Balkinization  

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bush at CPAC: Four More Years

JB

George W. Bush is now in the midst of trying to ensure his legacy. His speech this Friday at the Conservative Political Action Committee made clear that he sees the future direction of the Republican party as continuing what he regards as his signature policies: demanding lower taxes appointing conservative judges, increasing spending on defense, and fighting the war on terror, which, for Bush, means continuing the war in Iraq and the military occupation of Iraq indefinitely. Put another way, Bush's speech put down a marker that if John McCain or any other Republican wants to be elected in 2008, Bush expects it will be by a continuation of his basic policies-- a third term of the George W. Bush Administration. It is worth noting that on almost all of the issues just mentioned, John McCain appears to be following Bush.

The Republicans, now divided, are trying to put the Reagan coalition together again. Bush's advice is: do it my way. Use my Presidency and its commitments-- low taxes, a conservative judiciary, and national security in an age of terrorism as the party's mantra going forward. To know what the Republicans stand for, look at what I stand for.

Call it Reagan 2.0.

Bush wants to be remembered as a successful president, not as the President who destroyed his party's political chances and dissolved the Reagan coalition. What better way to ensure that legacy than to forge the basic commitments of the party going forward?

What is most remarkable about Bush's Presidency and the Republican Party is that so far the leading candidate, John McCain, appears to be following this script, despite Bush's obvious unpopularity.

It is true that McCain promoted campaign finance reform, but President Bush signed that law. It is true that he voted against Bush's tax cuts, but now he supports them and seeks to make them permanent. It is true that he was a founding member of the Gang of 14, but he now insists that he will appoint Justices in the mold of Bush's appointments, and there is no more forceful defender of Bush's surge and long term-strategy in Iraq. And it is true that he clearly differs from the President on waterboarding, but he has so far kept his mouth shut about it in the campaign. Indeed, one can expect that he will emphasize the continuing threat from terrorism every bit as much as Bush has.

And so we are come to this: John McCain, the maverick, is going to run the 2008 campaign as Bush's successor, without saying so directly. He, and most of the party faithful, are now George W. Bush Republicans, although they would certainly never put it that way.

One might think this amazing, given Bush's unpopularity, and the claims of many detractors that he has departed from true conservatism. Truly Bush must be a remarkable leader to have forged his party's future direction during the most unpopular moments of his presidency.

But the cause may not be so much Bush's leadership as the party's inertia and internal squabbling. Put the matter this way. Suppose the Republicans wanted to make a significant change in their basic message: How easy would it be to do so, give the party's fragmentation? Bush's issues-- permanent tax cuts, conservative judges, fighting the war on terror, staying in Iraq, are now the lowest common denominator of the party; they are what most of the party can agree on, even if they disagree about much else. No matter how unpopular Bush himself may be in the general public, Bush's issues unite the party when little else does.

And so Bush's speech at CPAC seems to make sense: four more years of my policies (as I, George W. Bush, describe them, not as they really were!) is the best the Republicans can do.

Is it?

Comments:

he clearly differs from the President on waterboarding

McCain voted for torture in the Military Commissions Act of 2006. In addition, I quote a reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog:

1. McCain gets a lot of credit for the anti-torture bill. But when Bush eviscerated it with a signing statement McCain uttered nary a peep of dissent. Cynics, like me, argue that like many of McCain's so- called "maverick" positions, his stand on torture is something he's willing to pay lip-service to prop up the idea that he's his own man. But underneath that he doesn't care to push the issue for fear of alienating the torture-loving base. I think his willingness to backtrack on a number of positions (see Falwell and Roberston for another example), shows that there simply is no mettle to the man.

2. He hasn't uttered a word about the recent admission that the government has waterboarded, won't investigate whether or not it's a crime, and will do it again. Face the facts Andrew, he might say he cares, and in his own cowardly heart he might really care, but he has neither the will nor the inclination to stand up and be heard when it's most important. As long as he scores points he's quite happy to lose the battle.
 

McCain's 'maverick' label on various fronts is more image than substance. There are exceptions, but not enough to warrant those who want a change from Bush (except in a limited sense, which perhaps many do want) to vote for him.

But, image is key to politics, so that's half the battle. OTOH, when he suddenly supports his tax cuts etc., it might be hard to keep up the image.
 

Does anyone really understand why the bulk of the Republican (Reaganite) coalition supports an unending commitment to Iraq? I understand why some are so committed to this war, but given that a reasonable person can argue that Iraq (a) did not have a role in 9/11, and (b) did not have WMD, why would some part of the coalition NOT agree with this part of the stated four-part agenda.
 

Jack:

Both McCain and Bush only discussed highly edited versions of their resumes to the conservatives at CPAC, omitting those pesky liberal initiatives they championed.

McCain has been genuflecting at the Reagan alter during the campaign, running on things which a he opposed in the past such as the Bush tax rate cuts.

Why? Because, contrary to your thesis, there is nothing wrong with the Reagan coalition of voters. They are alive and kicking. If McCain wants to get elected, the press created "Maverick" will, and is indeed in the process of, conforming to the demands of that coalition of voters.

The fact that the GOP did not produce a fully Reagan-esque politician for the Presidency this year is nothing new. Indeed, we have not produced a fully Reagan-esque politician for the President since...well Reagan. That is what made him the greatest President in the latter half of the 20th Century.

The GOP has gone through this whining phase about the imperfections of our presidential candidates nearly every cycle since Reagan. The McCain candidacy is nothing new.

Political coalitions are alliances of voters, not politicians. So long as the alliance of voters either votes for the same party or stays home when a candidate strays from the coalition's principles, the coalition is alive and well.

Political coalitions end when parts of the coalition stop voting for a party and start reliably voting for another party. For example, Reagan pulled in the South and the Northern Catholics to the GOP from their long time membership in the old FDR coalition. In the process, the GOP lost their old Civil War era Northern urban WASP voters to the Dems.

We do not see anything remotely similar going on in 2008. Obama is attracting traditional wealthy white Dems and nearly all of the Dem African American Vote. Clinton is getting the rest of the traditional Dem coalition.

GOP freemarketeers are not rushing to vote for candidates offering several hundred billion dollars in tax increases.

GOP moral traditionalists are not waiting with bated breath to vote for Dems offering to put liberals on the bench. Indeed, I cannot think of a Dem candidate pair more likely to drive traditionalists to vote for McCain than the Clintons.

GOP hawks are completely appalled by the Dem calls for retreat and defeat. They are the McCain base.

In short, Jack, if you are going to continue this claim of the imminent end of the Reagan coalition, you need to offer some actual proof rather than wishful conclusions.
 

a reasonable person can argue that Iraq (a) did not have a role in 9/11, and (b) did not have WMD

Chausovsky, why are you so cautious? There are not two sides to this argument; your (a) and (b) are facts that a reasonable person could not deny.

I understand why some are so committed to this war

Tell us, then. Is there a reason other than an unwillingness to admit that the war was wrong in the first place?
 

Right on with the Reagan legacy! Like when 200+ marines were killed in Lebanon for absolutely no reason since we had no business being there, and Reagan ordered a bugout starting the next day-that's the part of the Reagan legacy we need to embrace.
 

Henry and Joe- yeah, McCain's whole career embodies that "go along to get along" spirit that just makes me sick. What a coward. I hear that he even spent most of the Vietnam war in a hotel. He is the kind of guy who would probably sit on the board of Walmart and not raise a peep about anti-union business practices.

He claims to be a straight talker, but when has he ever taken a controversial position that might anger voters or powerful political forces in his own party? I mean, unless you count campaign finance, taxes, immigration, ethanol, earmarks, entitlements, corrupt lobbyists, the religious right, the surge, the confederate flag and detainee interrogations.

If he had real political courage, he would propose universal health care with improved quality and lower costs. But nooo, thats just too risky for scaredy cat McCain.
 

chausovsky said...

Does anyone really understand why the bulk of the Republican (Reaganite) coalition supports an unending commitment to Iraq? I understand why some are so committed to this war, but given that a reasonable person can argue that Iraq (a) did not have a role in 9/11, and (b) did not have WMD, why would some part of the coalition NOT agree with this part of the stated four-part agenda.

Because we realize that:

Al Qaeda was in Iraq before the liberation and was working in chemical weapons there.

Iraq is both al Qaeda's central front against the United States and vis versa.

The United States and the Iraqis are in the final stages of destroying al Qaeda in Iraq.

Read all the reports to which I linked. The Washington Post is beginning to get it even as most of the Dem media engages in willful blindness and self censorship.
 

Bart, no candidate is saying we should stop fighting al Qaeda. estimates put the number of al Qaeda in Iraq at below 5,000. You don't need 150,000 thousand American troops to fight al Qaeda in Iraq. You need them to try to keep civil war from breaking out in full force.

A significant group of special forces could manage the al Qaeda front in iraq if you're willing to force Iraqis to try to resolve their own internal issues. Bush cannot do that, and understandably so. He's in the position of being forced to defend his past mistakes. The next president, if we choose correctly, should have the flexibility to take a fresh look and make the right call. No president will take their eye off al Qaeda. It just won't happen. And to argue that only republicans take the threat seriously is really just a distraction. If you believe we should help in the Iraq civil war that's one thing. But if you believe we should be focusing on al Qaeda you should really take a hard look and ask yourself if we have been doing that or if we've BEng bogged down in distractions.
 

Bart -

You scare me.
 

MLS made a veiled reference to Hillary Clinton (Walmart) and many who are dubious about McCain also question HC on such things. Is the argument supposed to be 'but hey, the Dems are worse?' This doesn't really answer my criticism.

As to taxes. Again, he now supports tax cuts he once did not. On the flag. He had to apologize when in '00 he took the politically useful path. As to Christian Right, when it suits him, he is sure to nod in their direction (including with Huckabee).

Unclear how support of the surge hurts his support with Republican voters, esp. the core that matters the most.

As to torture etc. the detention act he supported was not only questionable (covered here repeatedly), but when Bush tacked on a signing statement, he shaked off those who wanted him to make clear there was no executive exception.

And, overall, maverick talk aside, at the end of the day again and again he joined the rest of the Senate Rs with block votes to enable the Bush Administration on a range of issues, as Glenn Greenwald and others made clear by listing them.

The fact he did this (or I think he did it) obviously (as compared to those who ridiculed Kerry) doesn't mean his Vietnam service was not honorable. Or, that I am so dismissing.

I am rather curious, except for cheap shot flavor, why you brought it up. Are you suggesting war heroes or those tortured in POW camps can't have questionable political careers? And/or if we so question, we are defaming their service?
 

P.S. I say there were 'exceptions' but 'not enough' ... for some, such nuance seems an almost pointless exercise.
 

I doubt we heard the specifics in any depth during the DTA torture clause tussle between McCain and the White House. Similarly, it would be unlikely for Bush to proclaim legacy quality for some of his administration's record setting initiatives; in this regard I would be surprised if cpac would be happy to hear Bush extoll the merits of his various court stripping incentives which his party's leadership shepherded through congress with respect to individuals in executive detainment; for instance, there was a brief allusion by Katyal in verbally arguing Hamdan p30L16 in an interchange with AJScalia, wherein the brief by Senator LGraham and Senator Kyl coloring the legislative history in that case concerning DTA background momentarily was called to the attention of the Supreme Court, then dropped as if nongermane. I think we know little about McCain's interest or disinterest in the Graham-Kyl brief in Hamdan at Scotus; v.JDean terse expose. Maybe these subsurface workings of the senate are too inchoate for incorporation into Bush's shortlist of claims to legacy for his party; but I doubt McCain would espouse more expansive depiction of those as worthy of Pollonius to mention to Laertes as the former departed the world of the spotlight onstage.
 

tim said...

Bart, no candidate is saying we should stop fighting al Qaeda. estimates put the number of al Qaeda in Iraq at below 5,000.

Actually, the number of surviving al Qaeda in Iraq is probably less than half that number. However, that does not mean that you leave and allow the enemy to reconstitute themselves. That is precisely what Obama and to a lesser extent Clinton are campaigning on. Can I assume that they are lying?

You don't need 150,000 thousand American troops to fight al Qaeda in Iraq. You need them to try to keep civil war from breaking out in full force.

1) There is no sign of a civil war. The Iraqi Sunni essentially surrendered to the US months ago and we have armed their Awakening Councils to take charge of local security. The Sunni Awakening Councils are operating side by side with the Shia dominated military without any problems.

2) We are withdrawing the Surge forces as we speak and are handing over these areas to the Iraqi military. We should be down to between 100,000 -120,000 by this Summer.

3) The template for future operations is to put the Iraqi military in the lead and leave our troops in support roles. Indeed, the Iraqi Army has taken the lead in clearing the Mosul area of al Qaeda.

A significant group of special forces could manage the al Qaeda front in iraq if you're willing to force Iraqis to try to resolve their own internal issues.

Actually, you are suggesting a return to the failed Rumsfeld template. The successful Petreus counter insurgency model was to get boots on the ground in every contested neighborhood to clear out the terrorists, establish security for the locals and then train the local Iraqis to take over local security with the assistance of the Iraqi military. For this model to work, you need US or Iraqi boots on the ground in large numbers. There are too few SF to do this job.

No president will take their eye off al Qaeda. It just won't happen.

Sure he or she can.

We haven't had a major attack on US interests outside of Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly six years. The public is beginning to forget the threat because it is out of sight and out of mind.

The Dems are completely dominated by those who opposed war from the start or are war weary. See any poll you care to name.

The Dems are on record opposing nearly every intelligence gathering reform of the past 7 years. See this blog for all the examples you need of that.

The Clinton foreign policy was dedicated to avoiding fights and I do not see that changing under Hillary. Obama does not give me any confidence whatsoever that he will be any more proactive. To believe otherwise, I have to assume that Clinton and Obama are lying.

And to argue that only republicans take the threat seriously is really just a distraction.

No, Lieberman and a number of Blue Dog Dems in the House take this fight seriously. Unfortunately, I see no indication here and on most other Dem blogs that the vast majority of Dems even realize we are in a war nevertheless acknowledge the need to actually fight the war.

Back in 1992, I could afford to blow off George Bush and punish him for governing like a Dem. I could live with Clinton as an alternative. We were at peace and I could afford that luxury.

Today, the Dems just plain scare me. I have not seen this level of willful ignorance and gross negligence concerning our national security since the post Vietnam period between 1974-1980. I cannot afford the luxury of blowing off John McCain for governing like a Dem. I cannot afford to assume that the Dems do not mean what they say about military retreat and treating this war like an episode of Law and Order.
 

Bart, you have left out some major details in your post.

Al Qaeda had no significant presence in Iraq before the war, Saddam Hussein did not trust them, and he had no operational ties with them. Hussein was a brutal dictator, but he was a cold pragmatist. He didn't like fanatics. I have no doubts that Hussein would have gladly allied himself with Al Qaeda if it suited his needs. It did not.

Second, even the rosiest estimates of AQI's number of attacks in Iraq puts them at between 8 and 15 percent of all attacks. These are the numbers coming from the administration, which has the most incentive to maximize the perceived presence of AQI, so these numbers are the highest possible estimate one can presume.

What that means is a minimum of 85% of the violence in Iraq is not due to Al Qaeda. If that's not a Civil War, I don't know what is. Are you going to discount 85% of the violence? Discount statistics provided by the Bush administration?

There's a perfectly good argument for saying that if Iraq is in chaos, it is a breeding ground for Al Qaeda. It's therefore critical for our national security to help Iraq restore it's civilization and government. This has nothing to do with directly fighting Al Qaeda, BTW. It's an indirect battle. It has to do with restoring a government in Iraq in the hopes of limiting Al Qaeda's influence.

But if that's how one feels, than one must accept that the only reason we have to worry about AQI is because we created chaos in Iraq. Who did that? We did. You cannot say on one hand that the war was a great idea, and on the other say that if we don't restore government there, Al Qaeda could take over.

There WAS a government there. THERE WAS NOT CHAOS THERE. Al Qaeda had NO INFLUENCE THERE. Whatever power and influence they have there now is due to the war.

Unless you have a leader who can acknowledge all this, we cannot move past the war and focus on the priority: terrorism.

Our military is stretched and has limited resources. We are spending those resources working to prevent a civil war instead of working to hunt down Osama bin Laden. If your priority is Al Qaeda, than should we spend those resources in Afghanistan or in Iraq? We know the leaders of Al Qaeda are in Afghanistan. We know AQI is a sub group. Why are we spending more resources on a sub group and not on the main group?

Why? Because we're not. We're spending resources on Iraq's Civil War, not on Al Qaeda. If you can't see that, then you're choosing not to look.
 

Via Bart: "You don't need 150,000 thousand American troops to fight al Qaeda in Iraq. "

You're right. Judging from their performance so far it'd take at least twice that many.

The war is a joke. Any benefits to fighting it have long been lost to incompetence and politics in the military leadership.

Some might also say that Bart is on the side of the terrorists for wanting the US to remain engaged in military folly (cf. Robert Burton), which is a more factual Al Qaeda goal than any the administration asserts.

Funny that 10 years ago, say after the USS Cole, that the institutional wisdom held that Al Qaeda was a cell-based organization, without central planning or lateral knowledge. Now all of the hawks prefer to talk about this week's #3 man, or "central fronts" and the like, as if Al Qaeda was run like G.E. or the Air Force. Such intellectual dishonesty is not only transparent, but dispensed with bad faith.
 

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Joe- I have no problem with your questioning McCain's record or his positions. And I understand that the left will try to paint him as a George Bush clone, just as the right tried to paint him as a George McGovern democrat. Thats all part of politics. But suggesting that he is a finger in the wind type of politician strikes me as just plain silly.
 

Bart, your argument makes no sense at all. On the one hand, you say that there are 20 million Iraqis who all love us and each other and are getting along just fine. The Iraqi Army is fast coming on line and is already beginning to take the lead. The only problem is some 2,500 AQI who are making trouble.

Yet we have to keep 100,000 to 150,000 troops in Iraq to because without our forces 20 million Iraqis, including the Iraqi Army just can't defeat 2,500 AQI. Sorry, but your numbers just don't add up.
 

enlightened layperson said...

Bart, your argument makes no sense at all. On the one hand, you say that there are 20 million Iraqis who all love us and each other and are getting along just fine. The Iraqi Army is fast coming on line and is already beginning to take the lead. The only problem is some 2,500 AQI who are making trouble.

Yet we have to keep 100,000 to 150,000 troops in Iraq to because without our forces 20 million Iraqis, including the Iraqi Army just can't defeat 2,500 AQI. Sorry, but your numbers just don't add up.


Apart from including 20 million civilians in the equation, you are quite correct that the military math for victory has become inexorable. Once the Iraqi Sunni surrendered and switched sides, victory was just a matter of time.

The Iraqi Army is now approaching half a million strong. They control about 80% of the country now. Probably a third of the Iraqi Army units are currently capable of independent offensive operations and are engaged in these around Baghdad, Diyala Province and up in and around Mosul.

You are correct that we will not need 100,000 to 150,000 troops in Iraq. We are in the process of rotating out all of the Surge combat troops en route to 120,000 to 130,000 by this Summer. There is a debate between the Pentagon and Petreus whether to draw down further in the Fall, The Pentagon wants to bring the units back for refitting, but Petreus wants to be sure the job is done right before we leave. None of the military commanders are thinking about a rush to the exits like the Dems are calling for.

In any case, this military debate is more a matter of timing. The US and the Iraqis have been negotiating long term basing deals assuming a Korea style smaller long term US presence for counter terrorism support and to keep Iraq's neighbors, primarily Iran, from getting any designs on Iraq. The Iraqis envision that our forces will mostly keep to their bases and the Iraqi troops will handle security.

The Dems actually have a golden opportunity to assure political victory this fall if they simply acknowledge the military and political victory in Iraq, give the credit entirely to the troops overcoming Bush Administration screw ups and call the troops home to victory parades. In doing so, the Dems could exploit a victory which is already basically won without their help and dispel their image as the retreat and defeat party.

Of course, there is not a chance in hell the Dems would even think of this course of action, nevertheless carry it out. They are completely wedded to the lie that we lost the Iraq War. As the surviving enemy in Iraq is wondering whether he will survive to see another day, the risible Nancy Pelosi again called the Surge a "failure" on CNN.
 

Bart,
Nancy Pelos refers to the "Surge" as a failure because it IS a failure. The lowering of casualties has been because the US has been paying Sunni insurgents not to fight us. BTW, why on Earth would Iraqis fight to keep al Qaeda in Iraq around the minute US troops leave? Once the US leaves Iraq, the motivation for Iraqis to tolerate the presence of AQI goes right out along with the Americans.
There is no victory for Democrats to exploit.
 

They are completely wedded to the lie that we lost the Iraq War.
# posted by Bart DePalma : 11:43 PM


It's no lie, asshole. There was no WMD. There was no Al Qaeda connection to the Hussein regime. There was no reason to invade. All we've done is piss away thousand of lives and hundreds of billions of tax dollars for nothing. No matter how you try to spin it, that is a loss.
 

@bartbuster: The things you cite don't address the matter of whether or not we won the war. We did, in fact, win the war and depose our former ally and erstwhile puppet. What we have failed at is creating post-war stability, in no small part because the folks who lied us into the war have no incentive for creating post-war stability. PNAC wants a permanent presence there, and we shall have it. I only chime in because it's bad enough to feed the troll by talking to him, but really that much worse to gift-wrap such easy "victories" for him by speaking inaccurately.

Peace.
 

rich said...

BTW, why on Earth would Iraqis fight to keep al Qaeda in Iraq around the minute US troops leave? Once the US leaves Iraq, the motivation for Iraqis to tolerate the presence of AQI goes right out along with the Americans.

You have it completely backwards.

The Iraqi Sunni started fighting al Qaeda when US forces entered their neighborhoods and helped provide security against al Qaeda.

EL, this is what I meant by completely wedded to defeat. There is no other word for this kind of willful ignorance.
 

The things you cite don't address the matter of whether or not we won the war.

Yes, they do. When you invade a country for reasons that turn out to be false, the war is lost, no matter the military outcome. You have pissed away lives and money for nothing. That's not inaccurate at all.
 

The Iraqi Sunni started fighting al Qaeda when US forces entered their neighborhoods and helped provide security against al Qaeda.

What the hell are you talking about? The Iraqi Sunni spent 4 years fighting US troops. They didn't stop fighting until we started bribing them.
 

I remember hearing about an Iraqi town near the Syrian border. Insurgents used it as a way-station, then Americans were invited in, fighting then started, the town deeply regretted informing the Americans about the insurgents being there.
Problem is, many Iraqis are in the position of Ukrainians during World War II. Their master, Saddam Hussein, was not a good one, the Americans who followed aren't much better (In the case of mercenaries who aren't under any law, they're worse and notice that even if Americans and insurgents are equally to blame for all the violence, the white, Christian foreigners are taking the lion's share of the blame) and al Qaeda in Iraq is even worse. Iraqis are having to choose between several bad options. Iraqis are not hailing any side as their heroes.
 

Rich:

The town to which you are referring was the city of Tall Afar. Al Qaeda had taken over the city, turned it into a terrorist base and persecuted the locals horribly.

In 2004, we cleaned out Tall Afar and then left. Of course, the al Qaeda returned. This was the fundamental problem with the Rumsfeld strategy.

However, in an initial application of the clear and hold strategy that General Petreaus would later implement across Iraq, the Army took back Tal Afar for good in 2006.

Far from criticizing the Americans from freeing Tall Afar from al Qaeda, the Mayor went above and beyond to thank the Army for liberating his city.

Here is the Mayor's letter to our troops:

From: Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Ninewa, Iraq

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful

To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall' Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life.

To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months.

To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi's followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists, and forcing the remaining butchers to flee the city like rats to the surrounding areas, where the bravery of other 3d ACR soldiers in Sinjar, Rabiah, Zuma and Avgani finally destroyed them.

I have met many soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment; they are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism.

The leaders of this Regiment; COL McMaster, COL Armstrong, LTC Hickey, LTC Gibson, and LTC Reilly embody courage, strength, vision and wisdom.

Officers and soldiers alike bristle with the confidence and character of knights in a bygone era. The mission they have accomplished, by means of a unique military operation, stands among the finest military feats to date in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and truly deserves to be studied in military science. This military operation was clean, with little collateral damage, despite the ferocity of the enemy. With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.

God bless this brave Regiment; God bless the families who dedicated these brave men and women. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the families. They have given us something we will never forget. To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They are not dead, but alive, and their souls hovering around us every second of every minute. They will never be forgotten for giving their precious lives. They have sacrificed that which is most valuable. We see them in the smile of every child, and inevery flower growing in this land. Let America, their families, and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life.

Finally, no matter how much I write or speak about this brave Regiment, I haven't the words to describe the courage of its officers and soldiers. I pray to God to grant happiness and health to these legendary heroes and their brave families.

NAJIM ABDULLAH ABID
AL-JIBOURI

Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Ninewa, Iraq


In fact, the Mayor travelled here to Colorado to personally thank the troops and their families for their liberation of Tall Araf.

Similar scenes have played out across Iraq during the Surge. For Nancy Pelosi to call this mass liberation of Iraqis from al Qaeda terror a "failure" is simply reprehensible.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

For Nancy Pelosi to call this mass liberation of Iraqis from al Qaeda terror a "failure" is simply reprehensible.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 12:25 PM


Numbnuts, the Al Qaeda terror in Iraq is a direct result of your idiotic invasion. For you to pretend otherwise is far more reprehensible than anything Pelosi has said about this war.
 

Uh, actually, it's reprehensible for you to post propaganda and pretend that it's news. Or perhaps you don't think
bombings count as news.

Really, Bart, could you for once stop being disingenuous? Or is it just that you think we're all a bunch of shameless hacks or idiots?
 

If you have any doubt about al Qaeda's monstrous oppression in Iraq, I strongly recommend you read Michael Yon's dispatches from the operations clearing Diyala Province last year.

Yon is a veteran who works as an independent internet journalist. Unlike the news weenies who write from the Green Zone, Yon goes with the troops into combat to find out exactly what is going on in the field. Yon is the 21st Century's version of Ernie Pyle.
 

If you have any doubt about al Qaeda's monstrous oppression in Iraq,

# posted by Bart DePalma : 12:50 PM


Baghdad, no one has expressed doubts about how bad Al Qaeda is. It's why I opposed your idiotic war.
 

Yon is the 21st Century's version of Ernie Pyle.

Baghdad, Pyle was not a warmongering scumbag.
 

"Bart"'s drunk the Kook-Aid. No amount of facts will dissuade him from the Truth™ that his beloved Commander Codpiece has done the right thing. It is a bit scary, but we're a democracy and nitwits like "Bart" are the 28%ers. Now if only "Bart"'s flavour of Kool-Aid was Jonestown-Juice, this thread would be shorter and less insane. But it wasn't, so best thing to do is leave "Bart" to his fantasies, and move to another thread. I pronounce this one dead.

Cheers,
 

MLS ... my remarks were geared to underline -- and my post in reply to yours underlines the point -- that McCain is not such a 'maverick' as advertised by some.

It did not frame him as just like every other 'finger in the wind' politician. Nor did it warrant your snide reply with the implication criticism ignores his war record (again, rather irrelevant to his 'maverick' role in Congress) etc.

Your reply is not really responsive. But, given our tendency to talk past each other, sadly a bit predictable. Thanks for the reply.
 

Joe- fair enough. I apologize for the sarcastic tone of my earlier post (in my defense, it was mostly directed at Henry's comment). I still contend that McCain has earned his maverick reputation, but have no problem with anyone who wants to debate that on specific points. As for the reference to his war record, this was not intended to suggest that it immunizes him from criticism, just to demonstrate that if one wants to take broadsides against his character, one might as go all the way (as some people, in all seriousness, actually do).
 

Bart,
Well, Tall (or Tal) Afar wasn't quite an unalloyed success, but you're right on the details as far as they went:

Tal Afar is significant because it was the location of one of the US military's biggest operations after the Fallujah assault on November 2004. In September 2005, a sustained operation used helicopter gunships, strike aircraft and large numbers of troops to clear the town of insurgents (see "Planning for failure in Iraq", 15 September 2005). The aim was to create the conditions where a substantial US military presence alongside Iraqi security forces could be maintained.

The military effort was initially hailed as a success, though within weeks there were indications that the effect was no more than temporary. The city has since been hit by a series of suicide-bombings. Between May and November 2006, fifty-eight people were killed and more than a hundred wounded in three large attacks (see Alissa J Rubin, "Iraq Shiites kill dozens in revenge attacks", International Herald Tribune, 29 March 2007). The latest incidents confirm the failure of the much vaunted Tal Afar approach.
 

rich said...

BTW, why on Earth would Iraqis fight to keep al Qaeda in Iraq around the minute US troops leave? Once the US leaves Iraq, the motivation for Iraqis to tolerate the presence of AQI goes right out along with the Americans.


Bart:

You have it completely backwards.

The Iraqi Sunni started fighting al Qaeda when US forces entered their neighborhoods and helped provide security against al Qaeda.

EL, this is what I meant by completely wedded to defeat. There is no other word for this kind of willful ignorance.


Your own answer leaves out a number of important details. AQI was formed as a "drive out the infidels" sort of jihad in response to our presence in Iraq. Many Sunni nationalists who opposed our presence did, in fact, form an alliance with AQI to fight us. After experiencing AQI's brutality, many then changed their minds and allied with us to drive out AQI.

So Rich's perfectly reasonably point is, if we leave, AQI will lose whatever "drive out the infidels" legitimacy it once had because there will be no more "infidels" to drive out. Most Iraqis certainly hate AQI and will oppose them whether we are present or not.

In treating this solely as a war between us and AQI, you are completely excluding Iraqis as agents of their own destiny. Why can't 20 million Iraqis, including a 500,000 man army defeat some 2,500 terrorists?
 

Rich:

Nothing in war is an unalloyed success.

al Qaeda did bomb the Shia in March 2007 and the Shia struck back blindly at the Sunni immediately afterward.

However, that was a year and many months of peace ago.

The Shia and Sunni worked it out in Tall Afar as they have in most other places around Iraq.
 

Enlightened Layperson:

In treating this solely as a war between us and AQI....

What you don't understand is the necessity of "staying on message". It works too; just read a news article, any current news article, about Iraq, and the article will be replete with references to "al Qaeda" (or if they want to get technical, "al Qaeda in Iraq"). Anyone killed in U.S. attacks is "al Qaeda". Kids training with weapons are apparently "al Qaeda children". It's orders of magnitude better than calling them "towelheads", "sand n*gg*r", or whatever, much less insurgents or ... <*gasp!*> Iraqis. As long as everything "bad" there (including corpses) is "al Qaeda", all is right with the world, "Bart" is happier'n a pig'n'sh*te, and the maladministration's actions there can continue to be defended.

I think I'll put together a post for my blog on the maladministration slapping "al Qaeda" bumper stickers on everything they find (including that kid video mentioned above). Look for it in the next day or so.

Cheers,
 

The Shia and Sunni worked it out in Tall Afar as they have in most other places around Iraq.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 2:34 PM


Heh... Yeah, they "worked it out" by killing everyone living in the wrong ethnic neighborhood.

MISSION ACCOMPISHED!!
 

enlightened layperson said...

So Rich's perfectly reasonably point is, if we leave, AQI will lose whatever "drive out the infidels" legitimacy it once had because there will be no more "infidels" to drive out.

This argument arises from several false premises.

To start, the driving the infidels out theme is propaganda meant to recruit terrorists and to give the Western anti war movement something to use.

Al Qaeda's goal from its inception was to take power in the Middle East and create a theocratic Caliphate. Please read the al Qaeda quotes to which I linked in my second post. Al Qaeda's goal was and is to take over Iraq to start this Caliphate.

To advance their goal of taking over Iraq, al Qaeda captured Sunni towns and cities and set up little Islamic republics which they ruled through terror. From these bases, al Qaeda slaughtered exponentially more Iraqis than they ever did Coalition forces. Their enemies included not only Westerners, but also all Shia and any Sunni who resisted living in an Islamic republic.

Al Qaeda's propaganda about simply wanting to chase out the infidel lost all legitimacy in Iraq years ago, despite apparently still having currency in some quarters here.

Far from asking us to leave so al Qaeda would leave, the Iraqi Sunni begged us to send our troops to their towns and cities to rid them of al Qaeda.

Most Iraqis certainly hate AQI and will oppose them whether we are present or not.

That is true. However, the Sunni did not have the arms and training to do it themselves. They tried for the better part of a year before the Surge sent troops to assist them.

Why can't 20 million Iraqis, including a 500,000 man army defeat some 2,500 terrorists?

It's not that easy.

Why did it take the world's mightiest Army five years to do so in Iraq?

Unless you take Saddam's path of simply killing everyone who you suspect of being an insurgent and fill mass graves across the country, even the best Army needs a viable counter insurgency strategy and time to carry it out. It took us three years to rediscover old lessons we had learned about counter insurgency over the past two centuries and another year and a half to implement it.

The Iraqis had no such intellectual history to turn to. The current government is run by Saddam's victims and has no real military background. We are having to train the Iraqis from scratch.

The point is that we have a viable counter insurgency strategy now. We are winning and we will win so long as we finish the job. The only possible way the enemy can win is if we surrender Iraq to them and leave before the Iraqis are ready to take over.

We are almost there. We should turn over the formerly intractable Sunni Triangle to the Iraqis by this Summer. Diyala and Mosul will be next, with Baghdad coming last.
 

Al Qaeda's goal from its inception was to take power in the Middle East and create a theocratic Caliphate.

The first step in that process is getting rid of the infidels, you imbecile.

It's not that easy.

It should be easy. There's 20,000,000 Iraqis and only 2,500 terrorist. That battle should last no more that a few hours.

Why did it take the world's mightiest Army five years to do so in Iraq?

Hmmmm.. That's a tough one.... Do you think maybe it's because the Iraqis despise the world's mightiest Army?

We are almost there

You've been making this claim for 5 years now.
 

Bartbuster,

I appreciate your frustration with Bart. Anyone who, looking at the lack of political progress in Iraq, can say "we're almost there" is delusional.

However, it does no good to try and correct him, especially in a strident and insulting way. If people haven't figured out, by now, that Bart's reality and the reality we live in only distantly approach one another occasionally, then they aren't likely to be perceptive enough to understand your arguments or your frustration. I appreciate Arne's methodology, of providing a response that those interested can find.

As for McCain, he lost the "maverick" label for me long ago, when he sucked up to religious right. I see no real evidence that McCain holds any principles dear enough to go the mat for.

One of my friends quipped that it isn't so much that McCain is a maverick as that he just can't remember what positions he's taken in the past -- and he has a quick temper.

If so, he would indeed be a true successor to George Bush, who often seems to have a type of brain damage, and for whom it appears to be more important to be decisive than thoughtful, or even competent.
 

However, it does no good to try and correct him, especially in a strident and insulting way.

I'm not doing this for that asshole, I'm doing this for me. Baghdad is an excellent punching bag. And if the people who run this site don't mind being used for rightwingnut propaganda, they shouldn't mind me using it to mock Baghdad.
 

I said:

I think I'll put together a post for my blog on the maladministration slapping "al Qaeda" bumper stickers on everything they find (including that kid video mentioned above). Look for it in the next day or so.

Done.

Cheers,
 

To start, the driving the infidels out theme is propaganda meant to recruit terrorists and to give the Western anti war movement something to use.

Wow. Such actors. An Oscar nomination for them. They've stayed in character for close to 20 years:

One of the principal goals of Al-Qaeda was to drive the United States armed forces out of Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere on the Saudi Arabian peninsula) and Somalia by violence. Members of Al-Qaeda issued fatwahs (rulings on Islamic law) indicating that such attacks were both proper and necessary.

Al-Qaeda opposed the United States for several reasons. First, the United States was regarded as an "infidel" because it was not governed in a manner consistent with the group's extremist interpretation of Islam. Second, the United States was viewed as providing essential support for other "infidel" governments and institutions, particularly the governments of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the nation of Israel and the United Nations organization, which were regarded as enemies of the group. Third, Al-Qaeda opposed the involvement of the United States armed forces in the Gulf War in 1991 and in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1992 and 1993, which were viewed by Al-Qaeda as pretextual preparations for an American occupation of Islamic countries. In particular, Al-Qaeda opposed the continued presence of American military forces in Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere on the Saudi Arabian peninsula) following the Gulf War. Fourth, Al-Qaeda opposed the United States Government because of the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of persons belonging to Al-Qaeda or its affiliated terrorist groups or with whom it worked, including Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in the first World Trade Center bombing.


Of course, "al Qaeda in Iraq" is not Osama's "al Qaeda" (see my post linked in comment above).

But no sane person can deny that at least some of the domestic insurgents in Iraq (not to mention a majority of the population) want the U.S. out (albeit they may have other aims as well).

The most absurd thing I've heard from the maladministration has been their complaining about "foreign" meddling in Iraq....

Cheers,
 

[some eedjit wrote]: Al Qaeda's goal from its inception was to take power in the Middle East and create a theocratic Caliphate. Please read the al Qaeda quotes to which I linked in my second post. Al Qaeda's goal was and is to take over Iraq to start this Caliphate.

If so, then I'd say, "Dubya, you're doing a heck of a job!!!" The Doofus-In-Chief swallowed the bait hook'line'n'sinker and made possible what was just a pipe dream.

But I'd note that "al Qaeda in Iraq", being only a couple thousand people, and being "75% destroyed", "was and is" hardly in a position to take over a nation of millions and establish a "Caliphate" (diaper-wetting of any of the regulars here notwithstanding).

Cheers,
 

Enlightened Layperson: Why can't 20 million Iraqis, including a 500,000 man army defeat some 2,500 terrorists?

[some eedjit]: It's not that easy.

Why did it take the world's mightiest Army five years to do so in Iraq?


Simple answers to simple questions: Dubya was in charge. And it wasn't "2,500 terrorists".

It took us three years to rediscover old lessons we had learned about counter insurgency over the past two centuries and another year and a half to implement it.

What do you mean "we", white man? And WTF are you such a slow learner? And what are you going to tell the families of the thousand troops that died while the Doofus-In-Chief got around to implementing it.

For perspective, it took less time for FDR to vanquish both Hitler's Germany and Imperial Japan simultaneously....

And all this assuming arguendo that in fact the "lessons" have been learned and that something good might actually come out in the end (no prohibitive favourite in Las Vegas).

$1 Trillion is a hell of a lot to pay for on-the-job training ... and with no guarantee that a driver's license will issue in the end.

Cheers,
 

C2H5OH:

I appreciate Arne's methodology, of providing a response that those interested can find.

I slippped. I fell off the wagon. But ... one day at a time, as they say. ;-)

Cheers,
 

For perspective, it took less time for FDR to vanquish both Hitler's Germany and Imperial Japan simultaneously....

To be fair, Stalin's peasants did a lot of the heavy lifting for FDR against Hitler's Germany.
 

bartbuster:

[Arne]: For perspective, it took less time for FDR to vanquish both Hitler's Germany and Imperial Japan simultaneously....

To be fair, Stalin's peasants did a lot of the heavy lifting for FDR against Hitler's Germany.


Yeah (and it's a point that needs to be raised repeatedly for the eedjits that think that the Yoo Ess of Aye-Hooo-rah won WWII single-handedly), but in Iraq we had our forty-nine nation "Coalition of the Billing" as well. That is more countries than were in the "Allies" in WWII. ;-)

Cheers,
 

Why can't 20 million Iraqis, including a 500,000 man army defeat some 2,500 terrorists?

It's not that easy.

Why did it take the world's mightiest Army five years to do so in Iraq?


Well, let's see now, some time earlier Bart DePalma said, "The Iraqi Sunni essentially surrendered to the US months ago." This sound like an indirect admission that until recently we were fighting more than just a few thousand AQI; we were fighting good-sized local Sunni insurgency.

It took us three years to rediscover old lessons we had learned about counter insurgency over the past two centuries and another year and a half to implement it. The Iraqis had no such intellectual history to turn to.

As Bart DePalma might put it, the US and Iraqi forces are not "similarly situated" when it comes to counterinsurgency. Face it, our soldiers are (or at least were) the outsiders here. We didn't arrive knowing the language well enough to recognize an unfamiliar dialect of Arabic and spot the speaker as a foreigner. We didn't arrive knowing all the neighbors and being able tell who was an outsider up to no good. We didn't arrive plugged into the elaborate network of kinships and alliances, knowing who had influence and who did not. Even with the best counter-insurgency training in the world, it would necessarily take the American forces, as outsiders, quite some time to learn and establish such things. But the local Iraqis have the advantage of knowing all those things from the outset.

Unless you take Saddam's path of simply killing everyone who you suspect of being an insurgent and fill mass graves across the country, even the best Army needs a viable counter insurgency strategy and time to carry it out.

I am in favor of restraint, even if it is not as quick or easy as wanton brutality. But Iraqis have the advantage here, too, that not only do they know who is and is not AQI, but that after seeing neighbors, friends and relatives killed by AQI, they are unlikely too worry much about restraint.

Face it, Bart, 2,500, or even 5,000 AQI cannot conquer and subjugate a country of 20 million. It's impossible. It took Saddam Hussein a million man army, not to mention the elite Republican Guard and the even more elite Fedayeen Saddam. If you want to convince us of the need to stay in Iraq, you are going to have to come up with something more plausible.
 

c2h50h said...

Anyone who, looking at the lack of political progress in Iraq, can say "we're almost there" is delusional.

The Dem Congress set political benchmarks for Iraq as a strawman to argue for retreat.

War is all about killing people and breaking things until the enemy either does what we wish or is destroyed.

We were at war with the Baathist regime, destroyed it and replaced it with an elected government.

We were at war with Iraqi Sunni militias, defeated them and they are now fighting at our side.

We are still at war with al Qaeda and will have to destroy this enemy because they are not about to join society again.

However, we are not at war with the elected Iraqi government and thus cannot use war to compel them to do what we want.

To presume to instruct the Iraqis how to govern their own country on a timetable of our choosing, is the height of Ugly American arrogance.

As soon as the Dems in Congress accomplish anything of substance on their to do list, then they can lecture the Iraqis. In fact, Iraq has done far more than our Congress over the past few years.
 

enlightened layperson said...

EL: Why can't 20 million Iraqis, including a 500,000 man army defeat some 2,500 terrorists?

BD: It's not that easy. Why did it take the world's mightiest Army five years to do so in Iraq?

EL:Well, let's see now, some time earlier Bart DePalma said, "The Iraqi Sunni essentially surrendered to the US months ago." This sound like an indirect admission that until recently we were fighting more than just a few thousand AQI; we were fighting good-sized local Sunni insurgency.


I never said otherwise.

BD: It took us three years to rediscover old lessons we had learned about counter insurgency over the past two centuries and another year and a half to implement it. The Iraqis had no such intellectual history to turn to.

Even with the best counter-insurgency training in the world, it would necessarily take the American forces, as outsiders, quite some time to learn and establish such things. But the local Iraqis have the advantage of knowing all those things from the outset.


Correct again. The Iraqis knew the ground, we knew counterinsurgency. That is why we have made a good team.

BD: Unless you take Saddam's path of simply killing everyone who you suspect of being an insurgent and fill mass graves across the country, even the best Army needs a viable counter insurgency strategy and time to carry it out.

I am in favor of restraint, even if it is not as quick or easy as wanton brutality. But Iraqis have the advantage here, too, that not only do they know who is and is not AQI, but that after seeing neighbors, friends and relatives killed by AQI, they are unlikely too worry much about restraint.


Once again, the Iraqis know the ground, we know warfare. While knowing the ground allows you to identify a guerilla enemy, it doesn't give you the knowledge and capability to defeat that enemy.

Face it, Bart, 2,500, or even 5,000 AQI cannot conquer and subjugate a country of 20 million. It's impossible.

Of course its impossible. Then again, most plans to conquer the world are impossible. However, messianic movements through out history have tried the impossible and murdered literally millions in the trying.

The question is not whether 2500 al Qaeda can conquer Iraq. They cannot.

The question is how do you most expeditiously take down al Qaeda to stop them from murdering thousands of Iraqis trying to conquer Iraq and fomenting a civil war which could murder hundreds of thousands more.

The answer to that question is not to surrender Iraq to al Qaeda. No war was ever won through retreat and surrender.
 

[C2H5OH]: Anyone who, looking at the lack of political progress in Iraq, can say "we're almost there" is delusional.

[some eedjit]: The Dem Congress set Npolitical benchmarks for Iraq as a strawman to argue for retreat.


Wow. You mean good ol' body counts are quite enough to ensure victory (not to mention that the good ol' State Department and the ISG put together the same goals as you ridicule; blaming this on a Democratic Congress is just dishonest). Worked wonders in Vietnam ... oh ... waitaminnit....:

[some eedjit]: War is all about killing people and breaking things until the enemy either does what we wish or is destroyed.

[same eedjit, from earlier]: It took us three years to rediscover old lessons we had learned about counter insurgency over the past two centuries...

As to the bloded part, to quote an old friend, "I don't thiiiinnk so....."

<*sheesh*> Just STFU, "Bart", willya? We've heard it all before, no one's buying it, and everyone here thinks you're the densest, most dishonest (even with yourself) person to ever infest a blog....

Cheers,
 

bartbuster:

OK, if you really want to, but when he is capable of saying: "We were at war with Iraqi Sunni militias, defeated them and they are now fighting at our side." -- apparently sincerely -- he's quite simply either lying or delusional, because under no rational reading of events were the Sunni militias "defeated". You could make a case that the Shia militias have been suppressed, but it's much more probable that they're simply biding their time, as they can afford to do.

Bart, the subject, as I understand it, was how much of an extension of the current administration a McCain administration would be. If we're not talking about that, we're not on-topic, are we?

I'd be interested in that topic, unlike the same old chewed-to-death back and forth about Iraq. But don't let my preferences affect the discussion.
 

That is why we have made a good team.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 7:07 PM


Thanks for the laugh....

According to you we've been fighting a small band of terrorists with the loving support of the Iraqi people and their military forces for THE LAST 5 F*CKING YEARS. If this is your idea of a good team, you must set the bar pretty damned low. Of course, to a Dolphins fan, that probably does look like a good team...
 

The answer to that question is not to surrender Iraq to al Qaeda. No war was ever won through retreat and surrender.

No one is talking about surrendering to Al Qaeda, you asshole. We'd just like to stop you idiots from helping them.
 

Back to the topic of the post, you seem to be suggesting that McCain could run as a more moderate candidate if he wanted to, and indeed, should run as a more moderate candidate, but instead is choosing to run as a continuation of Bush. I think that McCain is to the left of Bush, but I don't see how he can run a campaign very far to Bush's left. On taxes, for instance, I don't think that any Republican candidate for the Presidency since Teddy Roosevelt hasn't campaigned as a tax-cutter. That doesn't mean they all were tax-cutters; Bush's father, for instance, was not. But as you'll recall, he promised "no new taxes." There are certain things that you have to say to ensure support from the proverbial base. Another one of those things, of course, is conservative judges. Many Republican Presidents have failed to only nominate conservative judges - Eisenhower, Ford, Bush - but they all say during the campaign that they will. And of course, any Republican is going to have to be pro-terror-fighting, whatever that means. Iraq's an issue where there's probably more room for nuance, but then, McCain's always been a hawk. So none of the positions that he's staked out have surprised me. What he'll actually do in the White House is another matter, but, as for myself, I don't think there's anything terribly wrong with maintaining Bush's tax cuts, given that we're in a recession, or nominating conservative judges. Bush won't be remembered as a bad President because he cut taxes and nominated Roberts and Alito; he'll be remembered as a failure because he couldn't get anything done on the domestic front and went into a country that he shouldn't have invaded. Hopefully McCain won't do the same if elected.
 

The Dem Congress set political benchmarks for Iraq as a strawman to argue for retreat.

Bush & his Republicans agreed to those benchmarks because they thought the benchmarks were attainable.
Eep! Wrong answer!

War is all about killing people and breaking things until the enemy either does what we wish or is destroyed.

Not guerrilla war. Guerrilla war is all about getting support and having people agree with you. Simple destruction is useless, which is why the planned "replacing" of soldiers i.e. "boots on the ground" with aircraft is an exercise in utter futility.

If AQI cannot get support from the Iraqi population, i.e., if AQI cannot credibly present themselves as antidotes to the Imperial USA or if the Imperial USA is not there to be the AQIs boogeyman, the Iraqis will turn on them. AQIs ultimate, secret goals are irrelevant. What counts is what the Iraqi population believes.

2500 people cannot possibly stand up to a nation if the local population doesn't feed them and hide them or at least turn a blind eye to them.
 

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