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Monday, February 26, 2007

The trap in the best case scenario 


Joe Lieberman has a nice essay in this morning's Wall Street Journal. You should read it all, but if you don't consider at least this point:

But we must not make another terrible mistake now. Many of the worst errors in Iraq arose precisely because the Bush administration best-cased what would happen after Saddam was overthrown. Now many opponents of the war are making the very same best-case mistake--assuming we can pull back in the midst of a critical battle with impunity, even arguing that our retreat will reduce the terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq.

Indeed. It is now obvious that large parts of the executive branch -- particularly in the administration but elsewhere as well -- did not plan for the worst after the fall of Saddam's government. It is astonishing that nobody in the White House seemed to understand that we could be "greeted with flowers" by 80% of the population and still have an enormous problem on our hands. The opposition now seems to be making exactly the same mistake concerning withdrawal, assuming that it is our presence that fuels the conflict, and that it will remain confined inside Iraq. What if it isn't, and what if it won't?

29 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 26, 07:24:00 AM:

Actually the worst case scenario was hundreds of oil wells being lit on fire, Israel being pounded by long range missiles, and Baghdad being turned into some sort of Stalingrad like seige with millions of civilians being killed in a major humanitarian catastrophe. The major mistake by the Bush Administration was not beating people relentlessly over the head with the fact that war is not some video game and that repairing the dysfunction of the Middle East and draining the swamp of jihadists was not going to be pretty.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Feb 26, 07:34:00 AM:

The major mistake by the Bush Administration was not beating people relentlessly over the head with the fact that war is not some video game and that repairing the dysfunction of the Middle East and draining the swamp of jihadists was not going to be pretty.

Well, the Bushies didn't do that, and the question is why. Perhaps they thought that if they did they could not get the war authorized. Or perhaps they didn't really understand it themselves. Either way, it was a huge mistake.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Mon Feb 26, 07:56:00 AM:

So let me get this straight...

Because George W. Bush and his administration poorly planned and poorly executed this war, it would be folly not to let them pursue another best-case scenario with the SURGE?

Changing course would be wrong because it's wrong to assume that things will get better just because Bush stops making them worse?

None of this makes any sense.

------

Did any of you read the Sy Hersh article? It's much more interesting and, as a bonus, it makes sense.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 26, 08:47:00 AM:

Changing course would be wrong...

Who said that? That's right, no one said that. There's a measure of difference between changing course and reversing course, wouldn't you say? The most important facet of the poorly named "surge" is not the extra troops, it's the change in strategy, aka change in course.

Thought exercise: would it have required a 180 degree turn for the Titanic to completely miss the iceberg, or would a more subtle course change have sufficed and also had the bonus effect of allowing the voyage to be completed?  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Mon Feb 26, 09:50:00 AM:

The Iraq Study Group offered an excellent set of alternatives to the Bush strategy. Bush, of course, ignored the ISG in favor of the SURGE. The SURGE is 20,000 more guys in one place.

This is going to end the violence?

Ridiculous.

And, for Allah's sake, isn't sending 20,000 troops expecting a dramatic turn of fortune the ultimate in "best-case" thinking? It's more of the same.

I'm wagging my finger at Lieberman's tortured logic and anyone who pretzels their brains into buying it.  

By Anonymous davod, at Mon Feb 26, 09:51:00 AM:

TH. I would suggest that the premis of your argument regarding the Dems. is quite wrong. They just don't give a damn.

Most Dem leaders are just palying politics, no more. They have no answer to what will happen if the allies pulled out of Iraq.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Mon Feb 26, 10:41:00 AM:

Davod,

It requires leaving the warm bosom of the rightwingosphere, but here's some Dem "answers":

Broad-based Dem plan

Obama's Iraq plan.

Murtha had a plan back in 2005.

Even Kucinich has a comprehensive plan.

To suggest that the Democrats, and by association to suggest that the huge number of Americans who voted for them in November, "don't give a damn" is to state that you believe the majority of Americans don't care about Iraq.

Just the opposite, of course, is true.

And if you're looking for politicians playing politics, it's absurd to overlook the political gamesmanship of the Republicans and their suitor, Joe Lieberman.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Feb 26, 11:09:00 AM:

yes, screwy we should acknowledge that the democrats have plans. The links you provided lead to some sketchy nonsense, with the notable exception of the Kuchinich site. Dennis the menace (I live in a cleveland suburb, so I can call him that!) has done us the favor of spelling out the democrat approach quite clearly.

this approach involves two steps:

(1) Unconditionally surrender to whoever the democrats can find.

(2) Hope for the best.

It all just nonsense screwy wag your finger at this.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 26, 11:15:00 AM:

Broad-based Dem plan:

Retreat and Surrender.

Obama's Iraq Plan:

Retreat and surrender faster

Murtha Plan:

Retreat and surrender, but cram a bunch of troops in Okinawa, where they're even less welcome.

Kucnich plan:

Beam us all up to the Mothership, Scotty.

Yep, that's some helpful stuff there from the "loyal" opposition.  

By Blogger Shochu John, at Mon Feb 26, 11:31:00 AM:

This is Lieberman's favorite straw man, "Now many opponents of the war are making the very same best-case mistake--assuming we can pull back in the midst of a critical battle with impunity, even arguing that our retreat will reduce the terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq."

Who is assuming that? Who are these people? I can't find them. A far more sensible argument, and one I have actually heard people make (and myself have made) is that Iraq is in a state of civil war and that it is simply no longer all about us. When we leave, Iraqis will likely duke it out in a spectacular and violent fashion and perhaps draw neighbors into it. However, our continued presence has not made that any less likely and there is no plan that will realistically make it less likely. Ergo, there is nothing to be gained by staying when the worst case scenario is already inevitable. We can certainly consider ways to moderate the civil war when it happens (perhaps air cover to prevent fixed piece battles), but it is going to happen.

Lieberman's suggestion that the anti-war side has these odd notions that things will get better in Iraq if we leave has little basis in any reality I am familiar with. I am frankly surprised that anyone is taking such a ridiculous straw man (or Joe Lieberman) seriously.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Mon Feb 26, 11:36:00 AM:

Again, to be clear, the Iraq Study Group, a right-of-center group commissioned by the Bush White House, recommended what you so stridently refer to as "retreat". I'm sure James Baker doesn't see it that way. The Democrats use the ISG as the basis for their broad-based plan.

Further, the vast majority of Americans disapprove of the SURGE, so know that you're disrespecting most of America with your radical right-wing rhetoric.

These are the members of the ISG:

James Baker, former Secretary of State
Lee Hamilton, former U.S. Representative
Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court Justice
Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State
Edwin Meese III, former US Attorney General
Alan K. Simpson, former U.S. Senator from Wyoming
Vernon Jordan, Jr., business executive
Leon E. Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff
William J. Perry, former US Secretary of Defense
Charles S. Robb, former Governor and U.S. Senator from Virginia

Former Members
Two of the panel's original members (both Republicans) resigned before the group's final report was released:

Robert Gates, current US Secretary of Defense and former Director of Central Intelligence
Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City

These are your retreat and defeaters? It's your position that is radical and out of the mainstream, your position that ignores the realities.  

By Blogger jpe, at Mon Feb 26, 11:39:00 AM:

Unless I'm missing something, Lieberman's argument is this:

It was a mistake to uncritically accept Bush's best-case scenario that was in his political interests. Therefore, we should uncritically accept Bush's worst-case scenario, which is in his political interests.

Yeah, I'm not really seeing that as a compelling argument.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Feb 26, 11:43:00 AM:

my goodness the anti victory guys are out in full force now.

First SJ: There are two points

(1) Your statement is simply an assertion that the Al Qaeda strategy in Iraq has affected you.

(2) beyond that you've offered an string of unsupported opinions. That's hardly a "sensible argument".

Screwy, where would you be without polling numbers? Why do people who share your world view insist that polls are of value?  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Feb 26, 11:46:00 AM:

These are your retreat and defeaters?

Why yes Screwy. their product was of marginal value. Are you now insisting that all people to the right of you are some monolithic block? Are you saying that I must unconditionally accept what Sandra Day O'Connor says at face value?  

By Blogger Shochu John, at Mon Feb 26, 12:11:00 PM:

"(1) Your statement is simply an assertion that the Al Qaeda strategy in Iraq has affected you."

Yes, Skip, I am obviously under the spell of the amazing propaganda techniques of the foolish Sunni militants operating under the flag of al Qaeda. This is why I am falling right into their trap and advocating a policy, that, if implimented, will quite possibly result in Iran-backed Shi'ite militias rolling them into the ground. Clever them, foolish me.

"(2) beyond that you've offered an string of unsupported opinions. That's hardly a "sensible argument"."

Well, skip, I gave the ten second version because I just didn't think you wanted to see the same argument in full again, as I am pretty sure this is territory we have have covered before.

My point was not the substance of my argument (though we can certainly cover that if you wish) but that it is an argument actually made by people on the "anti-war" side. What Lieberman is setting up is not an actual argument, but rather a weak argument that he could easily defeat to make this position look stronger than it is.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Mon Feb 26, 12:17:00 PM:

James Baker's going to be pissed if he finds out skip thinks of him as a retreat'n'defeater.

skip,

Way to stay out on a limb! It takes real effort stick with the Bush administration despite their unending series of failures. You're a real Bush man.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 26, 12:19:00 PM:

The ISG was brought into being by Rep. Frank Wolf, not the Bush White House.

Iowa John  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Feb 26, 12:27:00 PM:

yes SJ, you are simply echoing Nancy Pelosi. cheney called her on that and I'm simply pointing out the similiarities between what she says and what you say.
Here's what Zark had to say:

If we fight them {and we must fight them}, we will confront one of two things. Either:

1 - We fight them, and this is difficult because of the gap that will emerge between us and the people of the land. How can we fight their cousins and their sons and under what pretext after the Americans, who hold the reins of power from their rear bases, pull back? The real sons of this land will decide the matter through experience. Democracy is coming, and there will be no excuse thereafter.

2 - We pack our bags and search for another land, as is the sad, recurrent story in the arenas of jihad, because our enemy is growing stronger and his intelligence data are increasing day by day. By the Lord of the Ka`ba, [this] is suffocation and then wearing down the roads. People follow the religion of their kings. Their hearts are with you and their swords are with Bani Umayya (the Umayyads), i.e., with power, victory, and security. God have mercy.

I come back and again say that the only solution is for us to strike the religious, military, and other cadres among the Shi`a with blow after blow until they bend to the Sunnis. Someone may say that, in this matter, we are being hasty and rash and leading the [Islamic] nation into a battle for which it is not ready, [a battle] that will be revolting and in which blood will be spilled. This is exactly what we want, since right and wrong no longer have any place in our current situation.


The Al qaeda strategy revolves around senseless bloodletting. Why else do the Samarra Shrine bombing? So Zark foments the kind of violence he hoped for with the added benefit of sucking in guys like you.

So yeah SJ you are under the influence of the Al Qaeda strategy.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Feb 26, 12:32:00 PM:

You're a real Bush man

Why thank you Screwy. I'm quite proud of my support for my president.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 26, 01:01:00 PM:

Again, to be clear, the Iraq Study Group, blah blah blah

Which is why the CiC is a person, not a committee. People lead, committees waste time, money, and oxygen.

Further, the vast majority of [ill-informed] Americans disapprove of the SURGE, blah blah blah

Which is why the CiC is a person, not a poll. While I would have no problem at all finding someone on the street that could tell me chapter and verse about last night's American Idol, I would be hard pressed to find one that could spell Shiite, much less tell me what one was.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 26, 01:03:00 PM:

I wonder why the ISG gets so much respect with its call for ignominious retreat/defeat, while the 9/11 committee's finding of "Joe Wilson Lied, People Died" can't get the time of day.  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Mon Feb 26, 02:07:00 PM:

"I would be hard pressed to find one that could spell Shiite, much less tell me what one was."

Wait... I thought being a condescending pinhead as Rush Limbaugh would put it was solely a liberal thing.

So when the majority of Americans support the war, it's because they've been educated with the facts and understand the threat to America?

But when the majority is against it, it's because they are all to ignorant to understand. So when need to let one guy make the calls.

Interesting.  

By Blogger Paul Edwards, at Mon Feb 26, 02:57:00 PM:

Anonymous, Actually the worst case scenario was ... Baghdad being turned into some sort of Stalingrad"

Exactly. Bush didn't assume the worst case scenario. He had no idea what to expect. We could have found 95% of Iraqis supported Saddam (after all, he was getting 100% of the vote), or we could have found 95% of the Iraqis supported being liberated. The only sensible plan was to REACT to whatever on earth was found in Iraq, rather than planning for 1000 different possibilities.

It went pretty damn well. All the things that needed to happen, did happen. A high voter turnout, a government that is not an enemy, brand new Iraqi security forces with both popular approval and plenty of recruits. And all done with an incredibly low loss of US troops. And the final milestone of Iraqis in charge of all of Iraq is due in Nov 2007. Not bad. Not bad at all. The high murder rate is militarily irrelevant and never part of the plan.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Feb 26, 03:59:00 PM:

So when the majority of Americans support the war, it's because they've been educated with the facts and understand the threat to America?

But when the majority is against it, it's because they are all to ignorant to understand. So when need to let one guy make the calls.


this is just pointless. Polling, the love of the left, should have no bearining on foreign policy choices. Endless polls are NOT democracy.

We had a presidential election and retained Bush. We then had a congressional election and fired a bunch of Republicans. that's democracy. Polls simply aren't democracy, not be a long chalk  

By Blogger Escort81, at Mon Feb 26, 04:04:00 PM:

It's a fairly straightforward constitutional issue: the Democrats can either de-fund the war or do a lot of fairly meaningless posturing. The Murtha tactic won't pass legal (or political) muster. The President is still the Commander-in-Chief and will be so until such time as he is out of office. It doesn't matter that a majority of Americans might be against the surge. The U.S. is not Italy -- we don't have a parliamentary system -- where a bad hair day results in the government leadership standing down. The Democrats need to win the White House in 2008 and then their CINC can do what he/she wants in 2009. So, the calculation for the Congressional Dems now is, does voting to de-fund help or hurt the chances of taking the White House in 2008? They have to put their general election thinking cap on for that one.  

By Blogger C-Low, at Mon Feb 26, 04:50:00 PM:

Hate to sound like a heartless monster but::

If the Iraq phase in you guys eyes is the worst case senerio we might aswell hang it up right now we are FUBAR. The Iraq phase has been a unbelievable success historically speaking. You cannot set never acheived impossible to reach bars then cry becuase we can't reach those goals.

Examples:

Casualties-4yrs of Invading two Nations and occupying over 50million very hostile peoples in two nations for nearly 4yrs running with only about 3k casualties is not a disaster that is amazing. We lost 3X this number just crossing the river to get to Cassino Monastary in Italy WW2 were we lost a exponentially more men.

Strain on Economy- You got to be kidding me. The military is pulling what 4% GDP including the Supplementals and in the 80's the mil was pulling 5.5-6% don't even look at other war time strains you may sh*t yourself on site.

Strain on Civilian Pop- NO DRAFT, NO WAR TIME TAXES, NO RATIONING, NO NOTHING, if it wasn't for the ME doom gloom reporting every time a Iraqi kills another Iraqi in protest to the Infedels US the gen pop would not even know that we were at war.

Strain on Mill equipment- what 20+ year old equipment that was getting ready to be replaced in our FCS upgrade anyway getting to go out with a bang and most likely when we leave be sold (donated)(eternally loaned) to the Iraqi's?

The Carnage- This is the best. Is it not the most saddest thing about this whole afair that we are actually feeling like we are losing this war (thanks to our don't question there patriotism ME,LLL, Dums) becuase the enemy is killing to many of his own people? What kind of F*cking stardegy is that and why is that not anything short what it actually is (absolute 100% proof positive of how bad we are beating these brave Jihadi's that they cannot dare face US even in thier own home instead they go blow up a handfull of thier OWN people). On top of that is this insanity by our enemy not 100% evidence of why we must fight them over there? If they kill there own to protest US how will they treat our women and children what if they get some real mass killers?

It may sound evil but it was the Arab culture that bread these sick killers in the first place and the fact that they are now reaping what they sowed really doesn't gather much sympathy on my part. Mine/yours grandfathers didn't have much sympathy for the German people that allowed the sick Nazi ways to drag them into the depths of hell.

Bottom line if this Iraq phase is the limit of our ability to endure war we are f*cked. WW2, WW1 level fighting is something that we could not even imagine today, a war with China, N Korea, Russia or even Iran (they have a boat load of terrorist aka Muslim cruise missiles.) all of these senerios will be wars that will show just how minor the Iraq Phase has been in Reality.  

By Blogger Paul Edwards, at Mon Feb 26, 05:51:00 PM:

C-Low, well said! It is amazing how people can look at a complete and utter success and call it a failure. History is going to record this as one of the most amazing campaigns in military history. It's a new style of warfare - a war of liberation instead of conquest.

"It may sound evil but it was the Arab culture that bread these sick killers in the first place and the fact that they are now reaping what they sowed really doesn't gather much sympathy on my part."

Exactly. And now they have been empowered to do something about their sick culture. It will help them and it will help the free world. I've written a lot on this topic here:

http://antisubjugator.blogspot.com/2007/02/iraq-war.html

"a war with China, N Korea, Russia or even Iran (they have a boat load of terrorist aka Muslim cruise missiles.) all of these senerios will be wars that will show just how minor the Iraq Phase has been in Reality."

I wouldn't bet on that. With a bit of luck, Iran will be even better than Iraq. Probably hoping too much for it to be better than Afghanistan though. My suggestion is here:

http://antisubjugator.blogspot.com/2007/01/war-plan.html

I do take issue with one thing you said though:

"occupying over 50million very hostile peoples"

I don't know why you think they are hostile. The US has been very successful at avoiding a war with the locals. It has achieved this by not forcing one damn thing on the locals. Nothing. Not a sausage. Everything you see in Afghanistan and Iraq was totally chosen by locals. There's no reason for them to be hostile towards the US, which is simply helping enforce laws that they created themselves. Brilliant strategy. Completely and utterly brilliant. If there is a need to come back at a later date and force something down their throat, so be it. Until then it is best to just observe what they do with their newfound democracy and freedom of speech.  

By Anonymous cubed, at Tue Feb 27, 12:07:00 AM:

"...they didn't really understand it themselves..."

That's where my money is.

First, Our Leaders didn't grasp that it has taken us 2400 years, from Aristotle to the present day, to get where we are, while Islam has had only the briefest of contacts with the Greek philosophers. Islam destroyed the Mu'tazilites and Ibn Rushd (their only chance at escaping their irrational tribal heritage); they had no Renaissance, no Enlightenment, no Industrial Revolution, and yet Our Leaders somehow believed that if we offered them an Enlightenment civilization on a silver platter, the Muslims would swoom with gratitude, and there would be Peace in Our Time.

Second, Our Leaders acted as though they didn't have a clue about the role of close consanguinous marriage in Islamic culture that makes abandoning the tribal mentality all but impossible - the ol' Hatfield and McCoy thing. Thanks to Muhammed, the tribes have gotten bigger - the Shia, Sunni, and The Others (the latter would be us, the infidels).

Third, Our Leaders have no concept of what constitutes "honor," "strength" and "self-esteem" among the Muslims, so Our Leaders fought using the Just War Theory, foolishly figuring that if we used that ethic, then the Muslims would, too.

Fourth, Our Leaders neglect the problems created with the establishment of the government school system, which permitted the postmodernists to infiltrate it and teach our kids their own PC crap, instead of the values of the Enlightenment, right from the beginning.

"Hey," around half our population wonders, "since all (values, opinions, philosophies, viewpoints) are equally valid, what difference does it make what anyone believes or who's in charge?"

The Muslims "get it," though, right from the moment Papa Muslim whispers the shahada into the ear of his newborn. By the time they are out of high school, their minds have been sucked dry - and ours aren't far behind.

Well, I sure hope Our Leaders have learned enough now that Iran is looming on the horizon. If we get into again, we'd better do it right.  

By Blogger Paul Edwards, at Tue Feb 27, 12:53:00 AM:

cubed, you have a very interesting take.

"if we offered them an Enlightenment civilization on a silver platter"

It wasn't given on a silver platter. The Iraqis have had to pay a bloody price for it. They have stepped forward and fought for it.

"the Muslims would swoom with gratitude, and there would be Peace in Our Time."

The government that they have voted for is an ally, not an enemy. Sounds like we're going to get peace out of it.

"abandoning the tribal mentality all but impossible"

You're asking a lot from the western political leaders to know what was in the Iraqis heads. Even if they knew, I don't see that they had any alternative but to do what they did do.

"Third, Our Leaders have no concept of what constitutes "honor," "strength" and "self-esteem" among the Muslims, so Our Leaders fought using the Just War Theory, foolishly figuring that if we used that ethic, then the Muslims would, too."

Can you elaborate on this please? Sounds interesting.

"Fourth, Our Leaders neglect the problems created with the establishment of the government school system"

Are you talking about in the US here?

"which permitted the postmodernists to infiltrate it and teach our kids their own PC crap"

"their" being postmodernist?

"instead of the values of the Enlightenment, right from the beginning."

I'd like to know more about exactly what you think should be taught at school. Perhaps you could write a short document on it?

""Hey," around half our population wonders, "since all (values, opinions, philosophies, viewpoints) are equally valid, what difference does it make what anyone believes or who's in charge?""

Are you saying that the western left didn't care if Saddam was in charge because of this reason?

"Well, I sure hope Our Leaders have learned enough now that Iran is looming on the horizon. If we get into again, we'd better do it right."

Learned what? Iran can presumably be liberated in 3.5 weeks with the loss of 100 allied lives. Stick in new rulers, don't disband the old army, and you can leave immediately.

Iraq was done right. The old army needed to be disbanded and replacements built.

I hope we can continue this discussion, you have a comprehensive view of the situation, going to the heart of the problem - psychoanalysis. There is another site which does something similar, Second Draft, which you can find a link to here:

http://antisubjugator.blogspot.com/2006/07/brilliant-analysis.html  

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