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Petraeus and the Will to Win

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One thing that is made clear by the Petraeus report, is that the surge is yielding measurable and substantive results in Iraq. However, Democrats still seem obsessed with leaving at any cost, regardless of what improvements have been achieved. Sure, the progress is on the terrorist front, and there hasn't been much in the way a political resolution regarding oil revenues and equal (or representative) control of the government in Iraq. But one step at a time. To make the obvious point, (one that Democrats previously made when it was more convenient for them) there can't be any political resolution in a country where there is no security.

It's interesting to see how people on both sides of the issue use this information to their advantage. For one, I watched the Petraeus hearing on Fox, because for most of the hearing, CNN was too consumed with the behavior of disgraced Senator Larry Craig and the Bob Fosset search. Clearly this report means more to people on the right who actually care about what happens in Iraq (and consequently America's foreign policy standing). Those of a more hard left persuasion have already decided that we should leave Iraq regardless of the facts on the ground, and thus this story isn't nearly as important as smearing a GOP senator for his perverse bathroom habits.


General Petraeus

But the bottom line is that there was progress in Iraq, and the surge is working. This is good for the America, VERY good for the Iraqis, and yet bad for Democrats. I think it speaks volumes as to where the Democratic party is today, that something that is good for the US is bad for the Democratic party. But this is what happens when you bet on American failure, which they did. Far be it for me to subscribe to a view that has my team losing.

Any improvement in the situation there should be commended and expanded upon. Sure, the majority of the benchmarks were not met. Although as Petraeus pointed out in his hearing, some of the cutoffs for the report were many weeks ago (even though the surge started only a few weeks before that), and more progress has been made since which was not captured. Clearly the strategies in the past were flawed, and the strategies of today are better.

Where I come from, there is an old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" These wise words were conceived in regards to science, but they speak to a resolve of purpose which seems to be lost in the America of today. There is no question that the Bush administration blew much political capital with their laissez-faire and simultaneously heavy handed handling of the Iraq war in its infancy. Vice President Cheney has admitted as much and the progress up till this year has been testament of this fact.

But now we seem to be on to something. Clearly what we are doing is working. The gains may be tenuous, but the more we continue to do the right thing, the less tenuous these gains will be. And the closer the Iraqis will be to a safe and politically sound Iraq.

However, Democrats have not changed their position on what we should do now in Iraq. They've made exhortations to the effect that the reductions suggested by General Petraeus are not enough:

"The reduction to a pre-surge level is not a change in course," said Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan. "It's something which will happen anyway, just because of the rotation of our troops and the limit of 15 months for that rotation."

So even though we've made improvements, and even though the situation is getting better because of a change in Bush's Iraq policy, Senator Carl Levin would STILL have us leave Iraq sooner. Does this make any kind of sense? Does he care about the consequences or is his (and his party's) only concern making the situation in Iraq as bad as it can be so as to help Democrats in the upcoming 2008 elections? In light of the reduction of the loss of American lives, Iraqi lives, improved security that the surge has yeilded, what other possible motivation could there be for Democrats to continue to want to turn tail and run from Iraq?

We may hate war but we are in it. Rather than continue the tired rhetoric of cutting and running (or redeployment, or whatever niceties we want to assign to the words we will use for surrender to Al Qaeda and insurgents in Iraq), what we need now is to expound upon our current success. We need to take what gains we've made and use them to make further gains in all areas of the situation in Iraq, both in regards to security and politics there. Now that we have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, we need the will to win.

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About The Obnoxious American

  • Milwaukee Dan

    My amusement at the spin of the right again! By what measure are we “succeeding”? The statistics are cooked. This is what happens when the president politicizes the military leadership. It’s shameful. Here’s the numbers:

    Spent & Approved War-Spending – About $600 billion of US taxpayers’ funds. President Bush is expected to request another $200 billion for 2008, which would bring the cumulative total to close to $800 billion.

    U.S. Monthly Spending in Iraq – $12 billion, in 2007

    U.S. Daily Spending in Iraq – over $200 million, in 2007

    Cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq – $390,000 (Congressional Research Service)

    Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq – $9 billion of US taxpayers’ money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.

    Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq – $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings

    Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported – $1.4 billion

    Amount paid to KBR, a former Halliburton division, to supply U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items – $20 billion

    Portion of the $20 billion paid to KBR that Pentagon auditors deem “questionable or supportable” – $3.2 billion

    Number of major U.S. bases in Iraq – 75 (The Nation/New York Times)

    America is not at war, the Marines are at war, America is at the mall! It’s time to bring home our men and women, put Bush and Cheney on trial, and seize the money back from the war profiteers. BLOOD MONEY!

  • methuselah

    Petraeus said what he had to say to earn his next promotion and pay raise and to extend the war long enough to retire without a lost war on his record.

    Look for Petraeus to join a famous conservative thinktank in a couple years and go around the country giving speeches in which he says “we could have won in another 3 months if it wasn’t for the treacherous left and lack of will among Americans. Just like Vietnam”

    Hey, Petraeus, YOU can stay. Here, sign this contract saying you won’t leave Iraq until the war is won.

    If Petraeus were any good he should have been appointed to this job 3 or 4 years ago. Instead, a whole phalanx of military failures and time-servers have been feasting on a live war to buck up their resumes and fatten their retirements.

    The only honest and brave soldier we’ve seen in this affair was Eric Shinseki, who was run off when he told the truth (as we ALL now know it was) instead of the expected lies. Have the administration and army bigshots come out and apologized to Shinseki? Hah!

    Petraeus is canny enough to know that the only people to survive and prosper around Bush are fawning sycophants. Apparently, OA is trying out for a job.

  • Baronius

    Dan, you don’t measure a war by its cost. If we help Iraq to stabilize, it was worth the cost. If we fail, I don’t care how much we spent. We spend more every year on the “war” on poverty, and that’s been going on for 40 years.

    You give the cost per soldier. Are you saying we’re spending too much? The most common complaint from the Left is that they don’t have enough equipment, that we’re not spending enough. As for defense contractors, well, that’s a pretty interesting topic. The contracts are constantly being re-written. The government changes their demands as needs change. Most contracts are multi-year, with the government only budgeting one year at a time. No private sector institution could get away with DoD-style contract revisions. So those contract numbers don’t mean what they look like.

    But you probably don’t care about the money, not really, if you think Bush and Cheney should be put on trial. You object to the war. So why argue a different subject?

  • bliffle

    Baronius: “…you don’t measure a war by its cost.”

    Here you see the fetid premise that reveals why the Bush administration is utterly corrupt. When you go to war money flows freely in all directions, with no oversight, with no repercussions. What a goldmine for criminals! Why, that might even explain why they LOVE war. Like Milo Minderbender.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Well, a lot of us do measure this war by its cost, in dollars, blood [both American and Iraqi], and depleted American stature in nearly every other country in the world. Enough is enough. Let’s come home now please.

    There will be some folks who will still be able to find a justification for us to stay 5 more years, 10 more years. Redeployment now! Tomorrow morning is a good time to start.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    In addition, this article is crudely written and badly argued. And the book illustration chosen is just plain ridiculous. Sen. Clinton is not, I believe, even mentioned in the article, but because she has elsewhere been [falsely] accused of maligning the character of the good general, Mr. Obnoxious thinks this an appropriate choice. Just pitiful.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    The problem with this article is that it does not even probe to a goal. When you go to war, you go with a goal in mind, a mission to accomplish – and then you leave the logistics to the military and let them direct the campaign to victory.

    You may even win.

    If you do, you rearrange your deployment of troops to enjoy the fruits of that victory.

    Why are over 100,000 Americans sitting just 17 hours away from where I live? What are they accomplishing? How are they reducing the terror and threat of terror under which we all live?

    This article doesn’t even pretend to answer any of these questions.

    Now let’s couple more questions onto the table.

    1. If Americans are redeployed, an they be used in a more effective way to protect America’s freedom?

    2. Is there anything the United States government can do to stave off the threat of bankruptcy that this war has brought them to?

    Obnoxious American, yes I DO have a solution. Check out comment 151 at this Blogcritics article for an idea of how to work it today.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Sorry for the couple of errors in the previous comment. It ought to have read:

    Now let’s toss a couple more questions onto the table.

    1. If Americans are redeployed, can they be used in a more effective way to protect America’s freedom?

  • Franco

    Excellent Opinion piece.

    “the bottom line is that there was progress in Iraq, and the surge is working. This is good for America, VERY good for the Iraqis, and yet bad for Democrats. I think it speaks volumes as to where the Democratic party is today”

    I could not agree more. The Democrats have been embarrassing since they took a positive lead more seats in Congress.

    “improvement in the situation there should be commended and expanded upon”

    Amen.

    “what other possible motivation could there be for Democrats to continue to want to turn tail and run from Iraq?”

    That is a mouth full and the answers in truth could be very scary.

    It seems to have been forgotten that it was in fact the Democrats who campaigned (and won on this campaign) for a changes in war strategy in Iraq in direct contrast to Bush’s “staying the course”. That became their campaign slogan. Well the Democrats won and they got their chance in strategy with the surge, and the surge as it has turned out is showing some very important success. So why do they now of all times what to cut and run. It is the ugliest and most embarrassing thing to watch in media today by the US troops on the ground over in Iraq.

    There may be only one or two members of the Democratic Congress who could even approximate the character, integrity, courage and honesty of General Petraeus. Men like this are not all that common and we as a county are lucky to have him among one of us. The new majority in Congress does not agree, and I am truly ashamed of them.

  • Clavos

    “And the book illustration chosen is just plain ridiculous. Sen. Clinton is not, I believe, even mentioned in the article, but because she has elsewhere been [falsely] accused of maligning the character of the good general, Mr. Obnoxious thinks this an appropriate choice. Just pitiful.”

    Since you also write articles for BC, handy, you know that there is NO requirement for authors to choose a book that is relevant (or related) to the article, so your point above amounts to being nothing more than a red herring.

    In fact, one doesn’t even have to pick a book; the only requirement is that it be something sold by Amazon, and the whole point is to sell items on Amazon in exchange for their sponsorship of Blogcritics.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    The book cover is silly and offensive and I guess I can express an opinion about it. ‘Red herring’ implies deception of some kind.

  • Clavos

    Of course you can have an opinion, though I think if the book cover said “Condoleeza Rice Naked” you might not think it as silly. But then, that’s just MY opinion.

    As to my red herring comment: you pointed out that the article doesn’t even mention hillary, which, while true, is irrelevant. As a writer for BC, you’re aware of that. Thus, I can only conclude your purpose in making that point was to distract with a red herring.

  • http://www.libertyrepublican.com Dave Nalle

    The only honest and brave soldier we’ve seen in this affair was Eric Shinseki, who was run off when he told the truth (as we ALL now know it was) instead of the expected lies.

    The “truth” Shinseki told was that we should have sent more troops to Iraq for post-war peacekeeping. The surge is very much what he was advocating. So if you think Shinseki was right, what’s wrong with Petraeus when he is following through on the same idea? Oh yeah, he’s doing it for Bush. That makes him evil.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    “I can only conclude your purpose in making that point was to distract with a red herring.”

    Well, not to belabor a minor point, but when I choose the books or videos to be included with my own articles, I do my best to make them relevant and illustrative of the piece, since the first one will appear adjacent to the title and my byline.

    And not to speak for Mr. Obnoxious, but it’s a reasonable inference that he did not choose the book in question because he has a favorable opinion of the junior senator from New York. Which was my point.

    All herrings were intended to remain their natural colors.

  • Clavos

    “And not to speak for Mr. Obnoxious, but it’s a reasonable inference that he did not choose the book in question because he has a favorable opinion of the junior senator from New York. Which was my point.” (emphasis added)

    Really? That’s not apparent in what you wrote:

    “And the book illustration chosen is just plain ridiculous. Sen. Clinton is not, I believe, even mentioned in the article, but because she has elsewhere been [falsely] accused of maligning the character of the good general, Mr. Obnoxious thinks this an appropriate choice. Just pitiful.

    Oh, and while we’re on the subject:

    Did she not say that believing General Petraeus’ report would require “a willing suspension of disbelief?” And is that not calling him a liar, which is precisely “maligning the character of the good general?”

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    I see you’re in one of your more combative moods today, Clavos.

  • bliffle

    Shinseki was right, Wolfowitz was wrong. So who did this admin reward with honors and swell jobs?

    I’ll believe their Good Intentions when they backtrack and apologize to Shinseki. It’s not hard to apologize. We could start with you, Dave. When’s that apology to Shinseki coming forward?

    And I ask again: if Petraeus is to be our Iraq messiah, why wasn’t he put in charge 4 years ago? Or is he simply the latest in a series of Bush stooges, setup to take the blame for failure?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Fine, Clavos. I don’t see the slightest inconsistency or misrepresentation in my posts. Certainly none was intended. I said the choice of illustration for the piece made a snarky point which the article itself did not bother to make. That’s what I did say, and what I intended to say.

    Someone piss in your coffee this morning?

    Or perhaps you had herring for breakfast. Read the full transcript of the Senator’s opening remarks:

    “I want to thank both of you, General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, for your long and distinguished service to our nation. Nobody believes that your jobs or the jobs of the thousands of American forces and civilian personnel in Iraq are anything but incredibly difficult.

    “But today you are testifying about the current status of our policy in Iraq and the prospects of that policy. It is a policy that you have been ordered to implement by the president. And you have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy.

    “Despite what I view as your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.”

    Nothing nearly as personal or disrespectful as has been implied here and elsewhere. And also see Chuck Hagel’s remarks on the same day, that commie pinko secret MoveOn sympathizer!

    [from an NPR article last Tues.]
    Hagel spent several minutes questioning “the disconnects” in the findings of several recent reports on Iraq. And he also questioned the value of using U.S. troops to “buy time” for an Iraqi political reconciliation process that has made little progress.

    But as other senators did on Tuesday, Hagel tempered his criticisms of war policy with praise for the general and the ambassador.

    “It’s not your fault, general,” Hagel said. “It’s not Ambassador Crocker’s fault. It’s this administration’s fault.”

    Amen, Chuck.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I’ll believe their Good Intentions when they backtrack and apologize to Shinseki. It’s not hard to apologize. We could start with you, Dave. When’s that apology to Shinseki coming forward?

    Bliffster, you find where I wrote a single negative word in an article or a comment about Shinseki and I’ll write a full article apologizing to him.

    Until then I maintain that I’m not responsible for the misdeeds of the administration any more than you are for the millions killed by prior socialist regimes.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Nothing nearly as personal or disrespectful as has been implied here and elsewhere.

    Handy, she may have couched it in nice words, but she still called the man a liar.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I believe the point that Sen’s Clinton, Hagel, and several others were making was that they believed the general was loyally carrying a questionable message ordered by the administration. Neither he nor the other Pentagon brass could possibly be happy to be in Iraq, fighting this unwinnable war. But they are good soldiers and they’re not [publicly at least] going to naysay the president.

    Hearings like this are all theater anyway. Before Petraeus arrived on Capitol Hill, we basically knew what he would say, what the Administration would say, and what the Administration’s critics on the Hill would say. They’re just playing their appointed roles.

    Oh, and also what the Republican presidential candidates would say, and what the allegedly independent Clavos and Nalle would say in describing the situation.

    We’re all just so damn predictable, aren’t we.

    PS I do think the MoveOn “BetrayUs” ad was way over the line. I wish Clinton would directly repudiate it, but I don’t take her silence to mean she thinks it was a great idea or well executed. She’d rather let the story fade [and it will].

    BTW, Jon Stewart had a better idea for a pun, titling a segment “Iraq Me Dave Petraeus” while Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” played in the background.

  • The Obnoxious American

    I appreciate the debate, but every gripe laid out here by the left does NOTHING for us in terms of victory in Iraq. And that’s the point behind the article, we have some success. Now is the time to build upon it.

    Imagine if a company was run this way. All companies make mistakes, change business plans, hire and fire people. Some people who are right don’t get listened to, and sometimes the wrong people get listened to. So what??

    At the end of the day, the company needs to earn a profit, not send out apologies, make popular decisions or make you feel good. Likewise, our government has a responsibility to succeed in this war that, by a representational vote, the American people sent them to complete. I don’t care about whether they apologize to Shinseki, I just want them to prosecute this war competently and leave a better Iraq than they went into.

    As far as my much maligned selection of the Naked Ambition book, I think it’s quite appropriate. Yes, Hillary basically called Petraeus a liar – as a political point. And the democrats on the whole simply can’t forward one iota of effort on finding an actual solution to our problems in Iraq (leaving isn’t a solution) but they are making tons of political points in order to secure their place in 2008. The book talks about how Hillary (same is true for many in her party) seem to care so much more about the 2008 elections then what kind of country this will be when their populist-coddling platforms are adopted.

    For once, I’d like to see the Democratic party take a stand on what they believe in as opposed to what polls good or might help them win an election in 2008. So far I haven’t seen anything like that.

  • bliffle

    “Petraeus and the Will to Win” is the title of this article.

    I’ll believe Petraeus has the Will to Win when he signs a contract saying he won’t return from Iraq until the war is won.

    Otherwise he’s just another ticket-puncher setting himself up for a cushy retirement job with a thinktank in a year or two while this disasterous misbegotten war continues bleeding blood and money.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Petraeus can demonstrate as much will to win as he likes – success or failure in Iraq will remain where it always has – in the hands of the politicians.

    On the one hand you have an administration which blatently ignored the necessities of post-war security being a necessary requirement for the development of stability in Iraq. One the other hand you have the current rush to political expediency being exhibited by both the Dems and the GOP in claiming “quagmire” vs. “progress” in Iraq. Both are liars and selectively taking from the information what best fits their political agendas.

    Progress in a complex counter-insurgency environment cannot be effectively or sustainably developed in a “six-month” surge. At most, you elicit a blip in the stats that vanishes when you spin down your committment. Sustainable, ongoing movement towards stability in Iraq is a long-term project – it will take at least 3 to 5 years before your see effective results. Measuring your success or failure on a 6-month yardstick is asinine.

    The dems are leveraging this for the purposes of political expediency and the Bush Administration is again driving expectations and committments based on the premise of “not too much longer…” – a stance that they now have zero credibility on.

    The politicos need to make a simple choice – lower your committment, gradually pull out the troops and deal with the instability, the political fallout, the inevitable civil war, ethnic “cleansing”, the rise in Iranian influence in the region, etc.

    or

    Steel yourselves for 2500 US casualties and the billions of $ over the next three or so years until your can build a marginally sustainable government and security in Iraq (note – not peaceful, but marginally sustainable, which is a different kettle of fish entirely).

    Half-measures will not work.

    Petraeus knows this but I doubt you will ever get him to say it in any testimony.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    For an excellent article that both praises Petraeus’s academic credentials and still underlines why most of us want to get out now, see this week’s New Yorker…lead article in Talk of the Town.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    “And the democrats on the whole simply can’t forward one iota of effort on finding an actual solution to our problems in Iraq (leaving isn’t a solution) but they are making tons of political points in order to secure their place in 2008. The book talks about how Hillary (same is true for many in her party) seem to care so much more about the 2008 elections then what kind of country this will be when their populist-coddling platforms are adopted.”

    Mr. Obnoxious, these two sentences of yours also “make a political point” at the expense of sense. Your silly book photo makes a political point that you, oops, just forgot to include in the article itself. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney made political hay out of distorting the hearings and what was said and not said.

    So don’t pretend it’s just your [should be capitalized] “democrats.” There are plenty of people, including yourself, scoring gratuitous political points off this issue.

    PS Yes, leaving is a solution. It may in fact be the only solution.

  • Clavos

    “PS Yes, leaving is a solution. It may in fact be the only solution.”

    It won’t be a solution for the Iraqis.

    But, come to think of it, who cares?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I’m certainly not happy-go-lucky about Iraqi casualties – with 100,000 or more dead while we’ve been there, it’s one of the worst horrors in the world. But I believe there will be slaughter whether we stay or go, so I say go. I’m not so sure the ‘experts’ who predict worse slaughter without us know any better than you or I what will actually happen.

    McCain may be right: if we leave now, we’ll just end up back again anyway. But…we didn’t ever go back to Vietnam, in another damned-whether-we-stay-or-go situation.

  • Nancy

    When I was a kid, my sister & I would fight – but only when my parents were around. When they weren’t around, we either got along or ignored each other. I suspect it’s the same with Iraqis. It is very likely that if we left, being thrown on their own resources would mean they would be forced to wake up & take responsibility, or perish. And if they do perish? So what? I for one won’t be weeping over a world without a pack of argumentative idiots who couldn’t get along even if it meant they all died for it. Let them. Let them handle their own problems; they keep insisting they’re grown people. So they are. We have no business playing parent or nursemaid to these people.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I should have added, however:

    Even if Barack Obama is elected president, and the Dem majorities in both houses grow larger next year, we will continue to have a troop presence in Iraq for a long time to come.

    Hopefully, a smaller one than if Giuliani, Romney or McCain become prez and the GOP takes back some or all of Congress.

    No mainstream candidate will withdraw troops fast enough to suit Nancy or me.

  • Clavos

    Ron Paul would.

    5…4…3…2…1…

  • Zedd

    OA

    In the interest of affording us a goood understanding of your article could you define what YOU mean by “working”. What is our goal in Iraq and how are we reaching it?

  • Zedd

    OA,

    On the escapades of a Republican Senator in an airport toilet….

    It is quite relevant to harp on that matter if the GOP rose because of promises to be decent, promote “family values” and honesty. What they did to Clinton regarding Monica Lewinsky was childish, wasteful, petty and an embarrassment to our nation. What it also did was call attention to THEM; what they do and how they do it. I’d say the story is quite relevant.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Deano,

    I agree with your estimation of the situation, and I believe the second option you present is the best.

    Handyguy,

    After we left Vietnam, well over a million souls were murdered in the chaos that ensued. Clearly no one seems to mind that aspect of our Vietnam withdrawal, but there were ramifications to our standing in the world as a result. We can’t afford a repeat of that again, and we shouldn’t allow it to happen if we can help it.

    Which brings me to Darfur. Obviously, it’s ghastly and reprehensible what is happening there and China should be taken to task… but how can people scream that we should leave Iraq and possibly create another genocide, yet simultaneously feel we should be going into Darfur?

    Zedd,

    It’s only relevant if your goal is to be a bipartisan zealot. What Craig did was stupid and gross, and absolutely hypocritical. But it’s not a reflection of the party or the morals that the GOP stands on. Just like what happened with Clinton may have been wrong but is not a reflection of the Democratic party or the morals it stands on.

    For CNN to focus on Larry Craig when he’s already announced his resignation, meanwhile ignoring General Petraeus giving a report to the houses on an active war is very irresponsible journalism whether it floats your bipartisan boat or not.

  • The Obnoxious American

    And btw, my original title of this piece was simply:

    “The Will to Win”

    The editors changed the title in their wisdom. I don’t mind the new title, but don’t take me to task for it.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    ObAm, Bliffle prefers to resort to attacking the title when he can’t deal with the substance of the article.

    Dave

  • The Obnoxious American

    Thanks Dave. Maybe next time I will use smaller words :>

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Your words are quite small enough already.

    It’s too simplistic to say that we are responsible in advance for all the deaths that may occur after we leave, especially when too few Americans, especially in the government or military, want to talk about how many civilians have died while we have been there. We are and will be, in part, responsible for both. But how long do you really want us to stay? 10 years? 20? The military is severely overstretched now. Is it good to keep it that way?

    I know Clavos will cringe at my quoting John Kerry, but he actually did say at least one very wise thing, long ago: “How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?”

    How long should we have stayed in Vietnam? We were causing deaths as well as preventing them while we were there too. 1964-1975, and it’s still not long enough for you? What would be enough? For the many of us who believe it was a massive mistake to be in Vietnam and in Iraq in the first place, talking about indefinite commitments to stay longer just sounds like nonsense. And a horrible, pitiful waste.

    I believe the Vietnamese and the Iraqis did, and will, bear plenty of responsibility for the respective aftermaths. But we certainly helped both of them fuck things up pretty thoroughly.

  • Baronius

    Handy, many of us believe that it was a horrible mistake to abandon Vietnam, and that we share the blame for the collapse of Southeast Asia. Don’t you feel ashamed of that? It makes me sick to think about the hundreds of thousands of dead. Yes, we should have stayed in Vietnam longer. We should have been more aggressive in the early years, and stayed as long as was necessary.