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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Stratfor on the Downing Street memo 

Stratfor's George Friedman yesterday issued a "global intelligence report" discussing the implications of the "Downing Street memo," which has become a popular topic of discussion among America's "gotcha" class since its flogging in Britain's elections a few weeks ago. The Downing Street memo, for those few blog readers who may have missed it, was an internal memorandum dated July 23, 2002, in which the writer reports on the perception of the head of British intelligence ("C") that the Bush administration was preparing for war and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." This is taken in some circles as smoking gun proof of the Bush administration's bad faith. Friedman dispatches this argument much as other writers have, and moves on to the really interesting points, which are that George Bush and nobody else -- not Dick Cheney and not some dark neocon cabal -- was the prime mover behind the Iraq war, and that the memo is conspicuously fails to explain why Bush was so intent on war.
The memorandum is not startling. It is extremely interesting, but far more for what it does not contain than what it does. Consider the following two, separate excerpts:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.


Two points are present in both excerpts: first, that U.S. President George W. Bush had made up his mind to invade Iraq by the time the memo was written, and second, that links to terrorism and -- far more important -- the existence of a program to develop weapons of mass destruction would be the justification for the invasion. It is clear that British intelligence did not believe that the Iraqi program was as advanced as those of other countries; nevertheless, this was to be the justification for the war.

What is missing from this memo, the glaring omission, is why Bush was so eager to invade Iraq. Matthew Rycroft, the foreign policy aide who wrote this memo, demonstrates a remarkable lack of curiosity about this. C, the moniker hung on the head of British foreign intelligence, had visited the United States for routine consultations. It is extremely important to note that C is asserting that this -- invading Iraq -- is Bush's policy. Indeed, the second paragraph above quotes the British foreign minister as saying that it is Bush's policy. There is no mention here of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz or any of the others who analysts had thought were the real drivers behind the policy. So much for the belief that a cabal of neo-cons had taken control of the president's brain.

To the contrary, British intelligence is clearly reporting to the prime minister that it is George W. Bush who is making the decisions. The only other name mentioned in this memo is that of Colin Powell. Rumsfeld is mentioned only in the context of being briefed on the war plan, not on instigating it. That appears to us the single most important revelation in the document. Bush was president all along, and all the Washington gossips were wrong. The only other explanation is that C didn't know what he was talking about, or that he gave a superficial report. We doubt that either was the case.

The Downing Street memo has been a topic of fevered discussion in the British press, and more recently the American media (goaded, in part and to their credit, by lefty bloggers). Nowhere have I seen the point made that the memo is powerful contemporaneous evidence that there is no puppeteer behind the presidency of George W. Bush, a revelation should should rock lefty orthodoxy to its foundation.

Friedman also asks the obvious question raised by the memo: "If the document makes it clear that Bush was in control of U.S. decision-making, there is a glaring omission: Why did Bush want to invade Iraq?"

Friedman answered this question in his excellent book, America's Secret War, and summarizes the case in yesterday's letter.
U.S. officials believed at the time that al Qaeda was planning another strike, larger than the 9/11 strikes. The United States could not stop al Qaeda on the strength of its own intelligence; it needed the cooperation of intelligence services in the Muslim world. These services were reluctant to cooperate because their view of the United States -- after having watched 20 years of weak responses in warfare --was that it was unable to absorb the risks and casualties of war. Leaders in crucial parts of the Muslim world feared al Qaeda more than the United States. Since a covert strike against al Qaeda was not possible, the United States had no good options. Bush chose the best of a bad lot. He hoped for a change in Arab perception of the United States, from hatred and contempt to hatred and fear. He also wanted to occupy the most strategic territory in the Middle East, bringing pressure to bear on the Saudis.

In this conception of the world, we had to invade and occupy an Arab country to restore the credibility squandered since 1979. Iraq was the best target, in part because it posed a longer-term threat and a casus belli already existed whether or not there were WMD stockpiles (for those view of you who have not read my justification for the invasion of Iraq, click here), and also because it's unfortunate geography put us in a position to gain leverage over Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

There are three essential points that derive from Friedman's thesis. The first is that it matters far more for the United States to be credible than to be loved. Indeed, it is impossible for the United States to be loved in the Arab world -- Arab hatred of the United States stretches across the generations, and is not likely to change in our lifetimes. The choice is as Friedman poses it: they hate us and have contempt for us, or they hate us but respect our power. It is foolishness to think that Arab affection is a possibility on a geopolitical schedule.

Second, if the restoration of American credibility is the objective, then the extended civil insurgency furthers that objective by proving America's willingness to suffer casualties in a long war. In this regard, the American soldiers who are bleeding in the desert are rescuing America credibility from the depredations of Carter, Reagan and Clinton, all of whom turned tail in the wake of serious defeats at the hands of the Islamists.

Third, Friedman forces us to wonder why the Downing Street Memo does not reveal why Bush was so intent on invading Iraq, and why the British accepted this. The answer, at some length, is that the principal derivative target of the war was Saudi Arabia:
There was a sound, but complex, justification for the war that could have been provided [as opposed to the WMD argument], consisting of the following pieces:

1. Saddam Hussein might not have aided al Qaeda prior to 9/11, but given his attitude toward the United States, given his past record and given the risks involved, disposing of Hussein is a prudent and necessary action.

2. The Muslim world does not take American military power seriously. It does not think the United States has the will to fight. The United States cannot win the war unless that myth is destroyed by decisive action. If, in the course of that action, Saddam Hussein is destroyed, so much the better. It should be noted here that the United States' decision to fight in Korea, for example, was explicitly based on the theory that the Communists were testing American will - and that unless the United States demonstrated its will to fight, the Communists would take it as a sign of weakness and increase their pressure. There are worse reasons for fighting, and this one has precedent.

3. Iraq is a strategic country whose occupation would permit the United States to place pressure on regimes like Iran or Syria directly.

The mystery in the document, and the mystery since the summer of 2002, is why Bush almost never used these justifications but clung instead to the weapons of mass destruction rationale. Since it is clear that WMD was not his primary motivator, why did he not come forward with a clear explanation?

The obvious answer is that he did not have a better explanation. That would mean that he had no good reason for invading Iraq -- he simply wanted to do so and did. You can pile onto this theories that he wanted to avenge the attempted murder of his father by Iraqi agents, that he is a stupid man who doesn't think much, or that black helicopters took control of his brain. All of this may be possible. But in looking at Bush and reading this memo, there nowhere emerges an image of a man who thinks like this. There is a willful, unbending man. There is a decisive man who can make substantial mistakes and refuse to concede error. But it is hard to locate the stupid man of myth.

So why doesn't Bush come plain with his reasoning? Better still, why doesn't this memo -- which cries out for a paragraph in which C explains Bush's reasoning -- contain a word on that? Why isn't there even a mention that it is not clear what Bush is up to? Everyone in the room knows that WMD is a pretext for war, but the obvious next paragraph -- an analysis of Bush's real reasoning -- simply isn't there.

And not only isn't that discussion there, but no one in the room seemed to be even curious about it. Either they had the least curiosity of any group of men on earth, or they knew the answer.

We continue to believe the answer is Saudi Arabia.
It was the elephant in the room. It was the world's largest oil producer, a close ally of both the United States and Britain, willfully uncooperative in the war against al Qaeda. We understand why the United States or Britain would not want to make this a public matter. Humiliating the Saudis was not in anyone's interest. But in the end, Bush and Tony Blair continue to pay the price of the great mistake of the war. They still haven't come up with a good justification for the invasion of Iraq, despite the fact that even we can think of several.

If, then, the coercion of Saudi Arabia to our side in the war on al Qaeda was the critical derivative reason for the war, was the war a success? I submit that it was, insofar as the House of Saud did not go to war against al Qaeda in a fundamental sense until 2003. From Michael Doran's lecture on al Qaeda's grand strategy:
[The House of Saud] didn’t lift a finger against al Qaeda until the bombs started going off, but I’ve been surprised at how effective they have been since. Al Qaeda is significantly weakened there. The Saudi leadership is pragmatic at the top levels.

Pragmatic indeed, at least as long as there is a President in the White House who understands the importance of credible coercion.

Afterthought: Callimachus considers principled and unprincipled liberal reactions to the Downing Street Memo.

Another afterthought: John Henke attacks the argument that the Downing Street memo proves that the Bush administration did not plan adequately for the postwar. It does not. History has proven that the Bush administration did not plan adequately for the postwar. The question is not whether the postwar planning was adequate or not, but whether its inadequacy reflected incompetence or not.

47 Comments:

By Anonymous Jon Henke, at Wed Jun 22, 08:07:00 PM:

For what it's worth, I don't dispute the notion that the postwar planning was inadequate. I've made that case myself, albeit with the understanding that all military planning is likely to fail at points.

I simply dispute the notion that the Bush administration didn't plan at all.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Jun 22, 08:23:00 PM:

A fair point, although I'm not sure that Doug Feith is the best authority on that question, either. I am no expert on inter-departmental turf battles, but I do know that many outside the Pentagon fingered him as one of the most difficult people to deal with during the planning period. Fairly or unfairly, just sayin' that his testimony might be horse pucky.

I think the broader question -- was the postwar planning incompetent, or pretty good under the circumstances -- will not be resolved for at least a generation. You have to get the politics and the emotions out of the question to settle the historiography.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jun 22, 09:56:00 PM:

The notion that nothing the US can do will make it loved in the Arab world was brought home earlier today on Rush Limbaugh's program. A caller who identified himself as a native Jordanian who has lived in the US for 25 years, since the age of 21, made precisely that point, adding, too, that even if the US sold Israel out in the hopes of being loved in the Arab world, the Arab view of the US would not change.

The question that arises, for me at least, is what then is the point of providing Egypt with three billion dollars a year?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jun 22, 10:05:00 PM:

Post war planning had many obsticles.

1. If open planning was going on then it was obvious that invasion was imminent.
2. If the true objectives of the war were articlulated (i.e. Democracy spreading to the "Entire Middle East", Flypaper strategy, Show of strength "No more Paper Tiger" etc) then our enemies would have prepared even better for resistance including semi-friendly enemies. If the Sauds had known the real strategy they would never had cooperated the little they did. Full resistance was in order.

But the biggest post war miscalculation was the reaction from the liberal elements of the free world. Had these elements basically remained constructive towards the creation of a free Iraq in the center of the Middle East, the enemy would have had a much harder time gaining justification for fighting. Instead, the anti-Bush millions chose every avenue to discredit the he U.S. and everythng it stood for as long as it made Bush look bad all the while empowering the enemy.

Had the free world united in supporting this effort, the terrorist regimes would have had to lay low instead of actively supporting the so called insurgents. If the U.N. was not currupt and truely supported the effort, even more creditability would have been instilled. Had our supposed European allies openly wished for success instead of hoping for American failure, the post war efforts would have been easier. But most important, had the Democratic Party leadership chosen to stand by this President in a time of war and openly supported the goals instead of breaking centuries of bipartisanship during times of war, then our leftist allies, home grown leftists and the world liberal press would have been more likely to at least not openly hope for American defeat. This has and continues to be our enemies largest weapon and I am sickened that the Democrats continue down this path of destruction.

Cheers,

Jody Green  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jun 22, 10:06:00 PM:

From a purely military standpoint attacking Iraq after Afghanistan was necessary. Syria, Iran, and Iraq all have historic ties to terror groups that have killed American Citizens but although Syria and Iran might be more of a danger to attack the US via terrorism:

1)Kuwait was the only dependable staging area the US had in the middle east but it was a very samll country with limited facilities.

2)We could not attack Iran, or Syria and leave Saddam free to threaten Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. Iran and Syria might be more dangerous but Saddam was more likely to cause trouble, especially if the sanctions collapsed.

RF  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jun 22, 10:22:00 PM:

No less an authority on Arabs than Saddam Hussein said given a choice between a strong horse and a weak horse, the Arab will choose the strong one. He didn't say a friendly horse or an unfriendly horse. Power is what the Arab culture understands. Weakness earns its contempt.  

By Anonymous P. Ingemi, at Wed Jun 22, 10:31:00 PM:

One thing that I think many people forget is that no plan survives contact with the enemy.

We should always assume our foes are doing their best to counter any plan we have and act accordingly.

Sometimes when I read what people say about the way they seem to forget that of course it will be hard, the enemy fights back so of course sometimes they will win a battle or two.

Its who wins the last battle that counts, its up to us to keep our nerve to get there  

By Anonymous Ursus, at Wed Jun 22, 10:56:00 PM:

Couple of comments reiterating what has already been said:

There are a couple of dozen well-known and publicly-stated reasons for going into Iraq (many of them are even viable), but there are just as many reasons that go unstated. "We can't pursue the war on terror with Saddam in power" is one of the latter. Honestly, who here thinks that Saddam and his WMD know-how wouldn't have become best buddies with the Iranians if they had been our target? He had to go before anything else could be done.

When I lived in Arabia back in the 70s, there was an apt saying. The only thing Arabs hate more than a strong America is a weak America.  

By Blogger DWPittelli, at Wed Jun 22, 11:29:00 PM:

It was Osama bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein, who spoke of the strong and weak horses.
(December 13, 2001 tape, translated by the Defense Department)
http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/  

By Anonymous toot, at Thu Jun 23, 12:02:00 AM:

The question was asked why President Bush did not explain his reason for invading Iraq. I think that the reason is that he wanted to give the Arab world reason to fear rather than to disdain America. This reason is essentially Machiavellian and not easily accepted by many. I think there are many other reasons, including the Flypaper idea as well. In view of the fact that Bin Laden gained support in the Islamic world by giving as his reason for attacking America that he wanted US troops out of Saudi Arabia, I think that they now have reason for being more careful in what they wish for.  

By Blogger M. Simon, at Thu Jun 23, 05:15:00 AM:

My take on the post war plan.

The short version. No plan was possible. Too many factors. So a realistic plan reads: from this point we muddle through. i.e. adapt to circumstances as they exist given the goals set.

Americans and Brits are excellent at muddling through. None better (well the Israelis maybe).

Muddling is not a bad strategy. It ought to get more credit. Innovate, adapt, overcome.  

By Anonymous Jeff, at Thu Jun 23, 09:47:00 AM:

Great post. I also used Friedman's commentary in "America's Secret War" in my essay on the unimportant Downing Street memo. Friedman essentially said in the book that the intelligence was fixed around the idea of going to war in Iraq. But this was not a sinister plot, simply the formulation of an argument. The people who are championing the Downing Street Memo as some sort of nouveau revelation need to diversify their resources and they would have known about this policy last December.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jun 23, 10:07:00 AM:

We will probably never know a precise explanation for the decision to invade Iraq, but the result may have been the underlying motive ... its been referred to as "fly paper" in hindsight. It probably didn't have a label beforehand, but given the intelligence about the magnitude of the terrorism threat gained from OEF and realization that the non-state nature of the threat presented a delimma on how to get at the enemy, Iraq may have surfaced as the best option.

By invading Iraq, we were able to convert the situation into a more traditional type "state vs state" war and where the enemy would come to us rather than the US having to chase down terrorist individually thru international streets using legal and police practices.

The point about the British and the Americans "muddling through" is spot on in my estimation. I think the plan to invade Iraq was essentially "good enough" to shape the potential battlefield, and the strategy of what to do next depended on the response and actions of the terrorist.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jun 23, 10:28:00 AM:

I think you are reading to much into the situation. If this flypaper strategy was their intention from the beginning why weren't the troops adequately provided with the equipment they needed from the beginning? I understand the Machiavellian realpolitik of 'it is better to be feared than loved' and I think it suits Arab geopolitics well, but, a lot of people, especially families of dead soldiers, sailors and airmen/women, are gonna be pissed if it turns out their sons and daughters were nothing but pawns in a game where the winnings were fear and power rather than freedom. Then again all that matters is the ends eh?  

By Blogger Brainy435, at Thu Jun 23, 11:13:00 AM:

To anonymous at 10:28: It is obvious to me you have never been in the military and really have no use for it. Everyone who has ever served in any military was a pawn...and I used to be in the military. We agree to be used however those in charge think is best to provide safety for the population of our country. We do things most ordinary people wouldn't consider, killing others or sacrificing ourselves, to accomplish these goals.
In addition, our military is the best equipped in history. It's not perfect, but only someone completely detached from reality would expect it to be. In my 6 years in the Navy, we never had all the equipment/supplies/personnel we should have, and we weren't even in the middle of an expensive war. You don't use the fact that you don't have the equipment you WANT to have as a reason not to act at a prudent time. It is unfortunate that people die when they don't have the armor, etc. that could have saved their lives, but in war people die. Remember them for their sacrifice and realize the lack of armor didn't kill them, our enemies did.
Finally, if Arab countries fearing us once again improves our security at home then we succeeded. If we spread freedom as well, that's marvelous, but that's not the real reason we went to war. Don't misunderstand: Countries like Iraq having freedom was a major goal of the invasion, but only to the point that a democracy would be much less likely to attack us. The end goal is our own safety, no matter the flowery rhetoric we use to get there.  

By Anonymous DocNeaves, at Thu Jun 23, 11:28:00 AM:

What was said about planning by anonymous, about muddling through, is correct. The smaller scale you look at, the firmer "plans" are, the farther out you zoom, they become "guidelines" and "objectives". This is the difference between strategic planning, the big picture, and tactical, the smaller how-to-achieve-the-objective kind of planning that has to remain fluid. The Muddle-Thru-Express is the vehicle the Americans have turned into a national identity, a form of government, a way of life. Long may it reign as the model of how to run any large organization.  

By Anonymous DocNeaves, at Thu Jun 23, 11:37:00 AM:

hmmmm.....complaints about not being properly equipped make me think of things like this......It's as if when Daddy Clinton was in charge, we sold off the guns, called it a "Peace Dividend", and had a fine party. Now, we have uninvited guests we can't kick out, we have neighbors killing us, enemies destroying out country, and we can't shoot back, and you're complaining about the guns we DO have, saying it's a supply problem? More evidence that a little information is a bad thing in the wrong hands.....  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jun 23, 11:50:00 AM:

I think there's yet another reason at work here, and it isn't pretty: to secure a source of oil. No, I don't belong to the fatuous "No blood for oil" crowd, who evidently believe the stuff ought to come from lollypop mountain. But I do wish Bush had read the country a grim sermon about our little national addiction problem. Until we get serious, we and the middle east will be close acquaintances. Unfortunately.  

By Blogger viking kaj, at Thu Jun 23, 12:29:00 PM:

Aw common now, les face it. The maihn reason why Dubyah had to go after Saddam was that Saddam went after Dubyah's daddy. And y'all don't mess with Texash and git away with it, specially when we gots the Rangers and the bigger guns.

Often we ascribe higher motivation where there is none. We need to keep in mind the cultural bias of the leaders. Ask anybody from Texas why Bush did it and they'll have the ready answer. And of course the other reason is because he could.  

By Blogger viking kaj, at Thu Jun 23, 12:43:00 PM:

In further elaboration of the above, we went after Afghanistan first because we had to, and then we fought the war the Bush's were really itching to fight. Nobody'll a be a sayin that they were fraid to finish that job no more. After all, whose daddy is playin at the Rodeo and in the Galeria, and whose daddy is in jaihl right now? Nuf said. And you can stuff your habeas corpus, this is Texash justice.

After all, guns and germs is waht beat the commanches and if'n its good nuf for geronimo I guess'n its good nuf for ol Gaddamn Saddam.

I rest my case, these true 'mercans did it cause they could.

PS. Apparently, this country has never needed a good reason to go to war unless there were Germans in the other trench. Look at the Spanish American War, or to quote William Randolph Hearst, "You supply the pictures and I will supply the war."  

By Anonymous Toot, at Thu Jun 23, 01:23:00 PM:

There is a sense in which the Iraq war was about oil, but I think most people view it in the wrong way. The need for oil on the part of the developed and developing world means that great power would accrue to anyone able to gain control over its supply. Our leadership is and should be quite concerned about the kind of person to whom such great power goes. There was ample reason, including his desire for and willingness to use WMDs, to regard Saddam Hussein as just the kind of person that you don't want in control of the oil supply. Thus, we could not follow a policy of simply buying our oil if such a person were allowed to gain control of the income of the oil states.  

By Blogger Veeshir, at Thu Jun 23, 03:03:00 PM:

Of course they had a plan for the post-war. You might not like it but they had one. The Pentagon has plans to invade England, it strikes me as silly to say they had no plan.
I bet the plan went something like this.
"We will have over 100,000 troops in Iraq. The splopeydopes will be going there in droves. Let's kill them. We'll patrol and hope they attack our tanks." (Notice combat fatalities. They generally occur from the initial IED and then we kill every last one of the jihadis who attack with minimum casualties.)
Remember "Bring it on"?
Anybody with a firing synapse who thought about it before the war would have to know that the suicide bombers would be on the way toot-sweet.
You can't have a detailed battle plan when you can't know where you will be attacked.
So as I see it, the overall strategic plan was to get the terrorists to attack our military in Iraq. From there, you get various operational and tactical plans depending on where you are.
But the 'insurgency' is definitely part of an overall strategic plan that's working. They are attacking our soldiers instead of our busses and shopping malls.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jun 24, 01:27:00 AM:

To Brainy435, at 11:13 AM

It is obvious to me you have never been in the military and really have no use for it. Everyone who has ever served in any military was a pawn...and I used to be in the military. We agree to be used however those in charge think is best to provide safety for the population of our country. We do things most ordinary people wouldn't consider, killing others or sacrificing ourselves, to accomplish these goals.

Actually I served in the Army for 5 years and I was merely pointing out that the civilian families not military members were going to be pissed. Nothing more, nothing less. You read to much into it. Ever heard of attribution bias?

It is unfortunate that people die when they don't have the armor, etc. that could have saved their lives, but in war people die. Remember them for their sacrifice and realize the lack of armor didn't kill them, our enemies did.

Ah yes you were a squid in the safety of your ship. I'm glad you can see the magnitude of the situation when you have never been shot at.

Finally, if Arab countries fearing us once again improves our security at home then we succeeded. If we spread freedom as well, that's marvelous, but that's not the real reason we went to war. Don't misunderstand: Countries like Iraq having freedom was a major goal of the invasion, but only to the point that a democracy would be much less likely to attack us. The end goal is our own safety, no matter the flowery rhetoric we use to get there.

Actually the flypaper is ludicrous and is only a tactical solution. It doesn't work over the long run. The best example of the failure of this method is Chechnya. Chechen attacks on Russian strategic targets occur despite direct pressure on guerrillas in Chechnya. The conflict is already spilling over into adjacent Russian provinces. Further, global guerrillas in Iraq are going through a rapid innovation cycle. They are getting very good at what they do. This will spill over into adjacent states. For example, 200 Saudi national guard troops travel to Iraq every month to fight in the conflict in Iraq. It is only a matter of time before they return (a small fraction are suicide bombers), flush with new skills.

Now don't bother responding to me cause I have no time for fantasy land living pogues.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 26, 02:05:00 AM:

Second, if the restoration of American credibility is the objective, then the extended civil insurgency furthers that objective by proving America's willingness to suffer casualties in a long war. In this regard, the American soldiers who are bleeding in the desert are rescuing America credibility from the depredations of Carter, Reagan and Clinton, all of whom turned tail in the wake of serious defeats at the hands of the Islamists.

Therein lies half the problem with Friedmans analysis - less and less Americans are willing to take casualties required for a long occupation. As sentiment against the war grows the Democrat party will move to capture this sentiment and may ride back into power on a plan of withdrawl. If this happens America will have lost another war to a bunch of third world thugs.

If, then, the coercion of Saudi Arabia to our side in the war on al Qaeda was the critical derivative reason for the war, was the war a success? I submit that it was, insofar as the House of Saud did not go to war against al Qaeda in a fundamental sense until 2003.

And yet you are wrong, the incidence of foriegn fighters and support for islamist cause in Iraq is increasing. These groups are the cause of most of the casualities. The House of Saud is VERY pragmatic and realise that the islamist jihad needs an outlet. The House of Saud has managed to externalise their problems into Iraq.  

By Blogger Solomon2, at Thu Jun 30, 10:57:00 AM:

Why is the U.S. in Iraq?  

By Blogger Renaissance Nerd, at Thu Jun 30, 07:27:00 PM:

For what it's worthy I am astonished and impressed at how well it's going in Iraq. One thing that upset the plans for the post-war is how quickly it came. I don't think anybody expected to knock the place over that quickly, and with such amazingly low casualties. The post-war planners probably expected ten or twelve weeks more than they got at a minimum.
Too the speed of the reconstitution of Iraq is far faster than I expected. I'm one of those who was certain we'd be invading Iraq before the 2nd tower fell, for many of the same reasons our host, Sir Tigerclaw, has argued. I expected a tough nasty house-to-house fight because like many right-wing wackoes I consistently overestimate the determination of socialist fanatics like the Republican Guard etc. They're perfectly willing to murder and kill but dying ain't so popular. The dead-enders over yare might claim to be willing to fight to the death, but the leaders sure surrender easily when it comes down to it.

Kudos to Sir Tigerclaw for a fun and spirited essay/discussion.  

By Blogger Renaissance Nerd, at Thu Jun 30, 07:29:00 PM:

Oops lord Tigerhawk my bad. I have a serial novel published at KeepItComing.net in which a dagger named Tigerclaw figures importantly. I'm so used to typing it that I didn't even realize my mistake. I am so awfully embarrassed, this sort of thing just isn't done.  

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