Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Win Kamchatka, Win the World

Tyrone: This Seymour Hersch guy says we're going to be bombing Iran by summer.
John: You know, you would have heard about this sooner if you went to the political blogs I link to on my blog --
Tyrone: I have a life.
John: Ah.
Tyrone: How can they possibly sell this? The American people aren't that stupid!
John: To paraphrase P.T. Barnum, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."
Tyrone: They'd have to start up a draft, and they couldn't do that by summer --
John: No, it'll be targetted bombings.
Tyrone: But what's the sell?
John: Hmm. Well, if there's a terrorist attack, they'll track it to Iran, and justify it that way.
Tyrone: Would people fall for that?
John: Bud, 19 September 11 hijackers --15 Saudis, 1 Egyptian, I forget the rest. Draw the line from that to Iraq.
Tyrone: Fine.
John: Now, if there's NO attack, then they'll trot out the nuke threat and also, there'd be a certain symmetry to the map. "Look, we freed Afghanistan. Look, we freed Iraq. Look what big pile o'theocracy is right in the middle of the two."

(/begin rampant paranoia)
Tyrone: I say that then, they'd have to suspend American elections, because the public would smarten up.
John: So suspend them. Claim it's just a delay, you can't secure the polling places, trot out a terror alert.
Tyrone: People will catch on.
John: You've got to remember, the right-wing media and blogosphere will buy ANYTHING the President says for at least a week. They've got wiggle room. All they need is some wiggle room to pull it off.
Oh, and here's the beautiful part -- bring the National Guard back from Iraq. You win points for drawing down numbers there, and "re-assign" them to "terror patrols" here in the States. People will be so giddy at the returning troops ...
Tyrone: First, fuck you for using the word "blogosphere." Second, the amount of thought you've put into how to take over a country is kind of disturbing.
John: I always wondered just how hard it would be, really, to be a supervillain. And I've decided, frankly ... not so hard.
(/end rampant paranoia)

Tyrone: Okay, Dr. Doom, back to reality for a second. If we bomb Iran, then the North Koreans would start lobbing nukes.
John: Why do you say that?
Tyrone: They'd be the last of the 'Axis of Evil' nations, what've they got to lose?
John: Yeah, but by that point, the U.S. has no game. We're stretched razor thin as it is, and there's no WAY anyone's going to back a play in Iran. Solo there.
Tyrone: So instead of tossing nukes --
John: -- which would be suicidal, they instead take their million-man Army -- two million boots-on-the-ground, baby -- and march into South Korea. Can't use nukes to stop the troops, you'd be vaporizing friendly South Koreans.
Tyrone: Yeah, but what does China do?
John: If I were running it?
Tyrone: Sure. Fine, from your space fortress.
John: Chinese banks own a third of the US current deficit, around $650 billion. All in all, 86% of the deficit is owned by Asian central banks. If I were China, I'd trigger a US financial crisis at the same time I let North Korea do all the hard conquering work. Then China steps in, "rescues" a newly unified Korea, and declares it a protected territory, or whatever the hell Hong Kong is. End-game: America is financially crippled, still the main object of hate for the Muslim world, militarily overstretched, and politically paralyzed. China sews up the loose geographic tail ends of an Empire, maybe they unite Asean plus Three with India and go on to run the next frikkin' century without even trying.
Tyrone: You should come up with a boardgame about this stuff. It's like Risk, but more interesting.
John: It's exactly like Risk. Except, you know how every game of Risk has that one dumb guy --
Tyrone: There's really no need to finish that sentence.
John: If you say so.

32 comments:

Sizemore said...

Well I'm just glad we'll be safe here in the UK. No way our brilliant Prime Minister will let us get dragged into any of that.

Maybe you should add Jalila and her fellow Middle Eastern Superheroes into the mix.

caseyko74 said...

Ha. The super villain stuff was hilarious.

Weird you wrote about the China holding all those bonds. I heard the a similar report on NPR the other day and was discussing how China and the Central Asian banks could cripple us real easy by telling us they want their cash. Now.

Running away to the islands looks better and better all the time.

By the way, thanks to you I am re-reading The Gun Seller. I forgot just how funny the book was.

Michael Alan Nelson said...

I also heard a rumor that China and Russia are getting friendly with each other. Just one more sign that the world is giving US the boot.

And your little "paranoia" scenario isn't that far from the realm of possibility. I'm just glad I have all my camping gear.

Andy said...

Far be it from me to argue politics with John, but it seems to me there’s a flaw in this thinking. Why would China cripple the US economy when it’s worth more to them stable than unstable? I say China leaves us alone and keeps making money -- bleeding the US over time and using us to manipulate the global economy in their favor. Long-term thinking has always been a major advantage to the Asian political strategy. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Why break America’s kneecaps when we’re doing such a swell job of keeping up with the vig?

That being said...what's the housing market like in Canada? Is the weather nice? Good place to raise kids?

Curtin said...

I always thought it was Mencken who said that about underestimating the American people.

Rogers said...

Well, Ty and I were jokingly kicking around worst case scenarios. So yes, you're right, the thing to do would be to keep on bleeding the US. But in this scenario, the combo of the overstretched military and the North Korean invasion seemed to me, in my super-villain mode, to be the perfect opportunity for the killing blow. It's not like America and its consumer markets would go away -- you'd just be shutting down any lingering chances of a unipolar comeback.

However, if the U.S. doesn't get a handle on its spending and debt, the central banks will eventually switch to the Euro, and screw it more slowly over the long run, and just as brutally.

Please, any patriotic trollers, note I'm not HOPING for this. I'm concerned about it. Discussing worst-case scenarios, based on cold hard facts, and trying to avoid those outcomes used to be what grown-ups did.

My only question is whterh, with this brutal political, military and economic mis-step occuring so early after Americn ascendancy, if there's any way to recover. Is the U.S. permanently hobbled for the rest of the century?

Andy said...

I couldn't agree more. If it's a killing blow they're looking for, we've really dropped our left and led with our chin, haven’t we? And you're absolutely right -- this type of worse case scenario is exactly what “grown-ups” should be talking about.

It seems today that if you say anything negative about the current administration, or even something that could be misconstrued as negative, you’re instantly labeled as unpatriotic. It sickens me. In a country that values freedom above all else, this type of blatant manipulation should be what we’re fighting against, not for. Anyone who thinks it’s wrong to speak out against something our government is doing has no idea what it means to be a patriot. Disagree with me? Great. Welcome to an adult conversation. But label me as un-American…? Wait, let me get my Black List…I know it’s here somewhere…probably buried under my pile of Bush/Cheney stickers and Rush Limbaugh tapes. This country was founded by dissidents for crying out loud!

Speaking of which, thanks for being one of them, John. Big love for the Kung Fu Monkey. It’s got me in its grip!

1031 said...

It's really eerie how easy it sounds to take over the country. I mean, really eerie.And yet it all makes sense, whether China would bleed us dry or go for the killshot. Either way, we're sorta screwed, yeah?

Anyone want to place bets on the bombing Iran thing? By the end of Summer, I'm thinking.

caseyko74 said...

I find it interesting that when people talk this way, their ideas get dismissed. People like to think there is no way the US could get hit that hard.

If all the bonds out there were cashed in, we would be screwed since we don't have enough cash to cover all of them.

As for Iran, my thoughts are hitting them in any way will be bad for business. Sure there are pro-democracy groups there, but somehow I doubt they want their country invaded or attacked.

By the way, any room on that orbiting space platform? I would much rather be a hired hand for an evil mastermind than stuck here when the shit hits the fan. I have a monkey (well, actually he is a 1 year old, but I call him monkey and he tends to act like one a lot).

Bud said...

And people said Joss Whedon didn't know what he was talking about when he created the Anglo-Sino Alliance for Firefly...

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiousity, have you ever tried reading the Instapundit? The great thing about blogs is that you know the politics of the people involved, and that lets people balance their intake with views from across the political spectrum.

We're not going to bomb Iran anytime soon. The most effective strategic strikes against the Iranian theocracy would be running a successful election in Iraq and turning it into a functioning, prosperous democratic state. Our bombing or seizing their nuclear plants would let the ayatollahs rally the citizens in patriotic defense of their homeland. It's a lot harder to rally people against democracy and prosperity, especially if there's an example *right next door*. Do you really think that the entire Bush administration is too dumb to see that?

As for the 9/11 to Iraq connection- at what point is it acceptable to step in and stop WMDs from reaching the hands of people who cannot be negotiated with and who have fun goals like "kill all the Jews", "destroy the Great Satan", and "put every woman in a burqa"?

Just for the record, in an attempt to defy "right-wing nutjob Republican" classification - I'm pro-choice, anti-death penalty, pro-gay marriage, very much into separating church and state, trilingual, world-traveling, and I spend my summers volunteering for an international peace organization. I got a 1510 on my SATs, went to a top-notch liberal arts college, and I do not have deep conflicts over supporting the war on terror.

And I wish I could make posts like this on the weblogs of obviously intelligent people without feeling the need to make defensive statements.

Anonymous said...

And in response to Andy- I hear you on the unpatriotic thing, and I would never accuse you of hating America because you're questioning government policy. Hell, I do it all the time. I think abstinence-only education is criminally stupid and that DRM legislation is a giant crock of steaming idocy. You have the right and the duty to question your government.

However, during the election, whenever I questioned one of the Sacred Talking Points of Our Anointed Savior John F. Kerry, I ended up being called a dupe, a moron, a fool, or a bigoted reactionary tool of the Bushitler Junta. And this was from my friends!

There's a lot of divisive rhetoric out there, and it comes from both sides.

Anonymous said...

Q: "...at what point is it acceptable to step in and stop WMDs from reaching the hands of people who cannot be negotiated with..."

A: When they actually have WMDs.

Hypothetical WMDs don't count.

1031 said...

"Do you really think that the entire Bush administration is too dumb to see that?"

Um...is this a rhetorical question? How about a show of hands that yes, the Bush administration is too dumb.

::Raises hand::

Oh wait, you said "entire Bush administration." Well, while there is a slim possibility that a sane member of the Inner Circle exists, I would think that it's pretty clear by now that if you don't go along with the party line and repeat the dogma, you're marginalized and ridiculed. There are plenty of examples of this Right-wing tactic.

If Bush, Rummy, Condi, and Cheney want to bomb the hell out of Iran, they'll do it. Don't make the mistake of thinking this circus thinks logically or rationally.

Rogers said...

Yes, I occasionally read Instapundit. I don't link to him because as I've stated before, he's a dishonest intellectual gimp. He links to things without reading them, links to hate groups and then distances himself with that "indeed" bullshit, and most annoyingly shouts from the hilltops on the topic of the day but never, ever retracts when he's proven wrong. I especially love the days when something is in all the newspaper, headlines, news (even Fox), and because it make conservatives look bad, he spends the day chatting about campus life.

There's no need to make defensive statements. Nobody's going to attack you. See that's the difference -- on right-wing sites, the person is attacked. What's going to happen here, though, where we deal, even jokingly, with the real world, is that your opinions are going to be challenged with facts. Nasty, ugly facts.

You're right, The most effective way to help the pro-democracy movement in Iran is to run elections in a demcractically secure Iraq. I. COULD. NOT. AGREE. WITH. YOU. MORE. You're ABSOLUTELY right, in that a stable, well-run post-war Iraq was the KEY to the entire venture being worth it.

You must then cede, as it's your OWN POINT, that wilfully failing to plan, even IGNORING that issue, is at the least criminally stupid. And we have ample evidence, from the testimony of American generals, to that lovely story from the War College of how during the presentation of the war plan, the post-war planning was summed up by a single slide: "Not Available", that this was precisely the case.

So when you say, "Do you think the Bush administration is too dumb to see that?" I say "perhaps", not because I instinctively dislike Bush (I dislike all professional politicians), but because I have concrete example after example of the Administration doing very dumb things. Demonstrably very dumb things. I have your very own example, among others.

As for the 9/11-Iraq thing, well, I can't really beat the beautiful terseness of the above argument. WMD's is it? Is that the reason for the war you're sticking with? Because it's not the reason the Administration is sticking with. The Administration has moved on. But I actually admire that you've landed on that one and you've committed. It shows you have more integrity than the Administration.

On a side note, I believe you're making the same fundamental mistake many people do, when they say "people who can't be negotiated with." Evil does not equal stupid. You could very easily lock Saddam up and limit his influence -- he was a thug, who wanted to die in his palace in his sleep surrounded by his whores. Both Condi and Colin, before the war, stated he was no longer a threat (and don't make me link the site. Just be assured I don't make unsubtantiated claims, and don't annoy me enough to break out the link-fu) Your comment about "putting every woman in a burqua" is particularly tragic since, as anyone who reads coverage of the current situation in Iraq knows, women are now forced to wear traditional Muslim garb so to be spared the wrath of roving bands of fanatics -- a situation which did not exist pre-invasion as Iraq was the most secular of Arab nations. (So secular, in fact, Osama hated his guts. But, you know, don't let facts get in the way of a good justification...) I'm not saying things were better under Saddam. I'm just saying that we're in no way living up to the rhetoric the pro-war crowd throws around so loosely.

Where was I -- oh, yes. If people are castigating your for departing from "Our Anointed Savior" John Kerry, you're just hanging out with the wrong people. The man was a knob. I'll disagree with you on the whole "equal rhetoric" thing, and chalk it up to opinion. I'm not sure how you can say that with a straight face when one side is accusing the other of TREASON, but hey, opinions are opinions.

I think what drives progressives so insane in the current times is that these discussions tend to go as so:

Person A: "I think Bush was justified in doing X"
Person B: "Well, facts show he was not."
Person A: "I also think he was justified in doing Y --"
Person B: "Hey, what the fuck? I just showed you he was wrong. Aren't you even going to acknowledge that?"
Person A: "You're being shrill."
Person B: "Um, okay. I just don't think we can trust him to be right on Y."
Person A: "Why?"
Person B: "He was wrong an M, N, O, P, Q, T, V, kinda off on W, and way off on X."
Person A: "Do you really think he's dumb enough to make a mistake on Y?"
Person B: " ... seriously, you're just fucking with me now."
Person A: "What really fills me with confidence, is how well he handled X."
Person B: " ... okay, I'm done ..."

All this leading around to -- I'm not a liberal. I'm a pragmatist. Go back and read my essay "I Miss Republicans." What annoys me about the current administration is not that they're conservative. It's that they let ideology trump reality. I'm equally annoyed when liberals do it. So, as far as Kung Fu Monkey stands, liberal or conservative, come on in. All are welcome. The first person who throws a personal attack on these comments is banned, no matter how close a personal friend.

But have your fucking facts down, and your arguments better be based on some goddam numbers, or you WILL feel the iron grip of the Kung Fu Monkey.

Also, the bombing Iran thing was really just a way into the super-villain/apocalypse bit. Don't take us so seriously.

DJ said...

Did anyone notice that the government of China is set to by IBM's laptop division? I am sure that it will not include any Technologies they do not all ready have. I hate PC's as much as the next guy...but selling to the only other Super power left?

Anonymous said...

I think one of the problems here is the lack of nuance that this text-only format provides.

First, I'd like to respond to the person who said hypothetical WMDs don't count- if a country is being run by a person or persons who rail against Israel and the United States as the personifications of evil, wouldn't you rather prevent them from having nukes in the first place? I mean, here I thought nuclear non-proliferation was one of those things we could all agree on...

1031- if you say that they're all dumb as rocks, I take it you scoff at any suggestion of competently-run conspiracies?

Mister Monkey- I tend to suggest the Instapundit because he's not as far right as some of the blogs I sample, and is therefore a safer first suggestion. I'm not saying he's the only source, nor am I saying that his word is gospel. I read a *lot* of weblogs.

But as for your insistence on hard, ugly facts, we're all living in glass houses here. Both sides run with opinion first. Remember the 380 tons of explosives stolen in a single week story as proof of the ineptitude of our invasion force? Or the condemnations of the stinginess of our tsunami response when the government was legally forbidden from committing any more with Congress out of session? People are damned short on corrections and retractions in this country, and the tendency seems to get worse as the size of the audience grows. I would *love* to see good, factual policy debate shows and summaries on the tube, because I don't have the time to watch C-Span and do all of that research myself.

Failing to plan for the post-war reconstruction- yeah, that's a big mistake. It's the most important part of the venture, and I readily admit that I don't know enough about the state of our planning to counter your assertion of NO planning AT ALL with anything other than my natural skepticism. I find it hard to believe that they didn't have some idea- these guys are not the Underpants Gnomes, they must've had some framework sketched out.

Perhaps that's the key distinction between my viewpoint and yours- I get the sense that you're operating on the assumption that they're wearing ideological blinders and not the brightest monkeys, having won their position by devious means. Three years ago, I would have agreed with you. Nowadays... I don't know. I don't believe that they're evil or stupid, and although I certainly disagree vehemently with some agenda items of the Administration (abstinence-only = HORRID) and want very much to critically examine several others (No Child Left Behind - public education reform is badly needed, and I can see some of the goals, but I question the execution), I believe that they're honestly striving to do good.

Two quick thoughts on the planning bit- no plan of battle survives contact with the enemy, for one thing. We thought they had WMDs, we thought their infrastructure was better than it was, et cetera. It's difficult to get a picture of the inside of a totalitarian regime- nobody knows what the hell is going on inside North Korea most of the time- and so planning efforts are going to be limited by lack of information. Secondly, we won that war in record time. I mean, the Iraqi military was based on the Russian model, and Russian armchair generals were predicting a struggle that would last months. And we kicked their asses in record time. Fighting cleanly, too- I watched some invasion footage with an ex-British Special Forces man, and he was commenting on how the troops were taking care to preserve Iraqi property and prevent loss of life. (Long anecdote, but I'll tell it if you want.) So the post-war phase popped up a lot quicker than we thought it would.

I'd be interested to hear what you think of Chrenkoff's "Good News from Iraq" series.

As for the WMDs- it's easy to hide shit in the desert and very hard to find it, but even if we never find anything... Saddam wanted WMDs. Eventually, he would've gotten some relaxation on the sanctions with the bribes he was throwing to France and Russia, and with that, he would've spooled up the manufacturing again. Preventing tyrants from selling WMDs to terrorists? I'm fine with that. But to argue that the entire war was about Saddam HAVING WMDs ignores the preventative aspect of it.

To tell the truth, I'm okay with taking down murderous dictators, WMDs or no. If we could take down Kim Jong Il cleanly, I wouldn't quibble too much about the presented justification, even if it were something like saying Laura Bush looked fat at the inauguration. Kim Jong Il and his dear old daddy are responsible for the deaths of thousands of their own people. Maybe millions. We don't know, because it's such a closed society. But if I had an orbiting battle station and tons of faceless legions and a magic wand of effective reconstruction efforts- the Korean peninsula would be seeing some changes. The Chinese would be out of Tibet and a supercarrier death flotilla would be parked in the Strait of Taiwan.

Actually, if I had that much power, I'd probably just seed every totalitarian regime on the planet with self-defending wireless networks and give all of those people free access to the internet. Seed their chambers of government with webcams, broadcast everything 24/7, have feeds from all over the world available- the truth will set them free. And they could get fr33 ci@lis, too.

Wow, got way off track there. Anyhoo. Back to Iraq.

How would you propose to lock Saddam up and eliminate the corrupt structure of the Baathist party without a full-scale invasion? He controlled the military, the secret police, everything. How would you have removed him from power and helped Iraq make the transition to democracy? I mean, he *is* locked up right now. His henchmen are on the run from mobs that would love to wax them and policemen that want them to see trial. Why would a dictator, a man accountable to noone, ever bother to negotiate in good faith?

Kerry was a knob. Agreed.

Equal rhetoric- look, I don't watch the news on TV anymore. If the treason stuff is still flying around, that's stupid. Give me a phone, I'll call in and rip into them. But I think it's telling that I'm more afraid of talking to my liberal coworkers and friends about politics than I am of talking to the conservatives.

I think that a lot of conservatives feel the exact same way about their conversations with progressives. I'm not even bothering to talk about the Ohio mess with the liberal activists I know.

1: "Ohio's voting was rigged by the right. They deliberately shorted Democratic precincts of voting machines to depress turnout in an underhanded and nefarious comission of voter fraud."
2: "But the machines in Republican districts actually recorded more votes, which suggests that their machines saw more use."
1: "That's because they're hacking the voting machines and faking votes. It's all part of the big Republican conspiracy to commit voter fraud."
2: "What about the hundreds of felons voting illegaly in the Washington governor's race, which was won by less than 200 votes? Or the 1,200 votes from fake addresses in Wisconsin? Or the paid Kerry campaign workers in Illinois slashing the tires of Republican voter vans to keep them from getting to the polls? Or the pre-stocked punch-card machines found when voting opened in Philadelphia?"
1: "They had to wait in lines. In the RAIN. In OHIO. Have you ever been to Ohio? It's terrible. Those evil Republicans rigged the vote. And they checked people's IDs to make sure they were really who they said they were! It's intimidation! Look at these flyers that I found scanned on the internet."
2: "Ohio is a moot point. What about Washington? Wisconsin? Illinois? Pennsylvania?"
Me: "Hey, maybe voter fraud is a serious problem that BOTH PARTIES could actually devote attention to solving. God forbid that anyone have to admit any wrongdoing. And maybe we could finally do something about the constant redrawing and gerrymandering of congressional districts?"
1 & 2: "Shut up."

I'm sitting here in the middle, getting lumped into either group by both sides, and very tired that so many people who care so much can't be bothered to cooperate on issues that affect them both. It's sad.

Next time, I'll bring some numbers. And the link-fu. Are there any statisticians reading the comments to evaluate the numbers?

Sorry for the extremely long and incoherent rambling.

Rogers said...

>>First, I'd like to respond to the person who said hypothetical WMDs don't count- if a country is being run by a person or persons who rail against Israel and the United States as the personifications of evil, wouldn't you rather prevent them from having nukes in the first place? I mean, here I thought nuclear non-proliferation was one of those things we could all agree on...<< First off, we invade every country that rails against Israel, we'll be very busy indeed. Even ISRAEL doesn't invade every country that rails against Israel. Separate rhetoric from capability.

On the list of people who rail against Israel, I can pick out quite a few the US buddies up with, as a matter of fact.

Yes, we wish to keep them from getting nukes. But that line of reasoning always implies the ONLY way of keeping Saddam (and hey, I though this was the war on terror, a transnational threat, but, whatever) was the war. We kept him locked down for TEN YEARS. We had inspectors in place (who turned, out, and this is always conveniently forgotten, to be right). The big problem with the war, for very many sober, non-peace-nicky people was:

1.) A bunch of people are trying to kill us.
2.) They are still out there.
3.) hey, let's go after someone else. Someone who can project zero military power, is an avowed FOE of the guys who tried to kill us (viewing Arabs as some monolithic block is naive), and no real chance of being a meaningful threat. And spend all the money we could have used on Homeland Security, which is how the bad guys got us in the first place.

Just because you're dealing with a nail, doesn't mean you use a sledgehammer. There are pliers, other hammers, saws, etc. Oh, and also, lock in. You can't say "We went to Iraq to get the WMD's" and then say "No WMD's, well we went to prevent them from getting them." without ever admitting a.) you were wrong and b.) this is different -- which nobody in Washington has done.

>>1031- if you say that they're all dumb as rocks, I take it you scoff at any suggestion of competently-run conspiracies?<< I actually agree with you here. They're not dumb. They can be tunnel-visioned. And naive ("we will be greeted as liberators"). That brings about dumb actions.

>Mister Monkey- I tend to suggest the Instapundit because he's not as far right as some of the blogs I sample, and is therefore a safer first suggestion. I'm not saying he's the only source, nor am I saying that his word is gospel. I read a *lot* of weblogs. I prefer Intel Dump. Something about a guy who was actually in the Army and still has legal training that gives him an edge over the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. There's also Dan Drezner, Tacitus(douple plus good) and Command Post. Sorry for the snappish response. It wasn't directed at you -- I just find Instapundit personally vile.

>But as for your insistence on hard, ugly facts, we're all living in glass houses here. Both sides run with opinion first. Remember the 380 tons of explosives stolen in a single week story as proof of the ineptitude of our invasion force?The invasion force was never called inept. The PLANNING was called inept. Confusing the troops with the people who run the war helps make criticism of the suits easier to equate with criticism of the troops, which aids in the whole "criticism is treason" meme. That bit of sleight of hand really is smooth, and one of the reasons I'd never call this Administration dumb.

Huh, wait, why did you cite that story? Even Fox confirms it. Was there a later retraction? I actually agree that story was blown a little out of proportion. But comparing that to "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud" is a little unequal.

>Or the condemnations of the stinginess of our tsunami response when the government was legally forbidden from committing any more with Congress out of session?< The condemnation on stinginess that was taken out of context? See, link-fu. I. Do. Not. Make. Shit. Up. But whatever your source is, does.

And I'd say the "Congress out of session" is legal weaseling of a very high order. We started at 15, went to 35 and then the 350. It didn't matter when you actually can write the check, it's not like that's ever stopped any Administration, liberal or conservative, from pledging numbers either for aid or specific budgetary items, before the fact.

If that Congressional bullshit was true, why were we even able to offer the first $15 million so fast? What, we had $15 million lying around loose that we didn't need to run by anybody so we could offer that immediately, but more than that, we needed to check with Congress? Please. That logic falls apart on first glance.

>People are damned short on corrections ... I would *love* to see good, factual policy debate shows and summaries on the tube, because I don't have the time to watch C-Span and do all of that research myself.< You won't see it in this country any time soon, sadly.

>Failing to plan for the post-war reconstruction- yeah, that's a big mistake. It's the most important part of the venture, and I readily admit that I don't know enough about the state of our planning to counter your assertion of NO planning AT ALL with anything other than my natural skepticism. I find it hard to believe that they didn't have some idea- these guys are not the Underpants Gnomes, they must've had some framework sketched out. <

You know, I get this all the time. It's one of those things that sounds so insane, its unbelievable. But that's not my opinion, that's THE ARMY'S OPINION. The Army's OFFICIAL OPINION:

"-- The U.S. military invaded Iraq without a formal plan for occupying and stabilizing the country and this high-level failure continues to undercut what has been a "mediocre" Army effort there, an Army historian and strategist has concluded.

"There was no Phase IV plan" for occupying Iraq after the combat phase, writes Maj. Isaiah Wilson III, who served as an official historian of the campaign and later as a war planner in Iraq. --"
I'll spare you the other links. Ah, what the hell, here's the slide story, because it's just so perfect.

Now do you understand why some of us bang our heads against the wall? You readily admit "If they did that, that would be insane." We can PROVE they did that, and still nobody seems to care. It just doesn't seem to stick to the brain.

>Perhaps that's the key distinction between my viewpoint and yours- I get the sense that you're operating on the assumption -- I assume nothing. No. Thing. I use this brain thing I was born with.

> -- that they're wearing ideological blinders and not the brightest monkeys, having won their position by devious means. Three years ago, ... I believe that they're honestly striving to do good.< I think they're operating under ideological blinders because they have made concrete mistakes based on ideologially driven decisions. No other reason. And I'm pleased that they mean well (if they do, and I'll even spot you that). Road to hell, and all.

That's a major flaw in American political critical thinking, in my opinion. People conflate intent with actions. They are not the same, and you should only be judged on actions. There's too much money, and too many lives, at stake to spot the leaders of the free world a "gimme" because they mean well.

>Two quick thoughts on the planning bit- no plan of battle survives contact with the enemy, for one thing.< And "Hope is not a plan." I'll trade your Napoleon for my Liddell-Hart. If you haven't read his book Strategy, well then, you're missing a damn spiffy book indeed.

Also, as pointed out, it wasn't like their battle plan fell apart. They. Had. No. Plan.

>We thought they had WMDs,< And we would've known better if we let the inspectors keep working. And don't go with the "The inspectors were kicked out" line, we both know, despite the President's repeating of it, that it wasn't true. They were forced out in 1998, but in 2003 left on advisement of the beginning of US hostilities.

>we thought their infrastructure was better than it was, et cetera. It's difficult to get a picture of the inside of a totalitarian regime- nobody knows what the hell is going on inside North Korea most of the time- and so planning efforts are going to be limited by lack of information.< To which I say, "Oh, I'm sorry, Rummy, is running a war HARD? Poor bbabbbby." The war was, again, FOUGHT ON OUR TIMETABLE. This wasn't Pearl Harbor getting bombed, and boom we're in the thick of it. If you don't have the right info to get the job done, get it. Not to mention -- is anyone seriously suggesting, that with all our tech, humint, satellites, basically at-will flyovers we had over Iraq, that we had worse intel on Iraq than we had on Normandy? And they managed to somehow pull that off without all this bitching. It's called "fog of war" for a reason.

There were multiple papers, studies, blah blah blah on postwar conditions and peacekeeping parameters. I really don't understand this tendency to say that we need to understand how hard the job was. It's the US FRIKKIN ARMY, the number one death-dealing ass-kicking force on the planet, at the behest the richest, allegedly smartest government in history. They should have some chops.

> Secondly, we won that war in record time ... Fighting cleanly, too- I watched some invasion footage with an ex-British Special Forces man, and he was commenting on how the troops were taking care to preserve Iraqi property and prevent loss of life... So the post-war phase popped up a lot quicker than we thought it would.< I never doubted that Allied troops would be as scrupulously humane as possible. (although you do know innocent people died, right? I mean, not to be a dick, but you have processed a couple thousand innocent dead Iraquis, regardless of whether they showed up on screen ...)

But please, if I hear that "the war went TOO well, and that's why we weren't prepared" excuse one more time ... would you accept that on a frikkin HOME REPAIR JOB? This logic hole is based on the idea that although the DoD had run a bunch of worst-case scenarios, (which is again not extra credit. It's their FRIKKIN' JOB) they never, ever, ever ran a best case scenario. And it's hard to imagine people who were telling us that we'd be welcomed with rose petals never, ever ran a best case scenario.

I hate to point this out, you now find yourself arguing both sides of the question here. On one hand, you're saying you can't believe they'd be stupid enough to go to war without a postwar plan. On the other, you're saying the war was over so quick, they didn't have enough time to fully form their postwar plan.

>I'd be interested to hear what you think of Chrenkoff's "Good News from Iraq" series.< I think it's lovely. But I also think that his good news and the bad news are not mutually exclusive. Another fallacy. Things in a postwar country are never EITHER "good" or "bad." Pointing to good achievement don't excuse bad occurences.

Interesting how "but they mean good" and "but we're doing good things" both seem to pop up in this discussion. We may have found a theme in American political thought. This need for something or someone to be either "good" or "bad", wholly, is not the grown-up pragmatism we practice here at Kung Fu Monkey. Bad men occasionally do good things when it suits them. Good men occasionally make bad choices. Criticizing actions is not necessarily criticizing the character of the actor.

I will cede to you, neither liberals nor conservatives in America seem to want to abandon this simplicity. However, why should they? -- as we've seen, even a very smart person like you will gravitate towards it. It's human nature. Which is why God gave us brains -- to move past our base nature, into reason.

>As for the WMDs- it's easy to hide shit in the desert and very hard to find it, but even if we never find anything...< Okay. Seriously. Give that shit up. David Kay made it official. I'm not going to let you off the hook with that.

>Saddam wanted WMDs. Eventually, he would've gotten some relaxation on the sanctions with the bribes he was throwing to France and Russia, and with that, he would've spooled up the manufacturing again. Preventing tyrants from selling WMDs to terrorists? I'm fine with that. But to argue that the entire war was about Saddam HAVING WMDs ignores the preventative aspect of it.< If, if , if if, if "if's" were horses, beggars would ride. Fine, I'll go with you. If the point here is preventing terrorists from getting nukes (we may be on our third justification for the war), if that's REALLY the goal, then we could have spent a little less money on Saddam, who was LOW on the threat matrix, and spent more on the Russian loose nukes problem. See, again, some of us who thought the war was a bad idea aren't pro-dictator, we're PRO-REALITY. A guy who might, maybe some day get some nukes and then, maybe some day sell them to terrorists (who can get them easier from other places), is lower on the immediate threat problem than the loose nukes and actual terrorist guys who struck on 9/11. He just is.

Again, that's one of my problems. The President and his Administration said again and again, "My fellow Americans, THIS FUCKER IS DANGEROUS. HE WILL HAVE NUKES ANY DAY NOW!"

Do you think the support for the war would've been as high if they came out and said "My fellow Americans, THIS FUCKER JUST MIGHT, SOMEDAY, BE DANGEROUS! HE MAY, AFTER A CONVOLUTED CHAIN OF EVENTS, HAVE NUKES!"

I readily agree, for some people (probably yourself) that preventative tone may have been enough. I actually would've considered it quite honestly if it were phrased like that. But it's NOT how the war was presented. And we seem to have to keep pretending that's okay because the bad man is gone. I'm not ignoring the preventative aspects of it. I just disagree with whether the preventative benefit was worth the cost in men, materials, money, and international strategic positioning.

>To tell the truth, I'm okay with taking down murderous dictators, WMDs or no. If we could take down Kim Jong Il cleanly ...< You and me both. But we can't. And note what you just did -- you made a threat ratio calculation. Benefit of removing Kim vs. cost to America, and you found it wanting -- so wanting you postulated an imaginary solve. Some of us made the same threat ratio calculation for Iraq. And found it wanting.

>How would you propose to lock Saddam up and eliminate the corrupt structure of the Baathist party without a full-scale invasion?<

Fourth reason for the war, kinda. But that's just me being snarky.

Again, that's assuming he was the immediate problem that needed dealing with, and not only that, dealing with in a way that CRIPPLED THIS NATION'S ABILITY TO PROJECT FORCE. The question is not "Was Saddam a threat?" The question really is "Was Saddam a big enough threat to lose everything, EVERYTHING, we've lost during the war?" For me, that threat ratio wasn't high enough. And still isn't.

>Why would a dictator, a man accountable to noone, ever bother to negotiate in good faith?< One word: Khaddaffi. The government says we can trust HIM, but we couldn't have trusted Saddam? Please.

Evil does not equal crazy. Assuming because someone is evil and a dictator that they can't make decisions based on self-preservation is, again, and I hate to keep coming back here, naive.

>Kerry was a knob. Agreed.< Seriously. God, what were they thinking?

>Equal rhetoric- look, I don't watch the news on TV anymore. If the treason stuff is still flying around, that's stupid. Give me a phone, I'll call in and rip into them. But I think it's telling that I'm more afraid of talking to my liberal coworkers and friends about politics than I am of talking to the conservatives.< That's because liberals have gone insane. They lost, and they keep losing, and the other side seems to be winning not by outreasoning them, but by treating facts as inconvenient things that, like Snuffleupagus, can only be seen by liberals. This will drive you insane. As we saw from the Sesame Street episode where Big Bird went on his killing spree.

>I think that a lot of conservatives feel the exact same way about their conversations with progressives. I'm not even bothering to talk about the Ohio mess with the liberal activists I know... I'm sitting here in the middle, getting lumped into either group by both sides, and very tired that so many people who care so much can't be bothered to cooperate on issues that affect them both. It's sad.< You know who that serves? Politicians, and politicians alone. The Atlantic Monthly has a nice piece on the culture wars, and they discuss how many researchers have discovered that, at heart, most Americans aren't that divided on the issues. But running a campaign on policy wonkiness is boring. Casting a villain is the way to easy electoral victory, because it incites PASSION.

I have passion on many policies. But,I think, we need our will to be like a sword -- passion is the steel, but reason is the edge.

>Next time, I'll bring some numbers. And the link-fu. Are there any statisticians reading the comments to evaluate the numbers?< I think we can hack along by ourselves. Facts are not, as Reagan said "slippery things." I don't think you have to bring along that much. As far as I can tell, the only thing we disagree on is the Iraq War, and that all boils down to the threat ratio calculation. I think I have a few more terms in my calculation than you do, but again, that's an opinion. All I can do is make my arguments, show the facts, and see if you change your calculation when you factor them in.

To quote Keynes: "When the facts change, sir, I change my mind. What do you do?"

Anonymous said...

1.) A bunch of people are trying to kill us.
2.) They are still out there.
Ah, but those people who were trying to kill us are now trying very hard to kill the elections in Iraq, because they know that's the most imminent threat to their cause. And while they burn up trainees fighting our army, they're not sending them over here to stage their next strike. I wish I could remember where, but I read an article basically comparing Iraq to a meat grinder for terrorists- they go in and get mashed up by our exceedinly well-trained professional soldiers at a ruinous casualty rate. With their assets frozen and the pressure on any regime that shelters terror, these organizations are on the run. They can't train as effectively as they could when they had Camp Taliban, they have to hide all the time, and their finances are in a shambles. Not to mention that their rhetoric of the lazy West never coming after them is somewhat ridiculous now.

And spending more money on Homeland Security is a wash- we can't fight a defensive war on terror effectively and retain the freedoms we enjoy. Do you want public trashcans removed from our city streets, like in London? Rather than spend ten tax dollars trying to secure one of the largest countries in the world from a small group of guys (and likely doing a poor job of it), I'd rather spend five on better spies and human intelligence and five on a highly trained bunch of troops to hunt that small group of guys. I thought one of Bush's deadliest points in the second debate was right after Kerry rattled off his plan to protect every bridge, chemical plant, refinery, and water system in America.

"Let's not get into how my opponent plans to pay for all that."

And although I cannot state this with certainty, as I do not have the texts on hand, I believe the goal of preventing WMDs from reaching terrorists was explicitly stated before the invasion. (I would use link-fu here, but I am rushing to finish this post before dinner.) If you can prove it was not, I'll cede the point that their reason for going in did not exist- that they were wrong about the WMDs. However, I think taking out Saddam was a good thing to do.

As for the 380 tons of HE- moving 380 tons in a week would require a fairly massive logistical convoy. You couldn't do it with lightning pickup truck raids, you'd need semis, and there was an ABC story about the discovery of the site as a potential WMD location. I just googled the cargo capacity of US tractor-trailer trucks- about 10 tons. That's 38 truckloads, and you'd have to factor in loading and unloading time as well... and that's if people are sneaking full-size truck fleets under the nose of our armed forces. Given that they probably didn't have a truck fleet like that, I googled the cargo capacity of a Ford F250. Pickups are less obvious. Unfortunately, the Ford F250, which is a good-sized truck, only carries about a half-ton at a time. 760 truckloads? That was two minutes of googling.

When you pile on the fact that the US has been campaigning to get ElBaradei removed from his position because he just doesn't like us damned Yankees... well, suspicion mounts, ya know?

As for the stinginess of the US- that is what I got from my liberal friends before I saw the weblogs going on about it. My coworkers were shaking their heads about it at lunch. Your link-fu is strong, but the meme got perpetuated by the liberals I know, not by UN-hating neocons.

The initial fifteen million was indeed lying around- that's the discretionary funding allotted for disaster relief. All of our embassies have a certain amount of funding for emergencies. That got spent right away. Then they drained the reserves allotted. And then the pledge came as the scale of the disaster became apparent. So yes, the money was lying around.

Conflating intent with actions - so the leaders of the world are not allowed to make mistakes? That's pretty harsh. I'm a schoolteacher, and I give partial credit for trying.

Side question- if the Army has no occupation plan, was there any plan on the civilian side of things? Did the Bush adminstration have some sort of framework sketched out? I mean, the Army is a war-fighting machine, I can understand the focus on the war part. If there was no plan on either side of the divide, that's truly frightening.

As for the knowledge of their infrastructure- we had the military info we needed. We knew where their troops were and how they were deployed. But spy satellites can't tell you what the inside of the power station looks like or if that water purification plant actually works, and putting spies into a totalitarian regime on short notice is a really good way to lose a lot of spies. We had the military intelligence to fight the war- that's not what I was questioning.

As for the US Army being the baddest motherfucker on the planet, yes. This is true. When it comes to straight-up warfare, we can take anybody. Lightning war. Own the night. Shock and awe. Thunderous ass-whuppings distributed around the globe. That said, it's a war-fighting machine, not a country-building one.

(Incidentally, check out some of the stories at ARMOR GEDDON - it's by a tanker, and some of his tanks in combat stories might give you an idea or two for the giant space robot battles.)

Yes, I know that innocent people died. A-doiii.

And as for the best case scenario- speaking as someone who has to organize a lesson plan every day and then execute it, sometimes the best case scenario you envision isn't "best" enough. Generally, I overplan, and class is an exercise in maintaining attention while working through a point in detail. Sometimes, things are just much easier than expected.

You have a point there on the both sides thing. Perhaps there was a rough plan that had to be abandoned when they found out how fucked-up things were. May I point out the not insignificant question of how one prepares to build a democratic nation in a place that's never known it when nobody's really done it before?

As for the good-bad thing: I am not a Manichean dualist. There are plenty of shades of gray out there, and I recognize them. If you prefer, you could call it "positive" news from Iraq, as contrasted to the "negative" news we normally get.

Criticizing actions is not necessarily criticizing the character of the actor.Given the amount of vitriol vented at the evil Bushitler regime or at the namby-pamby idjit liberal hippies... I think people have forgotten this.

Okay. Seriously. Give that shit up. David Kay made it official. I'm not going to let you off the hook with that. You forget that I don't really give a shit about the WMDs. I'm not arguing that they're the One True Reason for the War. I'm postulating that maybe, just maybe, you could hide a bunch of metal containers that don't need food or water in a hole somewhere and not tell anybody where you put them. Here, I just hid a cargo container with some mustard gas tanks in it somewhere in the state of Massachusetts. Go find it!

Furthermore, I believe the concern with Saddam was not nukes, but rather biological and chemical weapons. Nukes are easier to track and a lot harder to hide.

The preventative benefit isn't just with the Iraqis- there's also the fact that Syria, Libya, and Iran are now thinking "shit, we better listen when they rattle that saber" instead of "ha, look at Saddam defy the westerners!"

I believe that you and I disagree on the costs and benefits of the war, and that in part is influenced by who we're reading to get our news.

Again, that's assuming he was the immediate problem that needed dealing with, and not only that, dealing with in a way that CRIPPLED THIS NATION'S ABILITY TO PROJECT FORCE.
You know, if I were a card-carrying Republican, I'd shoot right back with "Clinton crippled our ability to project force with his defense cuts." But I'm not, and the defense cuts made sense in a pre-9/11 world. And I like Bill.

The government says we can trust HIM, but we couldn't have trusted Saddam? Please.Realpolitik. Like you said, we can't project force- why not play nice until we regain the capability? And if he really did give up the nuke program, wouldn't that be a nice side benefit of the Iraq invasion? I never said Saddam was crazy. He was quite good at self-preservation, and he was working very diligently to preserve his regime by underhanded means. For him, self-preservation included looking cool in front of the neighbors by defying the US.

Seriously. God, what were they thinking?Fuck if I know. I have friends who still think Dean was the better choice. Reality disconnect, anyone?

As for conservatives treating facts like Snuffelupagus, I think the extreme liberals do the exact same thing, and then both sides use the extremists to paint the rest of the parties they belong to with the same broad brush.

Side note- sometimes, the reporting on campaign issues is criminally negligent. The whole prescription drugs from Canada thing pissed me off to no end- it's a paper tiger that any economist could debunk.

Passion is a good thing to have in beliefs- sadly, people tend to forget that it clouds reason.

Anyhoo, I enjoy actual discussion. It's nice to see that it can still happen. Again, sorry for the extensive rambling.

Rogers said...

Sadly, I can't really continue in this depth -- I do have work to get to, and on a rather tight deadline. but you raise some interesting points.

.Ah, but those people who were trying to kill us are now trying very hard to kill the elections in Iraq, because they know that's the most imminent threat to their cause. And while they burn up trainees fighting our army, they're not sending them over here to stage their next strike. I wish I could remember where, but I read an article basically comparing Iraq to a meat grinder for terrorists... Oh no, no. Not the flypaper argument for the war. (which, as we count, is now the 5th justification for the war.) I remember when that was briefly popular. Even the Administration, even Andrew Sullivan of all people has given this up.

With their assets frozen and the pressure on any regime that shelters terror, these organizations are on the run. They can't train as effectively as they could when they had Camp Taliban, they have to hide all the time, and their finances are in a shambles. Not to mention that their rhetoric of the lazy West never coming after them is somewhat ridiculous now.[begin dry chuckle] Yes, the pressure we're exerting on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is unspeakable. [end dry chuckle] Again, I appreciate that's what your news sources may be telling you. But that, sadly, is not what the facts are.

If these two points were correct, we would a.) be fighting a whole whackload of trans-national terrorists in Iraq, because, after all, terrorism is a transnational threat, and b.) There would be appreciably less terrorists because of the meat grinder and our "pressure."

The numbers show that "terrorists" -- and there's a reason I put that number in quotes, and it's not snark - neither make up a serious percentage of the forces fighting in Iraq, nor have their numbers dropped worldwide.

Well, even the Administration estimates foreign fighter numbers at 1,000 to 3,000. International Institute for Strategic Studies (and most others) puts it at 1,000. Split the difference at 1,500?

Now, even if I spot you all those fighters are potential terrorists -- which is, of course, insane, because many of them have neither the organization nor resources to mount anything resembling a terrorist attack on US soil, but as I said, I'll SPOT you that -- the current estimates on the Iraqui insurgency vary from 10,000 hard core with an additional 20,000 sympathizers (Administation estimate October 2004) to the more recent January 2005 estimate by Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwan (our ally) that puts it at 40,000 hard core fighters.

So, even SPOTTING you the idea that every foreign fighter in Iraq is a potential terrorist, they make up between %2.5 - %10 (which is way, WAY top end) of the forces we're fighting. Guesstimate it out to %7 of who we're fighting in Iraq are maybe, MAYBE, terrorists we distracted from other assignments. Hmmm. Efficient!

Well, one could argue, burning billions of dollars and thousands of American casualties -- and unlike most people, I count the wounded soldiers too -- to get that pesky %7 is worth it, if it is crippling international terrorism, and draining it of manpower!

Err, no.

Let's not take the Army War College at its word when it says the Iraq war "diverted attention and resources away from the security of the American homeland against further assault by an undeterrable al Qaeda." I mean, they're just the Army War College. What do they know? Let us ignore the State Department's own stats, showing wordwide terrorism on the rise.

Let's crunch some numbers ourselves.

There are plenty of sources, but the pithiest is again, the International Institute of Strategic Studies (a quick zip through the latest CIA numbers backs this up) "Though the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan destroyed Al Qaeda networks there, the terrorist syndicate remains active in Asia, extending operations from North Caucasia to Central, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Al Qaeda associates are thought to be located in more than 60 countries ... estimates that terrorists, scattered around the world, number around 18,000."

Wow. Sure glad we're tying up those seventeen hundred Lebanese and Syrian dudes. If that's a "meat grinder", I want a slightly finer blade for my $270 billion bucks.

And spending more money on Homeland Security is a wash- we can't fight a defensive war on terror effectively and retain the freedoms we enjoy ... Rather than spend ten tax dollars trying to secure one of the largest countries in the world from a small group of guys (and likely doing a poor job of it), I'd rather spend five on better spies and human intelligence and five on a highly trained bunch of troops to hunt that small group of guys.

We can't make the murder rate zero, so we should stop bothering to pay to fight crime, right? Seriously, this is way, way beneath you. It's not like Homeland Security is maxed out, and the only way to increase it is by electronically ass-bugging civilians. The ports are unsecured, most baggage is improperly scanned, and you yourself link to problems in the Immigration Department (yes, I figured out who you were. Nice blog, by the way ...) Why did you link to it if it's not a problem you thought should be addressed? Oh, and I, too would rather spend five bucks on deadly terrorist hunters. S why are we spending twenty on missile defense and the Iraq War?

Oh, and sure, I don't think having to remove our garbage bins is a big deal. I keep getting told there's a war on. I don't mind making garbage-bin-convenience sacrifices. Especially as we're not being asked to sacrifice anything, while our troops risk everything.I thought one of Bush's deadliest points in the second debate was right after Kerry rattled
off his plan to protect every bridge, chemical plant, refinery, and water system in America.

"Let's not get into how my opponent plans to pay for all that."
By rolling back the tax cuts for people making over 200 hundred thousand dollars a year, but keeping the middle class tax cuts. Or even cutting back missile defense a smidge. What the President conveniently neglected to mention was that, comparatively, we're talking small numbers. The Coast Guard says ports can be secured for $7.5 billion over ten years. To quote Stephen Flynn, a member of the Council for Foreign Relations and former Coast Guard Commander: "For the cost of two F-22 fighter jets and three days of combat in Iraq…the nation's ports could be secured against terror."

Seriously now. I like you, but don't chase this one. You may be the only person alive who asserts Homeland Security shouldn't be bothered with. Start here and you'll quickly change your mind. (I hope.)

And although I cannot state this with certainty, as I do not have the texts on hand, I believe the goal of preventing WMDs from reaching terrorists was explicitly stated before the invasion. (I would use link-fu here, but I am rushing to finish this post before dinner.) If you can prove it was not, I'll cede the point that their reason for going in did not exist- that they were wrong about the WMDs. However, I think taking out Saddam was a good thing to do.Oh, I'm sure it was ONE of the reasons. One of the twenty-three reasons.

But you're doing the exact thing we said was the problem here. You make an assertion. I throw out numbers, and you answer with "I think taking out Saddam was a good thing." You left out the word "still" That 's what you use in an excuse. Sure it was. But. Was. It. Worth. The. Cost? If you continue to see Saddam as a threat worth $300 billion, gutting our forces, pissing off the rest of the world, distracting us -- according to the the Army War college -- from al Qaeda, 1500 lives and thousands of Americans wounded never mind ten thousand dead Iraqis, okay. I just have no idea how your math adds up.

As for the 380 tons of HE ...Pickups are less obvious. Unfortunately, the Ford F250, which is a good-sized truck, only carries about a half-ton at a time. 760 truckloads? That was two minutes of googling.Wow, a bunch of big assumptions there, but okay. I'll spot you that maybe the 380 tons of explosives didn't disappear. How the HELL does that somehow excuse or distract from the massive, massive mistakes the Administration made, which we've shown using your own parameters for failure? Kind of a cheap little rhetorical trick. "This one news item may be wrong! Therefore, all negative news is suspect!"

As for the stinginess of the US- that is what I got from my liberal friends before I saw the weblogs going on about it. My coworkers were shaking their heads about it at lunch. Your link-fu is strong, but the meme got perpetuated by the liberals I know, not by UN-hating neocons.

Mmm, they probably heard about it the first time the way most people did -- by the news covering Colin Powell's misquoting. But tell you what, now that there's no excuse for still thinking it's true ... you show me how many conservative blogs have retracted the story, or go look at how many STILL USE IT.

The initial fifteen million was indeed lying around- that's the discretionary funding allotted for disaster relief. All of our embassies have a certain amount of funding for emergencies. That got spent right away. Then they drained the reserves allotted. And then the pledge came as the scale of the disaster became apparent. So yes, the money was lying around.The text of the announcement wasn't phrased as a stopgap -- it was phrased as a total. But, seeing as you've done some link-fu, I cede to your crouching tiger.

Conflating intent with actions - so the leaders of the world are not allowed to make mistakes? That's pretty harsh.

Mistakes, yes. Be negligent, no. How many times do I have to show you they had no plan before you finslly admit, yes, they really, really were negligent? How many troops have to die because of poorly armored vehicles before you finally stop giving them the benefit of the doubt?

I'm a schoolteacher, and I give partial credit for trying.That's nice. No partial credit in the real world. People die. Sorry.

Side question- if the Army has no occupation plan, was there any plan on the civilian side of things? Did the Bush adminstration have some sort of framework sketched out? I mean, the Army is a war-fighting machine, I can understand the focus on the war part. If there was no plan on either side of the divide, that's truly frightening.Wolfowitz, Feith, etc ... DoD coordinates both. Sorry, no outsies there.

As for the knowledge of their infrastructure- we had the military info we needed. We knew where their troops were and how they were deployed. But spy satellites can't tell you what the inside of the power station looks like or if that water purification plant actually works, and putting spies into a totalitarian regime on short notice is a really good way to lose a lot of spies. We had the military intelligence to fight the war- that's not what I was questioning.No, but power output tells you what condition the infrastructure is in. Foreign journalists ... listen, this one's futile. Iraq, contrary to what you seem to believe was a totalitarian but not a closed society, unlike North Korea. If we had no idea what the infrastructure was, then people like Paul Wolfowitz shouldn't have been going around, guaranteeing everyone that we'd have the oil up and running again in no time.

As for the US Army being the baddest motherfucker on the planet, yes. This is true. When it comes to straight-up warfare, we can take anybody. Lightning war. Own the night. Shock and awe. Thunderous ass-whuppings distributed around the globe. That said, it's a war-fighting machine, not a country-building one.Which, I'm merely suggesting, somebody may have wanted to check into before the war.

(Incidentally, check out some of the stories at ARMOR GEDDON - it's by a tanker, and some of his tanks in combat stories might give you an idea or two for the giant space robot battles.)Jesus, it's a good site, eh? I'm going to slap it up on the main page.

Yes, I know that innocent people died. A-doiii.Sorry, me being snarky. I just hate this clean-war bullshit.

And as for the best case scenario- speaking as someone who has to organize a lesson plan every day and then execute it, sometimes the best case scenario you envision isn't "best" enough. Generally, I overplan, and class is an exercise in maintaining attention while working through a point in detail. Sometimes, things are just much easier than expected.Okay, not to trivialize your job, but you are one person, figuring out a lesson plan for some kids. These were the most highly trained, best-informed bastards on the planet swinging billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of American lives into harm's way.

Again, with the "well, it can be tricky" stuff. God you're forgiving of people who should know better ... usually such a virtue, but here ... Okay. Let's use something I like to call the "your kid" test. I assume you have kids. Fine. You love them more than life itself, right? Okay, say, God forbid, one gets a brain tumor. Picture it. Really live in this for a second. I know, I know, horrible. And he goes in for surgery.

And he dies on the table.

Sweet Jesus, this is horrible. You go to the surgeon and ask what happened. And he shrugs, and says "It just went TOO well, you know? We didn't anticipate it going so well."

You'd murder the fucker where he stood.

It's not good enough for your kid, then it's not good enough for 1500 other kids. Period.

You have a point there on the both sides thing. Perhaps there was a rough plan that had to be abandoned when they found out how fucked-up things were. May I point out the not insignificant question of how one prepares to build a democratic nation in a place that's never known it when nobody's really done it before?Again, answering that question is somebody else's job. A job they claimed they had beat before the war. A job they fucked up. Remember, there were no speeches before the war like: "We're going to go in there, and Jesus, we've never done this before, and it's going to be goddam gruelling and take a couple years." No.

And you're kind of blowing off a couple things: first, there are democratic nations in that area (and read a little pre-Saddam Iraq history); historically, ALL democracies at some point come from an area where they didn't exist before; and most damning -- isn't that what we claimed we did with Afghanistan?

As for the good-bad thing: I am not a Manichean dualist. There are plenty of shades of gray out there, and I recognize them. If you prefer, you could call it "positive" news from Iraq, as contrasted to the "negative" news we normally get.Sure. Spiffy. We still shouldn't pretend that opening a few schools cancels out six hours of electricity nationwide, widespread rape, kidnapping, and insurgency. They both exist.

Criticizing actions is not necessarily criticizing the character of the actor.Given the amount of vitriol vented at the evil Bushitler regime or at the namby-pamby idjit liberal hippies... I think people have forgotten this.Yes, well, spend a few years being equated with treason by best-selling authors. It makes you testy.

You forget that I don't really give a shit about the WMDs. I'm not arguing that they're the One True Reason for the War. I'm postulating that maybe, just maybe, you could hide a bunch of metal containers that don't need food or water in a hole somewhere and not tell anybody where you put them. Here, I just hid a cargo container with some mustard gas tanks in it somewhere in the state of Massachusetts. Go find it!You were the one who brought up the "if we don't find them." And again -- stockpiles. Tons. If there a chance, even a CHANCE we'd find anything, do you think they'd stop looking? As a matter of fact, they'd be negligent if they stopped looking.

"Postulating". Maybe. Sure, anything's possible. Figuring out what's probable, that's what threat calculation is all about. But, again, I merely suggest that if the government's officiallly given up the ghost, you may want to take it out of your rhetorical quiver.

Furthermore, I believe the concern with Saddam was not nukes, but rather biological and chemical weapons. Nukes are easier to track and a lot harder to hide.Tomato. Tom-ah-to. Still waiting for a single trace of any of it -- and if you pull that "it was smuggled to Syria" shit, we're not friends anymore.

The preventative benefit isn't just with the Iraqis- there's also the fact that Syria, Libya, and Iran are now thinking "shit, we better listen when they rattle that saber" instead of "ha, look at Saddam defy the westerners!"A slightly more effective threat if we hadn't, again, crippled our ability to project force. Whoops.

I believe that you and I disagree on the costs and benefits of the war, and that in part is influenced by who we're reading to get our news.I get my facts -- not news, facts, numbers -- from Centcom, the State Department, the Army War College, international strategic study groups, and the Administration's own press releases. I haven't trusted a news network in five years.

If your sources are better, God bless.

"...that CRIPPLED THIS NATION'S ABILITY TO PROJECT FORCE."
You know, if I were a card-carrying Republican, I'd shoot right back with "Clinton crippled our ability to project force with his defense cuts." But I'm not, and the defense cuts made sense in a pre-9/11 world. And I like Bill.
Yeah, Bill really hollowed out the Armed Forces, huh? Look how badly they did in the invasion. :P

And no, there was no great re-arming by Bush during 2000-2003. As a matter of fact, he's still cutting the budget.9/11 was the end-all be-all, changed the world, eh? No. The world was already a violent, shitty place. We just woke up from our little dream of security. Our perception changed.

re: Khadaffi: Realpolitik. Like you said, we can't project force- why not play nice until we regain the capability? And if he really did give up the nuke program, wouldn't that be a nice side benefit of the Iraq invasion? I never said Saddam was crazy. He was quite good at self-preservation, and he was working very diligently to preserve his regime by underhanded means. For him, self-preservation included looking cool in front of the neighbors by defying the US.Wow, way to turn a negative into a positive. I'm truly impressed. And Saddam was loathed by other Arab nations. Loathed.

re Kerry: Seriously. God, what were they thinking?Fuck if I know. I have friends who still think Dean was the better choice. Reality disconnect, anyone?Now, I feel bad for being so harsh earlier. The man served his country honorably both in war and peace, pretty much single-handedly broke the back of the terrorist bank BCCI in the 80's, worked bipartisanly with john McCain ... he is five times the man I'll ever be. He was just a knob of a campaigner. Seriously, in a party with a reputation for snobby big-city intellectuals, they run the snobbiest big-city intellectual in the bunch? Feh.

I actually would've liked to see Dean run. Anti-gun control, balanced budget fanatic, hard-campaigner and very clean, clear speaker. At least it woud've been a real choice.

As for conservatives treating facts like Snuffelupagus, I think the extreme liberals do the exact same thing, and then both sides use the extremists to paint the rest of the parties they belong to with the same broad brush.Good point. It's just that the conservatives are in charge now, and the tiny group of Texans who have hijacked the party are particularly grievous in this regard. So it tends to be higher profile. You can be damn sure Lugar and McCain wouldn't be pulling this shit.

Side note- sometimes, the reporting on campaign issues is criminally negligent. The whole prescription drugs from Canada thing pissed me off to no end- it's a paper tiger that any economist could debunk.Again, if you're going to the MSM for news, you're outta luck.

Passion is a good thing to have in beliefs- sadly, people tend to forget that it clouds reason.
Yep. Again, why I take a little issue with "they mean well." Yay. Do they DO well?

Again, I can't really keep this level of discussion up, I have work to do. But do swing by, and say hello whenever you want. At the very least, I hope I've gotten you to take a second look at some things you take for granted. And if it seems unfair that I'm getting in the last word -- it's my blog. :) you can slag me on yours.

Take care and God bless.

Anonymous said...

Well, you've inspired me to do more research, but I do want to toss one thing.

That's nice. No partial credit in the real world. People die. Sorry.The first major American battles in WWII consisted of Rommel handing us our asses. More men died in a few hours at Kasserine Pass than have died in the conflict in Iraq. 700 men died in a D-Day training accident. The amphibious assault on Anzio was a catastrophic failure. And many of those men were drafted. Yes, people die, and it's shitty.

As for... no, wait. It's an amazing day outside. I'm going to hit the slopes.

Incidentally, in regards to your triumph over finding me speaking out on the failures of the INS... that's not me. I'd be interested in the link, because that's definitely not my blog your reading. I have an LJ, and I don't do much political posting because too many of my more zealous friends read it.

Rogers said...

re:That's nice. No partial credit in the real world...

People die. Sorry.The first major American battles in WWII consisted of Rommel handing us our asses. More men died in a few hours at Kasserine Pass than have died in the conflict in Iraq. 700 men died in a D-Day training accident. The amphibious assault on Anzio was a catastrophic failure. And many of those men were drafted. Yes, people die, and it's shitty.
Yeah. And we changed our strategy because of it. And some of those generals got fired, and replaced. Nobody looked at those events, shrugged, didn't change a FUCKING THING, and then said, hey, people die, it's shitty. And not a single human being back then said HEY THAT'S CLOSE ENOUGH, I'LL TAKE PARTIAL CREDIT. Because that's not what pragmatic, smart men who adapt to the situation and want to win do.Actually. One guy did. When informed of excessive casualties from one of his bad strategies, he said "Well, that's what the young men are there for, aren't they?"

Hitler.

As for... no, wait. It's an amazing day outside. I'm going to hit the slopes.You're right. It's too nice a day to sit inside. Oh, and sorry I thought you were another blogger. Both teachers, both new here, seemed a weird coincidence.

Just keep asking yourself -- why do you keep letting guys who should know better off the hook? Why do you have to keep coming up with excuse after excuse? Why don't the numbers make sense? Why, after all this seems to be going wrong, has not a SINGLE PERSON RESPONSIBLE been fired or changed? Because I think we can agree this is not going well. If this is how Plan A was supposed to go, I'd hate to see Plan B.

Your own reason will guide you. Escape the grip of the media, both left and right.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying that changes aren't needed, and I'm not saying that the administration hasn't made mistakes. You've done more analysis than I have, and I'm going to check out some of the blogs you recommend. I've been looking for a reasoned counterweight to all the conservative blogs I read, and hopefully I'll find one among them. I'm just used to dealing with anarcho-synchronist commune members who still call it the "Bush/Cheney regime" and clap on to non-issues like what Cheney wore to the Auschwitz ceremonies. Makes me a bit testy.

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