previous post next post  

On the Democrats, Republicans, and the waging of the war.

I've made no secret of the fact that I was very uncomfortable with invading Iraq. I wasn't blogging *before* the actual event, so there is no googleable record to support that contention, but I've always been uncomfortable with the conduct of what appear to be optional wars. At the same time, as a career soldier, I also know that it isn't my responsibility to choose those wars, that decision is left to the President and Congress.

I never fooled myself by thinking we were going to see a nice, tidy, democracy-in-our-style government in the region. I've long made the point that we've taken 400 years to get where we are in our style of governance, and that was building on a tradition brought from England which had it's own hundreds of years of evolution. A democracy-as-we-know-it wasn't going to spring fully-formed from the forehead of this beast.

I do believe in finishing what you started, and accepting responsibility for the outcomes, to include the unintended consequences - hence I have supported doing what we can to wrap things up as best we can - and disagree with those who would just have us leave, yesterday. And that includes putting pressure on the Iraqi government to do what it needs to do to be a "big boy" government. But one reason I wasn't keen on starting is that I had, and still have, doubts that "We the People" had the gumption to sustain the effort at the level of pain it was going to take to do a make-over of this magnitude. Even if, in comparison, the pain in terms of dead, wounded, and psychologically scarred is really rather low compared to other historical endeavors. Oh, we can suck up things like Bosnia and Kosovo, because there wasn't a steady trickle of fatalities, trumpeted by the press.

And we can stand the casualties, don't fool yourself. The services suffer an attrition due to on and off-duty accidents in the region of 2K per year - and nobody gave a flying flip. The press would report it when it happened, certainly, but no one, other than the families of the casualties, or when there was some newsworthy element such as malfeasance, really got exercised about it. But now we find people who before could give a rat's ass rending their garments and tearing their hair in their distress.

To be sure, many are genuinely and appropriately concerned about the casualty count among the Iraqi people. But in some respects, rather than see the threat that represents (an enemy who does that putatively to his own people) they just want to go away. Some for good reasons - the logic that says *we* are the spark, if we depart, things will calm down (certainly possible, at least to an extent). But the ones who really chap my butt are the ones who just want it all to end badly, because, well, they hate Bush. Or the Republicans. Or Conservatives. Or, fill-in-the-blank. Anything to damage their internal political enemy. They, and their fellow-travelers, the "This is just Vietnam all over again" crowd, some of whom seem to just be trying to relive the heady days of college in the late 60's.

Which is one reason why this passage is so refreshing, from Dan Gordon, over at The American Thinker (warning for the excessively PC-bound - an appropriate use of the N-word follows}:

"No Viet Cong ever called me nigger."

That was the battle cry of my generation, or rather it was the retreat from battle cry of my generation. The great Mohamad Ali said it, and like so many other things he said, he was of course right about this one. No Viet Cong ever did use the N word against him and truth be told no Viet Cong ever did a bad thing to me. That is because the Viet Cong stayed in Vietnam and once we left they didn't follow us.

That perhaps is why it is so frightening to see the ghosts of the Vietnam War protest movement haunting the current war in Iraq. Bring the troops home. End the war. Stop the carnage. Throw the Republican bastards out. I embraced it the first time around. To do so this time, however, I believe is suicide.

Hmmmm. This is a critique from the left.

I know you don't like Bush. I don't like Bush. Nobody likes Bush. Fair enough. He lied to you. He mangles the language. You can't trust him. He's in hock to Halliburton. He has some weird daddy complex. Whatever you want to believe about him, believe it. Fair enough. You win. No arguments.

And you don't like the war. You were lied to. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Bush and the neocons made it all up. They duped us. They duped you. They duped me. They duped Hillary and Kerry. They duped us all. Dupe, dupe, dupe, dupe, dupe. Done deal. Not only did they dupe us, but they dicked it up, made every mistake in the book.

Pick whatever argument you like. They should have had more troops. They should have had less troops. They should have listened to Chalabi. They shouldn't have listened to Chalibi. Bremer was right. Bremer was wrong. Rumsfeld's a bozo. Bozo could have done a better job. I'll sign on to any part of it you like. They said this is a part of the war on terror, and of course that's a lie too.

Ooops.

What do you mean, oops?

Well, what I mean is that part is actually true.

What part?

The part about Iraq being a part of the war on terror.

You've got to be kidding. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11! There was no connection between Iraq and Al—Qaeda!

Maybe not, but there is now.

Well, who's fault is that?

Doesn't matter.

What do you mean it doesn't matter?

I mean, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how we got there. It doesn't matter how you think you were lied to. It doesn't matter if you think there was a connection between Sadam and Al—Qaeda. The only thing that matters now is that both Al—Qaeda and Iran and the terrorist groups they back and inspire believe that Iraq is their decisive battle. They have chosen it as the place where they will defeat America, and unlike the Viet Cong, they will not stay put. They will follow us home.

Read Mr. Gordon's whole thing here. As always, I commend you to click through the link and make your own judgements.

I would note that you may think it's appropriate to fire Bush and the Republicans for having stirred up this nest at this time. You may be right. Oddly enough, President Bush knew this going in. When he was delivering the Dole Leadership Lecture last month, General (R) Myers told us about those first, dark days after 9/11. And he quoted Bush at a National Security Council meeting being held in the seldom-used White House bunker (and this is a paraphrase from memory - I'm confident of the meaning, but not the exact words) "We're going to have to do some things in the next couple of years that may make us a one-term administration. So be it."

Some of you who clicked through will read all the way down to the end and note that Dan Gordon is probably jewish, as he is a Captain in the reserves of the Israeli Army. Therefore his objectivity on the subject of Islamo-facism is suspect, right? Even though, gosh, Israelis have the most significant on-going contact with that particular component of the human family.

Okay. How about former Senator Bob Kerrey? Also coming from the left, and a Purple Heart Medal of Honor holder who understands the costs of combat. No chickenhawk here either. (Though I'm always amused by the trolls who insist if you are for the war but not *currently* serving - regardless of past service, you're a chickenhawk. Yes, such tortured brains exist.)

In today's Opinion-Journal he gets to the heart of many of my objections to many segments of the "Hurt Bush/End the War" camp.

No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before. And no matter how much we might want to turn the clock back and either avoid the invasion itself or the blunders that followed, we cannot. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussein is over. What remains is a war to overthrow the government of Iraq.

Some who have been critical of this effort from the beginning have consistently based their opposition on their preference for a dictator we can control or contain at a much lower cost. From the start they said the price tag for creating an environment where democracy could take root in Iraq would be high. Those critics can go to sleep at night knowing they were right.

The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart.

Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

Update: Forgot the link! Click here.

Intriguingly, if you take out the word incompetent from the first paragraph of that quote, it is very similar to something that General Myers said in his lecture. I find those parallels interesting.

In a sense, this lays out my problem with the next election. The Republicans are a wounded beast, and no one is exciting me as a Presidential candidate. But the Democrats scare me, in a metaphorical sense. Not because they're going to raise my taxes and diminish my personal wealth, I just expect that from them, and am doing what planning I can now to try and minimize that impact. If they'd tell me they were going to impose those taxes to pay for the war - oddly enough, I'm okay with that - except I expect them to tell me that, but do something completely different.

But more, the whole thing just depresses me (which will excite Howard Dean, because he can hope it will keep me away from the polls) as it reminds me of the state of the Greek city states prior to the battle of Chaeroneia. The time in Greek history when there was such a dearth of public spirit, such a malaise of self-interested factionalism, that Demosthenes couldn't rally the Greeks to unite in the face of the common enemy, as the factions were more interested in scoring points on each other seemingly for the purpose of scoring points.

The result? Phillip of Macedon defeated the Greeks, really putting the screws to Thebes. And gave us Alexander. The Greeks self-destructed. While I don't think it's quite that dire in our case, I'd hate to see our internal political squabbles giving rise to a new Xerxes or Saladin, either.

2 Trackbacks

TrackBack this entry at http://www.thedonovan.com/cgi-bin/mt41/mt-tb.fcgi/7230

Where are we headed? from Righty in a Lefty State on May 22, 2007 6:14 PM

A couple of interesting and thought-provoking posts crashed together in my head today, and the pieces are still forming back together into an image. Read More

A short recon of what痴 out there that might draw your attention. Read More

15 Comments

It's ironic you say these things boss, as just recently Laughing Wolf and myself had an E-mail exchange regarding the possible dissolution of our fair republic in the next 10 years. The warning signs we used was a comparison of modern day America to previous time Greece. Now you use a similar anecdote with not quite the same outcome but the possibility nonetheless. When it's just me and LW I can think "Ok we're paranoid crazies. No big deal." But when others start on the same wave length I get nervous. That or I need to get some sleep. I'm not sure which is which currently. :)
 
You take my analogy too far, I think. I don't see the dissolution of the Republic, I just see the potential for real, and severe, damage to us and our institutions. I don't think we're *that* fragile that we'd simply shatter. But we are so interconnected and dependent on networked systems that extreme disruptions are possible. And I am concerned about the rise, in whatever guise, of a new Alexander, Xerxes, Saladin, Hitler-equivalent, and all the blood, sweat, toil and tears that would entail. Which should *not* be interpreted that I think the dogs of war should be let loose on Iran at this point. Simply that we have to keep our eyes open and recognize that unlike in the 90's, when everything seemed so fuzzy-bunny-happy, that the world is a different place than we realized it to be - and is lethally dangerous. Which doesn't mean that the old solutions of the last century are the go-to positions. We need to think more cooperatively on how to deal with the foreign threats and opportunities without just reflexive condemnation of the other side's position and the exaltation of our own. In other words, in many ways, politics should meld at the beaches. We can still act with fear and loathing internally. But I despair, sometimes, of adult behavior from adults.
 
Despair. Apathy. Depression. Etc. >>>>>> FUTILITY Personally, I think we're all being conditioned to accept that it's FUTILE to resist the "inevitable" .... fundamental changes that will radically alter not just American society and culture, but which will have profound - and negative - consequences for the rest of the world, as well. We're almost being force-fed this constant stream of negativity and nay-saying, preaching that: humans are a "virus" plaguing the earth and destroying her "fragile" environment; that we can't correct the immigration problem because they're already here and we can't / shouldn't plug the holes in the fence; that we can't protect and defend ourselves because it will only "perpetuate the cycle of violence"; that our culture is no better than others because we're not perfect, either; that we can't trust any intelligence because some of it has been erroneous in the past; that we can't trust any political leaders (of either side) because they're all corrupt and incompetent; ad nauseum. You can determine for yourself who's preaching the majority of this crap. But the overall effect is to create apathy and despair, and an overwhelming sense of futility ... to accept that we can't change anything, and that we simply need to accept the "inevitability" of it all. As the Star Trek Borg mantra goes, we're to accept that "Resistance is futile". And to prepare to be "assimilated" into the Borg collective. Why? To paraphrase the Edmund Burke quote: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Whether by "natural occurrence" or the efforts of a malicious cabal or some other conspiracy, evil will prevail if we allow ourselves to be conditioned into doing nothing because of this sense of futility. We may be nearing the point in Plato's model of cyclical governments, where our "democracy" is heading toward anarchy and chaos, and at which point the masses will look to a charismatic, strong-willed, gilded white knight on a shining horse to save us from ourselves. Therein lies the road to tyranny. And evil.
 
Not to worry John, if the shite hits the fan, well, we're the guys with all the guns. A lot of lawyers and liberals will be hung, but what the hell, the tree of liberty is due a good long drink.
 
Casca, Count me in. I've got a stock laid in of things required to sustain the family for a few weeks. Longer if needs be. Personally, I see armed conflict starting up in the very near future over the Arizona, New Mexico and SoCal region. Too many illegals flowing in there, taking over areas, and the politicians who are riding that wave as a means to political power. Soon enough, "La Raza" will try a coup of some sorts. Thery already have tax-payer funded public schools that teach only in spanish, that spew the vile, socialist, anti-American diatribes that they are famous for, and are training a whole generation that all that land, the south west, was stolen from them, and is their birthright if they will only rise up and take it back. In fact, La Raza already has a shadow goverment in place, has drafted a constitution and laws and is ready to step up to the plate as soon as the shooting starts. I'm not making a word of this up. A new Civil War is coming, and it's coming soon. It will make the Goth's sack of Rome look like small potatos and we stand a very real chance of losing control over a large area of our nation if we do not act soon to squelch these movements. Respects,
 
Heh. I just want the politicians to get together and work on a clear statement of joint principles to carry forth in our foreign policy and deal with our foreign enemies, and the discussion has turned into the threat of a looming civil war. Just, heh. This immigration bill is really chapping some people, I see.
 
John, I reserve my deepest disgust for those politicians who are trying to make political hay out of this state of affairs, rather than dealing with what it is: An invasion of our sovereign territory by foreign nationals. I will be among the first to step up and welcome new immigrants to our family. I WANT new blood to keep America strong, vibrant and productive. What I detest are those who are unwilling to play by the rules. Who jump in line (or over, under or through it) and say "to hell" with the laws, disregard the rules here. These folks are not doing jobs Americans will not do. They are underbidding jobs so that Americans cannot afford to do them. O also have a huge vessel of vile reserved for those who employ illegals, who use their willingness to work longer for less inorder to maximize profit. Employers who put profit ahead of safety and reliability. Those folks ought to spend a LONG time examining the inside of a cell. No one in America should ever be anti-immigrant. That is turning our scorn upon our own ancestors, our own heritsge. We are a nation of laws, of fair play, and those who flaunt the law(s) have no business, no rights, to enjoy the fruit of the American experience, nor to be able to sheild themselves with the very laws they would ignore. Oh yeah. Nice article. Sorry to hijack the thread. You have a gift for words. I'm greatful to be able to read them. Respects,
 
AW1 Tim, I agree with much of what you're saying, however I would like to pose this thought experiment: Do you do "due diligence" to make sure that your vendors or contractors are using ONLY American or "documented" workers? Recently, I had some flooring installed in my home. Like most people, I got estimates from several sources. I did not go with the lowest, but I definitely did not go with the highest bidder. I suspect that the guys who installed our new carpet were "undocumented" Guatemalans .... the flag on their truck was a clue, and their English skills were limited. But damn, they did a GREAT job .... and quickly, too! I agree that the Federal government ought to do a better job of enforcing the borders, controlling immigration, and penalizing employers who hire illegals. But my question is this: Do we, as American consumers, also have an obligation to use due diligence in making sure that the vendors and contractors that we use are NOT hiring illegals? And are we actually WILLING to pay more if they can prove that they're only using American or "legal" labor? I think most people are answering this question with their wallets! So, we also share this blame.
 
John, Good post. There are two big "but ifs." If we had a parliamentary system and could replace Bush next week, and the new administration said what you're saying, I'd buy it. But we don't; we've got Bush for another 20 months. Also, there's a fair case to be made that our presence there is serving as an active recruiting and training ground for terrorists; i.e. what we're doing may, perhaps, be counter-productive. Having been wholly wrong on this matter in the past, I cannot claim now to be correct. Consider these points as questions, not answers. Regards,
 
Very interesting, and I too am intrigued at the thoughts evoked - different reactions for different folks. Strictly on the immigration question - I have to concur that when building our house, I never asked the contractor where the subs came from. Some of them included members who may have been first generation immigrants - legal or otherwise. I didn't check for green cards, either. On the broader front - are we heading to helk in a handbasket? Hmmm ... good question.
 
Tim, I think you and I may be on the same wavelength Re: La Raza etc, drop me a line if you have my E-mail via the Denizen Hotline. The Armorer has an E-mail I recently sent out (like in the last hour) you may be interested in. I have...ahh...a proposition for you :) *cue hideous laughter*
 
I'll forward it to him, BS.
 
Congress has the duty to address war. It must either say there is war or say there is no war. And be there war, congress must clearly defined the policy level objectives (but not micromanage). Congress should immediately assume this constitutional responsibility. It should immediately make a statement asserting this. The statement should not critique the war, or even say yay or nay at that point. It simply says that congress decides and if it does, then there are clear objectives. I have contacted my representative.
 
Yes, we are at war. Yes, I am disgusted by the political manouverings in the face of a media driven war. I think we are at the all famous "tipping point" in Iraq. It either goes our way or goes to the dogs. I feel it leaning our way. After watching the latest political cluck-cluck and the probability that they will pass a funding bill that does not have time lines and will be in time for the June deadline for difficulties with supplying the troops, I have come to a few conclusions: 1) The Democrats know that they will be blamed for problems on the frontlines if they do not fund the troops and that is political disaster. For all the nostalgia for a Vietnam reprisal from certain corners of the political sphere, there is equally (or greater) a memory of what other "mistakes" were made. Such as not funding the troops properly and the return of veterans to rejection and shame. Those vets vote today. 2) I would say that the democrats have received certain intelligence briefings, however they felt compelled to dis Petraeus, that makes them think that the tipping point is also near. There has to be a reason they would risk being called flip-floppers by their base while trying to cover their political butts to be totally backing off the funding issue. I would add that it is apparent to people watching the media as well. Something about al-anbar, the awakening and the driving of Al Qaeda from these territories. All the public needs is a little positive news and they start feeling like its not all lost in the wind. The public has taken a "wait and see" position and that is what the Dems have to play to if they don't want to become the republicans of the previous term. On the home front: No, I don't think we are going to blow up any day. We made it through all these years and did not break apart. Certainly, we were in greater peril many other times. We had plenty of political cronyism, nepotism and corruption. These are not new things. We simply fail to comprehend history and assign it some rosy, through the looking glass, nostalgia. As for immigration, you want it to slow down and be addressed? Start preaching procreation to our existing citizenship so we can off set our decreasing births and aging populace. We can say what we want about the French, but we have similar issues. The difference is that the French are french and Americans are mutts so our mutts assimilate to the idea of America (and dream about it; the streets are still paved with gold for these folks) much better and keep the dream pumping. If we do not have immigration or do not increase our birth rates, we will die the slow, fading death of the French. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not even the next decade. But, we will change unless we change. Not in revolution or civil war, but slow, as we have ever done. I am one of those people that continue to recall the great immigrations of the past. We're saying the same things they said back then. We changed, but we didn't die. You know who I like? Fred Thompson. I don't know if he is the next president or that I'm rooting for him as such, but I heard a speech he gave at the Lincoln institute. He said we should be working for the future generations. That is what I am worried about for today. that we protect the institutions and ideas of our nation that will see future generations living free and in the idea of democracy that is, at least, a close approximation of what our forefathers and all those who came after, struggled and died for. Not just for them or for us, but for the far reaching future. For the funding bill that did not pass, I am glad. Not just because of the war and our troops, but because I believe the powers that congress was attempting to assimilate onto themselves (not the funding itself, but other aspects like timelines, managing tactics, strategy and even end run foreign relations, etc), would have changed the balance of power between the branches of government and not to the good. Call me an idealist, but I refuse the idea that we are dying.
 
Because I can't resist :) Fred Thompson says new Senate Immigration Bill will Fail. I'm all for Legal immigration. Let'em in no problem. But this illegal crap and this whole amnesty idea has got to be shut down. I wish I could get amnesty for all of my speeding tickets........it's a law isn't it? *runs and hides from kat ;)*