Thursday, February 21, 2008
New Argument That the 'Surge' Change in Tactics Has Failed
You probably think I'm kidding. No, really. Enjoy his column which would fit right in with the parodies in the Onion.
My favorite part:
It is now widely considered beyond dispute that Bush has won his gamble.Potholes, lattes and Shakespeare, Michael? Bitter any? Clearly Mr. Kinsley has himself chosen option No. 2.
The surge is a terrific success. Choose your metric: attacks on American soldiers, car bombs, civilian deaths, potholes. They're all down, down, down. Lattes sold by street vendors are up. Performances of Shakespeare by local repertory companies have tripled. Skepticism seems like sour grapes. If you opposed the surge, you have two choices. One is to admit that you were wrong, wrong, wrong. The other is to sound as if you resent all the good news and remain eager for disaster. Too many opponents of the war have chosen option No.2.
Here's a telling metric for Kinsley and his ilk:
I hate to break this to you, Mike, but hundreds of Iraqis were dying violently every month before we got there, in fact, many more than that. It was not the kite flying paradise under Saddam you lefties seem to think it was. It is difficult to get accurate figures on how many people Saddam Hussein murdered or even on the number of dead Iraqi soldiers his great military leadership caused. Some Iraqis claim that a million were murdered over the quarter century he ruled. Most 'human rights' groups put it between 500,000 and 600,000--it's certainly 600,000 if you include the Kurds and Shia who treated him as ousted after Gulf War I. The butcher's bill for the 8 year war he started against Iran was probably 700,000. Some say a full million. The Iraqis admit to only a few hundred thousand. I'll stick with the probable. And his invasion of Kuwait ultimately cost his people 100,000 dead once the senior George Bush's coalition got busy. Let's see: 500,000 plus 700,000 plus 100,000 equals 1 million 300,000. Divide that by the number of months (285) he was 'in office' and the average violent deaths were about 4,500 per month. Not the hundreds per month now (which is still much less than our murder rate here in the states) but thousands per month--month after month after month, year after year, decade after decade.
The proper comparison isn't to the situation a year ago. It's to the situation before we got there. Imagine that you had been told in 2003 that when George W. Bush finished his second term, dozens of American soldiers and hundreds of Iraqis would be dying violently every month ...
Is it possible that Mr. Kinsley doesn't know this? Could he be that ignorant? Nah, I don't think he's that ignorant, he's just that intellectually dishonest.
I liked Michael Kinsley on Crossfire a few decades ago and I hope he recovers from his Parkinsons and he has a long and happy life and better success than he had during his short, troubled tenure at the dying LA Times. But I'm not sure I'm ever going to read him again. Well, maybe for a laugh.
Now hear this! Now hear this!
The invasion of Iraq has done nothing to improve the lives and security of citizens of the United Staes. In fact, very competent arguments made be made that trhe invasion of Iraq has had just the opposite effect.
Proponents of the this very stupid war just refuse to see this. You and the Neocons are all glowing w/ the noble cause and spreading democracy and all sorts of other BS.
So who's the next bad guy we take down Roger? Can we evn take down another bad guy? I mean when you look at the number of troops and support personnel who will be committed indefinitely in Iraq, I sure hope we don't get involved in another shooting war somewhere else. Do yoiu thoink we could pull it off?
Meanwhile, more good news is that Moqtada al Sadr is telling his militia to stand down for another 6months. What do you think would have happened ghad he not done so? What do you think will happen if and when he turns his militia loose?
Mugabe is too old and the damage his lefty policies too far gone to help there. I'm a hands off Iran right now guy and we can't do anything in N Korea because of the weakness of our forces and our relationship with South Korea. Who do you suggest? If Mookie had not re-upped for peace, we would have hurt him and his organization and cries of the surge failing would have filled the air. Is there nothing redeaming in deposing a horrible dictator? Did you support deposing Slobadon Milosovich?
Perhaps you fail to recall December 8, 1941. It was on that date that Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. So never in life compare anything that occurred durig WW II to the invasion of Iraq b/c there are simply no moral parallels.
Opposite effect. Please answer the following questions.
1. Which posed and continues to pose agreater threat to security in the Mideast?
2. As a result of the depostion of Saddam Hussein, Iran is:
a) more emboldened and willing to exert its influence.
b) less emboldened and willing to exert its influence.
3. Higher petroleum prices are on the whole:
a) beneficial to the U.S. economy.
b) detrimental to the U.S. economy.
4. The war in Iraq has caused oil prices to:
b) remain the same.
5. The war in Iraq has:
a) been beneficial to our efforts in Afghanistan.
b) had no effect on our efforts in Afghanistan.
c) been detrimental to our efforts in Afghanistan.
The invasion of Iraq has:
a) decreased the number of Islamists around the world.
b) had not efect on the number of Islamists around the world.
c) increased the number of Islamists around the world.
6. The invasion of Iran has:
a) increased The United States' standing among other nations.
b) had no effect on the United States' standing among other nations.
c) lowered the United States' standing among other nations.
Of course theref are redeeming effects in deposing a dictator but the analysis is a cost vs. benefits one. Every time I do the analysis the number of benefits tend to peters out rapidly after what I now call "the Fraley troika:" Saddam dead; Udey dead; Qesey dead.
The costs on the other hand just keep going up.
Two final points. I have always supported the surge. The other two options: redeployment and staying the course were either worse or failing. That said, the ultimate success of the surge can only be measured in political rather than military terms.
Secondly, although violence has decreased, there is still an enormous amount of it mostly directed against innocent Iraqis or Iraqis who have aligned themselves w/ us. I cannot help but be apprehensive about the prospect of once the Sunnis we have armed have dealt w/ AQM and once al Sadr and other Shiite leaders decide to turn theirhis militias loose for whatever reasons, the civil war will resume.
#1 uss a close question. Iran under the Shah no threat to the security of the mid-east. Thank God we helped get rid of him. I think Saddam before we kicked him out of Kuwait was the greater threat but just barely, both countries were pretty awful. After Gulf War 1 it's been all Iran as the major bad guy nation. And without Saddam ready to go to Iran-Iraq War II, of course Iran is more free to throw its considerable weight around (except they have gone socialist and are becoming a complete basket case economically, so there may be a bit of the disappearing Soviet threat to play out in Iran).
Higher prices for oil now are harmful to the US ecomony but just barely. I don't know how much finishing the Gulf War has influenced the recent rise. Are you sure it's not just greater demand as the people in China and India replace their bicycles with cars? To answer the specific question (#4), I'd say stay the same. The angst the war caused is outweighed by the ever increasing production from Iraq. Probably some of the $60 rise in oil, say $2 to $5 is due to concerns about Iran and its control of Hormuz. Maybe a dime to Iraq fears. I can't answer #5 unless I though that we were going to put the troops, or some major part of them, we now have in Iraq into Afghanistan. I don't think we would have. They certainly have all the material they need in Afghanistan (Barak's mysterious captain notwithstanding). If the non English speaking NATO troops were more numerous and not complete Nancy boys, the Taliban would be doing even worse than they are now. Aren't you the one who brought up 'too many troops and it seems like an occupation, not a liberation' in the context of Iraq? Forgive me if I can't recall accurately.
We have decreased the number of Islamicist in the world with every one we've killed. Whether our actions create fewer, the same number or more is I think, for all intents and purposes, unknowable. Not a lot of NAZIs about now where there used to be about 70 million. Wonder what happened to them? There is a bell curve of Muslim thinking about America with those who like us and those who hate us at the opposite edges. I think it will always be that way. Our rescue of Muslims in Kuwait. Our rescue of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia. Our resuce of Muslims in Iraq hasn't seemed to get us any discernable good will. Looks like a very long struggle to me, indeed. In the 30s, even with the horror and waste of WWI in their minds, people had no idea how bad WWII was going to be. I hope we're not repeating history there, but I suspect we are. I was convinced in the 80s, however, that there would be a nuke war between us and the Soviets, so my ability to see the future is not exactly perfect.
Same sort of answer for #6. Unknowable. It certainly doesn't help in the propaganda war that our media and congressional leadership completely overemphasize our pecadillos and completely ignore true savagry on the other side. The difference between us and the NAZIs in the 40s or us and the racist, cruel Japanese at the same time was as real as the difference between us and the Jihadis is now. We're clearly the good guys and with fair to decent leadership we will prevail or the extreme edge of Islam will change. Long, long war.
What do you mean the Sunnis "we have armed"" Everyone and his brother has an AKM 74 and every fifth person has an RPG 7. We don't make either of those. But then again, you're back to they can't govern themselves without violence, meme. I've heard you. I don't believe you. Time, indeed, will tell.
Betting a bottle champagne would be heartless. How about a botle whiskey w/ the p roviso we drink it together? I think the whickey will be necessay. In fact, i think it is necessary now.
Given our relationship w/ England, tetting the Soviets take care of the land war in Europe was not an option. In addition, I would like to think that there were a sufficient number of people in our government then who thought: "The Soviets aren't going home after the war so maybe we should make sure that they stop east of Calais."