Balkinization  

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How Low Can He Stoop?

Marty Lederman

The official White House statement on the Democratic supplemental funding bill states that the legislation "insists on a surrender date."

I understand the inevitable urge to spin every issue so as to put one's adversaries in the worst possible light. But really. To play at such name-calling with a matter this solemn and important -- to use official White House stationary to cavalierly insist that a majority of the national legislature not only favors military "surrender" but "insists upon" it -- is conduct unworthy of a chief executive, let alone a Commander in Chief.

Needless to say (or it ought to be needless, anyway), there's not a single soul in this town suggesting that the United States "surrender" to anyone. (Surrender to whom, exactly? After all, the armed conflict that Congress originally authorized was against a particular nation state led by a particular regime -- and we deposed that regime. The "war" as it currently exists is in effect an attempt to police a brutal civil war that has every sign of continuing indefinitely, regardless of when we may choose to substantially withdraw.)

The bill passed by Congress, which I describe below, would require a gradual redeployment of troops from Iraq, basically on the President's own timetable, beginning in July -- that is to say, it would begin to get us out of this quagmire, something that an overwhelming percentage of the American public desires. If the President wishes to make a case that this majority view would be bad policy, so be it. But is it the President's view that 70-plus percent of the U.S. public favors our "surrender" to some (undefined) enemy?

Defining shamelessness down.

Comments:

I agree that the term "surrender" is hyperbolic. But, what would we call it if during WW2, Congress said within 180 days after D-Day we must start redeploying our forces. Small units may remain in France to help train the new French army and help with order, but no more forces may be used in attacks on Germany. Yes, we haven't surrendered to Germany but surely it is something close.
 

Someone,

A closer analogy would be if Congress had passed such legislation four years after V-E Day.

Next week will see the fourth anniversary of the "Mission Accomplished" event on the aircraft carrier.
 

Attornies should understand the problem here: we put up with the defective reasoning of the Bush Admin, day after day, year after year. Facts come and go, but arguments can be used forever. Every unchallenged use reinforces the argument.

My most hated argument is that if we leave Iraq, terrorists will follow us home. This most moronic argument is accepted, or at least not questioned.

The best counter example is Flight 93 on 9/11. This proves that we can change our assumptions within minutes to resist vulnerabilities.

Only an extremely insecure leader would use the Bush arguments, or an extremely dishonest one. Either way, if we can't resist 20 terrorists, and somehow believe that moving 90% of our military to another country will help, we are in deep shit.
 

But, what would we call it if during WW2, Congress said within 180 days after D-Day we must start redeploying our forces. Small units may remain in France to help train the new French army and help with order, but no more forces may be used in attacks on Germany. Yes, we haven't surrendered to Germany but surely it is something close.

I assume you'll agree, then, that we surrendered to Somalia. What terms were imposed on us?
 

Mark,

Somalia is almost roundly condemned as a great failure--both tactically and strategically.

Somalia is one of the things most cited by Bin Laden as an example of the US being defeated.

Of course, we didn't formally surrender to Somolia, but we hardly won, and the jihadists largely consider it a victory against the US.
 

I'm amazed that anyone could compare the threat of WWII with anyone who has to rely on terroristic methods. The whole reason for these methods of attack is that the attackers are weak. They have no alternative, and their lack of organization is an advantage only because they have nothing to attack..._including major weapons_.

I walk down the street and could be instantly killed by some homeless person with nearly any object. So fucking what! The real problem is organized and well supplied states who can defend their production of weapons. Are there any of these in relation to the US? No! We, the people, should take a personal oath to accept terrorist acts to the extent that they surprise us, and let everyone know that we will destroy any state which supports any such attack.

With nuclear weapons, this is easy, so no state would rationally give away such weapons, the so called rogue states are even weaker than the big players, as I doubt they could resist any retaliation.
 

Dear "Someone" Depalma,

So who is Hitler in this WW2 scenario and why has Commandant Bush invaded Mexico?

Is Hitler Osama Bin Laden, the reputed mastermind of 9/11? A man not worth the cost of bringing to justice in the opinion of Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney and assorted other neo-con mini-minds.

Is Hitler Saddam Hussein, the sad victim of a YouTube style hanging?
Donny Rumsfeld's partner in crime. It should of been you Don.

Perhaps it is the dreaded Zarqwai, whose capture yielded no discernable dip, no matter how momentary, in the daily toll of violence.

Iran is reputed to be the new Germany backing Al Queda to the hilt. And yet Al-Queda is Sunni and Iran Shi'ite.

No matter to the Jingoism Mobile.
 

Mark,

I should add, there is obviously a great deal of ambiguity between win/lose and everything in between, compounded in a situation where there is no state actor to surrender to/demand the surrender of.

I think Bush would be more accurate if he said the dems were declaring a "We lost the War date." Granted, we aren't surrendering, but we are admitted a defeat of sorts. We can argue further on semantics, but I think a "loss recognition date" may be sufficiently accurante.
 

I notice that people have stopped using Vietnam as the surrender reference, as we all know that when we surrendered there the North Vietnamese and their Chinese Communist enablers took their war to our Allies in Asia and then, emboldened by their success, attacked us at home.

Oh, I forgot, that must have been my alternate history course.

If you want to really compare, then we could compare timelines from the invasion dates (D-Day v. "Shock and Awe" day). Four years and one month after that date, in WWII, the Marshall Plan was underway actually rebuilding Germany and Europe, and we were planning NATO (a regional alliance to counter Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe). Four years after the invasion of Iraq, we have a shrinking alliance in the region, a rebuilding program that has put more money in the pockets of contractors than in actual rebuilding of Iraq, and an insurgency that is out of control.

Back then we overthrew a regime that had conquered or suborned its nearby neighbors, liberated many of them (in the West, anyway; the Soviets did all of the heavy lifting in the East), and took our place as a superpower. Now we have overthrown a regime that we kicked out of one neighbor many years ago and kept militarily and economically weak since then, have alienated its citizens and the neighboring countries, have allowed the casus belli to not only survive but also thrive in "allied" countries, and the inability of the administration to come up with a viable end game has weakened our status around the world (though we still have nukes, so no one will laugh out too loudly).

Your comparable situation is not only ludicrous, but also laughable and inane.

A better example would be Sparta after they finally defeated the Athenians in the Peloponnesian war. Deciding that they could expand their influence, they ran afoul of their previous allies, who then teamed up in a number of alliances and eventually took them down.

If you insist on American history, the Indian wars are the closest example. It only took us around 100 years to finally subdue them.
 

How is an inability to settle a civil war a defeat for U.S. forces?

We removed Saddam.

We allowed Iraq to democratically elect their government.

They do have a lot of oil.

We have lost a lot of lives.

But... Hey, they signed up for this shit.

And we've killed a hell of lot more of them then they have of us.

Half a million at least.

But who believes Lancet.
 

Somalia is almost roundly condemned as a great failure--both tactically and strategically.

As will be true of Iraq.

Somalia is one of the things most cited by Bin Laden as an example of the US being defeated.

I never worry about what my enemies think of me. I worry about what my friends do.

Of course, we didn't formally surrender to Somolia

Nor are we about to in Iraq, even if Congress orders a pullout.

I think Bush would be more accurate if he said the dems were declaring a "We lost the War date."

Bush would either be late to this realization -- in one sense, he has already lost -- or confused in his terms. What we're really doing is babysitting a civil war. It isn't ours to win or lose. Of course, if he wants to think of "victory" in some nebulous sense which he's never articulated, I guess we can call it a defeat. Certainly there's no "victory" to be, pardon the expression, accomplished.
 

I think Bush would be more accurate if he said the dems were declaring a "We lost the War date." Granted, we aren't surrendering, but we are admitted a defeat of sorts. We can argue further on semantics, but I think a "loss recognition date" may be sufficiently accurante

There comes a time when it is obvious that you are not going to win a war that it is better to go ahead and lose than continue an endless stalemate.
 

This blog would be better if it didn't allow comments. The trolls have pretty much killed it.
 

You Guest are a troll!!!!

How I would love to ban you, but a las, tis not the way to counter BAD speech.
 

Guest wrote:This blog would be better if it didn't allow comments. The trolls have pretty much killed it.

Not purely to get off topic, I disagree. A good blog can not live by one viewpoint alone, or even by one small group of views. What if Sidhartha had never seen the less pristine side of humanity?
 

I'm afraid I'm forced to agree with Mr. DePalma (and other posters above, of course) on this one. We've already won the war in Iraq, therefore it's silly to use the term "surrender."
 

PMS_Chicago,

You are correct; as someone stated elsewhere, Clinton's army won the war (given the time it takes to change TOC, materials, and doctrine). My addition would be that Bush's management team junked the country (which would not surprise anyone who reviewed his previous management positions).
 

PMS says: We've already won the war in Iraq, therefore it's silly to use the term "surrender."

I'm not sure about that, and it completely depends on how one defines victory. We achieved our objective of toppling Sadaam, but we have not achieved our objective of installing a government based on democratic institutions that is both sustainable and friendly to the U.S. (Let's leave aside the other main war objective, disarming Iraq of WMDs.) As that possibility becomes increasingly remote, it is fair to ask whether we have already lost the war. Furthermore, a US withdrawal is likely to precipitate even greater chaos, if not genocide--these are hardly the conditions under which the US could claim victory.

I agree that the President's semantic games are shameless, counter-productive and simple-minded (not to mention outdated--these kind of tactics might have worked in 2004, but the vast majority of the American public is growing increasingly angry with the Administration and its fanciful rhetoric). Whether we "win" or "lose" is not the question. More relevant questions include: how badly will the situation in Iraq deteriorate once US troops withdraw? Will withdrawal create conditions in which terrorists will likely find safe haven? Will Iraq inevitably detoriorate further (into chaos or genocide) regardless of a prolonged occupation? Will withdrawal provoke a regional war that is likely to threaten US interests in the region? Will a prolonged occupation of Iraq degrade the quality of US armed forces such that it would be incapable of responding to threats elsewhere? Of course the US will have to withdraw at some point. What I mean to say is, the manner and management of withdrawal matter. But the President has not begun to discuss these issues intelligently in public, much less admit that these questions even exist (and many of his opponents in Congress tend to gloss over them as well).

Cheers,

adam
 

the neo-con pipe dream was that we would install a US friendly government who would happily hand over their petro dollars according to the whims of their Texas Masters.

that is the definition of success.

that will never happen.

it's time to come home.
 

Nahh, you're all missing it.

The sentence is: "X surrenders to Y". Everyone is assuming that the X here is the US, and so we quibble over who Y could possible be - no clear referent is there under that interpretation.

But if you assume that X is the Bush administration and their 20% support of dead-enders in the country (the evangelical extremists and neo-con allies), then Y naturally emerges: the 80% of Americans who want to leave.

Bush is afraid of surrendering to America.
 

If your intent is to describe a situation where the government orders the military to abandon the battlefield to the enemy, is there a better term to use than "surrender?"

Despite pms' spin, the Dems are not claiming that the United States won the war in Iraq. The Dem leading the charge to surrender Iraq to the enemy has told our enemies and allies that the "war is lost," even though he cannot answer Senator Graham's rhetorical retort: "Who has won?"

Professor Lederman asks: "Surrender to whom, exactly?" That is an easy question. al Qaeda.

The US military has gained Iraqi Sunni allies in the fight against al Qaeda by moving troops directing into neighborhoods al Qaeda attempted to take over. In response, the Iraqi Sunni have flooded into the police and military and are now patrolling with out troops in former insurgent strongholds like Ramadi.

al Qaeda was forced from Anbar province to Baghdad. Now the surge troops are moving them out of Baghdad using the same tactics which were successful in Anbar. As a result, al Qaeda has retreated to Dalawi province and is being fought there as well.

Now, imagine that we pull out of the al Qaeda neighborhoods and leave our brand new Iraqi Sunni allies in the lurch. al Qaeda moves back in, claims victory over the United States to the betrayed Iraqi Sunni and has a new base in Iraq where they can recruit, train and attack from with impunity.

The Dems are simply lying when they claim that they wish to continue the battle against al Qaeda in Iraq but not the Iraqis themselves. How do you go back into Ramadi to attack al Qaeda without engaging the local Iraqi Sunni which are sheltering them? What troops would you use to pull off this hat trick when nearly everyone has been pulled out?

Finally, nothing is more pathetic than the Dems hiding behind polls. Has it occurred to them that their job is to lead the polls and do the right thing by the country and the troops?

Stop lying to yourselves and everyone else. I you think that the war is lost and you want to give up and surrender Iraq to the enemy, have the guts to admit it. However, I would not expect someone who lacks the courage to war against an enemy which is losing badly to muster the moral courage to admit their motives here.
 

Bart,

You seem to have surrender on the brain. You state that if we leave Iraq we surrender to al-Qaeda, which is a tiny part of the violence over there, and who wasn't present in Iraq until after we invaded. Just like when we left Vietnam, we surrendered to the Viet Cong, and they went on to overthrow our allies in SE Asia, and then launched attacks on our Homeland.

Our allies are the Sunni? I thought we were supporting al-Maliki's government, which is dominated by the Shi'a, and who are also supported by Iran. I know it's hard to keep straight, but you don't have to take your talking points from Rep. Reyes.

I would rather the Dems hide behind polls which might indicate the will of the people than listen to the foreign policy of a President who has announced that he will stay the course, even if everyone turns against him, but Laura and his dog, because he knows he's right.

Maier's theory* appears to factor heavily when you decide which points to put in your posts.

*"If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of"
 

Bush is afraid of surrendering to America.

The only threat these asshats are interested in forestalling, and from their perspective, the only real threat to the Republic, is the peaceful transfer of power, by free and fair elections, to the opposition party in this country.

And to prevent this, they will pay any price, bear any burden, spend any sum, squander any number of lives.

They would destroy this country, rather than have it ruled by anyone other than themselves.

The Iraq war was a tool to that end -- timed to manipulate the outcome of an American election, prolonged to manipulate the outcome of an American election, managed to manipulate an American election -- didn't work so well in 2006 -- and its end -- the great national debate on Who Lost Iraq" -- will matter only to the extent that they can use that to manipulate an American election.

The number-one war aim of the people who started this war was to destroy any domestic opposition to their revolution, not just in foreign policy, but tout court.

If they could have secured the revolution without Iraq, they'd have done it.

If they could have gotten a 'victory' in Iraq that would have derailed the revolution, they wouldn't have taken it.

Which is why there was never a draft, never a surtax, never a contemporary Truman commission, no dollar-a-year men.
 

Bart says, if we quit Iraq, we "surrender" to al-Qaeda.

Yet we know that al-Qaeda's goal is to keep the U.S. in Iraq as long as possible.

So, the Dems should come back & point out that Osama's # 1 ally is George W. Bush. Makes more sense than the "surrender" bit.
 

P.S. -- Bart, why do you want Osama to win?
 

Mark Field:Of course, if he wants to think of "victory" in some nebulous sense which he's never articulated, I guess we can call it a defeat.

Well, the White House has said what it considers to be the criteria for victory:

"Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation." (Nov. 30, 2005)

Of course, they've also said:

"the enemies of a free Iraq have suffered a real defeat, and the Saddamists and rejectionists are increasingly marginalized. The terrorists and regime loyalists are no match for millions of Iraqis determined to live in liberty."
(Jan. 10, 2006)

If you read "attacks on our nation" as attacks on the American homeland, the number of attacks plotted in Iraq is probably still at zero. Mission accomplished.

If you read "attacks on our nation" as attacks on any American, including soldiers, then victory isn't likely as long as we're there to be shot.

BD: Despite pms' spin, the Dems are not claiming that the United States won the war in Iraq.

I would like to apologize for stating my agreement with one of Mr. DePalma's rhetorical approaches to the war in Iraq. Having looked back upon his previous posts, he has been careful to note that we have been victorious, BUT it would still be surrender to leave. I have mis-characterized his position above, as I was thinking victory and surrender were mutually exclusive states. I stand corrected.
 

Fraud Guy said...

You state that if we leave Iraq we surrender to al-Qaeda, which is a tiny part of the violence over there, and who wasn't present in Iraq until after we invaded.

You are mistaken on two counts:

1) al Qaeda and its umbrella group launch all of the suicide vehicle attacks which take the vast majority of lives in Iraq. The Iraqi Sunni and Shia militias do not do suicide attacks.

2) al Qaeda was in Iraq in force long before we entered. Read the chapter in Linda Robinson's book Masters of Chaos about the SF / Pesh Merga attack on al Qaeda in the opening weeks of the war and what they found.

These are the people the Dems propose to surrender to.
 

Riddle me this, Bartman. How do these two quotes work together?

al Qaeda and its umbrella group launch all of the suicide vehicle attacks which take the vast majority of lives in Iraq.

al Qaeda has not been able to launch an international attack of any size for years and only a handful of very small local attacks against US citizens or interests.
 

Technically US and its allies in South vietnam Forced the north to sign the Peace treaty in France through massive bombing campaigns The north agreed not to re-invade the south we pulled most our troops out in 72-73 well the Communists lied they did re-invade and not only that CONGRESS cut all funding to south vietnam.. So technically they BROKE the peace deal we were no longer involved other than getting people out to save them from the communists. And notice what followed the Blooth bath of the khmer rouge and the execution of 1-2 million vietnamese accused of helping the USA. Now we know what We did in the balkans WE FORCED people to seperate and to this day the place is widely divided. Muslims here, serbs there, croats here, albanians there. No look at iraq where you have a similar situation as the balkans but its in the HEART of the mideast all these fights are the same to the extremists. And yes if we leave iraq and it falls to say alqaeda, or whoever yes DO expect attacks to continue we WERE NOT in iraq or afghanistan when 911 happened. Lets not throw common sense out the window here.
 

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