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The Real Debate

Like most Americans, I find primary debates about as interesting as watching toenails grow. Sure, it's important in the pre-primary stage for the candidates within a party to differentiate themselves from their competition. However, it's much more important for candidates to play out the actual debate they will be having once they are chosen as primary candidates, or elected to office. Such a discussion would happen with the other party.

This Sunday's Meet The Press hosted a real debate between Republican and Democrat, Senator John McCain faced off with former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry. What struck me most immediately was the approach to the discussion between the two candidates. As I have said before, I tend to view things in a simple fashion unlike my supposed left wing betters. I saw two points of view, one that was focused on solutions and winning, and one that was bitter, angry at the past, and using terms like redeployment as a pseudonym for quitting. I'm sure even the most left wing of my readers can guess which one was which.

McCain's opening comments:

"The U.S. strategy in Iraq should be to defeat al-Qaeda, to do everything we can to reverse the increasing influence of Iran in Iraq, and to achieve or move towards the goal of military security and a functioning government."

Kerry's opening comments were a bit longer, and not quite as clear:

"Well, the Bush-McCain strategy of escalating our troops in the middle of a civil war has no relationship directly to what you need to do to resolve the civil war. So you can put additional troops in and secure a small area here or there, but everybody knows there are not enough troops to be able to secure all of the areas you need to secure and, most importantly, it does absolutely nothing to resolve the fundamental differences, Tim. A policy of putting more troops in and staying is a policy for staying. It is not a policy for winning or for changing the equation. And the fact is that over the last four and a half years, they’ve had ample opportunity to make any of the fundamental political decisions that really don’t relate to security. An oil revenue law does not take security to be passed. A de-Baathification law does not take security to be passed. It takes political will. They haven’t shown the political will. We have to change the fundamental equation and create leverage in our relationship.

"Second major point, this is making us weaker in the war on terror. It is emboldening Iran, empowering Iran, empowering Hamas, empowering Hezbollah. The United States has lost leverage in the region. We need a better policy, and there is a better one."

When asked the specifics of the better policy:

"The better policy is to re-establish that leverage, is to make it clear to the Iraqis that we are leaving over a period of time."

First, staying is not a policy for winning? I'll make the obvious point that we can't win if we arent there. Further, to suggest that security isn't needed for various laws to be pased is simply insane, especially considering that many on the left have been complaining that our main failure has been with handling the security within Iraq after toppling Hussein. It's quite clear that without security, law doesn't mean a whole lot.

Further, it's worth noting that Iran, Hammas and others are embolded in Iraq because of statements like these from John Kerry, and no other reason. They are not emboldened when they hear comments from people like John McCain.

After McCain cited that the vast consensus between experts including General Zinni, Zowcroft, Jones, Henry Kissenger and others was that setting a date for withdrawl will have negative consequences for security in Iraq, Kerry responded with the following:

"John (McCain) keeps using the word 'withdrawal,' that, that, you know, a, a fixed date withdrawal is somehow going to abandon Iraq. We’re not talking about abandoning Iraq. We’re talking about changing the mission and adjusting the mission so that the bulkier combat troops are withdrawn, ultimately, within a year, but that you are continuing to provide the basic backstop support necessary to finish the training, so they stand up on their own, and you are continuing to chase al-Qaeda.

About The Obnoxious American

  • Clavos

    “a decent point, Clavos..but the semantic mistake made does not invalidate the greater Point held in the comment…care to address that one?”

    Sure.

    I agree with it, but really don’t care whether we pull out or stay, because I believe that regardless of which party wins the next election, we’ll either still be in Iraq and headed for Iran (Rs) or out of Iraq and off to the Sudan (Ds).

    I’d like to see us withdraw all over the world and then downsize the military by a good 50%, but I know that won’t happen. War is too good a lever for the politicians; they can bring home pork with it, it boosts the economy (as long as we don’t spend TOO much on it–GW’s big mistake), and it keeps some of the citizens fearful and others pumped. Kind of a “something for everybody” for all those gentlemen and gentlewomen in Congress and the WH.

    Either way, I’m hanging on to my defense stocks.

    OA’s got an interesting point here:

    “Incidentally, why set a date? If we are to leave in a month or a year, why not just leave now? Why let one more American die if we’ve already decided to pack it in? I just don’t get that.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    as to the last point…

    that’s the crux of the matter…the timing

    you want the timing to yield optimum results towards the strategic Goals

    but until you set the Goals themselves, all the rest is moot, shoddy Thinking, and corruption

    that’s my earlier Point concerning many folks just looking at the two extremes, staying forever and leaving tomorrow…

    the solution is probably somewhere in between

    Excelsior?

  • STM

    Isn’t the big problem in relation to Iraq this: Having caused the problem in the first place (rightly or wrongly), isn’t the US now responsible for ensuring a transition to peaceful government, no matter how long that takes?

    What would happen if the US left now? I can tell you with absolute certainty that one result would be a total loss of face in the Arab world, and that brings with it all kinds of problems to the future security of the US.

    It’s a lot less simple than it looks, all this stuff. The best transition process for US troops would be the switch from plain armed to armed social work. I still don’t believe it’s too late.

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

    since most of the newly elected members were Democrats, and only 10% of the newly elected members had served, the number is most likely lower.

    Which I have to also note is because the DCCC deliberately undermined the vets who were running as democrats, even recruiting people to run against them and funneling money to the non-vets.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Aww, c’mon, SS:

    “What would happen if the US left now? I can tell you with absolute certainty that one result would be a total loss of face in the Arab world, and that brings with it all kinds of problems to the future security of the US.”

    You actually think we HAVE any face left in Arabia? Or for that matter, most anywhere else in the world?

    If we say we’re going to stay until we can enable a “peaceful” transition, we’re looking at another West Germany/Germany or South Korea situation; it will never be “peaceful” enough.

    And, however long we stay, they (those who fight us now, whatever they call themselves) will always be gunning for us, as long as we’re there, so I don’t think “armed social work” will even be possible.

    Yeah, we made the mess, and we’re already hated for it, so that’s not a reason for staying, either.

    The way I see it, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

  • STM

    Geez Clav, I know it’s a tough one. But the US must persevere with this. It’s a very different situation to Vietnam. I am of the view also that the whole thing has not been worth the cost in lives, but it’s there now and can’t be undone.

    Therefore, America must rethink it’s situation and try some other options that don’t involve simply waving goodbye. The Iranians right now are doubtless rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of a new administration committed sooner rather than later to pulling up stumps, but remember, most of Iraq’s oil wealth is in their main area of meddling … the south.

    It isn’t that simple old boy. That’s the problem, and the dilemma.

  • Dr Dreadful

    So REMF:

    Something tells me you’re against the war?

    Just a little subtext I’ve been picking up from your comments…

  • REMF

    Doc;
    Yep…for more vets against the invasion/occupation, see the Veterans Against the War web site.
    “Support the troops, oppose the policy”
    (MCH)

  • Clavos

    Zoom.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Clavos,

    You are being a defeatist. It’s never too late to turn things around. Yes, people in the mid east hate us (except for our allies in Israel and possibly Kuwait and the UAE), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing.

    If you believe all is lost, then not much I can say to convince you otherwise. However, I will go back to the saying in the article, we need to try, try again.

  • The Obnoxious American

    I’d like to add something to that:

    Yes people hate us in the middle east (except Israel and possibly Kuwait and Dubai), but it’s worth noting that they hated us for quite a while before Iraq.

    I’m not linking Iraq and 911, I don’t think Saddam was involved in the planning on 911 (although he clearly had links with AQ before 911 and supported terror elsewhere). But the fact is, 911 happened before Iraq, before afghanistan, the fatwah issued by OBL against the US happened in 1998, so even during the (supposed) panacea of the late nineties, Democratic administration and all, we obviously did enough to p— off at least some on the Arab Street.

    I don’t think we need to turn around Iraq so as to win any hearts or minds on the Arab street. Rather, we need to show that we are still capable, we are still a super power and despite some terrorist groups and their attacks, we can and WILL prevail. This is a message that must be sent to the terrorists and will at the same time have the effect of leaving a healthy Iraq which is good for the Iraqis and us.

    So rather than think of this as saving face, try to think of it as saving our country because at the end of the day thats what we are doing.

  • bliffle

    It’s more mature and reasonable to close off a lost position and move forward with other opportunities. All of us have had to do this and hopefully develop the judgement to know when to quit a bad deal, a bad investment, a bad marriage, etc., and move on.

    Some of us have tried too hard and taken too long before abandoning, and suffered the consequences.

    But your advice, to NEVER abandon, is naive and untenable. And you can’t expect to demand that others follow you over the precipice.

  • The Obnoxious American

    bliffle,

    It’s hillarious that you continue to post without actually reading and understanding what I am saying. Then calling me naive to boot.

    Once again, the point of the article is to show the dogmatic response of those on the left. The opposite of what you are saying actually because I’ve never said we should “never abandon”, what I have been saying all along is that there are some successes now, and as a result now is not the time to abandon. Rather it’s time to build on the successes. And I go on to point out that on the left, any such discussion is taboo. At least on the right, we are talking about what is the best way forward. We just don’t seem to think abandoning AT THIS TIME is the right move.

    I will once again reiterate the main question that is brought out by this article: Why is it that the left finds any discussion of the war, save for blind support of abandonment, taboo?

    No one has provided a satisfactory answer on that, other than to say we’ve already lost, which is patently false and does not reflect the successes we’ve recently been able to have as a result of the surge and other developments on the ground.

  • Nancy

    As Bush & his various spokespersons do.

    The point is, OA, that we have spent TOO LONG already trying to make an untenable, unworkable situation work. Some of us object, because, unlike Dubya, some of us are capable of learning, as well as recognizing reality instead of sticking with wishful thinking, lies, & fantasies.

    Part of Dubya’s rationale is that at this point, he’s a goner prez. There’s nothing he’s going to be able to accomplish before he leaves, except perhaps to stay on in Iraq & (hopefully in his mind) perhaps attack Iran as well, thereby leaving his legacy as his being a mighty War Prez – a goal he’s stated more than once publicly is one of his biggies. So this is it: one major reason we’re in Iraq is to justify Junior’s cojones & buttress his testosterone, so he can override his earlier cowardice in the face of duty. People – US soldiers – are supposed to DIE for this?! People – US taxpayers – are supposed to bleed themselves & their kids & grandkids & future generations – white for this? For a failure & a drunk’s EGO? I don’t think so.

    As pointed out by other commenters above, we have no credibility or face in the mideast. Even our putative Saudi allies will give us the heave-ho the instant it suits them to suck up to China, their next big customer. To think otherwise is idiocy. So staying & dying & going broke for the sake of middle eastern goodwill isn’t even a choice, because it ain’t gonna happen.

    As for leaving Iraq better than when we found it, we’ve been rebuilding – & building from scratch as well – all kinds of infrastructure. We could have rebuilt most of the US with all the labor & materiel we’ve squandered in that fucking arab pisshole. But the Iraqis themselves keep sabotaging it – or just plain stealing it; at any rate, it’s they themselves that are destroying everything we build for them, either for political reasons or for gain. Fuck them. We’ve spent more than enough money & time & effort on those vermin. Time to leave them to their own devices – & if that includes becoming a caliphate or a muslim stewpot, so be it. If we truly believe in democracy, then that’s their privilege, isn’t it? Or is it only that we want them to have democracy on OUR terms? Or more accurately, on the terms of Dubya/Cheney & their band of merry men?

    As for sectarian violence, these people have been slaughtering each other since before the time of Abraham & Ur of the Chaldees. For them it’s a tradition, a pastime, a habit, a game. They wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they didn’t have someone to go after & kill. Better they kill off each other than us.

    We’ve already given them far more than we’ve destroyed, in both funding, materials, labor, & lives. We “owe” them nothing. Nada. Zip. Not anymore. To continue to pour good money & lives after wasted ones is stupidity incarnate as well as futile. Time to leave – & leave them to their own devices.

    BTW, I mentioned Bush’s slutty daughters in that, IF they were actually serving in Iraq – or even stateside, but serving at least – I could maybe respect some of Bush’s rationales & arguments for Iraq. But they are safe & sound, never ever to be in any danger, unlike the daughters & sons of ordinary Americans who are daily in the way of danger, mutilation, & death for the flimsiest of reasons – Bush’s ego, & oil. He & his live high & party while the rest of us bleed & die. That’s why I mentioned his slutty daughters. Capeesh?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Nancy,

    This is not about Bush anymore. It’s about us. Do you really think the country is better off wreaking havoc in Iraq (no matter whose fault it was that we got in there in the first place) and then turning tail? It’s not about Bush’s slutty daughters or what they did or did not do. This is about what is best for this nation. Period. And we are not best served by leaving Iraq in the condition it is in today.

    You’re taking the opinion that we’ve already lost, even though recent reports indicate progress. It simply doesn’t make any sense to stop what is showing some amount of progress and leaving given the ramifications.

    Your sister and you might have gotten along, because you ultimately were sisters. There was no third party like Al Qaeda in your house inflaming matters between the two of you. The situation in Iraq is much more complex than a family living room and the comparison just doesn’t really apply.

    Realize that Al Qaeda by their own admission believes that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. Does that matter at all to anyone? Why wouldn’t we stay at least fight those guys? The leave because we’ve already lost platform simply doesn’t reflect reality, the war on terror, or make any kind of sense other than to serve Bush a defeat. But at the end of the day, Bush will still be wealthy living in his ranch in Texas, and we will still be Americans. Let’s not cut off our nose to spite our current president please.

    REMF,

    Please stop wasting my time. I won’t be enlisting for a variety of personal reasons that really don’t matter. You can keep trying to bring that up, as if somehow that I don’t serve matters as to my ability to make a reasoned judgement, but the reality is that it’s showing your lack of judgement and thought on this issue.

    I contribute to this country in a wide variety of ways that do not include military service. Perhaps had my life turned out differently I would have served, and I kind of regret not serving because I think I would have been better for the experience (had I lived through it). Either way, whether I served or not has nothing to do with whether we should finish the job in Iraq. Bear in mind this is a volunteer army, and no one is being forced to serve, I am not somehow avoiding service as you are intimating.

    People make their own choices for what they do as their right as Americans which is why this is a great country. I will continue to have my opinions as to the best course for this country, and if my not serving makes those opinions somehow invalid for you, that’s your problem, and you can choose not to read my articles.

  • Baronius

    Dave, I have the same instinct to provide advice to our new Obnoxious friend, but he seems to be doing fine on his own. Look at how quickly he’s sized up his opponents.

    I don’t agree with him on everything though, like our standing in the Middle East. Those countries – any countries – respect strength and sniff out and exploit weakness. We’re killing and dying for what we believe in, and that gets respect. We also spend a fortune, oppose radical Islam, and sell weapons. We’re the country everyone wants to party with, although no one can admit it out loud.

    You know what else we’ve got that most countries don’t? Middle class Muslims with rights. People notice that. Our world image isn’t as bad as we’re led to believe.

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

    The catch about us having middle class muslims with rights is that they ALL come here, leaving their homelands without their guidance and balancing presence.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    I have a fear that Bush will start a war with Iran before leaving office and dump that mess on the next presidents doorstep in 2009. Along with the Iraq mess and the $trillion dollar debt. Thus, he will have spent our wealth and spent our military in these fruitless acts. That combination may be just enough to sink the nation.

    We have to stop Bush now. If it’s difficult to get out of Iraq it will be twice as difficult to get out of Iran. And we’ll be too broke to recover.

  • Baronius

    Dave, there’s something to that. But anyone who aspires to a better life is aware that something about America works. This reminds me of the 1970′s and 1980′s, when we were told that the Warsaw Pact was prosperous and united against the imperialist West. In reality, the only thing being produced in East Germany was bootleg Michael Jackson cassettes.

    Someone around here recently said that Islam was in decline. I think there’s a lot of merit to that. People don’t blow themselves up because they’re sure they’re winning. Western culture is close to a knockout punch – close in Middle Eastern terms, which means 600 years or so. We’ve got to have a little more confidence in our way of life, that we’re winning hearts and minds.

    There’s another important phenomenon which I’ve never heard discussed. It’s one of those things that seems so big and so obvious that either I’m brilliant or I’ve gone totally nuts. There is a natural tendency, whenever one side becomes dominant, for offsetting forces to merge against it. I’m not talking about some Hegelian force, just natural human precaution. Sometimes good and evil face off (WWII), but sometimes groups just form coalitions and fight (WWI).

    So of course China and Islam are rising to fill the void left by Russia. You can’t have only one team. That’s why there will never be an end of history, and why we’ll never be universally loved. The good news is that in another seventy years we may see societal systems competing over who can best keep their populations fed, educated, and free.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    “But the fact is, 911 happened before Iraq, before afghanistan, the fatwah issued by OBL against the US happened in 1998, so even during the (supposed) panacea of the late nineties, Democratic administration and all, we obviously did enough to p— off at least some on the Arab Street.”

    yes, what we did , according to bin Laden himself, is keep open military bases on Arab (holy) soil

    so advocating a permanent presence in Iraq merely continues pissing folks off…you appear to have missed that simple Fact

    “So rather than think of this as saving face, try to think of it as saving our country because at the end of the day thats what we are doing.”

    show your fucking proof…you , and others, keep making thit assertion, but NEVER substantiate the statement, expecting everyone to take it as an axiom on blind faith alone because you say so

    many think it’s completely bullshit, and it doesn’t help that the Administration people who keep spewing this trite have been 100% wrong since day one on every count…why should this be different?

    i’ll keep an open mind, show your proof

    “Once again, the point of the article is to show the dogmatic response of those on the left.”

    this coming from another “stay the course” advocate who appears to be parroting every single neocon bit of bullshit that has been tossed out concerning this Invasion…all the while ignoring and avoiding question like what i Asked in #52

    “This is not about Bush anymore. It’s about us.”

    sorry, the ones who got us into this, and those who fucked it up so completely do NOT get a free ride…especially when it has been shown that part of the Bush strategy was NOT to solve the problems he created himself, but to “play” it out in order to pass it on to the next Administration

    now, this means the current regime has NO intention of actually solving the problems, so it is up to what comes next to create a solution

    this does NOT absolve the culprits, and their fuck ups are and should be graven into the stone tablets of History as an abject lesson of how NOT to do things

    Baronius sez – “Look at how quickly he’s sized up his opponents.

    yeah, do note he stopped responding ta lil ole me after i Asked real question in #52…and instead sticks to the talking points, AM radio style of debate, and not budging from doing just what the neocons wanted in their feverish foreign policy wet dreams…permanent bases in Iraq

    also note NO response to the completely factual assertion from me about the new welfare state of Iraq, or the budgetary concerns of this fiasco…much less the real Issue of the actual Foe being in Afghanistan/Pakistan

    so far, i ain’t impressed

    Excelsior?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Baronius,

    I do agree with you actually I guess my point is I just don’t care about the hearts and minds stuff. Thing about the middle east is, you don’t win hearts and minds by trying to win hearts and minds. You do what you need to do as a country – THAT wins the hearts and minds. I think you alluded to the same.

    Gonzo,

    Don’t think I am running scared from your tired tirade. Fact is even the Obnoxious American must sleep and work on occasion.

    If you don’t understand why a defeat (what you’d call withdrawal) in Iraq would hurt this great country, just take a look at the way the Arab street viewed Russia after they were defeated in Afghanistan. We already have several strikes against us due to past weaknesses (not responding to the first WTC bombing and USS cole bombings, turning tail in africa in the 90s, even Vietnam). We no longer instill fear and thus respect in the middle east. If you think that’s a formula for the future of this superpower, then you’re just being silly (I think you are a bit silly, but hence the marx name…). Not to mention the fact that Al Qaeda is in Iraq now, so we might as well fight them there. I’m not saying that this is a guarantee that they won’t also attack us here, but who cares. That would likely happen anyway regardless.

    As far as the fatwah and OBL being upset about our presence in the “holy land,” first I urge you not to heed the excuses of insane men. Just like you wouldn’t pay any credence to the motivations of Son of Sam or Tim McVeigh, why would you pay any to OBL? I just don’t get that. But let’s pretend for a moment that OBL’s gripes have credence…

    Fact is that the Saudi Royal family asked us to setup a base in SA. Why? Because of our old buddy Saddam Hussein. They wanted our protection from him. OBL was pissed because he asked the Saudis to let him provide the security instead. They rebuffed him and he’s been trying to overthrow them ever since.

    OBL is also upset about Israel but yet does nothing to help all those poor palestinians. Just more fuel to the fire that OBL’s fatwahs are really just excuses to justify his twisted, insane mindset.

    I’ve never advocated staying the course, and I don’t think any fair reading of the Administrations recent actions are either. It’s about actually winning and finding the best way to get there. It’s not about just doing the same failed thing, or leaving, which would be an immediate failure.

    You can continue to try and cast me as whatever you like, a Bush butt buddy, a stay the course’r, whatever. I think I’ve been very very clear in advocating a position, solutions oriented way forward for this country that does not include cutting and running. Also note that I don’t sit here and throw stones at you accusing you of throwing out the tired old Democrat salvos of cutting and running, although, thats exactly what you are proposing. Before you accuse me of replaying GOP talking points, look in the mirror because I’ve not heard anything but Howard Dean talking points since you started replying to this article.

  • The Obnoxious American

    and incidentally,

    Excelsior

    (whatever the hell that means.)

  • gonzo marx

    OA – go back an dread what i have typed, i think you will find that i have tried to find some common ground in attempting to actually resolve the situation in Iraq

    let me ask this, do you think we should have permanent bases in Iraq or are we going to leave after “winning”?

    you see, over the course of reading all of this from you, you don’t appear to have set ANT victory conditions, much less stated what you think must happen before we can leave Iraq to fend for themselves as a sovereign country rather than the vassal welfare state they are currently

    as for bin Laden and his reasonings…again you assume quite a bit that i never typed

    i clearly said what the reasons he gave were, and that US bases in the Holy land were one of them…you may think he is crazy as a bedbug…and you may be correct…but i am well Aware that he was trained by our own CIA covert ops types, among other military specialists form the US and UK so he could lead a counter insurgency against the USSR

    this includes psyops, IEDs, strategic and tactical planning and much much more

    also do note that even by the Administrations accounts given in Petreaus’ testimony, AQ in Iraq is NOT related to AQ in Afghanistan/Pakistan… think of it as a franchise, rather than a single corporation if it helps

    you also appear to have forgotten that Reagan left the middle east (cut and run), that the US helped Saddam (and sold him his WMDs among other weapons), or that the CIA overthrew an Iranian president democratically elected to install the Shah

    all of these things factor into the current blowback, and NEED to be taken into account when determining any kind of viable solution to he issue of the middle east, imo

    but still..we cannot go on until you answer the simple question…

    stay in Iraq permanently, or leave once “victory conditions” are met? which do you advocate?

    oh yes, if you notice, you answered quite a few comments, skipping that very Question after i asked it..hence my busting you chops about avoiding the tough ones…no worries tho

    Excelsior?

  • The Obnoxious American

    No avoidance here Gonzo.

    First, I do think we should have permanent bases in Iraq. Just like we have permanent bases in Germany and South Korea and a variety of other places in the world where our military has helped freedom reign.

    I really don’t get the whole argument about permanent bases – this isn’t a question about what will best coddle various extremists. It’s a question about what’s in our best interest. Certainly having a base in Iraq is in our best interest, and as a result, I support it.

    Now, before you start casting me as a necon or whatever, let me make clear that I don’t believe we are due one drop of Iraqi oil, revenues from that oil or anything else that’s precious to the Iraqis. Further, I don’t think Iraq should be the 51st state, or that they not be able to make autonomous decisions about their own policies in their best interests.

    But our brothers and sisters have given their blood to help take Iraq from the clutches of tyranny, and it’s not too much to ask to be able to have a base in some remote, yet strategic (for us) place in Iraq.

    Unless we are engaging in some serious islamist coddling, I really don’t see what the problem with that is. Who would be angered by such a thing? Not moderate, open minded Muslims who can see that we are not there to occupy. Extremists, and those brainwashed by them into thinking we are the great satan would be upset. But those people would be upset with us anyway. So who cares?

    We’ve been able to maintain bases in plenty of countries around the world without being imperialists or dictating the policy choices of those nations. However they let us maintain bases in their country because of our good relations and the assists our military has provided in the past. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be the same in Iraq.

    To your point about us previous admins supporting Saddam or OBL, who cares? Sure, these were mistakes made by previous, well meaning but obtuse administrations. But we are not living with a previous administration. We are living in the world of today, and in this world, OBL is our enemy, as was Hussein. Are you suggesting that we “stay the course” in so far as our 80s relationship with OBL?

    Sorry, I really have to laugh when people trot out the old, “it’s Al Qaeda in Iraq, it’s not the real Al Qaeda” talking point. It’s less like a franchise and much more like a chain. Before you buy into this absurd belief that they are so different, ask yourself whether AQ in Iraq would attack us in the homeland if they could, whether those fighters are imports into Iraq (most are), whether they ultimately follow OBL.

    You seem to be a smart guy, I would have thought you knew what I am about to say, but given the AQ in Iraq comment, I’m now not so sure but:

    Did you know that Muslim extremists don’t care about national borders. They refer to the Muslim nation of people, from Saudi Arabia to Iran, as the Ummah. So to Al Qaeda, there is no distinction between the (supposed) struggle in Iraq versus the (supposed) struggle in Michigan, as all Muslims are part of the Ummah – us infidels are just dhimmi in their land (even here in the US).

    If the extremists don’t see such a distinction, why would you claim to? Smacks of extremist coddling to me.

    If there are any other questions you think I am avoiding, please list them (bulleted list preferred). I’ll be happy to share my viewpoints.

  • Nancy

    The bigger, more realistic point is, we DON’T have the money, & we don’t WANT to waste more US lives, supporting that sorry muslim/arab/barbarian pisshole. You’re right: we can’t do anything about having wasted past money & lives there; but we sure as hell don’t have to continue wasting money and lives there now or in the future. As you point out, THAT we CAN do something about. Namely, quit wasting our resources on a shitpile like Iraq & the Iraqis, who don’t appreciate & don’t deserve it – just because an incompetent arrogant alcholic failure of a president got us in there under false pretenses in order to give himself some kind of macho bullshit legacy as a War Prez. Unlike you, I AM thinking of America, & what we can realistically afford, while YOU are thinking in typical macho shithead male testosterone-poisoned terms like “winning”. Nobody ‘wins’ in this type of guerilla war. It just goes on & on & drains our resources, while proving & accomplishing nothing – just like Vietnam. The entire notion of “winning” is a male thing, based on the male concept of heirarchy: whose dick is bigger than everybody else’s. Who has the power. Who beat the enemy. Who ‘won’. It’s about time men stopped running the show & perhaps women should take over & discontinue this militaristic, puerile nonsense about “winning” & focus instead of restabilizing & re-addressing ourselves instead of playing world cop & swaggering around the globe brandishing our weapons (read: substitute penis symbols). With what we’ve squandered – no, with what BUSH has squandered in Iraq, building & re-building & re-re-building so the Iraqis can tear it down again, we could have repaired or rebuilt all our own failing infrastructure twice over & then some. We could also have instituted a workable national health insurance system – if congress didn’t waste the money on porkbarrel projects or lining their own pockets meanwhile instead, but that’s immaterial.

    If Dubya Bush wants so badly to bring “democracy” to the fucking ragheads, then let him quit as president here, renounce his US citizenship, move to Iraq, & run for office there. As president of the US, he has NO business committing us & ours on the scale he has, to supporting or building any foreign nation. Nor should he have the authority to continue to do so. He comes into this primarily because he’s the reason we went there, & he’s the reason we’re still there, & he’s the reason we’ll be there for years to come, it seems. He’s also the reason we may end up in Iran as well. On those grounds alone he should be removed – forcibly if necessary – as incompetent, as well as treasonous for having used false pretenses to enmesh us in this terrorist witch hunt of his, instead of staying the course in Afghanistan & actually getting Bin Laden, like he said he would. Bush needs to be addressed & settled, as it were, because he IS an issue as well as a cause, & the main reason we’re there is because of him & his ego. NOT because anybody truly believes in granting democracy to Iraqis, & NOT because we think Hussein was hand-in-glove w/Bin Laden, or that Hussein had WMDs, or any other bullshit lie Cheney/Bush have served up to the gullible & unquestioning over the years.

    As for “winning” in Iraq – we aren’t going to. We never were going to. But we CAN stop throwing the good after the wasted, and end up wasting even more. To do otherwise is insanity as well as rank stupidity.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Nancy,

    I have to disagree with you. For one, your disdainful viewpoint of the Iraqis is similar to the viewpoint we held regarding the Germans and Japanese in WWII. Clearly both the Germans and Japanese were able, with our help, to break with the ways that they had become accustomed. No question that the Iraqis will eventually as well. Of course if we abandon our responsibilities in Iraq, then they will be under the influence of people who don’t share our respect for life and equality. And we will have raised utter chaos in their region, making them hate us to boot. Is that really the best way forward for the US?

    I really object to your characterization of winning as being some male piggish, dick wagging thing. Back in 2002 when the discussion turned to going into war in Iraq, anyone with a realistic viewpoint knew this wasn’t going to be a quick engagement. The military victory over Hussein was quick, but everyone, especially Democrats, knew that this could turn into what it’s turned into.

    Furthermore, Hillary up until recently has been as hawkish as the biggest dicked Republicans in the capital. As far as I know, most Dems at the time voted in favor of authorizing Bush to go to war. In fact, the Dem frontrunner for president (a woman) voted for that authorization and staunchly stood by that decision. Although she’s backtracked somewhat, she refuses to apologize for the decision (wonder why). That’s a point that still gives her credibility in my mind.

    The war isn’t cheap, but it’s hardly bleeding us dry. Unless you buy into the whole budget deficit hysteria (which has been cut in half during 4 years of fighting in Iraq), it’s clear we can afford this war. Could the money be used elsewhere for better things? Possibly, although national healthcare is not the better thing. However, we are already committed, so that’s just not an option.

    More to the point, as I’ve noted above, Al Qaeda is in Iraq, and they are stirring the sectarian pot. Are you really suggesting that we simply leave Iraq to Al Qaeda?

    The point you continue to miss is that Bush won’t be our president in under a year. But this war, whether we withdraw from Iraq or continue to fight, will still be our problem. As a people, we elected the president and the legislature that voted for this war. We pay the tab for this war. We bear the responsibility for this war. It’s our war, like it or not. Not alcoholic “dubya’s.”

    Sorry to say this Nancy, but your get out now viewpoint is in the minority, both within the democratic party, the American people as a whole, and among military experts. Instant gratification might be something that we’ve fostered in our society of online ordering and microwave ovens. But when war is involved, there is no quick fix. Whomever didn’t realize that in the outset of the war was fooling themselves.

  • gonzo marx

    ObAm sez – “First, I do think we should have permanent bases in Iraq.”

    there we have the split laid out bare…allow me to say that my opinion is different, as you may have gathered…

    therefore our “victory conditions” are different, mine is to fix what we broke and get the fuck out of a foreign country…yours is, imo, an imperialist (and neocon) ideal of staying where the hell we feel like it because it suits some purpose

    now, if the Iraqis asked us to stay, and deeded land for the bases, set a treaty and such…that’s one thing

    but for we, the invaders, to claim their land for our bases is imperialism by definition

    have you even pondered the cost in Blood? (no one has been shooting in Korea or Germany for over 40 years, in Iraq they shoot every day)

    how about in Treasure (current spending is about 3 billion a week, all of it off budget, all of it borrowed on the nation’s “credit card” at horrendous interest rates)

    how about what the Iraqis want? anyone ask them?

    you do realize that the invasion/occupation and those permanent bases were sold as a strategy to Rumsfeld by MPRI and KBR (mercenary corporations) prior to the invasion…and if you look around, you will find that they and their associates have the contracts (in perpetuity) to build and staff those bases

    how is this in our National Interest?

    how does this aid in our National Security?

    as for al Qaeda..yes i absolutely do not think that AQ in Iraq is anything more than an Iraqi issue…that’s a strawman part of the “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t fight them here” jingoist bullshit, imo

    do note that according to the NIE report, AQ i sstronger and has full financing (thanks to the Afghan opium crop) than they have been since 9/11 when the world condemned them

    the Iraqi fiasco has done nothing but help them, and destroy Iraq, with the singular benefit of removing Saddam which an assassin’s bullet could have just as easily done with much less mess

    “Unless you buy into the whole budget deficit hysteria (which has been cut in half during 4 years of fighting in Iraq),”

    please do link your proof..the numbers i am familiar with show a vastly different circumstance…are you using the WH numbers which do NOT have Iraq/Afghanistan costs on budget? do link or cite source for this claim…until then i am forced to call bullshit, and if you are using the WH numbers knowingly it’s deliberate deceit

    Excelsior?

  • Nancy

    Six years is hardly instant gratification. WWII was won in less time.

    And DON’T get me started on Hillary-! That $^@$*& has me in a hand-wringing bind over what I’m going to do come elections next year, if as it seems, she does get the nomination. She’s another one I’d like to booted. From what I can tell, she’s as bought & paid for by corporate & special interests as any venal congressmaggot ever, in either party. And you’re right, in that she is as guilty of abrogating her responsibility as any other of those spineless fools who handed Dubya a blank check to go to war back in 2001. But I digress.

    Yes, war IS a male thing. So is heirarchy. Women tend to work cooperatively, without having to establish pecking (or pecker) order. Women rarely start wars, participate in them, or urge them, altho they always end up being the primary sufferers from them, either directly as victims, or indirectly through losing family. Any primate/hominid study over the past 80 years has proven repeatedly it’s the males in any group that engage in combat & competition, not the females. But I digress; this is not a lesson in hominid anthropology.

    My disdain for the Iraqis is due to their earning it. Over the past six years they have repeatedly shown themselves to be uninterested in taking responsibility, in doing for themselves, or in anything except stealing & fighting each other over stupid maniacal religious squabbles started by imams 14 centuries dead. In that, they are not alone: I have the same disgust for ANY religious sectarians anywhere in the world. It’s just the Iraqis have been more egregious about it & about not bothering to help themselves, than most. I feel the same way about Americans who don’t or can’t be bothered to help themselves, either. I suppose it’s the Republican in me. When I extend assistance to someone, I expect them to put in an equal amount of effort making their situation more tenable. I don’t tolerate them sitting there on their butts, content to let me do all the work or foot all the bills, while they laze along content to indulge in petty bickering & tribal infighting as usual. I’m sorry actually that we ousted & killed Hussein; they deserved him.

    All your arguments, however, for staying there are nothing more than the usual Cheney/Bush excuses & threats about fighting them there to avoid fighting them here. It’s a pity you can’t recognize emotional blackmail when you see it, or learn not to swallow it. It detracts considerably from your otherwise good reasoning on other issues, that you continue to repeat their mantra of Staying The Course in one guise or another – meanwhile all the while ensuring that it’s YOUR money – not theirs – they waste, & YOUR life, not theirs – or the lives of YOUR sons & daughters – never theirs – that are taken. You’ve become a gull for their manipulative BS & jingoistic jargon. Six years is more than enough time to have made their goals; time now to cut our losses & not waste any more time, money, or lives following these losers or their asinine ideas.