Kosovo (or Afghanistan) was "reasonable" while Iraq was manifestly not?  Hell, we didn't even commit ground troops to Kosovo--talk about half-measures!
        •  Half measures? (none)
          I simply don't understand your post.

          We succeeded in Kosovo. What is it you are trying to say?

          The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

          by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:40:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  military success is never a foregone conclusion (none)
            That's what I'm trying to say.  Success was not a foregone conclusion in Kosovo and as an example of that is the fact that we didn't commit ground troops there and guessed (rightfully so, as it turned out) that airstrikes would do the job.

            If we 'succeeded' in Iraq would you still be crowing about liberal hawks?

            I was wary of Kosovo at the time, though took some confidence in the fact that I trusted Clinton.  I was outright opposed to Iraq because I knew then that Bush would fuck it up.  In both cases, innocent people died from our bombs so that, in the Presidents' terms, even greater atrocities could be avoided.  But success in one and failure in the other was not foreordained.

            •  For crissakes (4.00)
              The very point is that it was reasonable to expect success before we went into Kosovo and it was not reasonable to expect in Iraq.

              Would I be crowing if I won the lottery? Yes, but the chances are not good.

              The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

              by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:48:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  reasonable based on what? (none)
                Why was success in Kosovo so much more reasonable to expect than in Iraq?  Or, why was it so much more reasonable so as to make one morally (though not legally) justified and the other not?
                •  Reaosnable based on (none)
                  what was there on the ground. Reasonable the way the war was defined and how success was defined. Reasonable considering the members of NATO coalition knew what they were doing.
                  •  not so sure (none)
                    we had no troops on the ground.  The mission was removing Milosovic and 'nation-building'.  I'd hardly call that so well-defined in advance so as to adequately differentiate it in principle from Iraq.

                    (and NATO did not always know what it was doing either--remember when we bombed the Chinese embassy??!)

                    •  I can't help you (none)
                      if you can't see the difference between the two. What has chinese embassy bombing to do with anything? We are not talking about guffaws, we are talking about lack of plan and lack of strategy. What wa sthe end goal in Iraq and how were they going to achieve it?. All we had was "Let us Bomb Iraq and Iraqis will welcome us with flowers". That idiot liberal hawk supported this is simply a testament to their idiocy.
                      •  so morality and legality comes down to... (none)
                        good planning?  I'm just not comfortable with that as the sole basis for when force should or shouldn't be used.
                        •  The morality (none)
                          of bombing people? Really. The legality of invading a sovereign country which did not threaten you? Really.
                          •  I don't understand your point (none)
                            but didn't we both invade and bomb Kosovo as well, which also didn't threaten us in the least?
                          •  And I am not making (none)
                            the argument that it ever did. Am I? We did it for geostrategic reasons and we succeeded. You say you supported the Iraq war sold on fear for moral reasons. Well, more Iraqis are dead in Iraq over past two years than in previous two. Iraq is still fucked up. US geostrategic interest in Iraq are more fucked up today than they've ever been in.

                              So let us recap.

                            Moral Argument? Dead and buried.
                            Legal argument? There never was one.
                            Geostrategic Argument? A colossal fuck up.

                              So, what you got, Petrox?

                          •  I didn't support Iraq (none)
                            I explicitly said that I opposed Iraq just as I was wary of Kosovo.  I'm challenging those of you who oppose Iraq but support Kosovo to distinguish the two in a principled way.
                          •  Principled way. (none)
                            We did it to further our geostrategic interests in Europe. Kosovo war wasn't a very ambitious war anyway. Europeans were more than willing to fight the war and goals, like those set in Gulf War I, were easily achievable. Your comparison of Kosovo war with Iraq just doesn't synch. Why not compare it with Vietnam? Just sayin'.
                          •  you're walking a fine line (none)
                            Iraq, to believe the neocons, was also about furthering our geostrategic interests in the Middle East (and, arguably, the benefits of a stable, democratic Iraq for the Middle East are higher than those for Kosovo in Eastern Europe).  Just sayin'!

                            We may trust Clinton's motives more than Bush's, but the terms of debate once one accepts military intervention for humanitarian rather than pure self-defense reasons for both Kosovo and Iraq (and Vietnam, as you point out) are strikingly similar.

                          •  Erm. (none)
                            Now you are wandering into the fantasy zone. Neocon plans are fantasy(the underpant gnome philosophy-
                            1. Invade Iraq.
                            2.Collect Underpants.
                            3. help US interests.)

                                        and not strategy. Try again. And why should I believe the crap about humanitarian reason when they sold the war on WMDs and terrorism. Eh?

                          •  Nooo! (none)
                            It's:

                             1) Invade Iraq
                             2) ??????
                             3) Stable Middle East!

                            "If you [just] wanted to reduce ignorance, you could ... abort every Republican baby in this country, and your ignorance rate would go down."

                            by Major Danby on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:09:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I guess then... (none)
                            ...it was OK for Slobbo to kill all those Kosovars, eh?

                            Clinton went into Kosovo because he never forgave himself for failing to intervene in the Rwandan genocide.  Granted, Clinton's hands were tied at the time -- the Republicans in Congress were flatly against saving any brownskinned people; they figured that blacks killing blacks was a Good Thing.  And Clinton couldn't get enough members of his own party (such as the Zellouts) to go along with any plans to save the Tutsis.

                            Kosovo was a bit different -- the parties involved were "white" by our standards, it was a lot easier for Clinton to get bipartisan support to try and save them.  Even so, he knew better than to try to get troop requests past the Republican-controlled Congress.  (Remember, they were still trying to impeach him in the midst of all this!)

                    •  No the mission (none)
                      was to protect the Kosovar Albanians.

                      The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                      by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:05:59 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  to 'protect' with smart bombs (none)
                        aren't you now making the argument the same liberal hawks you decry made about Iraq?  'We did it to protect the Iraqis'!  I'm sorry, but that's not good enough.
                        •  Not good enough? (none)
                          Sez you.

                          BTW, your comment makes no sense to me.

                          Why not smart bombs if they do the job?

                          The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                          by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:18:10 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  you sound like a liberal hawk (none)
                            Smart bombs don't always work, as they didn't in Iraq (remember Shock and Awe?).
                          •  You love Slobbo! (none)
                            Hell, that makes just as sense as your attack on Armando.

                            Get this through your Slobbo-worshiping head:

                            To save lives, proactive measures are often necessary -- whether we're talking about natural disasters (Katrina) or human ones (Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia).

                            Clinton wanted to go into Rwanda and stop the Hutus from slaughtering the Tutsis, but the Republicans in Congress weren't about to let him try to stop Africans from killing each other.  (Especially after Somalia, which GHW Bush started but for which Clinton got the "blame" -- see, the Republicans and the remaining Dixiecrats weren't about to let nice white Americans die to save a bunch of hut-dwelling darkies.)

                            It was much easier to get the GOP-controlled Congress to intervene in Kosovo and Bosnia to try to prevent the genocides there.  Why?  They're all "white" people, by US standards.

                          •  flame (none)
                            This is the same absurd line of reasoning the neocons throw at us for opposing Iraq:  "libs like to coddle murderous dictators like Saddam!"

                            There are lots of bad people in the world who do lots of bad things.  The question is when it is right to use our military forces and commit our own blood and treasure to the effort.

                          •  Yes (none)
                            But it was reasonable to believe they would in Kosoov and lo and behold, they did!

                            What in blazes are trying to say?

                            Honestly dude, just spit it out.

                            Does it involve "WWIII?" I am betting it does.

                             

                            The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                            by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:39:06 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Armando (none)
                            I'm no wacko and I don't heed your WW3 comment.

                            (but to add a bit of rhetoric and flame from my end)

                            I just don't think 'reasonable prospect of success' should be the only criteria for humanitarian military intervention.  This is the ultimate 'ends justify the means' argument.  But the means are important too:  were you willing to enlist and put your own life on the line for Kosovo?

                          •  Well then (none)
                            You don't understand my argument.

                            The wisdom of the intervention is very very much affected by its chances of success.

                            That has been my point with you here.

                            To cite Kosovo as comparable on THAT metric is ridiculous.

                            Was the Kosovo inteverntion justified? Arguable.

                            THAT is a different metric in the WISDOM calculation.

                            We were talking about the first.

                            Finally, your notion that Kosovo led to Iraq is patently ridiculous. BUSH OPPOSED KOSOVO!

                            WMD was the justification for Iraq.

                            You persist in arguing on ridiculous grounds.

                            The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                            by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:55:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  so let's ditch the UN then (none)
                            since what really matters is chances for success and not the very idea of collective security.
                          •  Dude (none)
                            Do you not read what I write?

                            Cuz there is no point to this if you won't.

                            The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                            by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:12:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

            •  You're comparing apples and oranges... (none)
              ...Comapring Kosovo to Iraq is absolutely silly. Not to mention, the political backing set up by the Clinton adminsitration was real, that set up by the Bush administration was false.

              You also aren't taking into account that the Clitnon administration did what it set out to do, whereas the Bush administration hid their real agenda and lied about what would be required to go into Iraq. The Clinton administration wasn't dumb enough to invade Iraq because they listened to the people who had a clue.

              You're just making silly comaprisons that don't compare. It's like comparing the GWOT to WW2. Wait, who does that?

              •  Clinton's motives were also called into doubt (none)
                The right-wingers at the time also thought Clinton went into Kosovo at least in part to distract from Monica.  If that conflict had turned out badly (say, if we'd had another Blackhawk Down scenario), you can bet the charges of 'wagging the dog' would have been much much louder and many more doubts would linger today about Kosovo.
                •  Remember Rwanda (none)
                  Clinton went into Kosovo to try to stop Milosevic's genocide in part because he never forgave himself for not intervening in time to save the million-odd Tutsis genocidally murdered by the Hutus in Rwanda.

                  Clinton wanted to go into Rwanda and stop the Hutus from slaughtering the Tutsis, but the Republicans in Congress weren't about to let him try to stop Africans from killing each other.  (Especially after Somalia, which GHW Bush started but for which Clinton got the "blame" -- see, the Republicans and the remaining Dixiecrats weren't about to let nice white Americans die to save a bunch of hut-dwelling darkies.)

                  It was much easier to get the GOP-controlled Congress to intervene in Kosovo and Bosnia to try to prevent the genocides there.  Why?  They're all "white" people, by US standards.

            •  The point is that (none)
              success in Iraq was never defined (except for the welcome with flower part). US had specific goals in Gulf War I and Kosovo, this war on the other hand was sold on fear. Meaning, we had to bomb Iraq and that is it. This was destined to fail and liberal hawks , who didn't see it coming, are idiots. period.
        •  Of course Kosovo was doable (none)
          Even if we'd had to go to a ground war, it would've almost certainly been limited to Kosovo itself, where 90% of the population was Albanians who wanted the Serbian army out.

          But it would've been madness if NATO had invaded not just Kosovo but also the rest of Serbia, and then marched on Belgrade to overthrow Slobo, and finally occupied the Serb-dominated areas. Sure, it might've felt good to get rid of Slobo in that fashion, but most likely it would've bogged NATO down in a war against Serb guerrillas.

    •  meh... (none)
      while i'm fond of that comparison, it has obvious limitations, ... in short:  iraq is not bosnia.  just in terms of scale, iraq would have easily been a much larger commitment.  even with a real coalition.

      but i wanted to point out, the difference between kosovo and iraq has nothing at all to with chance.

      specific stratgies can be much more successful than others.

      and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

      by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:59:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  if Kosovo hadn't happened... (none)
        Without the precedent of Kosovo, I think Iraq would have been much more difficult to sell.  If self-defense is no longer the prerequisite for military intervention, what principle is there differentiating 'good' or 'legitimate' interventions from those that are not?
        •  no 9-11 (none)
          no iraq.

          residual hubris from kosovo.  i'll buy it.  but i don't think it sold the war.

          and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

          by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:10:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  fair point (none)
            But I think Kosovo made it easier for countries like the UK to support us in Iraq because the precedent had been set.  And without the Brits there most likely wouldn't have been Iraq War 2003.

            After Kosovo and Iraq, is there such a thing as a principled military intervention any more?  Welcome to the new world order!

            •  i happen to think (none)
              kosovo was a principled military intervention.

              iraq was not.

              so i think a principled military intervention still exists.

              and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

              by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:22:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Exactly (none)
                Clinton has said many times that he will never forgive himself for not intervening in Rwanda in time to save the million Tutsis that were murdered by the Hutus in the space of little over a month.

                Clinton wanted to go into Rwanda and stop the Hutus from slaughtering the Tutsis, but the Republicans in Congress weren't about to let him try to stop Africans from killing each other.  (Especially after Somalia, which GHW Bush started but for which Clinton got the "blame" -- see, the Republicans and the remaining Dixiecrats weren't about to let nice white Americans die to save a bunch of hut-dwelling darkies.)

                It was much easier to get the GOP-controlled Congress to intervene in Kosovo and Bosnia to try to prevent the genocides there.  Why?  They're all "white" people, by US standards.

        •  It wouldn't have mattered (none)
          No "precedent" was necessary (and they had Haiti if they needed one), and if there had been no precedent they just would have mocked up a casus belli like in Grenada, Vietnam, or the Mexican-American and Spanish-American wars.

          Kosovo was a gamble that Russia wouldn't go against us.  So long as they didn't, we could be confident that we had the ability for a viable post-war situation.  It was a decent gamble and we were right to take it.

          Afghanistan was a gamble that Musharraf's government in Pakistan wouldn't fall (remember that this was before definitive proof of Osama's involvement) and be replaced by their own version of the Taliban.  It was a decent gamble and we were right to take it (despite our later failure to follow through.)

          Iraq was a gamble that (1) Turkey wouldn't end up stomping the Kurds (so far so good), (2) we had the makings of a viable and stable nation afterwards without partition and/or civil war, and (3) we would not end up boostng the mullahs in Iran and recruiting for Al Qaeda.  I'm actually surprised that we won the first gamble.  It was never clear that our plans to win the second gamble depending on anything less than a maximally rosy scenario.  If we had won the second gamble and set up Iraq as an oil-riches-driven base, then maybe we could have overrun Iran (and Syria) and brought Al Qaeda to its knees -- but I doubt it.  At any rate, it was -- as was said at the time -- based on such a baseless premise that even aside from its morality the war was clearly a bad idea from the outset.  If it were that easy to restructure Iraq, we would have done it in 1991.

          "If you [just] wanted to reduce ignorance, you could ... abort every Republican baby in this country, and your ignorance rate would go down."

          by Major Danby on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:23:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  when playing with fire... (none)
            sometimes we'll get burned.  I think that's the lesson here.  As you note, all of these non-self-defense interventions were gambles.  Kosovo paid off, Iraq didn't.  For liberal hawks (or 'humanitarian interventionists', to be a bit less provacative), then, it boils down to luck and good planning rather than the principled and restrained use of force.
            •  So Clinton staying out of Rwanda was a GOOD thing? (none)
              The biggest reason Clinton went into Kosovo was because he never forgave himself for not trying to save the Tutsis in Rwanda.

              Clinton wanted to go into Rwanda and stop the Hutus from slaughtering the Tutsis, but the Republicans in Congress weren't about to let him try to stop Africans from killing each other.  (Especially after Somalia, which GHW Bush started but for which Clinton got the "blame" -- see, the Republicans and the remaining Dixiecrats weren't about to let nice white Americans die to save a bunch of hut-dwelling darkies.)

              It was much easier to get the GOP-controlled Congress to intervene in Kosovo and Bosnia to try to prevent the genocides there.  Why?  They're all "white" people, by US standards.

            •  All gambles are not created equal (none)
              there is such a thing as odds, and the odds ex ante were better in Haiti, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.

              There is also a cost in (respectively) allowing a military coup to undo relatively fair elections that we sponsored, allowing genocide in Europe, and allowing a state to harbor with impugnity a terrorist organization that attacked us on our soil.  Each of those decisions is its own gamble; each, for example, impedes the creation of a better world and betrays those outside our country who would try to achieve those ends.

              In Iraq, by contrast, inaction was not much of a gamble -- leaky sanctions notwithstanding, we had a viable autonomous region in the north that the Kurds and Tirks both tolerated, enforceable no-fly zones, and a dictator who was relatively impotent and -- so far as the weapons inspectors could tell -- not in the process of rearming.  That is the difference.

              I would have wanted to figure out a way to get into Rwanda also, by the way.  I'm not afraid of the U.S. exerting world leadership to stave off massive human rights abuses when that is what we are actually doing.

              "If you [just] wanted to reduce ignorance, you could ... abort every Republican baby in this country, and your ignorance rate would go down."

              by Major Danby on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:44:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  the precedent is the problem (none)
                I agree that the US should "exert[] world leadership to stave off massive human rights abuses when that is what we are actually doing."  And I also agree that not all risks are created equal.  But the risks for military intervention are not limited to immediate success on the battlefield--by acting without a Security Council mandate in Kosovo we risked making it easier to do the same somewhere else.  An externality risk of Kosovo was to make something like the Iraq intervention more likely:  much of the rhetoric in support of the Iraq war is strikingly similar to that in support of Kosovo (though the former is admittedly disingenuous) and I think Kosovo supporters have not entirely owned up to this.
                •  We simply disagree on the legitimating effect (none)
                  of the war is Kosovo.  I understand your point; I just think that while it's interesting as a matter of international law and ethics, it would not have made a difference here.

                  By the way, do you know another unauthorized war I liked?  Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia to knock out the Khmer Rouge -- an action that the U.S. opposed.

                  True wars of aggression aren't that common anymore, and if they're going to happen they'll happen regardless of the legitimacy concerns you raise.  (The exception -- Saddam's invasion of Kuwait -- ended up enforcing the rule.)

                  "If you [just] wanted to reduce ignorance, you could ... abort every Republican baby in this country, and your ignorance rate would go down."

                  by Major Danby on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:08:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  The execution of the war (none)
      is the responsibility of the aptly named Executive Branch.
  •  longing for a simple, ordinary life (none)
    Sounds nice, but used as a justification for our invasion, it's ridiculous claptrap. It was obvious from the start that our invasion of Iraq would make the lives of normal Iraqis shitty for years to come.  Yes, even shittier than under Saddam.  There was no plan for filling the vacuum created by removing the government.  There was no plan for dealing with the inevitable insurgency.  Without such plans in place, we had no business attempting to invade a country.  There was no possible way that it could lead to "freedom and democracy".  The only result would be to ratchet up the bloodshed and chaos.  And that is what happened.

    New Orleans will never die

    by hrh on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:27:53 AM PDT

  •  DEMOCRACY BLOOMING FROM SHOCK & AWE? (4.00)
    Bush was hell bent on invading Iraq. His latest excuse, bringing democracy, does seem totally ridiculous.
    But for those who say, Saddam was once our guy and he really is a monster and it was right to help Iraqis out from under his boot, I wonder if this is partly just an argument to bolster the tarnished image of those Democratic Senators who voted for the Iraq War Resolution.

    If democracy and getting rid of Saddam was the point, why was smashing Iraq the action of choice? Has anyone written about the possibility that Saddam could have been dispatched with a bag of loot, a la Ferdinand Marcos, (without bloodshed - thanks in part to the courage of Richard Luger - where's that courage now?)and whether, through the auspices of the U.N., democratic institutions could then have been encouraged in Iraq?

    It is totally bizarre to me for the followers of hawkish Senators who voted for the war (and that includes Clinton and Edwards and Kerry) and who stand by that vote (that includes at least Clinton and Edwards) to expect the rest of us to believe that smashing a country to smitherenes is a good starting point for a stable democracy.

      Here at home, how about requiring a transparent foreign policy as part of the Democratic platform rather than winks and nods towards a foreign policy written to serve the multinationals at the expense of our military and our taxpayers and the indigenous populations of energy rich countries? I'm so tired of a hypocritical aggressive foreign policy that is talked up by our big newspapers and MSM but when the chickens come home to roost, makes us less safe, poorer, shameful in the eyes of the world and troubled at home.

  •  This is true of wingnuts and others also (4.00)
    They want to win an argument--like some others who contributed to this discussion (it seems to be the default mode of bloggers and commenters on blogs). The inevitability argument has the feel of a very cerebral game played late at night by people who are extremely removed from the real field of play.

    This sums it up in all it's childish, illogical glory. You see what they're being accused of here? WANTING TO WIN. That's code for, wanting to win at all costs, regardless of the truth of their arguments.

    Except, that's what everyone wants. Everyone believes their viewpoint to be the "right" one. Only idiots at a loss for a compelling argument would ascribe to this slur. And it's sad that Packer has to adopt a GOP meme to hurl.

    And it's a gross distortion. It's not really that we "debacle opposers" just want to win. Not at all. WE HAVE WON. WE HAD WON BEFORE MARCH 2003.

    What we want now is for reasonably intelligent people, which I thought included Packer, to admit that we won and agree that it's time to start changing their perspective a little, not just grudgingly admitting that they might need to make a slight adjustment--for all the things that went wrong despite our best intentions. Which is the big lie, really. We had no good intentions.

    "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

    by thingamabob on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:30:55 AM PDT

  •  seeing as though i just got done posting (4.00)
    a response to mr. packer, i thought i'd duplicate it here.

    anyone who supported the idea of the iraq war from the standpoint liberal interventionism had to be at least somewhat aware that the goals of liberal interventionism demand a multi-lateral approach and were not the goals of the bush administration.  and thus anyone who supported the idea of an iraq liberated from the murderous and totalitarian regime of saddam hussein could have opposed the war based on a strict adherance to the principle of .... liberal interventionism.

    and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

    by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:35:26 AM PDT

  •  A bad plan or . . . bad planning??? (4.00)
    Was the war in Iraq lost, because war was a bad plan or because the war was badly planned?

    This is an idiotic argument to be having with your political allies (and the liberal hawks are, after all, liberals and Democrats, not Republicans).

    The liberal hawks got suckered by Republican marketing, which coopted the rhetoric of liberal internationalism.  So what?  Republicans are liars; most of us knew that before 2003, now the liberal hawks know it, too.  Republicans did not invade Iraq as a project in liberal interventionism; that was an illusion of cynical rhetorical packaging; it does not "mean" anything regarding real liberal interventionism.

    If I thought we could build a stable majority around a basically pacifist foreign policy, I would say, dump the liberal hawks as fools, and move on.  But, we cannot.  Lots of people will continue to believe that, with a good plan and lots of resources intelligently applied, we could have done some real good in Iraq.  I am not sure I do not believe it.  I want their votes, not their resentment.

    The fact is, whether the war was worth the ante or not, the game and the big bets were lost in play.  Reconstruction was a total and complete disaster.  Regardless, of your philosophy on intervention, you can understand that incompetence and corruption snatched terrible losses from the jaws of victory.  Opposing incompetence and corruption are easy majority positions, while pacifism and "can't-do" are not.

    Labeling the Republicans as the party of incompetence and corruption is not furthered by an argument that invading Iraq was a hopeless project.  Ultimately, as Democrats, we are going to have to face Republicans, who are going to blame Democrats for losing Iraq.  The Democratic Party is going to bring about the political change , which will allow the U.S. to acknowledge reality long enough to get us out of Iraq.  When we withdraw from Iraq, we will close the books and total the losses.  The Republicans will, at that point, blame the Democrats for the losses.  It sounds crazy now, but it will happen.

    The Republicans will say Democrats opposed the war as hopeless and have made losing the war a self-fulfilling prophecy, by withdrawing, instead of toughing it out.  Democrats, who supported the war, are actually useful allies in refuting that kind of nonsense.  And, a clear record of Republican corruption and incompetence in carrying out the occupation and reconstruction is vastly more useful than a "brilliant" analysis of why the whole project was hopeless.

    We are stuck in Iraq, now, because as long as we are there "toughing it out", we do not have to close the books and total the losses.  We can hang onto the narrative, which says that things might still turn out well.  We can hang onto the narrative, which says that our continued presence is somehow preventing a worse outcome, even if all our presence is preventing is a full accounting of our losses.  

    That narrative and the reluctance to face total failure is the greatest political obstacle we face.  Dumping on the liberal hawks doesn't help.  (Marty Peretz will remain a fool as long as he lives; lecturing his vassals will not accomplish anything.)

    There is a good chance the Democrats will gain control of one or the other house of Congress.  A critically important task at that point will be to investigate Republican corruption and incompetence in Iraq, and lay out the case that the Republicans lost Iraq through that corruption and incomptence.  

    I fear that a smug assertion that invading Iraq was a bad plan will distract us from the necessary task of tarring the Republicans for the loss in Iraq, a loss, which can be attributed to both a bad plan and terrible execution.  Criticizing the liberal hawks for bad judgement is indicting the New Republic (a magazine) for the crimes of the worst Republican Administration in history.  It is madness.

    •  Dumping on liberal hawks (none)
      is not a pastime here.

      This is the first post on that week long debate.

      But certainly we don't sit still when we are the dumpees.

      The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

      by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:39:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  my problem with hawks (none)
      you said:
      "If I thought we could build a stable majority around a basically pacifist foreign policy, I would say, dump the liberal hawks as fools, and move on.  But, we cannot.  Lots of people will continue to believe that, with a good plan and lots of resources intelligently applied, we could have done some real good in Iraq.  I am not sure I do not believe it.  I want their votes, not their resentment."
      I think we need to wrench the pacifist/hawk framing out from under the Republicans. They terrorize Americans into believing that a particular hawkish policy is in their best interests when that policy has really been designed to use the countries soldiers and resources to serve special interests or an ideological agenda. I'm not advocating pacifism - everyone has a right to self-defense. I'm saying I don't like liberal hawks who are too weak to articulate an answer to a failed hawkish policy and instead opportunistically climb onboard because they fear being called unpatriotic.  
  •  I agree with this statement 100%: (none)
    "It is NOT moral to adopt an unwise policy that does more harm than good even if the intention of the policy is moral. Indeed, it is IMMORAL in my view."

    Why don't means and ends matter to the "liberal hawks"?

    I wrote a letter to Buzzflash a couple of years that was printed as a reader contribution. At that time I asked the following question:


    "One has to ask, if their [the Bush administration's] motives were so pure and all they wanted to do was "liberate" the poor Iraqi people from a terrible tyrant -- which in itself is a desirable goal, but one that should be undertaken only after all the pros and cons are evaluated! -- why all the pretence? (And by the way, I'll bet I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of minutes per year that these people actually worry about the oppressed peoples of the earth.)"

  •  Hawks Cannot be Liberals (3.00)
    There can be no regime of national health care as long as we're fielding a huge military across the globe to protect the globalization racket.
    •  But what do you propose? (none)
      Do you think we should have no military?  That we should never contemplate use of military force (even in diverse scenarios such as WWII, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur)?

      If we didn't have military spending, Bush would just give the entire amount to the rich anyway.  Military spending is not necessarily why we don't have national healthcare.  

      What balance do you propose?

      •  Presumed Virtue (none)
        Our military spending now equals the entire rest of the world's military spending combined. What peacekeeping we're doing is actually a guarantee of unhindered world trade -- the same world trade that is sucking away about $60billion per month in assets from this country (not counting the military $$$ to keep this world trade 'safe' for us). Think about the trade-war angle for a minute.
  •  administration deception and thinking ahead (none)
    I also opposed going into Iraq, but I came close to supporting it in early 2003.  What it boiled down to for me was 1) if there were an imminent threat of Saddam getting WMD, and 2) if the WH had a real plan for the post-invasion transition period, then I would have been on board.  

    Of course the WH lied through its teeth about the extent of the threat.  Some "exaggeration" was evident at the time, but I think it's come to a shock to many as subsequent developments have revealed (and with the Fitzgerald investigation, will continue to reveal) the extent to which this administration lied to the American people in order to take the country to war.  So part of the discrepancy between doves and initially pro-war liberals, I think can be accounted for by the latters' greater trust that even a Republican administration wouldn't be so brazenly evil.  I hated Bush from the get-go, but at the time I never thought he would do THAT.  I think many others were in that boat.

    But as Dems transition from the minority party to governance again, and have to campaign on these issues to get there, there are real debates about use of military force that go beyond Iraq.  We need to debate these.  

    The Kosovo intevention (which I supported whole-heartedly and still do, though I think it came too late) and Bosnia and Rwanda-scenarios still command no consensus within the party.  And most Dems (like most Americans) don't think much about foreign policy.  But with genocide ongoing in Darfur, Afghanistan still a mess because this administration took us to war in Iraq instead of committing necessary resources there, etc., I think it would be useful if we could think beyond Iraq.  By that I don't mean that we shouldn't continue to debate the issue and come up with the parameters of a Democratic policy to extricate the country from this debacle (with a maximum of consideration for what possible strategies mean for Iraqis, I would hope).  Doing that is paramount.  But the debate should also anticipate some of the big foreign policy challenges out there and looming on the horizon.

    John Kerry didn't do well in this regard.  He came across as neo-Kissingerian and ceded considerations of morality to Bush (who of course only talks the talk while cynically pursuing realpolitik).  We need to embrace the rhetoric of democratization abroad and match it with good policy to achieve these goals, and that doesn't mean through invasions a la Iraq.  We need to define what it does mean.  How do we support democratic change in Egypt, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, China, etc.?  Kerry's Kissinger spiel doesn't cut it.

    I'm deeply impressed by Wes Clark and Al Gore and even John Edwards in this regard.  I also think Joe Biden has done some good thinking on these issues (though don't think he's a good candidate).  

    We need to think ahead to win.  That starts, but doesn't end, with a coherent Iraq policy.

  •  Lessons learned (none)
    Setting aside all of the moral, legal, and practical reasons that these so-called "liberal hawks" should have immediately slammed on the brakes and started demanding a lot of answers to a lot of very difficult questions - before committing our military, our security, our treasury and America's entire foreign policy outlook for the foreseeable future to this catastrophic strategic misstep...

    Setting aside all of the obvious red flags that popped up all over the place, the ones they willfully ignored while trumpeting their own unassailable magnanimity and portrayed the rest of us as subversive traitors...

    I am reminded, ironically, of a fairly hawkish fellow's wisdom about a paramount lesson learned after a bold attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran during Carter's tenure:

    This, by way of General Boykin, "Never confuse your will with your preparedness."

    So, if all of the ethical, practical, philosophical, and factual reasons to hold out for a more demonstrable case of necessity or refuse to grant this administration permission to set this nation on such a disastrous collision course with reality, Gen. Boykin's law of engagement should have stopped them dead in their tracks; "Never confuse your will with your preparedness."

    These people can keep trying in vain to paint their position with a rainbow of bright motives all they want, but the hard reality is that they were calamitously reckless with America's resources, reputation and future prospects - and it doesn't matter one damned bit what they had in mind for Iraq. The biggest bitch of all, for me, is that all of the warning signs were clearly visible, the obscene tragedies that are unfolding now in America and Iraq were completely avoidable with just a modicum of critical thinking.

    If shit like this is their idea of an apology for contributing to such a stunningly grotesque travesty, then they've got a hell of a lot more soul-searching to do. 'Cause they're not even in the same state, let alone zip code or neighborhood they need to be in to properly repent for being servile and stupid American citizens.

    •  What will? (none)
      If we had a will to be in this war, there would be victory gardens instead of Hummers and tax cuts.  The line should be "don't confuse your preparedness and will with bravado."

      "If you [just] wanted to reduce ignorance, you could ... abort every Republican baby in this country, and your ignorance rate would go down."

      by Major Danby on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:10:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Boykin's point (none)
        Although his mission was considerably more urgent and rational, is that he presented this mission as doable to President Carter because he and his men believed in the mission and in themselves. Boykin's point today is that that is not enough, you must also have prepared to succeed.

        All these think-tank warriors want to filter their understanding of events and philosophical positions through a military framework - everything is war, battle, and combat of some sort in their minds. Fine. But when that's your perspective, you've also got to comprehend the fundamental laws that determine the success or failure of any given engagement.

        Had they bothered to do that, instead of strutting around like Matadors waving our flag, like a cape, taunting the reality that thousands of men, women and children would soon be trampled and ground into early graves by, even that would have been useful to the country in terms of providing the braking power it needed to either avert an unnecessary invasion or prepare for a successful engagement. Either way, we would have stood a better chance of avoiding catastrophic failure, because they would have had to ask themselves, "Is this something that I want to do and believe we can pull off, or is this something we have the ability to do successfully?" Those two entirely different things.

        And that was my point is bringing up General Boykin's hard earned wisdom. Even if they were determined to invade Iraq, they might still have been better allies to their own nation by taking Boykin's law seriously, precluding catastrophic miscalculations and abysmal planning.

        But they couldn't even be bothered to get that right.

        •  I don't disagree (none)
          but my point is that in Iraq we had neither will nor preparedness, just bravado, big guns, and little brains.

          "If you [just] wanted to reduce ignorance, you could ... abort every Republican baby in this country, and your ignorance rate would go down."

          by Major Danby on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:03:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Meteor Blades (MB) has it right (none)
    BruceW07 may be right that this is a fight that we would prefer not to have in public.

    Two problems remain.  First, US policy in Iraq is bankrupt strategically and morally.  There is no great or wise leader or administration that can change that.  See Lyndon Johnson.  See also John Kennedy.

    Second, Democrats must understand that virtually everything about US policy in Iraq badly weakens democracy in the US and it kills ALL chances for progressive politics and policies at home.  See the Great Society.

    If the Democrats can't get it the second time around, then then they are hopeless.

  •  The Self-Deception That Believes the Lies (2.50)
    Evidently 2,000 dead American soldiers, 15,000 or more wounded, and a quarter of a trillion dollars down a rathole aren't enough.

    These "liberal" intellectuals are neither. They are second-rate former B- students, playing mind games among themselves, rolling their loaded dice over the bodies of the dead in Iraq, whom they count for nothing.

    Wondering which country or people should be "saved" next, while disregarding open sores like Darfur, because there's no money in it for them.

    •  do you know what packer thinks (none)
      about darfur???

      seems you do.

      and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

      by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:03:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tries to Follow Your Lead (none)
        I do not really follow Packer's career as a paid authority on current affairs, but was instead referring more generally to insincere pseudo-liberal pseudo-intellectuals who act as apologists for whatever the dominant view of the moment may be.

        But your reasonable remark caused me to try to be fairer, and find Packer's remarks on Darfur. There may be some, but they didn't come to light on first or second or third search.

        Along the way, however, I did find this:


        George Packer, author of The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq, has these important words for us:
        Iraq was a war of choice, in the sense that we went off to fight even though we had not been physically attacked, which raised the threshold for the American public's and the world's support. But this didn't make the war immoral by definition; other than World War II, every American war has arguably been a war of choice.
        Let's follow the reasoning here, because I feel some of you malcontents could benefit from seeing truly rigorous thinking in action:
        1. It is impossible for most of America's wars to have been immoral. That's obvious.
        2. America has fought lots of wars where we haven't been attacked.
        THEREFORE
        3. America attacking Iraq without having been attacked is not, by definition, immoral.
        The alternative here would be to believe that America is like any other country; that when a country attacks another without being attacked it is almost always immoral; and that therefore, because America has fought a lot of wars in which we weren't attacked, we've fought a lot of immoral wars.
        Fortunately, we have intellectuals like George Packer to help us understand that that's just illogical.

        Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at October 16, 2005
  •  Brilliant Armando (none)
    and eloquently said.

    Packer and others like him illustrate once again that it doesn't have to make sense to us as long as it does to them.

    They are so lost in their own world and forget that the creation of that world in their imagination doesn't make it reality.

    The Iraqis are living in their own world and the world created by Packer never had a chance to come into existence by the prosecution of a war whether through deception or outright frontal assault.

    Many liberals forget that there are two problems with Iraq - one that it had no chance to succeed without undue costs and two that it was offered with lies.

    We forget which argument we are having.

    Those who support the war are arguing the wrong points - that the costs are irrelevant to the larger reasons of correctness and that the war is winable. These arguments are interrated for the supporters but they forget that they are wrong on the first and don't believe that they are wrong on the second.

    Someday, after the forest fire of the Right has died we'll say "Whew, I'm happy that's over."

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 11:56:57 AM PDT

  •  The Central Problem Here (4.00)
    The central problem in this dispute is that those who supported the war were wrong about everything.

    They were wrong about invading Iraq.

    They were wrong about trusting Bush and his cronies.

    They were wrong about alienating the rest of the world.

    And, very important but often overlooked, they were wrong about the people who opposed the war.  They said:

    That we were naive, stupid, weak, disloyal, etc.

    That we should shut up and let them handle everything or we would lose the presidency and congressional seats.

    That we were going to kill the Democratic Party and progressive policies.

    And now that it has been proved, beyond any doubt, that they were wrong about everything, and after they have lost the presidency and seats on congress, they still say:

    That we are naive, stupid, weak, disloyal, etc.

    That we should shut up and let them handle everything or we will lose the presidency and congressional seats.

    That we are going to kill the Democratic Party and progressive policies.

    The central problem in this dispute is that those who supported the war were wrong, wrong and wrong.  About everything and everyone.

    And they can't face those truths.  So rather than engage in prolonged and brutally honest self-examination, they spend their time and energy constructing arguments and attacks against us, their accusers, the people who were right.

    •  lumping everyone together (none)
      EVERYONE on the left who supported the war thought that people against the war were and are "naive, stupid, weak, disloyal, etc."??

      I don't think that's true at all (though there were certainly cases of that).  These kinds of heated recriminations aren't terribly helpful, from either side of the debate.  That debate had and has more than two clear-cut sides.

      •  Granted (none)
        Okay, so I am painting with a broad brush.  But political communication requires broad, bright strokes to be effective.

        The pro-war 'liberals' know all about this.  

        They lumped me together with Jane Fonda, Noam Chomsky and other perceived 'enemies of America."

        They claimed that my candidate, the one who was right about every major issue, would be a bigger loser than George McGovern and Michael Dukakis (as if it makes a difference how many votes you lose by when you lose the White House).

        They lumped me and millions of others together and threw us under the bus.

        Sure, I'd like an apology, but more than that, I'd like them to quit their jobs in the 'leadership,' support some people who were right, and stop telling me what I'm supposed to think and do.  I don't need them and their Big Wind bullshit.

  •  Liberal Hawk?????? (none)
    Who the hell is a liberal Hawk?  I strongly object to the tainting of the word liberal with the word Hawk.  That is an oxymoron like Military intelligence.

    It seems like everyone is talking in code, and I don't know the formula.

  •  The Iraq Debacle (none)
    is the largest scale fractal of this cronyistic criminality construct with all the major characteristics that define the overall design regardless of the scaling factor: fractured logic of striking B because A hit you, dishonest marketing, rampant cronyism, massive giveaways to the wealthy, sticking everyone else with the bill, vindictiveness to opposition, utter incompetence in execution from the highest levels (but not usually at the lowest levels). I guess I could coin it the Bush fractal.

        It doesn't really matter how major or minor the disasters are in this administration. They all seem to have these crimes and misdemeanors as their overriding characteristics to a certain extent.

    Pop-gun president lying with impunity, soundbyte policies and photo opportunities

    by Dave the Wave on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:14:03 PM PDT

  •  Debacle? (3.50)
    Armando, you're trolling again.

    The sanctions could not have been held on Iraq much longer — international support was fading fast, and there were, as we now know, no weapons to find evidence of to justify continuing the sanctions on the established terms. Without the sanctions and overflights of the North and South, Saddam could well have quickly reconstituted his programs (there was plenty of scientific and technical talent left, plus the resources), and done something really, really evil by now. Something that would deserve a far harsher word that "debacle." Something that would have included a return to genocide within Iraq, and devastating actions abroad.

    All that is necessary to Democratic strategy is that we show Bush and his team up as total incompetents. The post-invasion period does that. We can also talk about how they are habitual liars (although most people accept lies from politicians, sadly). But the case for their incompetence is stronger if we allow that, despite the lies, removing Saddam may have been the best of several bad roads. The case that they fucked things up after removing him is stronger if we can envision ways the occupation and hand-over of power could have been competently managed — the present outcome as not having been fated or inevitable.

    It's usually better to battle an enemy on their terrain than ours. No, I'm not referring to the "terrorists," but to the Republicans. Go into their terrain of post-Saddam occupation. Battle them there. Don't battle them on our terrain of "Shouldn't have gone in there under any circumstances." Because there are still plausible reasons why we should have gone in. You'll convince fewer people in the end. But you'll convince anyone with a mind if your argument stays on the post-Saddam terrain: Our leaders are fucking losers who have wasted billions of dollars and thousands of lives by not being competent.

    Accept where we are. Now talk about how to do it right, from here forward. That's much more easily focused on if we aren't engaging in wishful thinking about never having gone in — especially of the sort that imagines our Republican enemies have actually done as well by that course as they could have — which calling the debacle inevitable gives to them.

  •  Oh how tiresome (none)
    They want to be hawks but have no idea what to do so they get sucked up into trying to justify the worst strategic move this century.  They are little better than those who think ignoring centuries of often violent ethnic strife equates with bold thinking.  They are as responsible as the press and others who would like to believe that depending on cheers from a "rescued" populace is anything like having vision.  

    I am sure it's easy to have gone to Iraq and in seeing pre and post Iraq feel some good about Saddam being gone. Perhaps even to see some potential for good things too happen in Iraq, I do. But to fail to temper that with all thats gone and is going so horribly wrong; to fail to see the whole hole they've helped dig seems unforgiveable at this time.

    As if the repugnicons really need more members for their the chattering class, or more people to share the blame for killing so many of our boys and girls and leaving us with in this mess.

  •  Packer lost me (none)
    when he recently opined in an L.A. Times column that people who were against the war from the beginning had second-rate minds because we were unable to simultaneously entertain the possibility that invading Iraq was 1) a good idea, and 2) a bad idea.  I think he misses F. Scott Fitzgerald's point by a country mile by employing it to defend his own embrace of U.S. aggression.  The way I see it, many of us who opposed the war were exactly right to do so, and were terrible right about what would happen.

    Perhaps a better test of intellect would be, Whose Predictions Were Most Accurate?

  •  It comes down to this (none)
    What on earth had Chimp and his goons done to deserve the benefit of the doubt on Iraq? What? Packer can have no adequate reply because there was nothing in their history to indicate that these were competent, honorable public officials. These clowns had already proven that they couldn't even be trusted to run a volunteer fire station in a small rural town, let alone implant democracy by force into the Middle East...

    And we all knew that here.

    I did not receive $ from Ketchum, U.S. Department of Ed or HHS to write this---though I wish I had.

    by Volvo Liberal on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:25:41 PM PDT

  •  Packer's Backers (none)
    The heart of Packer's position is decribed in The Assassins Gate where he talks about a November 2002 NYU conference on the then coming war

    Professor Michael Walzer, a political theorist who had written the book Just and Unjust Wars, explained in his soft, hesitant way that a war in Iraq wouldn't qualify as just.  There was no imminent threat to merit preemption.  There was no humanitarian crisis to warrant intervention.  The time to have overthrown Saddam was in 1988, when Kurdish villages were being gassed, or in 1991, when Iraqis were rising up against the regime, or even in 1998, when Saddam defied the world and threw out UN weapons inspectors. But now, with a new round of inspections just beginning, and diplomacy ongoing at the UN, and the allied no-fly zone protecting the Kurds in the north, what was the just cause for war? "There is no mass murder now," Walzer said.  "That's the box we're in." The administration in Washington was contemplating a preventive, not preemptive war, Walzer argued, and there's no basis in just war theory for wars of choice. Containment was still working -- even if the Iraqi people were among those being contained.  Walzer, a passionate supporter of the Balkan interventions in the 1990's with no illusions about the nature of the regime in Baghdad, seemed unhappy with his own conclusion.  But there it was.  One by one, the others agreed.

    But then Kanan Makiya -- a long-time Iraqi exile then living in Cambridge, MA -- got up and spoke, chastising the conferees as carrying on a selfishly American dialogue.  Makiya pointed out that it would be the Iraqi people who would pay the heaviest price of a war and their "organized opposition groups [meaning well-to-do long-time exiles like him] overwhelmingly wanted one."

    Makiya said that it was the war hawks like Perle and Cheney who were the strongest supporters of Iraqi democrats and independents.  Makiya called Colin Powell an "appeaser" and then made the sales pitch:

    Having upended his audience's settled categories, Makiya went on to describe the vision of democracy drawn in his report.  "This is radical stuff in the Arab world," Makiya said.  "This is dynamite stuff." He was coming to the end, his voice growing stronger, and there was a sudden ungrounded energy in the room.  He had everyone's attention.  "The Iraqi oposition is something new in Arab politics.  It can be encouraged or it can be crushed just like that.  But think about what you're doing if you do crush it.  I rest my moral case on the following.  If there is a sliver of a chance of what I just said happening, a five to ten percent chance, you have a moral oblighation, I say, to do it."

    It's obvious that Makiya made the sale to Packer then and that he's still buying it.  Think of what this means:  That the United States should start an illegal war -- a war crime and a crime against humanity -- and spend hundreds of billions of dollars, sacrifice not only thousands of lives of its own soldiers, but the lives of tens of thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of Iraqis, because a  bunch of well-to-do exiles say there's a chance that "democracy and independence" might prevail.

    I believe in supporting democracy and human rights, and my heart goes out to people who are actually putting their lives on the line to do it.  But there are many ways short of an illegal war to do so, including economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

    In The Assassins Gate, Packer last describes his hero, Makiya, as living back in Cambridge in a house he's refurbishing with his new Iraqi wife. This man, who made the American people his useful idiots, isn't even living in the mess he helped create.  Meanwhile, Americans and Iraqis are dying in droves.  Why isn't Makiya living outside the Green Zone in Iraq, still acting on that outside chance that his street corner talking might bring democracy and independence to his apparently now abandoned home country?

    Packer's heart is in the right place, but there's really a serious disconnect between his principled need to support democracy and freedom and the foreseeable costs of doing so by starting an illegal war that kills many thousands of people.

    In light of the undeniable disaster that their war has become, what the Packer-ites now give us is a series of what ifs:  If Bush had put enough troops in right away -- the 300,000 to 400,000 Packer says would've been available for a short time with extended rotations -- then maybe an insurgency wouldn't have gotten off the ground.  If Bremmer hadn't disbanded the Iraqi Army and fired the top four levels of Baath Party members, then maybe there wouldn't have been a guerilla war.  If Bush had put serious diplomats, bureaucrats and policy wonks in position in Iraq instead of incompetent, inexperienced, corrupt cronies, then maybe Iraqi reconstruction would've worked out so as to gain popular support for occupation forces.

    Of course, we could argue that if only diplomacy and sanctions had been continued, then maybe Saddam would've seen the light and become a more liberal enlightened ruler who would begin the process of democratizing Iraq.  It's just as plausible as the Packer-ites' what if arguments.

    But there's an unreality to what if arguments and I think it's a mistake for us to engage on that level.  It's like two kids arguing about whose daddy could beat the other one's daddy up. As my great grandmother was fond of saying, "You could shit bricks if you had a square asshole."

    Who cares?  Liberal warhawks like Packer are on our "side" now.  They've fallen out with their neo-con allies and are blaming Bush and Republican incompetence and corruption for causing the U.S. to screw the pooch in Iraq.  The Packer-ites are now our useful idiots instead of Bush's.  Why rub the Packer-ites' noses in their mistake?

    The time to do that would be if they start to agitate for an attack on Iran or Syria.  Methinks it'll be awhile before that happens.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:49:26 PM PDT

    •  Cutting Them Too Much Slack? (none)
      Your heart is in the right place, but setting up an intellectual halfway house for Bushaholics may be a mistake.

      As you say, "they've fallen out with their neo-con allies," but does this mean that these ambivalent people have had a sincere change of heart?

      Or will they run off and rejoin the Jim Beam Circus if there is a tempting offer?

      •  Who Cares If They've Changed Their Hearts (none)
        You don't have to love the one you're sleeping with, especially if it's politically.  

        It's a distraction to fight with the Packer-ites about who was right in the days before Cheney started the war. The Packer-ites are the enemies of our enemy -- the  Cheney Administration.  

        We should be working with the Parker-ites to make the real criminals -- right wing, neo-con, corrupt, incompetent, warmongering, lying, scumbag Republicans -- pay the maximum political price for the debacle they forced down our throats.  

        Cheney and his posse were the perpetrators of the Iraq War; Makiya, Parker, et al. its useful idiots.  If we can turn the useful idiots against the perpetrators, that's a good thing.  We should help the idiots fight the perps, not vice-versa.  

        This aggression will not stand, man.

        by kaleidescope on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 02:39:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Playing devil's advocate ... (none)
    You wrote above ... Packer's heart is in the right place, but there's really a serious disconnect between his principled need to support democracy and freedom and the foreseeable costs of doing so by starting an illegal war that kills many thousands of people.

    Can't that be turned around and rewitten as ... Those who want a soon withdrawal have their heart in the right place, but there's really a serious disconnect between their principled enthusiam to support democracy and freedom with military power only in America and the foreseeable costs of doing so by allowing an illegal civil war that kills many thousands of people in Iraq, and opens the possibility of destabilization of the entire Middle East once Iraq is totally overtaken by anti-American elements that threaten the other nations in the region.

    I opposed the Iraq War, and I foretold the possible mess that could result, so I was never pro-war, just for the record. Quite frankly, I don't  know many Democrats who were pro-war. However, I don't want a fixed timetable for withdrawal of our troops. I think that would be just as big a misjudgement as the neocons made in having no plan when they went to war. Those who want to withdraw quickly have no plan for what comes after withdrawing, which is the flip side of the neocon mistake. I do want us to try to bring about stability in Iraq and the region, because that is in America's interest. I do want a fixed timetable (the 2006 and 2008 elections here) to end the control of the neocons over our foreign policy, so that we can elect new leadership that will start making realistic decisions that will help both Americans and Iraqis achieve our goals.

    •  I didn;t write that (none)

      The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

      by Armando on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:54:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just who was removed from the real field of play? (none)
      Liberal apologists like Packer from the Invade Iraq Immediately! crowd still refuse to acknowledge that nearly all of America's most knoweldgeable, respected and experienced military leaders, diplomats and security experts opposed Bush's unilateral, peventative invasion & occupation of Iraq --from Brent Scowcroft to Wesley Clark to John Hoar to Anthony Zinni to Merill McPeak. They did so for military and geo-political reasons.

      Most --like Generals Shinseki-- put non-negotiable preconditions on any large-scale invasion or occupation should there be probable cause, such as minimum troop numbers, coalition partners from the Muslim world, and post-invasion planning.

      Exactly how were all of these military leaders --Many of them commanded troops during the first Gulf War and in the no-fly-zones afterward-- "extremely removed from the real field of play," as Packard claims?

      On the contrary, it was the so-called "liberal hawks," neo-con intellectuals and ivory-tower exiles --none of whom have experience leading troops into combat-- who were utterly divorced from the realities of what it would take to successfully invade & occupy Iraq.

    •  On Civil War (none)
      The US isn't preventing a civil war.  There's already a civil war in Iraq that the US touched off,  and one side -- the Iranian side -- is using the US against the other.

      It's folly -- and bad policy -- to pretend the US can keep 140,000 troops in Iraq much longer.  The Sunni resistance will continue indefinately.  Why should the Shia and Kurds make serious concessions so long as they can get US troops to fight their civil war for them?  The Shia and Kurds really do remind me of the Thieu Administration during the Paris peacetalks.  

      Get real:  The US can't afford the financial cost or sustain the popular support need for an indefinate ground war in Iraq.  The US will be pulling out and probably sooner rather than later. So the responsible, realistic, thing to do is to plan for that happening and try to leave Iraq in the least bad state possible when US troops depart.  

      After all the lies and broken promises, the least America owes the Iraqis is to be real about what they can expect from America and let them make their plans accordingly.  That means getting over liberal guilt and denial and getting on with planning how to get the fuck out soon.

      This aggression will not stand, man.

      by kaleidescope on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:09:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Response to the Devil's Advocate (none)
      Why not consult those who have dogs in this hunt -- the Iraqi people.  An excellent recent Kos diary relates a poll of the Iraqi people the British Ministry of Defense commissioned.  I can't recommend the diary more highly, so read it yourself.  But the money quote is:

      The survey was conducted by an Iraqi university research team that, for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be used by coalition forces. It reveals:

          * Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

          * 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

          * less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

          * 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

          * 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

          * 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

      The opinion poll, carried out in August, also debunks claims by both the US and British governments that the general well-being of the average Iraqi is improving in post-Saddam Iraq.

      So, from the perspective of Packer and Makiya, the U.S. and Britain should get the fuck out, since those whose opinion matters most -- ordinary working class Iraqis (as opposed to well-to-do exiles living abroad) -- think the American occupation sucks and is harming their security.

      It'll be interesting to see what kind of paternalistic liberal-guilt bullshit the Packer-ites resort to in order to continue to advocate U.S. occupation over the objections of Iraqi's themselves.

      I don't doubt that the thin scrim of Iraqi exiles and western-oriented domestic elites Packer spent time with are the minority in this poll, still expecting the U.S. to spend untold billions to continue to fight their elitist battles.  But in the shadow of Katrina, it appears there's a convergence of interest between ordinary Iraqis and ordinary Americans -- get U.S. ground forces the fuck out of Iraq and let the U.S. start spending desperately needed funds on reconstructing Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

      Why should poor black southerners live in trailer park gulags so we can continue to visit death on Iraqis?  We have some serious needs right here in the good old USA.

      This aggression will not stand, man.

      by kaleidescope on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 06:58:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your plan seems to be ... (none)
        ... "Just leave!" I equate that with the wisdom of the neocons plan "Just invade!" that we heard before the Iraq War. I didn't buy the neocons plan then, and I don't buy your plan now. Having no plan is not a good plan. Surely we have learned that much.
        •  I Know You Are But What Am I? (none)
          Your plan seems to be "just stay."  Which pretty much is the neocons' current non-plan.  

          It's nice to be nuanced and sophisticated and all.   I know Packer is all into that.  But leaving does mean leaving.  Continuing to fight and lose an expensive, bloody, criminal war that can't be sustained on behalf of people on the ground who see what's happening and are opposed to it is, well, no plan.

          I'm not saying the U.S. shouldn't plan.  I'm saying it should plan for how to get out very soon and do so in the least harmful way.  It should figure out what it can do to be constructive in Iraq absent troops on the ground and it should begin building the infrastructure for that now.

          American involvement in the war is wildly unpopular both here and in Iraq.  If you think the Republicans are going to keep the troops in Iraq past, say, July of 2006, you're either in denial or you're high. Given the political cowards they are, the Democrats aren't going to be the "eat the war; it's good for you" party.

          The U.S. troops are coming home whether Packer approves or not, and we'd best face that and plan for how to do it as effectively as possible.

          This aggression will not stand, man.

          by kaleidescope on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:51:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  All I see from what you say ... (none)
            ... is putting off the fighting until another day. If we withdraw and leave a vacuum, then it will be filled by those who will threaten the entire region. It will become a larger version of Afghanistan and, sooner or later, we will be faced with going back in to protect our interests and the interests of our allies inthe region. Withdrawal will cost more American lives in the long run. The only difference is that we will put the cost on the next generation, but, what the heck, that's what we are doing with everything else, isn't it?
  •  It Has Ever Been Thus (none)
    We liberals eat our young in the name of Philosophical Purity.
  •  besseta (none)
    Those of us who support US withdrawal from Iraq at the earliest possible moment do INDEED have ideas of what the US should then do - though Bushco will of course have none of it.

    Let me suggest a few:

    1. National emergency to invest in and develop renewable energy (now 4 years and one month late).

    2. Repair relations with Europe.  The big picture for the next decades in China.  Do we want the EU to work with us or stand aside?

    3.  Compel an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that is internationally enforced - an agreement that ends one-sided US support for Israel, that protects the security of each side and the dominance of NEITHER.

    4.  Make sure that there are no terrorist camps in Afghanistan and bring those troops home, as well as the 35,000 or so in Korea.  Bomb the camps if they reappear.

    5. Attend to the problem of proliferation of nuclear weapons NOW.

    6. Work WITH other nations to fund and rehabilitate the UN.

    7. Attend to seriously neglected domestic security needs - from dams and bridges, to nuclear and chemical plants, to first responders.

    8. Find bin Laden and turn him over to the appropriate international body for trial.

    9.  Sign the Kyoto agreement.

    10.  Push for much strong environmental and labor protections in NAFTA, CAFTA, etc.

    11. Start of offer a model of a democratic society and polity to the rest of the world in place of the tyranny we now have.

    Is that a start?
    •  Not a plan at all ... (none)
      ... for Iraq and the region. The neocons had a worldview before they started the Iraq War and it, too, left out a realistic view of the situation in Iraq after the war. Your laundry list leaves out a realistic plan for Iraq after an American withdrawal. As I said, it's the same mistake the neocons made, just one was made going in and one is made coming out.
  •  Kosovo does not equal Iraq (none)
    In Kosovo, we bombed the shit out of them until they quit.  Gave up.  Turned over Milosevich.  A war isn't over when we say it's over--it's over when the people we're killing say it's over.  

    We won Kosovo because Clinton was a draft dodger and everyone knew it--thus he didn't have the standing to overrule the military on tactics once the decision was made to fight.

    We lost Iraq because somehow Bush and his merry gang of chickenhawks convinced the nation and the Senate that they were tough guys who somehow knew better than the guys who killed when they were young and planned for killing when they became generals.  As I've commented here before, we lost the war the day we let Bush ridicule and then ignore General Shinseki.  

  •  Iraq cannot be fixed right now (none)
    No plan will work.  Not now. It is Humpty-Dumpty.  The best that can be hoped for is that conflict in Iraq can be contained in Iraq.

    The point you miss is that Iraq is by no means among the top five foreign policy issues the US faces.  Making it a huge FP issue is itself a continuation of the Bush disaster.

  •  Ah yes, the region (none)
    I would think that really ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just and enforceable settlement is one helluva plan.  It is one of the major sources of conflict in the region.

    A plan for the entire region?  When did God annoint the US to have a plan for the entire region?  Should we have one for South America too?

    How about making sure that the British leave and stay out this time as well?

    It would be nice if the US provided a little humanitarian assistance to Iraq through a credible international body instead of Halliburton.

  •  Not that I care about a 1.... (none)
    after all, I'm in fucking IRAQ, for Christ's sake, but I'm curious what inspired it.  I'll defend my analysis, because it's right, but I especially feel the need to add a touch of reality to these discussions.  I don't tell my surgeon how to weld the scalpel or my plumber how to plumb.  Because I don't know shit about it and understand what will happen if I interfere.  The leadership (except for the secretly neutered Powell) knew nothing about war but insisted on dictating tactics.  Thus the debacle.
    •  maybe because (none)
      you made an ignorant comment about clinton.

      what do you think clinton wanted the military to do differently that he didn't have the authority to make happen??

      clinton would have listened to shinseki.

      not because he didn't have the authority to overule shinseki, but simply because he probably respected the man's opinion.

      bush.  not so much.

      and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

      by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:56:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly my point. (none)
        He was scared to death to get in a dispute with the military brass.  Because he was a draft dodger.  It probably made him a better president.  He made the correct political decision to invade decision to attack Serbia.  Then he made the correct military decision to let his generals fight it.  If you think he respected the military...you're a fool.  Ask the soldiers he prosecuted for improper sexual behavior and improper relationships within the chain of command.  And you can't read.  I didn't say he didn't have the "authority".  I said he didn't have the standing.  Do I need to explain the difference?  
        •  you didn't answer the question (none)
          what did he want the military to do that he didn't have the authority to get them to do???!!!!

          back up your hypothesis.

          and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

          by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:17:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dude, I'll even buy you the reading glasses. (none)
            I didn't answer the question because it was based on an imaginary hypothesis...not mine.  Clinton wanted to win in Kosovo.  He let the generals do it because, in my hypothesis, he knew it was ridiculous for HIM to be an armchair general.  So they won it.

            Bush wanted to win in Iraq.  Because he let his silly wannabe generals like Rummy and Wolfowitz and the rest of 'em order the troops around and fuck with the TPFDL, he didn't win.  Instead his guys sent in half the troops necessary and created the debacle that this thread is about.  Try the dictionary for "standing".  

            •  dude (none)
              your hypothesis is that he knew it would be ridiculous for HIM to be an armchair general.

              my hypothesis.  he was smart enough to let experts take care of the situation.

              your hypothesis is predicated on the idea he wanted to be an armchair general but realized it would be ridiculous.  support that.  make your case.

              and it's a force of habit/ if it moves then you fuck it / if it doesn't move you stab it -- MacManus

              by BiminiCat on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:37:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Did you just change your hypothesis? (none)
                First of all, I'm back and I'm going to bed.  It's seven hours ahead of NY here, 10 to Cali.  I've been up all night and I'm tired.  You started off with "authority", now you've changed it.  OK, at least you know what is too stupid to defend.  About your point--he started off getting beaten up on the gays in the military issue...and never messed with the military again.  He was smart enough to let experts be experts.  He was also smart enough to realize that he was hated/disrespected so much that if he had insulted and overruled his army chief of staff or any combatant commmander--that officer would have resigned to cheers from his peers.  You don't know enough to argue this point, so don't.  
    •  Joe, Aren't you in 'quarters some where?? (none)
      You're surgeon your plumber? You are so suburban. Better call your banker or brokerage account too, you're gonna need some money.  A few acronyms your lawyer will  need to know:  DOJ FBI FEC CID. Oh and quit reading so much Clancey
  •  Posted on 10/13 (none)
    It must be the day for dumb fucks (none / 0)

    This is dumb fuck writing from George Packer, someone who has actually reported from Iraq and written a somewhat good book about the debacle:

    One had to balance fear against hope, the Middle Eastern status quo against unknown consequences, Donald Rumsfeld against the legacy of the Halabja poison gas attack, the United Nations against democratic idealism. In the winter of 2003, what you thought about the war mattered less to me than how you thought about it. The ability to function meant honest engagement with the full range of opposing ideas; it meant facing rather than avoiding the other position's best arguments. In those tense months, the mark of second-rate minds was absolute certainty one way or the other.

    I came down on the pro-war side, by a whisker. I understood the risks and costs; I didn't understand how large they would be -- how much larger than necessary because of the arrogance and incompetence of U.S. leaders.

    I thought then, and think now, that the war's merits could not be known in advance...

    So those of us who predicted - with certainty - a tragic outcome for Bush's adventure are intellectually inferior to geniuses like Packer, who, after careful and nuanced cogitation, came to exactly the wrong conclusion.

    It would be laughable if it were not so painfully awkward to watch liberal hawks twisting at the end of the rope that Rummie gave them.  Is it so hard for a well-connected New York liberal simply to say, 'I was wrong?'  It's not like his kids are dying...

    www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

    by chuckvw on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:57:05 PM PDT

  •  How sentimental... (none)
    Anyone who spent time in Iraq during those months [after the fall of Baghdad] can't forget the longing of Iraqis for a simple, ordinary life, and their openness to those of us who came from outside. That memory, and the knowledge that, hidden now behind the screen of unbelievable violence, those same Iraqis are still there, makes it very difficult for me to write the whole thing off.

    What sentimental horseshit.

    If Americans weren't dying, if our armed forces weren't being wasted away, if there wasn't anything else better in the world to do, and if it weren't costing us half a trillion dollars, I would say, yeah, let's do something for those poor souls.

    This is not what the government of the United States is empowered for by the people.  They are supposed to serve America, not Iraqis, not bleeding-heart hawks (and that's really what you ought to call this crap.)

    We need our army for important things, like, um... finding and killing Osama Bin laden.  

  •  It is really quite simple (none)
    It is wrong to start a war (defined as purposeful killing/maiming) because you think someone else would benefit from your type of government and it will take a war to find out if you are correct. The fact that a debacle could be foreseen is an aggravating factor. The fact that it could not be foreseen is not a mitigating factor.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 08:07:26 PM PDT

  •  breakup of iraq (none)
    i don't agree with either the doves or the hawks. continuing to force democracy on iraq isn't working and leaving iraq to tear itself apart isn't responsible.

    has any democrat ever advocated breakup as a real option? couldn't we do an end run around the fear of civil war by negotiating a "peaceful" break up of iraq now, rather then just waiting for a bloody civil war to determine the same result? isn't this more like 1991 yugoslavia than 1960's vietnam?

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