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The Iraq War is a success

by Sirocco Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 02:12:46 AM EST

Crossposted from Booman Tribune and Daily Kos.

Three years ago, the US President co-piloted a fighter aircraft onto the deck of the USS Lincoln to declare "the end of major hostilities" in Iraq. Above him a banner proclaimed, "Mission Accomplished." Today, a humble 9 percent of Americans believe that the mission has really been such.

Though I respect the majority view, I have to say that it is, in fact, mistaken.


It is true that the Iraq War has been far from flawless in its conception and execution. The war:



How, then, is the war a success? Well, do you have to ask?

The Iraq War allowed George W. Bush -- who, to dedicate himself more fully to his primary interests, the joys of prostitutes, booze, and cocaine, deserted from the stateside posting his dad had secured for him to keep him out of combat in Vietnam -- to at long last fly a fighter jet in war.

That mission, I submit, was accomplished to his satisfaction on May 1, 2003.

Display:
you're nitpicking...

the statue came down!

that's got to count for something, no?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 06:05:22 AM EST
If it's not, it's the fault of "White Guilt".


There is something rather odd in the way America has come to fight its wars since World War II.

For one thing, it is now unimaginable that we would use anything approaching the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight. And this seems only reasonable given the relative weakness of our Third World enemies in Vietnam and in the Middle East. But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along--if admirably--in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it. Yet no one--including, very likely, the insurgents themselves--believes that America lacks the raw power to defeat this insurgency if it wants to. So clearly it is America that determines the scale of this war. It is America, in fact, that fights so as to make a little room for an insurgency.

Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war. And now this unacknowledged policy, which always makes a space for the enemy, has us in another long and rather passionless war against a weak enemy.

(...)

So when America--the greatest embodiment of Western power--goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus, in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and another against the past--two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 06:16:37 AM EST
Restraint... Yeah.

That's why the US uses daisycutters, AC-130 gunships, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, and deadly force against approaching civilian vehicles at checkpoints.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 06:22:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along--if admirably--in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it. Yet no one--including, very likely, the insurgents themselves--believes that America lacks the raw power to defeat this insurgency if it wants to. So clearly it is America that determines the scale of this war. It is America, in fact, that fights so as to make a little room for an insurgency.
Think about it. Hmmm... In Vietnam the US killed at least 2 million civilians and 1 million combatants and still lost the war. So, yes, America determines the scale of the war, but short of outright genocide it is nigh-impossible for an occupying power to defeat an insurgency. Therefore, what America gets to determine is whether they are willing to get genocidal, no more and no less.

It is amazing, just amazing the contortions that these "analysts" will go through to convince themselves that the US cannot really lose (and hasn't really lost) a war.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 04:39:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just over at Booman's and found out that the article Jerome quotes end thusly
This is a fact that must be integrated into our public life--absorbed as new history--so that America can once again feel the moral authority to seriously tackle its most profound problems. Then, if we decide to go to war, it can be with enough ferocity to win.
Holy crap! This is a WaPo editorial, people. The US is on the brink of something ugly.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 05:00:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd missed that bit ... I'm going to sleep lightly tonight I suspect.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 05:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, WSJ not WaPo.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 05:04:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no unfortunately my country already passed the 'brink of something ugly'.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 05:35:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'fraid so. I have to measure my words, though, otherwise I get accused of knee-jerk anti-americanism.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 05:50:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand, same way anyone who is American is vilified by the right and their army of minions when we march, protest or say anything against the government/politicians.  Everyone loves their own country but anyone who also believes their own country and people can do no wrong end up in a downward spiral and will never be able to correct or change any kind of wrong doing/wrong thinking.

Bobby Kennedy liked to quote Camus who said 'I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice.'

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal

by chocolate ink on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 06:11:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Billmon:  Losing Ugly

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 07:00:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
despite our vast power, we are only slogging along--if admirably--in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it
In 1808 Napoleon was at the peak of his power, and then he made the mistake of occupying Spain and putting his own brother in place of an impopular king.

Four years later, Spain became the first European country to kick Napoleon out of their land, and the word guerrilla entered the international vocabulary. Has any foreign occupier in the past 200 years been able to stamp out a guerrilla insurgency? Not even the Nazis with their brutality were able to defeat the resistance/partisan movements anywhere in occupied Europe. The idiot from the WSJ does not know his history either.

A couple years ago I found this pearl:
Common Dreams: Bush: When Even the Good News is Bad (November 26, 2004)

We cannot win in Iraq, Hersh said. "We have no intel. We can't find the insurgents. When they bomb something, we only know about it afterward. We can't figure them out. Someone said, We play chess, they play Go. All we can do is lose. All we can do is bomb."
(my emphasis)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 05:15:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Interesting stuff about Napoleon. I shall have to read up on that.)

Chess? Go? It's funny, during the cold war it was said that the Russians played chess, while the Americans played poker (move-countermove vs. one bold move wins all).

(Funnily, I've read elsewhere that chess simulates a battle and go a campaign.)


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 05:29:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia: Guerrilla
   The Oxford English Dictionary lists Wellington as the oldest known source, speaking of "Guerrillas" in 1809.

Poet William Wordsworth, a former radical turned conservative, showed a surprising early insight into guerrilla methods in his pamphlet on the Convention of Cintra.

It is manifest that, though a great army may easily defeat or disperse another army, less or greater, yet it is not in a like degree formidable to a determined people, nor efficient in a like degree to subdue them, or to keep them in subjugation-much less if this people, like those of Spain in the present instance, be numerous, and, like them, inhabit a territory extensive and strong by nature. For a great army, and even several great armies, cannot accomplish this by marching about the country, unbroken, but each must split itself into many portions, and the several detachments become weak accordingly, not merely as they are small in size, but because the soldiery, acting thus, necessarily relinquish much of that part of their superiority, which lies in what may be called the engineer of war; and far more, because they lose, in proportion as they are broken, the power of profiting by the military skill of the Commanders, or by their own military habits. The experienced soldier is thus brought down nearer to the plain ground of the inexperienced, man to the level of man: and it is then, that the truly brave man rises, the man of good hopes and purposes; and superiority in moral brings with it superiority in physical power." (William Wordsworth: Selected Prose, Penguin Classics 1988, page 177-8.)
Note the impliction of moral superiority of the guerrilla fighter in Wordsworth's paragraph.

Methinks the Wall Street Journal and the Hoover Institution have their head up their ass.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 06:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really shall have to dig out my "resistance" rules for Risk.


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 07:29:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just take up Go, man.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 07:30:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Take up go: That is, if you have some leisure time free...
It was a incredibly time consuming hobby for me, be warned!
Did you just start or stop, Migeru? I can't believe you blog here AND play go on  a regular basis.

But it is  still the only game in town as far I am concerned, head and shoulders above chess.

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.

by lacordaire on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 12:55:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't played much go lately, no. I used to play go online a lot, too.

Since I have a full-time job I don't get to do as many "extracurricular activities" as before.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 04:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, atari he may be, but since he doesn't acknowledge the ko rule, the point may be moot.


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu May 4th, 2006 at 05:08:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks for listing all of these in one place.

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 09:03:17 AM EST
It's a really good point-by-point summary, thanks.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 02:57:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Double ditto..great diary with all these links.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 05:40:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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