Friday, November 18, 2005

Laying the Lumber

I'd say this is better than any other argument against the war. It is beautifully and thoughtfully written, and it comes out swinging.

I suggest everyone go and read the full article yourselves, as we know the MSM won't actually report the full thing. Some excerpts:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

What is the most telling is the shameful response to this that the right, especially Administration leaders, have been putting forward in response to this. We all know what this group of folks did to Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) in the Republican primaries of 2000. We all know about how the Swift Boat people questioned the Navy's credibility for Senator John Kerry's (D-Mass) service. We all know that there are folks in the administration who would 'burn' the cover of CIA agents for political gain. In response to Congressman Murtha, Dick Cheney essentially said that talk like this aids the enemy.

Of course, Murtha was a Marine for 37 years, and he didn't take that criticism lightly: Speaking of Vice President Cheney, Murtha was pretty sarcastic Thursday when he said, “I like guys who’ve never even been there, that criticize us who’ve been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments, have never been there, and send people to war and then don’t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.”

It sure is going to be interesting watching a Marine take the Administration to task on this one.

Update: 6pm

This kind of chorus is what the right fears. No longer are the anti-war voices made up of crazy PCU style noodleheads who were just looking for something to be against. No longer is Michael Moore and his I told you so paternalism the vanguard.

Now it is a chorus of eloquent and credible speakers, pointing out really real reasons that the war is not going our way, and why it should be stopped.


ruby booth said...

Does this guy sound familiar to anyone else?

"We Americans are a do-it-yourself people. We are an impatient people. Instead of teaching someone else to do a job, we like to do it ourselves. And this trait has been carried over into our foreign policy."

corwyn said...

I don’t reply often on here, but I’ve had several beers and I’ve been forced to listen to my father’s unending anti-Liberal rhetoric for the past eight hours, I thought I’d pop in...


Regarding the idea that the war effort is going "poorly," I feel it is folly to blindly declare the war effort as failing.

Or, for that matter, succeeding…

There is an abundance of pundits and representatives and actors and documentarians all chiming in with their thoughts on the matter, mostly spinning things in a negative light. The problem is, regardless of their source of information, no one possesses the full picture.

The tragedy is hyped. The spin gurus, Coulter, Moore, the “Mr Talking Head of the Week”s run their mouth endlessly, when their only concern is proving their opinion to be the “right” one. It’s like religion: “As long as you agree with me, you’re okay. If you believe something else--regardless of what it is--you’re wrong.” That’s all it is. They grab each tidbit and inflate it, distorting its magnitude and doing so with the sole intention of making it look like their side is “winning”; that their side is “right.” It’s not about the troops. It’s not about the civilians. It’s not about the terrorists. It’s about proving who is right. And that alone makes any observation about the efficacy of our presence in Iraq suspect.

In truth, the situation remains a no-win situation for everyone. Regardless of whatever positive (or negative) outcome results from our efforts in Iraq, this is a war that will be lost. Period. People complain about the death tolls in Iraq...yet they never stop to consider the alternative. What if the U.S. hadn’t used a single soldier to fight? What if, instead they carpet-bombed every Iraqi city, thus eradicating the enemy? Then the cries of innocent casualties would have risen as high as those now decrying the soldiers’ deaths. Regardless of whatever decision is made, there will be someone standing by to raise holy hell with whomever made said decision and ridicule them endlessly for the decision’s ill effects.

Do we belong there? Do our forces belong in the pit of sand that is Iraq? I don’t know. But we’re there now. The issue should be how to make it better; how to resolve the issues and be done with it. Not engaging in an endless back-and-forth with insults and sarcasm and talking heads and TV shows. Should we come back? Yes. Absolutely. I, of course, find myself in the unique position of not really passionately caring one way or another. What do I want out of the war? I want low gas prices. That's it. I want to pay .79 a gallon for premium. Until that happens, what do I care? What few people I do know in the armed forces currently fighting, I would like them back. I do not want them to die. But while they’re over there I only hope they kill as many of the enemy as possible. And should my friends die, I would mourn their deaths, and celebrate their lives...but in the end, it was their decision to join the armed forces. They volunteered. That they did not consider they would ever be placed in harm's way, or never thought they would be deployed in a war effort is their folly.

Do not, however, assume that with the previous statement I seek to make light of the U.S. casualties in Iraq. I do not make light of the 2000+ deaths of soldiers fighting the war, as death is tragic...or rather, deaths of OUR forces is tragic. They are serving their country, they are fighting in my stead. However, there are certain factors which must be weighed along with the bandying about of statistics when trying to bolster support for your position. For instance...between 500-600 police officers are killed in the line of duty in American per year. Which means that in the years since America declared war on Iraq, nearly as many policemen have been killed as U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. Do we blame their captains? Do we blame the City Councils for forcing them to patrol ghettos and pull over cars full of delinquents with weapons? Do we have English professors (adjunct professors, I might add) suggesting the police officers turn their guns on their superiors? No. Because no one learns of such things. We never hear that because of the lopsided and sensationalistic presentation provided to us by the media--all of the media, I might add—-who flock to every shred of tragedy like chum in the waters. They never speak of the humanitarian efforts carried out by our troops, such as building schools and supplying medicine. That would hurt the staunch arguments of those debating the war. It might promote some semblance of unity and thus kill ratings.

Nor does history any longer have a place in the face of sensationalism embraced by all sides in the neverending debate. People want to reference Vietnam. Vietnam was a mistake, to be sure and one that should never be repeated. However, I think that in effort to not repeat Vietnam and irrational terror of ever doing so has paralyzed many people’s logic. A fear of confrontation—any confrontation—has rendered us impotent. “The cost is too great,” they say. “We mustn’t have another Vietnam.” I agree. With Vietnam, however, our troops were dying by the truckload from an enemy we were ill-prepared to fight. I do not see enough parallels to draw comparisons. Our world is not some horrific landslide into terror and violence. Troops continued dying in Germany up to five years after the surrender and declared “victory” of WWII. But we don’t think about that. We don’t remember that. Why? Because we didn’t have 24 hour News networks desperate for programming. Every shred of information is not pertinent to our daily lives, and yet we are bombarded with it on a daily basis. Our world is not getting worse…we are only realizing for the first time how truly ugly our world IS. It’s always been this way. The veils of civility is are being challenged by the need to know.

Until the numbers come back that show more dead on our side than theirs, I would not declare the effort lost. So long as we continue killing more of them than they do of us, then we will stand victorious. But we will not win. We will not be allowed to win. By the finger pointers and the blame layers

Now, have our forces been as effective in the war as their potential allows? In my opinion, no. There are, however, reasons for this. Reasons that have nowhere to find blame save for the shoulders of those who have sought to temper the efforts of American's armed forces by the prostheletizing the idea that we must take the utmost care in our execution, lest we offend.

When insurgents sealed themselves within the “city of Mosques” that is Fallujah, did our forces do what should have been done and turn it into a parking lot? No. Why? Because of scathing political correctness that had seized the country like madness. Just as the Geneva Convention sought to civilize war and thereby bound the hands of those making decisions, so too has political correctness and the fear of offending anyone have influenced and crafted the direction of the war as powerfully anything else. Our enemy forces don’t think twice about rolling grenades into tents of Army camps, but we cannot dare attack their “sacred places.” Because if we do, we will have made them mad. And I, for one, say good! Where is it written that we have to give a holy flying Allah's ass about our enemies’ feelings on the battlefield? But then, that is the problem, isn't it? We care too much. In humanizing our enemy, we have surrendered the power to deal with them effectively. We have not inspired terror within our enemies hearts, and for that we have failed. Surgical strikes are used in order to ensure the least amount of civilian casualties../because political correctness and the misguided desire to tread lightly and avoid the bloody ugly sinister mess that IS war...all while fighting a war. This has nothing to do with “why we’re there” or “we don’t belong there and never should have gone in the first place.” Fine. Whatever. The point is, it’s the “Enemies are people too” mentality that has ruined the institution of war. This, of course, coupled with the insane notion that as a people we are supposed to be “better than enemies.” No. We are supposed to be superior to our enemies—with firepower, with manpower, with tactics—so that when the inevitable ugliness of war stands at our doorstep we can strike effectively—brutally, if you must—and stand victorious. To quote General George S. Patton Jr (himself a prime example of a brilliant man who understood the ugliness of war and embraced the necessities to win--and was excoriated by the political correctness of the times despite the fact that without his presence, the war effort would have dragged on far longer than it did):

“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

And despite my personal opinions regarding certain failings in handling the situation in Iraq--which, of course, remain just that: opinions--it in no way means that our forces are failing. Or, to translate into the football parlance so metaphorically embraced in political discussions lately: we don’t know enough to make a call.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Corwyn's got some mad skills, y'all. Agree or disagree, I always love it when folks bring some seriously intelligent debate like that.

And I do love his opinion of punditry, (especially about Coulter) despite the fact that I engage in many of the same activities.

There is something very important about Murtha and his echoes that I would like to point out that I may not have made terribly clearly in the original post.

His statements against the war, and the collateral media storm it has created, are the first to really come from someone 1) in a respected position and 2) that stay on subject.

There have been a lot of folks in this country against the war for a great many reasons. Until now, that group's spokespeople have been the worst sort of 'blame America' noodleheads be they overrated protesters or overbearing documentarians.

This has been the single most important component to a one sided national debate: nobody wants to be on the same side of the noodleheads.

I can't stand anti-war protesters.

Until Murtha, the debate (and punditry) has been "all us Americans" vs "those few and far between silly hippie wannabees who look really silly and say the sky is falling."

It's easy to win a debate when your opposition just walked off the soundstage for PCU, is what I'm sayin'.

Now, with Murtha, someone who is respected and who is keeping on topic is taking on this notion.

Wether I agree or disagree with him, it is good to have this debate brought back to the realm of reality.

ruby booth said...

So, corwyn, once we've struck brutally in order to stand victorious, while ignoring the PC madness, which includes, apparently, both the Geneva Convention and the idea that we should try not to kill the people we've come to liberate, after all that, how exactly are we to know when we've won?
Last time I checked, there isn't a government to surrender to us in Iraq the way there was for Gen. Patton in World War II.

Dante said...

In this case Ruby the Geneva Convention most certainly is "PC Madness." The official US stance on honoring the Geneva Convention is that we have captured enemy combatants instead of soldiers and therefore do not have to follow the Geneva Convention when dealing with them. I realize the argument is a bit of a stretch but that's the stance the US government has taken and there just aren't enough people who really care one way or another to get the US government to change that policy. The left really should be focusing on the few really good arguments they have and stop bickering about technicalities like the Geneva Convention. And I know it's going to anger a few folks when I brush off the Geneva Convention a technicality but in this case it is.

Also, while there might not be a government to surrender to us, there is certainly a very organized group that makes up most of the "enemy combatants" we are trying to stop. If we could get that group to surrender to us, it would go a long way in discouraging others to follow the same path.

Patrick Armstrong said...

What's really funny in the whole "Geneva Conventions = PC" debate is this: while the Geneva Convention may not apply in the circumstance of 'enemy combatants,' (yes, a ridiculous stretch if I've ever heard one) there is another "PC" document actually does cover what happens when anyone working for the United States of America takes anyone into custody as a matter of government policy.

It's called the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

There's also one in there about "cruel and unusual punishment," but we're not explicity discussing that one right now.

The irony of it all is that the Administration, in attempting to end run the "PC" Geneva Convention (that a much less tolerant version of the United States actually helped author), actually placed a higher legal standard with which 'emeny combatants' must be afforded.

Not that such technicalities matter to the guys running the show. (We've already seen how much they think of that whole "PC" "Rule of Law" concept.) Of all the things you could call these cats, "subtle" ain't one of 'em.

And BTW for all you Roberts and Alito supporters: the above interpretation of the 14th Amendment is a constructionalist one, so disagreeing with that interpretation makes you a "judicial activist."

Dante said...

Good form, Pat. The 14th Ammendment angle is a much stronger avenue of attack than the Geneva Convention. Not only are your points valid from at least a cursory glance over your arguments, but most folks in our country are more likely to care about the Constitution being violated than a UN agreement being violated.

corwyn said...

Well, Ruby, I honestly doubt any argument I posit would change your mind--and vice versa. This is just the case I spoke of: the "My beliefs are right--your beliefs are wrong." back and forth that prevents any actual. In debating each other we would be both entering a no-win situation since we're debating beliefs and we'd just be wasting our breaths.

And for the sake of nullifying any further arguments...

--satire alert!!--

I am a bloodthirsty, compassionless warmonger. The more dead the better. I bathe in the blood of small children killed in war while I rape their mothers, smiling the whole time. I feast off the entrails of innocent casualties and delight myself with knowledge that no one will surrender to us, and we will keep killing and killing and killing until everyone we are trying to liberate is dead. For if we kill everyone, then there'll be no one to fight...ergo peace.

You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

--hereby endeth satire--

Look, war is ugly. And it's supposed to be. It's a horrible, vicious, brutal thing. It's not nice or pretty or fought with "rules." And if wars were conducted in the bloodiest, most savage, and most destructive way possible, then odds are, the urge to go to war would be tempered with the knowledge of what one was truly entering into. And maybe then they would be fought for the "right" reasons.

And if it's going to be fought, then politics should stay the hell away from it all. Just my further--unasked for-- $.02

Patrick Armstrong said...

"It is good that war is so terrible, else we would become too fond of it."

-General Robert Edward Lee, Army of Northern Virginia

War is quite terrible. I have spoken my piece on this quite a few times. Terrible things happen in wars, and all rules get violated. But that shouldn't stop us from making the attempt at regulating the game. I'm not suggesting we tie the hands of our armed forces, and I think the idea of war without incident and without innocent casualties is fantasyland nonsense.

But war has always had rules, just like diplomacy. That's why surrender works. The most striking example of the rules really working was actually Gulf War I, when 100,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendered.

But those rules aren't always hard and fast rules, which is why so few machine gunners 'surrendered' in WWI.

But at war, the society who goes into battle must be willing to accept that the ends justify the means. That goes for the armed services as well as the civilain sector. Society on a true war footing means a draft, gasoline rationing, war bonds, recycling, conservation of steel and iron, Detroit turning out tanks, Long Beach turning out ships.

But this society is not ready to accept civilain casualties, gas rationing, war bonds, conservation et al. Which is why the folks in charge always have to be shady with these "police actions."

That is why this debate is going on. That's why it went on during Vietnam.

But as a society, it is up to us to determine how our armed services should conduct themselves. We are, after all, the ones they have sworn to protect. We are, after all, the folks who voted in the government who sent them into battle. We are, after all, responsible for the our nation winning the war and how our nation wins the war.

This is why I believe the Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, shirked their Constitutional duty in passing the buck to the President (the same way they did with Vietnam). We have no Declaration of War.

If a Declaration of War had been our litmus test, and society had been forced to really act as if we are truly at war, we would not be there.

But we think we can have our cake and eat it too: fly the flag, send in the Marines, keep consuming, break whatever rules aren't convenient for right now, and keep winning on the cheap.

That's another similarity with Vietnam, if you ask me.

That's also why I think folks go on and on about how the Geneva Conventions are "PC" and why we do ignore the implications of us violating our own laws with our actions, in both action and spirit.

Corwyn's point is well taken, I agree with him that war is horrible, and all war is a crime, and therefore certain suspensions of the rules are necessary, and regulation of such events is utopian. I think we should not shirk from 'breaking eggs.' But society must be willing, by a far, far greater majority than what we have right now, to accept that responsibility.

And we can never cease debating what is acceptable behavior at war.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Thank you, Dante. What is really interesting is that the 14th Amendment actually was introduced to deal with situations very similar to the "Enemy Combatants" issue. It specifically had to do with ex-Confederate leaders like Gen. Robert E. Lee who refused as matter of principle or were refused as matter of state policy, US citizenship.

While noone really knew what to do with them, their legal definition was in question. Were they criminals? Traitors and Rebels? Or were they soldiers from another nation, one the United States never recognized?

It also had to do with protection and prosectution of freed slaves, whose citizenship was also in question at the time.

That's why the 14th affords due process of law to anyone who comes under the 'jurisdiction' of the United States of America, or at least that's the exact constructionalist way it reads.

Dante said...

Gotta give credit where due, Pat. The right gets a bit lazy when the left stops arguing rationally. I always like to see the left at the top of their game. However, I was under the impression that dealing with slaves was sort of a side effect of the 14th Ammendment. I was under the impression that using the 14th Ammendment in such a way didn't happen until quite a while after the 14th Ammendment was ratified.

Patrick Armstrong said...

The 14th Amendment was actually put there for many reasons, the primary ones being the treatment of ex-Confederate leaders and correcting Constitutional provisions made obsolete by the war, and clarifying due process clauses already in existence.

When dealing with the slavery issue, the history of the matter becomes very complex. The 14th only came to have effect on people later on (after 1877, when conservative, pro-Jim Crow governments returned to the South after the Union withdrew its occupation). That does not negate it's importance, historically speaking.

The 14th has two distinct clauses in the first section, the first that defines and extends due process to all US citizens and forbids the states from taking that right away. This protected ex-Confederates from vindictive justice. The second extends due process to all under the jurisdiction of the states.

I'd have to think that between 1865 and 1877, when the South was dealing with enforced political controls (Republican governors elected by newly freed black voters, black Congressmen et al) that the 14th was seen more as a way of dealing legally with ex-Confederates and correcting the 3/5ths population regulation evident in the original Constitution.

Native Americans were still excluded.

But this obviously was written more for ex-Confederates (and their legal definitions) as evidenced by the following sections preventing them from becoming officeholders.

I just cannot believe that, having fought a war instigated by abolitionists in New England (and hawks in the South, but the abolitionists won), that those individuals, now quite powerful, would not have also worded this to protect newly freed slaves and their right to due process. But you are correct as to the intended effect vs actual effect, as that may be my interpretation seeping into the description based on later historical events.

But don't take my word for it. You can read about it here.

patsbrother said...

Contrary to what Corwyn says, wars have been governed by rules for thousands of years. The wars of Rome, feudal Eurpoe, ancient east Asia, tribal Africa, native America, etc. were all ruled by well-defined sets of rules. Yes, those rules have been broken; but that there was something there to break should tell you something.

Dante said...

Wars have been fought by rules for as long as there have been wars but the forces willing to break those rules have historically had an advantage. That's how a group of Dutch farmers can knock the British Empire off the ball and hold up in battle for 3 years. It's also how an underfincanced underequipped Colonial military can take on the British Empire and actually win independence. It's also how the Texan army could defeat a Mexican tyrant who probably had the best footsoldiers on earth at the time. It's also how a group of Vietnamese who can't even clothe themselves properly can take on the US military. So yes there are rules in warfare but if you actually want to win a war, I wouldn't put too much stock in them.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Lets not get strategic and tactical rules get confused with actual 'rules' of war.

Almost every instance you mentioned invovled where one society fighting against a weightier opponent resorted to geurilla warfare style rebellion in order to trade strenth they didn't have for mobility. In all instances, save the Texas v Mexico, the weightier army had the additional burden of having an ocean to cross, and a far removed population.

Those home populations of the bigger nations were never truly put on total war-style economy, and eventually decided that the cost of the war was too much to justify.

Hell, America fought Vietnam 5000 miles away while facing a simmering civil conflict at home, that threatened to turn into a second shooting civil war at times.

In the instance of Texas v Mexico, it didn't matter if Mexico had the best foot troops in the world at the time, he was going up against Americans, the weight of an American nation who sent both support and succor, and a group of American hero/martyrs and hero worshippers who fought with the tenacity of frontiersmen.

And we all know that Americans fighting for their homes on home soil are nearly as undefeatable as the Russians.

Dante said...

I was not aware that there were 'rules' to war that don't have to do with strategy and tactics. What are they?

Mexico never went against America in Texas' Independence. Texas received plenty of moral support and a few supplies from the US, but the only people fighting that war were people with a direct interest in the goings-on of Texas. Many of them were US citizens but just as many of them were Mexican farmers. From what I've read, America's support of Texas was similar the French support of the colonists in the American Revolution. Sure, they talked a big game but when it came to actually helping out with some military support, nothing happened.

The only way Texas ever even defeated the Mexican Army was by catching the Mexican Army in a compromising situation (camped on the wrong side of the San Jacinto river) and waited until the Mexican forces were resting to slaughter them. If it weren't for that, the Texan army would've been driven clear up to Canada (or whatever they called that region back then). I doubt the US would've gotten involved directly since the majority of the Texan forces would've been wiped out in that case.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Rules of war that really have nothing to do (or a very tertiary relation) with strategy and tactics are the rules of war concerning prisoners, diplomacy, the treatment of civilians, the behavior of the troops while in the field, the behavior of the troops while in battle, the dress of those troops.

To discuss your other point, Texas was, indeed, a part of Mexico in rebellion, and war between the US and Mexico didn't happen until later. Maybe I'm just seeing history through red, white and blue glasses when I think that getting Texas and the Southwest away from Mexico wasn't our plan as long as we knew there was a Texas and a Southwest.