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November 30, 2005

Bush Speech Live: "When our mission of defeating the terrorists is complete..."
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

The quotes from Iraqi soldiers are good -- I would've led with them if I were the writer.  The description of how the mission will change is right in line with what military analysts and progressives have been recommended.

But the fundamentals appear unchanged.  And did you hear the extra note of stridency in "we will stay as long as necessary to complete our mission?" 

"We will be able to reduce our troops levels in Iraq without losing our ability to defeat the terrorists."  hmmm

Ah, the new code word is "articifial" timetable.   And now we move through our set of coded attacks on progressives:  "cut and run," "invite new attacks on America..."

and a pledge to those who wear the uniform -- "America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander in chief."

Lord, for the sake of us all I hope he doesn't find himself eating that sentence Beirut-style.

So, we will pull lots of troops, but not all of them.  Maybe the Iraqis will get it together and violence will decrease -- against us and them.  And maybe not.  But I don't think this speech is going to give public opinion something to hold onto... and more violence will lead to cascading withdrawals... and we will be forever stuck in another post-Vietnam "it could have been won/it could never have been won" debate. 


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'Artificial timetable' isn't new at all. It was in the State of the Union speech.

"Beirut-style" is exactly what contributed to 9/11. Whatever the merits of the mission much of the world saw the US cut and run after the Marine barracks were bombed. They saw much the same thing in Somalia. During the two and one half years of the Korean War the US lost around 1,000 killed a month for a UN "police action" that did not seek victory but simply the status quo. A little perspective would be nice.

The notion that when a specific number of dead is reached that a war, mission, or policy, has failed is obscene; moreover, it is extremely dangerous for the long term health of civilization.

Lane Brody

Lane, it's a Scylla/Charybdis thing.

With vietnam the world saw that if they coul get us bogged down in one offensive the rest of them mostly didn't have to worry about us for years and years.

Somalia was a special case. It was a brutal pigpen when we went in. We stirred the shit for awhile and left, and it was a pigpen when we left too.

In lebanon we at least shelled the coast a bit after the Marines left. We never went in strong at all and we left them something to remember us by.

If we were to pull out of iraq right now I don't think anybody would be particularly emboldened. "Defy us and we just might mvo into your country, blow up a lot of buildings and kill a lot of people, and then after we've made a total mess of your economy then after a couple of years we just might go away again."

It isn't everything we said we were going to do but it's a very potent threat. Not quite like "By the time we pull out you're all going to be drinking alcohol and eating bacon and voting democrat and your women will wear bikinis in public and you'll be rich" but pretty terrifying regardless.

Ironically, Somalia is a rare example of a humanitarian mission that succeeded in utilitarian terms. Even critics admit that it probably saved far more lives than it cost.

But Clinton wouldn't pocket the humanitarian success and go. He decided to 'nation build' Somalia. It turned out a significant fraction of Somalis didn't want to be 'built', and so had to be killed in large numbers.

Clinton forget to indoctrinate Americans in why they should hate Somalis and want to kill lots of them. When a few Americans got killed, 'look how many Somalis we killed' didn't cut much ice.

While I do not disagree with any of the comments made and that every situation was different it simply is not how many others in the world view these situations. Sequentially, all these events can easily be seen as the US has no stomach for war and eventually they will leave.

The USSR was in Afganistan for a decade and they are viewed in the muslim world as having been defeated. How long you stay does not get you a lot of points. Israel was seen by many as having lost in Lebanon because eventually they left just as many view the withdrawl from Gaza as a victory for terror.

War is imposing your will on the enemy not going to their land and eventually letting them impose their will upon you to leave- normally that is called defeat.


Lane, you're right. But why should we let the enemy decide what our victory conditions should be?

If we have to fight until the arab world decides we've won, what kind of fight are we signing up for? This thing started out as a quick in-and-out, we were going to get Saddam and take away the nukes and let the iraqis have a democracy. Bush etc didn't say anything about a ten to twenty year commitment then.

The trouble is, the USA really doesn't have any stomach for long expensive foreign adventures. We'll fight a long war when we see we have to. If it's a problem for arabs etc to find out this truth about us, then I don't see how to solve the problem. Not like we can lie about it and they'll believe us.

So when we choose to start a foreign war we need to get it clear what our purpose is, and that we can achieve that purpose quickly enough. Then we go in and do it and get out. Never mind what the kibitzers say. Nobody says we lost the Gulf War for letting some of Saddam's troops make it home and we didn't take Baghdad. It was perfectly clear who lost that war. And if we'd destroyed the heavy weapons in iraq and distributed the millions of AK47s and RPGs to the people generally and pulled out, there wouldn't have been any doubt who lost this one. It would be Saddam who lost. That approach might not have gotten everything we wanted, but it would have been completely clear we won.

When you can smash the enemy armies and ship their WMDs home to be recycled, you've won. When you try to fight a twenty year war hoping to win hearts and minds, you'll probably lose. Don't let the enemy be the one who decides your victory conditions. That's just stupid.

J. Thomas I do not disagree with you but I would point out the mission is extremely clear. Train and stand up a new security force to support the new democratic goverment. We want Iraqi's to take over for our security missions and eventually for training their own (most trainers are now Iraqi).

If everyone understands this then as more Iraqi's are capable we will gradually pull out and change the focus of our forces. Thus when we eventually leave it will clearly have been after a transition away from any major combat role.

If we were to pull out before getting Iraqi forces up to a reasonable level in numbers and capability because it was percieved we simply lost too many troops we will simply sow the seeds for future conflict. We took out their goverment and army and we have a duty to assist them getting back on their feet and everyone in the world knows this. We do not have to stay one day longer than needed but we must not shirk our duty.

Lane Brody

There's no sign of any military force being developed that will support the new government. The so-called Iraqi forces are re-branded Shi'ite and Kurdish militias, loyal to their sectarian leaders. The Iraqis will have their civil war, and there's no sense in the U.S. staying around to participate in it.

That the U.S. should stay in Iraq, killing Iraqis and sacrificing our own people, just to prove we are willing to do it, is the kind of proposition I would call 'obscene'.

In any case the U.S. just isn't going to stay in Iraq until a 'stable government' emerges from the chaos. That could take decades. The people, the voters, won't stand for it. We cut our losses now or later.

"J. Thomas I do not disagree with you but I would point out the mission is extremely clear. Train and stand up a new security force to support the new democratic goverment."

That isn't as clear as it looks at first sight. We claim we gave the iraqis sovereignty and now they're creating a hypothetical government for our hypothetical security force to support.

How many of them will support that government when it's made? No telling. We want them to be loyal to the government we intend to impose on them, rather than whoever they happen to be loyal to.

This is not nearly such a clear mission.

We succeeded in doing that in the philippines, but it took a lot of atrocities and a long time, and then after 80+ years they finally threw out the government we imposed on them and set up a democracy.

We've done it repeatedly in panama, but that's a lot smaller and a lot closer.

I dunno. Maybe we should call for volunteers to go help out the iraqi government, and support the volunteers and the iraqi government by voluntary contributions, and leave the government out until after there's a consensus for it.

fuck usa...fuck america

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