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December 04, 2006

Bush in the Bunker
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Putting a psychological spin on foreign policy decision-making is a dangerous business, undoubtedly all the more so for an amateur like me.  But the developments this week over Iraq seem to beg for it. 

First the Baker-Hamilton Study Group leaked that they would back significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, seemingly backing off a fixed deadline only to avert direct confrontation with Bush.   Then a leaked memo from National Security Adviser Steve Hadley offered a panoply of far-fetched options for shoring up Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki, the sum of which implied that for a range of political and structural reasons, the PM will likely never succeed in curbing Iraq's sectarian violence. 

Outgoing SecDef Donald Rumsfeld's own array of Iraq options hit the headlines next.  Rumsfeld suggested drawing down from 55 to just 5 US bases within the next 8 months, pulling all coalition forces except those targeting al Qaeda and Iranian infiltrators, and withdrawing from all missions in hot conflict zones in Iraq.  Meanwhile the situation on the ground remains dire and the trumpeted Bush-al Maliki Summit was a snub-turned-bust

Yet despite the mounting evidence and wisdom closing in, Bush seems poised to yet again insist that the war effort press on more or less as is.  He said this week:  “There’s one thing I’m not going to do, I’m not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete . . . We can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.”  What is standing in the way of the President's facing reality, and how can it be overcome?   Clearly something deep is at work, and we may need to get to the bottom of it to figure out how to reverse it.

Here's one interpretation: 

a Bush's ascent to the White House in 2000 signified redemption - for himself in terms of overcoming personal demons and failings, and for his father who had been rebuked at the polls just eight years earlier. 

At least on foreign policy, the key criticism of Bush the elder was his Administration's failure to oust Saddam after the first Gulf War.  We know that during the early hours after the 9/11 attacks the Administration worried that Saddam might be behind the assault.  I've always imagined this suspicion must have been coupled with fear that the horror would be linked in the public mind to the first Bush Administration's failure to "finish the job" in Baghdad, wreaking political disaster for the younger Bush.  While Saddam turned out not to be the 9/11 mastermind, the fear of his coming back to haunt George W. lingered, and getting rid of Saddam became his Administration's job one.

As George W. confronts the prospect of a second failed Bush family attempt to defang an Iraqi threat, its hard to imagine he wouldn't be haunted by a family drama that's played out once before.  Bush's decision to make Iraq the focal point of his presidency - at the expense of all sorts of priorities including the broader fight against terrorism, the battle in Afghanistan, and America's standing in the world - only underlines the trauma.  Being advised to exit by James Baker, the architect of the decision to leave Saddam in place in 1991, may in itself be a painful reminder.   Only by resisting the growing consensus that Iraq has devolved into a disastrous civil war can Bush cling onto the redemption narrative.  Accepting reality means not just giving up on the goal of redeeming his father's mistakes, but also facing up to the idea that Bush's own errors have been both  less excusable and more consequential.

In response, Bush displays classic symptoms of denial.  In his  press conference this week with al-Maliki he spoke repeatedly of a democratic Iraq and pretended Maliki, "the right guy for Iraq," was capable of everything he is not.   He spoke of beefed up military training, strengthened rule of law and augmented minority rights in Iraq, seemingly oblivious to the daily headlines screaming of deterioration in all these areas. 

Meanwhile, Bush is shutting out calls for reason.  While everyone in DC is talking about the pressing need for an Iraq strategy that unites the White House, Pentagon, Congress and American public, on Thursday Bush referenced the various forthcoming policy recommendations, and then said he would "make my decisions" on way forward.  His insular "I am the decider" approach seems to only harden as the chaos in Iraq worsens.

Accepting that Bush has a series of deep-seated reasons for denying reality over Iraq, where does that leave those striving for a responsible policy?

First off, don't treat denial as if its a bona fide policy position.  If Bush's positions are driven by denial and Resistance to reason, they should not merit the kind of deference that might ordinarily be afforded a president.  By crediting Bush's rose-colored view, advisers may only be enabling continued wishful thinking.  If its true that the members of the Baker Hamilton group favored a timeline but stopped short of recommending one for fear of alienating Bush, the omission may wind up just perpetuating his denial.

Second, carefully consider whether supporting elements of a policy that is predicated in large part on denial likewise wind up reinforcing the denial itself.  Its easy to imagine that once the Study Group issues its recommendations, policymakers of all stripes will try to agree on measures - - beefed up training for the Iraqi security forces, a regional conference - that make sense in the context of a plan to withdraw but could in practice allow Bush to sustain what he believes is a path to victory.   There will be a strong temptation to duck the hardest question of whether there's anything the US can do to tame Iraq's sectarian violence through a political solution, or whether, instead, efforts to those ends are proving a futile waste of American lives.  There's a very real danger that the BH Commission, the Congress and the public will be convinced we're all "doing something" to promote a better outcome in Iraq, when in fact what is agreed are a series of half-measures that allow the crux of the current, failing effort to continue unabated.

Third, aggressively expose the truth.  If the last week is any indication, there are brave individuals in various branches of government who are concerned enough about the direction of Iraq policy-making to lay it bare to the public.  While none of this may affect Bush himself, it makes it harder for those around him to share in his baseless wishfulness.  Aggressive Congressional investigations of goings-on in Iraq and the region will do the same.

If we're lucky, Bush's denial is but a phase in his mourning of the heroic presidency that was not to be for either George senior or for him.  If that's so, denial will eventually pass, giving way perhaps to anger, bargaining, depression and ultimately acceptance and a more reasoned policy.  But the longer the phase goes on, the more American and Iraqi lives are lost.


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May I suggest a less psychological, more culturally based explanation for 43's fantasy version of the Iraq War? It actually strikes me as very West Texas [having lived and taught university students one year there]. I recall telling a class that a major difference between World War I and World War II was that the left supported the Second, the Communists at least because the Nazis were going after the Soviets. I noticed an extremely puzzled look on the face of one of my brighter students; the reason, it turned out, was because he was dumfounded by the notion that Nazis and Communists weren't the same thing! There's a tendency in WTX to indulge a great deal in that sort of us-vs-them thinking, in which the "them" is a unitary blob embracing everything from Godless Communism to the Trilateral Commission. And such thinking is present in spades in Bush's view of the world, which I'd suggest owes far more to Midland than to New Haven, Kennebunkport, or even Houston. "Al Qaeda" is basically the latest name for the International [blank] Conspiracy, threatening both us and our brave, freedom-loving friends. Moreover, the whole world essentially organizes its rivalries and enmities around *us.* That Iraq might be about something other than the latest version of the International [blank] Conspiracy against our "freedom" simply does not compute. To say this is neither a reflection on 43's intelligence nor his mental state, but rather to invoke our old friend "cognitive dissonance." A world view that works perfectly well at the Petroleum Club in Midland is asked to comprehend a world that doesn't fit it, and the default response [not unknown among liberal intellectuals, after all] is to force a fit. Really bad news for us, because we can't get rid of the guy; but, as LBJ used to say, he's the only president we've got.

To expand upon David's post--a piece by Ian McLeod, a blogger who described Texan Terminology

I'm from Texas. My favorite Texans all are - from Texas, that is. I live, for instance, in Oregon. Texas is not a good place to be if you're not plugged into some sort of "Good Ole' Boy" system, or if you really like mountains and mostly reasonable people like I do. Football players in my high school borrowed teacher's cars to eat lunch in town (it was a closed campus for the rest of us), or got extra helpings in the cafeteria free. Early Good Ole' Boys startin' young. As I recall, being a liberal in any but some places in Dallas, maybe in Austin or Houston wasn't really healthy. Not that I'm entirely a liberal - just in some things, which pretty much puts me at odds with any straight party ticket. Story of my life: those damned pigeon holes just never fit anything but pigeons.

I can remember being told not to hug my brother when he arrived at the airport. Texas had these tickets for cops to hand out with little labeled boxes for them to check; one of them was "homosexual behavior". We hugged anyhow, but you never know. Now, something like incestual homosexual behavior wasn't even on the tickets. I think the penalty might have been on-the-spot execution.

In Texas, "justice" has a different meaning than in most other places. Since ol'e Dubya exported the system to Washington, Texas-style I mean, it seems to confuse people. Alberto Gonzales, for instance. Now, some people might think his job was to give Dubya an honest legal evaluation in answer to legal questions; nope. According to the GOBS ("Good Ole' Boy System"), it's to give him a legal interpretation that allows him to get away with - I mean to do - whatever it is he wants to without hindrance from people who might have more narrow-minded, literal interpretations. A lot like Southern Baptist biblical interpretation. Patriotism=loyalty and vice-versa, and the losers had best just shut up. You reward people for patriotism and punish the ones who just won't get up on the damned horse.

Now, Dubya being rich and all, his GOBS is made up of other rich folks and the things that make them rich: corporations. So naturally, he's going to enact or interpret laws to help what city folk call his "homies". That's just plain natural. Besides, rich folks have always believed that what's good for them is good for America. It's also good for Dubya, as he has to make a living somehow after he's done Saving the Soul of America. As far as enacting bible-based laws, admonitions and so on into civil law, even if Dubya doesn't really entirely buy it himself, that comes under the heading "payback". You pay back the people who helped put you where you are; that's just good sense, not to mention Christian and Southern honor. Besides, how could forcing people to follow the Bible be wrong?

As for all those executions, there just is no downside. If the executionee was actually innocent, the unfortunate was just referred to a Higher Authority, and God will know and he or she will be rewarded; if not, justice was done and closure given to any bloody-minded, grieving relatives and friends, who will be grateful with votes at the very least. It also has the benefit of making Dubya look tough on crime, so a little fudging by prosecutors - and Judge Gonzales - is only what you'd expect. About torture, well, that has a long-standing if informal tradition in Texas anyhow, and Texans in general figure that that "innocent until proved guilty" bit was written bass-ackwards in the first place. Why would the cops arrest someone who was innocent? About the Abu Ghraib trials, every now and again, some bleeding-heart type who doesn't understand how things work gets enough others all het up that somebody has to take the fall for it, whatever it is. You don't expect the Big Guys to do it now do you? That's what peons are for.

Besides, those towel-headed (what kind of man wears a towel on his head, fer Pete's sake?), and here's a non-PC but popular term, sand-niggers, are all just uneducated, heathen savages who kill each other when they can't find anyone else to kill anyhow. They are all guilty; count on it. Besides, they just happened to breed over all that oil that we need to keep our rich getting richer, and that's what it's all about. It's our oil, really (just like the continental US was ours; it was being wasted on all those selfish Indians; Mexicans in the case of Texas). What would they do with it if we didn't buy the stuff and make sure the industrialized West kept on needing it? Eat it? They might have to - you can't grow squat in sand. Believe me, Texans know about that.

The lies about the justification for the Iraq war, the wiretapping and all? Well, how else was he supposed to get what he wanted? It isn't as if a political lie was the same thing as lying to a friend. The GAO understands that; that's why they ruled that political lies are perfectly okay. If you buy a lie, well that's on you. Southern folk have always admired a clever, successful liar (and it doesn't get much more successful than president!); it's just another facet of the old and revered storyteller's gift.

So maybe our President doesn't speak all that well, and when he does, it may or may not be true. Okay, so he's a little politically myopic, doesn't listen to advice he doesn't like (who does?), and fires experts who tell him the wrong thing. Wouldn't you if you could? Okay, so he's a somewhat disconnected fanatic elitist and a tad greedy. And yes, he's using the military to fight for American corporate profits and hegemony (remember what I said about peons? None of those kids belongs to him or his). If you could set yourself up to become a billionaire, would you do any different? True, he has all the empathy of a retarded carrot for the poor and the borderline poor (aka what used to be the middle class, half of whom he's got totally bamboozled). Just where do you think he'd learn empathy coming from that background? At least he goes to church; shoot, he talks to God and God talks back! That alone would get anyone else a stay in a rubber room. On top of that, he says God gave him the job! What more can you want? Besides, nobody's perfect.

He's even got Democrats running so scared, they're talking about becoming Republicans under a different name just so they don't go entirely extinct. And not a one with the cojones (look that one up) to stand up on his hind legs - not even Hillary, and she has more than most of the guys in Congress! - and call him on laws so twisted, so well and truly busted you can hear `em crunch underfoot as you walk around the White House or Congress. Hell, there's enough evidence floating around out there to impeach ol'e Dubya and win if they had the belly for it - and not one does. Dubya bites back, you see; he fights to win, he fights dirty, he gets even, and they're more scared for their own jobs than for America, the environment, the possible extinction of humanity, than for anything! Even the Corporate Media kisses his butt - when they can get past all those noses. In short, he's got a free ride! Just like he's always had.

An example? How many other deserters do you know of who got elected president, especially by putting down a genuine war hero? And it wasn't even cowardice - he was just too busy getting stoned and laid to bother showing up for a year. He knew Daddy Bush and his GOBS could fix it. . Witness too his drug use and his father having gotten him out of several drunk driving incidents. Witness also Laura's having run through a four-way stop when she was nineteen, striking another car and killing her seventeen year old ex-boyfriend who was driving. Her daddy bought her out of that one, and she was never even cited. See what I mean? S.O.P.

So in summary, Dubya is doing a fine job. What frogs, krauts, Californians and all those other foreigners want or think doesn't matter; they'll fall in line when they smell enough money. They always do. Besides, we'll always have a bigger stick. As for Dubya, well, there's an old Texan term that's so perfect - here, I'll write it so you can pronounce it properly: he's what we call a "line-sakuh-SHE-it".

I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course.

Ian MacLeod
Jan 6th, 2005

I see that "55 bases" from the Rumsfeld memo is appearing all over the place. Don't ever believe Rummy. All liars aren't from Texas. (Actually, Bush isn't from Texas either, but he's a good pretender.)

Anyhow, I count 264 bases, including 139 camps, 80 forward operating bases and 45 other facilities.
Check it out:

Is this what the election was about? Voting in the Democrats so that they can pray that Bush may be going through the Kubler Ross grief cycle, as opposed to being batsh-t insane, as all the evidence indicates?

There's a very good chance that Bush is going to remain in denial, perhaps even expand the madness by attacking Iran. What are the Democrats going to do, besides pen open letters to advisers who don't care what we think?

Bush's psychological problems go well beyond the president, and include many of the liberal hawks and sensible centrists who enabled him. And if they take impeachment and stopping funds for the war off the table, then they are still enabling a delusional president.

What psychological explanation is there for that?

You mean advocating an increase in the minimum wage isn't a profile in courage?

I don't think what is happening to Bush is all that different from what would happen to most Presidents in the same situation. It's a guy thing.

Presidents don't like to lose wars, and in Bush's mind, and the minds of many other Americans, that's what it comes down to. He quits; he loses. And then he goes into the history books as one of the biggest piles of shit to ever occupy the White House. And one thing we know from the testimony of Bush's oldest friends - Bush is a very sore loser.

As long as he doesn't write the last chapter, he figures, there is always the possibility of the story ending with the dramatic and improbable cavalry charge, and with the white hats routing the black hats and saving the town from Black Bart - thus saving Bush's reputation for posterity. If he quits and closes the book, he admits defeat and loses. If he keeps fighting, then maybe he doesn't win, but at least he doesn't lose - yet. He keeps prolonging it. Losing is the next President's job.

Maybe the West Texas thing has more to do with his inability to settle on a any kind of strategy that backs one faction to defeat another. He wants to whup all the terr'ists at once - and in his mind that includes Al Qaeda, and Iran, and Al Sadr and Hizbollah.

I think there is another dimension to this, the public denial may not be a psychological disorder described in the DSM IV. Isn't it possible that much of what is said by the president is said in order to not appear weak to our enemies?

When the administration refuses to admit defeat or even negative progress to the American press, the administration understands that the target audience is not just the American people, but instead the target may be the Iraqi people we are trying to support, or the very people we are trying to defeat.

Sure, the argument can be made that our enemies don't believe anything we say anyway, but I can tell you this for sure. If we show weakness (which to the Arab mind is defined as anything other than steadfast, emotional determination and hyperbole) that weakness will be exploited, that weakness will embolden further actions. It is a little harder for our enemies to exploit active denial.

I am not making excuses for anyone to be in denial of what is really going on in Iraq, but I hope that perhaps I am offering another perspective as to why our leaders sometimes say the things that they say. You always have to ask, who is the real target of the rhetoric?

FYI, many Iraqis that I know do not believe their country is in civil war. Their leaders are not declaring it a civil war, so why should we? How would President Bush calling it a a civil war improve the situation? It could only have a negative effect. It is a simple risk vs. reward argument, there is zero upside to call it a civil war, and considerable potential downside for calling it a civil war.

Denial. Sure, at least publicly. But there is a much bigger picture.

And Don, please lay off the Texas thing, it is just ridiculous. If Texas were really anything like you posted, than Bush would do an excellent job working with Iraqis who currently live in the same political, religious and economic system of nepotism, prejudice and honor as you describe. And Global is hardly a credible reference, most of those FOBs closed down years ago and some never even existed.

bg, what a marvelously funny idea! You figure the Bush administration has systematically lied to the US public as a way to lie to the far more important arab enemies? Hahahah.

Look, our arab enemies have shown very little ability to reach us. But the US public, exposed to the truth, would be a deadly enemy for Bush. You have your priorities way reversed.

I agree with you that the Bush administration is probably consciously lying far more than actually believing what they way. But arguing that the important thing is to lie to arabs is like Nixon arguing that he had to bug the DNC because he thought they were getting influenced by the USSR. It takes a very special mind to believe it.


Re: "The Arab Mind"--what are your qualifications to describe something as fictional as "the mind" of a whole race of people?

Re: Texas, from Molly Ivins, a Texan (from The Nation, November 2003)--

Here in the National Laboratory for Bad Government, we have an antiquated and regressive tax structure--high property, high sales, no income tax. We consistently rank near the bottom by every measure of social service, education and quality of life (leading to one of our state mottoes, "Thank God for Mississippi"). Yet the state is incredibly rich in more than natural resources. The economy is now fully diversified, so plunges in the oil market can no longer throw the state into the bust cycle.

It is widely believed in Texas that the highest purpose of government is to create "a healthy bidness climate." The legislature is so dominated by special interests that the gallery where the lobbyists sit is called "the owners' box." The consequences of unregulated capitalism, of special interests being able to buy government through campaign contributions, are more evident here because Texas is "first and worst" in this area. That Enron was a Texas company is no accident: Texas was also Ground Zero in the savings-and-loan scandals, is continually the site of major ripoffs by the insurance industry and has a rich history of gigantic chicanery going way back. Leland Beatty, an agricultural consultant, calls Enron "Billie Sol Estes Goes to College." Economists call it "control fraud" when a corporation is rotten from the head down. I sometimes think Texas government is a case of control fraud too.

We are currently saddled with a right-wing ideologue sugar daddy, James Leininger out of San Antonio, who gives immense campaign contributions and wants school vouchers, abstinence education and the like in return. The result is a crew of breathtakingly right-wing legislators. This session, Representative Debbie Riddle of Houston said during a hearing, "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell."

Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a k a the bidness lobby, is a major player and has effectively eviscerated the judiciary with a two-pronged attack. While round after round of "tort reform" was shoved through the legislature, closing off access to the courts and protecting corporations from liability for their misdeeds, Karl Rove was busy electing all nine state Supreme Court justices. So even if you should somehow manage to get into court, you are faced with a bench noted for its canine fidelity to corporate special interests.

Here's how we make progress in Texas. Two summers ago, Governor Goodhair Perry (the man has a head of hair every Texan can be proud of, regardless of party) appointed an Enron executive to the Public Utilities Commission. The next day, Governor Goodhair got a $25,000 check from Ken Lay. Some thought there might be a connection. The guv was forced to hold a press conference, at which he explained that the whole thing was "totally coincidental." So that was a big relief.

As Willie Nelson sings, if we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane. This is our redeeming social value and perhaps our one gift to progressives outside our borders. We do laugh. We have no choice. We have to have fun while trying to stave off the forces of darkness because we hardly ever win, so it's the only fun we get to have.

Don, the "Arab Mind" was a poor reference to an excellent book that describes very accurately the general culture and psychology of Arabs. My qualifications though are limited to over two years of working daily with Iraqis, so I guess they rubbed off on me when I exercised a bit of hyperbole. I better understand how Iraqis think, not all Arabs. I stand corrected.

In regards to J's response, I am glad to entertain. I guess the difference as I see it is that I believe that all politicians lie. That is their job. I question the intent of the lie.

Is Bush publicly in denial of the situation in Iraqi for his political and historical record (aka pride), or is he saying what he is saying as an effort to prevent things from getting even worse. Yes, things can get worse in Iraq, and it will not be the opinion of the American people about their President that will have that effect, it will be the perception of the Iraqi people, who incidentally, listen to every word spoken by the US government. How much they believe the US rhetoric is up for debate.

But I would compromise and say both, he is likely saying what he says not because he believes every word, but because he feels that he has to, for whatever reason.

I wouldn't elevate Bush by calling him a politician. A politician worthy of the name is expert at reconciling different views (which usually requires a bit of verbal footwork) into some course of action that is practical and amenable to various constituent blocs. Bush, the Decider, is singularly inept at being such a politician.

Bush is a product, as Ian MacLeod wrote so eloquently, of the good old boy system where anything goes and everything can be fixed. Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as they say, and has been an abject failure at everything he's done. Until now everything's been fixed by his daddy. Well all the stuff he's done with America (and the Middle East) can't be fixed, and we'll all pay the price along with the next couple of generations, all those "perspectives" notwithstanding.

In response to bq's comment: "And Global is hardly a credible reference, most of those FOBs closed down years ago and some never even existed."

I queried the Director of Global Security, Mr. John Pike, and received the following response:

1 - There may be several hundred names, but some of these facilities have had and still may have multiple names [eg both FOB and Camp].
2 - The list is probably a year out of date. We have someone working on the update, but this effort is a long hard slog.
3 - We are continuing to discover new facilities, the existence of which we had not previously detected, so there is something of an under-count on this list.
4 - For the most part, the facilities that have been closed are the smaller ones [some of which were not much more than a single building], since the total headcount in-country has remained more or less constant.
5 - Unlike body counts, of which there are several, I cannot detect the existence of any other effort to track the real estate the way we are doing. It is strange that so much effort has gone into the debate over these bases with so little effort in establishing the facts on the ground, but this fact checking is fiendishly tedious and time consuming.

Please feel free to reproduce these comments.

end of response.
Let's remember that we are talking about 150,00 military (plus 100,000 civilian) spread over many square miles of area.

Don, the issue about counting FOBs was not an issue of how many Americans are in Iraq, it is an issue of whether or not you can use Global Security as evidence to refute the SecDef's numbers. As the director of GS says himself, this list is probably a year out of date (I would say at least two). I am wiling to bet the SecDef's numbers are a little more up to date.

I found this website that is probably the most accurate and most up to date that I have seen on the internet (based on what I know), and probably is closest to what the SecDef was referring to. I somehow doubt that the SecDef is concerned with small company or platoon level observation posts or Military Transition team houses.

bg, we have to compare websites and decide on some basis or another which civilian source is more reliable, because we have strong reason not to believe anything the SecDef says.

If you care how many bases there are, then look for people who're trying to track that and maybe join in. You can look at what size bases you care about etc.

But if you care whether Rummy is telling the truth, you don't need nearly so much work. He's trying to say something that sounds reasonably plausible and that doesn't sound bad. You can perhaps argue about GlobalSecurity's credibility. I don't see any reasonable people arguing about Rumsfeld's credibility. He has none, and no honest rational person claims he has any.

Re: Iraq bases

You have put stock in Rummy's number of 55 Iraq bases and slammed GS with their 200 plus, saying their figures are not one year old as the GS director says, but at least two years old. You have presented another web site as being preferable.

The first thing that I notice is that the data on your preferred website is nineteen months old. Next, I notice that it includes 63 military sites. On further examination I see only five bases in the Baghdad area alone, whereas GS says seventeen, including Camp Falcon (Al-Saqr) which has been in the news lately but is not on your 63-site map.
Other GS-listed camps in the Baghdad area alone are: Justice, Taji, Rustamiyah, Hope, Union (3), Solidarity, Independence, Prosperity, Patriot, Liberty, Freedom (2), Honor and Unijon. Your map only includes Liberty (3) and Victory (2).

Camp Falcon obviously exists. Do you have any evidence that the other Baghdad bases on the GS list don't exist?

Don, as you state, this is more an argument about the SecDef's credibility which is now a moot point because he is gone.

But just so you know I am not speaking out of blind ignorance,
and since you brought up Baghdad, I just left from there a couple of weeks ago (FOB Loyalty, which used to be called Patriot, both of which are listed on the GS site, but neither in Eastern Baghdad). A couple of the FOBs in Baghdad you mentioned still exist in name, but have been taken over by Iraqis and have maybe a small coalition force as advisors and like fall below the SecDef's radar. I think the former SecDef was more concerned with enduring FOBs that we expect to remain Coalition run for the foreseeable future.

So what do we consider a base? How many US Soldiers need to be there for it to be considered a base. If you define a US base as any place where we have Soldiers (which is surely what Global Security is concerned with because those are their safe havens as they bounce around the city in the security details), than I would say there are a lot more than 55. I am not knocking the GS site, it is a great site with interesting "Wikipedia" like information, but it is just not very accurate in regards to bases (based on my fairly extensive knowledge of OIF). The site's listed references date 2003 or earlier which seems to fit nicely with the information listed about the bases, much is from the first year of occupation.

I am all for questioning government officials by verifying statements with MULTIPLE sources, not the first one that shows up on Google (which is what I did with that old graphic which I still believe from my experience is fairly accurate, Falcon is one of the Central Baghdad FOBs in the yellow callout box).

As we all know, there are two sides to every story and to assume that the side of the Bush administration is always the side of deceit and denial as a default setting creates a bias that makes it difficult to make a fair assessment. That was my poorly stated point.

bg, you make interesting points, and I only want to quibble with one minor one. assume that the side of the Bush administration is always the side of deceit and denial as a default setting creates a bias that makes it difficult to make a fair assessment.

The trouble with your view here is that we have had 6 years experience with the Bush administration, and that experience shows that they do have deceit and denial as a default setting. It isn't bias to point that out.

That of course doesn't imply that anyone who disagrees with them is correct. Often there are far more than two sides to each story. Certainly there are often several lying sides to a story. It isn't that unusual for there to be several lying sides from the Bush administration alone, plus as many other lying sides as other liars want to create.


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