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August 26, 2007


needless to say, Kerry suggested this in 2004:

The idea that America and its allies, sharing resources and using the latest technologies, could track the movements of terrorists, seize their bank accounts, and carry out targeted military strikes to eliminate them seems more optimistic and more practical than the notion that the conventional armies of the United States will inevitably have to punish or even invade every Islamic country that might abet radicalism.
. Just because he lost doesn't mean he was wrong.

"Preemption, democracy promotion, and nation building have all been sullied by association with the war in Iraq. All three policies deserve reexamination, but none should be jettisoned entirely."

So, who died and made us God? Nothing wrong with lending a helping hand where it's needed and asked for, but to pursue a policy of preemptive war (a war crime), so-called "democracy promotion" (a euphemism for covert ops to overthrow regimes we don't like), and "nation building" (another euphemism, this one meaning forcing a corporate-friendly agenda down the throats of a cowed populace) is sheer folly, the kind of self-delusion that put us where we are today.

there are several terms that are used repeatedly in your post and in dobbins' article - success, failure, won, lost, mistake, victory, defeat... all of these words carry very strong connotations, and all of them are wrong...

asking who "lost" iraq only implies that it could have been "won"... talking about iraq as a "failure" only implies that it could have been a "success"... talking about "defeat" in iraq only implies that it could have been a "victory"... iraq is none of those... iraq cannot even be considered a mistake... rather, iraq is a deliberate, carefully pre-meditated lie, planned and executed to achieve precisely what it has achieved - an endless tableau of death and destruction that keeps money and power in the hands of those who most desire it... using those other words in connection with iraq only leads one to believe that, had we just had the right policies, the right people in place, the right tactics, the right planning, all would have turned out for the good...

as a country, we need to face the truth: the leaders of the united states require war as an integral part of their money and power agenda, period... unless and until we face that brutal reality, we have no hope of being the country we all believe we can be...


my aren't there some americans that think highly of themselves and their neighbors on main street. it is funny how the facts contradict such an assumption. this "person" appears to believe the facts created to justify a conclusion are real and true.
truth and reality no longer matter to this author, but is their work labeled fiction?

it takes Democrats to make that happen.... And where was it we were supposed to find those willing to question of our rulers' imperial premises? If still extant, they seem to be hiding somewhere.

WINO's for withdrawal. Don't hold your breath waiting.

Warner May Back Dems' Bill on Withdrawal


GOP Sen. John Warner, who wants U.S. troops to start coming home from Iraq by Christmas, said Sunday he may support Democratic legislation ordering withdrawals if President Bush refuses to set a return timetable soon.

"I'm going to have to evaluate it," Warner said. "I don't say that as a threat. I say that as an option we'll all have to consider."

i don't have the time or patience right now to comment fully, but

james dobbins comments cited in this column strike me as more nonsense from the pens of the "wise folk of washington", aka, the foreign policy professionals, journalism professional, military professionals, et al.

are you sure that "james dobbins" is not a pseudonym for david broder?

this sounds just like the kind of intellectual mush that broder spoons out to us poor citizens in need of intellectual sustenance.

why NOT point fingers at the bush/cheney and rumsfeld, for christ's sake? they made the decisions. i didn't; we didn't.

why not point out the egregious failures of the dod and the cia before and during the iraq invasion and occupation?

why not point to the "whig" (white house iraq group) put together to "sell" the invasion to americans by widely distributing misleading and false information (nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, sponsorship of terrorism, etc).

why not point to generals who lacked the courage of their convictions or of their professional training, e.g., knowing a nation of 25 million could not be controlled by 100,000 troops?

why not point to corporate media like

wapoop and the NY(twhi)Times

nbc, cbs, abc, cnn, fox

who partnered with the white house and the pentagon in selling the invasion to americans while knowing the administration's claims were questionable or false?

thereby demonstrating that a military-media "complex" is a hell of a lot more dangerous to a this nation than any military-industrial complex ever was?

why not blame a republican congress for its glorification and facilitation of the invasion and its failure to set limits on the duration of the occupation or the expenditure of american funds?

one thing i will concede -

the phrase "who lost Iraq" is tailor made for right-wingers to use against democrats and peace republicans from now until hell freezes over.

the only way of dealing with this incipient political slogan is to attack it head on for the misleading propaganda it is.

bush and his administration "lost" iraq by invading it rather than negotiating and waiting for hussein's inevitable demise.

bush and his administration lost iraq by invading a nation slapped together in the 1920's from three different ethnic groups and help together only by its tyrant's rule. there was ample evidence for what would happen in iraq from what had happened in yugoslavia, a set of facts a diplomat like dobbins would have some passing familiarity with.

and by the way, did dobbins resign and comment publicly in principled opposition to the invasion?

or is he just saying, in effect, "i was wrong and behaved wrongly", but so did all the rest of you bastards.

i'll read the article with interest to discover the answer.

"Above all, Americans should accept that the entire nation has, to one degree or another, failed in Iraq."

This is a riff on "No one could have foreseen . . ." and is just as believable. No doubt the Democrats are as spineless as they are feckless but Iraq is Bush's war and Bush's failure. It is Bush and the Republicans who lost Iraq (and yes, I know it was never ours to win). Everything else is just kabuki to push blame off them and on to everyone else.

I disagree with some of what Dobbins says--I don't think it is fair to say that America as a whole failed, when the people were told to just shut up and shop, that nothing serious would ever be asked of them but just to obey and they would be safe. And every time a Dem tried to speak out the GOP and its allies in the press attacked them. Look at Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame as Exhibit A.

The other part of the argument, that I'm sure you would have quoted if it had been there, is that restoring genuine, problem-solving dialogue has to require some restraint on the part of the Right to stop setting up the Dolchstoss, stop impugning the patriotism of anyone who raises questions, especially about the Bush doctrines of preemption and endless war. After all, a country gets the debate it is willing to tolerate.

Topo many pundits appeal to the Dems to be reasonable because fundamentally they are reasonable people. But it is the doctrinaire and crazy on the Right who need to become reasonable, or stop being catered to, if we are ever to return to a sane and reality-based kind of national debate.

Watching Bush's Weimar speech was just maddening. Where's Dobbins' critique of the Right and that attitude? Of course, Hilzoy already did that.

So fine--I think we need a dialogue about how to end this and what toi do next, but someone credible really needs to chastize the Right about destroying any opportunity for such a dialogue or it is going to be immeasurably more difficult.

What DemFmCt said.

"If the opposition chooses to duck that responsibility, as the Democrats largely did when the issue was put to them in late 2002, it is hard to fault the press for not stepping in to fill the void." WTF? Translation: "Aw, gee, Mom, everyone else is doing it!" Is Dobbins really saying that if one player fails in his duty then we can excuse the other players for doing the same? No wonder he "takes a dim view of finger pointing." Everybody's innocent!

Listen, Dobby. Some people are just bad. They are damaged goods. Like scorpions, they do what are programmed to do. Most people, however, are equipped with brains and consciences. *They* are the ones who have the moral choices to make. The scorpions might be the cause of evil done, but the people who allow it to continue when it is within their power to stop it? A special circle in Dante's Inferno is waiting for them.

A tie-in from my subsequent post.

American commentators have become increasingly critical of the British performance in southern Iraq this year. The new CIA National Intelligence Estimate says "violence has escalated in Basra with the drawdown of coalition forces there". Some experts have said the UK forces have left a lawless void of warring Shia militias and parties and Iranian meddling in Basra, Iraq's second largest city. A few have even hinted that the US will have to take over and clean up the mess. Blaming the British for Basra is symptomatic of a larger search for scapegoats now underway in Washington as the political battle over "who lost Iraq?" gains momentum with the onset of the 2008 elections.
A tie-in with my subsequent post.

jeez mimiK

your citations for the baker and horton articles in harpers led me to two superb articles.


Horton posts every day. He's sometimes a little too obscure, but mostly he's very. very good.

Who lost Iraq? George W. Bush.

That much is indisputable. There can be no accountability for the failures of others (and they are manifold) until there is accountability for that.

I agree with Ockham. Bush first. The American people for letting themselves buy into preemptive war, second. We blamed the Germans for Hitler, and we should let ourselves be blamed for the analogous fault.

The "blame us all" conclusion is not a new one--a kind of negative "God Bless Us Everyone" sentiment. It is a little to easy to say.

However, if the world is asked what it thinks about American behavior, I have no doubt this is going to be the correct judgement. In the same way generations have held all Germany accountable for Hitler, we are going to be asked "How could you let something this monstrous happen?". It is a fair question. We should have known better, but that is not usually accepted as an excuse. And to go on and vow "never again" makes it incumbent upon us to find the problems and fix the blame if only to make a good faith effort on the vow.

Orion ATL, excellent post above.

In other words, the cops should have handled it, and Bush should never never never have been allowed to get away with calling the attack on the WTC an "act of war" which gave sovereign nation status to a bunch of pissed off assholes who never had to manage a budget or fund a healthcare program or provide roads or sewage systems for millions. It was ridiculous but everyone was in too much pain and shock to laugh. We should have laughed.

...oh wait and don't forget the last stanza of the song..."If we pull out of Iraq...they will follow us all the way home". Yeah right, if they wanted to they could do anything they wanted to right now. I am sure the FBI nor the CIA have flushed all the bad birds out of the bushes. But what do we do over there...it is such a quagmire, I knew it would be after a few days after the first bombs went into Iraq. I knew another Vietnam was looming...I don't know how others did not see it..(wait I take that back..a few did), but the majority refused to do or say anthing and it escalated. What I don't understand is why they did not watch all the borders for containment. Where were the Military leaders on that one? Did they remove those pages out of the military books in school? Geezus even schoolground kids playing dodgeball would know that tactic! So yeah we can't nuke, that would start all hell breaking loose and boy wouldn't that feed the throngs on Armagedon coming along. So what do we do?

This statement by James Dobbins brings up a particular point that I have been stewing over lately:

If it is not the military's role to challenge lawful orders, still less is it the role of the press to manufacture controversy where none exists. In a democracy, the primary responsibility for opposing or at least critically examining the case for war falls on the opposition party. If the opposition chooses to duck that responsibility, as the Democrats largely did when the issue was put to them in late 2002, it is hard to fault the press for not stepping in to fill the void.

I finally figured out the way the modern American press works: arguments are accorded airtime, and serious and respectful consideration, exactly in proportion to the real power of the constituency advancing the argument. As a corollary, the realism or sensibility of the argument have literally nothing to do with how seriously it is treated and how much airtime it gets. If Politically Potent Constituency A advances argument A, and Politically Potent Constituency B advances argument B, and Politically Insignificant Constituency C advances argument C, and the Realistic Restraints of Reality tend to suggest Several Obviously Relevant Facts X, as well as the fact that arguments A B and C can't exist in reality as stated, and must instead take on some adjusted forms A', B', and C', and oh by the way, the original argument B is actually hopelessly unmoored to the facts, then here's what get on national TV: A and B. That's it. Over and over, as if they're all that could possibly matter to anyone. No C, certainly no X, and no A' or B'. If Reagan says he can eat a ham sandwich and then give it to you and you can eat it too, AND if Reagan has a powerful constituency behind him, then his argument will be presented exactly as is, with no critical commentary and no indication of the fact that his argument is flatly impossible in reality, unless he intends you to eat his shit, which in fact he might. But the only thing that will be aired in opposition to whatever Reagan says is whatever Tip O'Neill says, which will be a bunch of bullshit in its own way, cause he's serving constituencies other than unvarnished reality as well. So you literally get "Republicans say and Democrats say", and "reality says" never gets articulated at all. And so here's this Robbins guy saying "well, if the Democrats didn't oppose it (for transparently self-interested political reasons that everyone knows), then the press can't very well say anything about it, can they? Cause it's not the job of the press to manufacture controversy." Is he nuts?! There is already a controversy and a conflict: not between Republicans and Democrats, in this case, but between Republicans and reality! The Press would not have been creating that conflict, they would have been merely reporting it. Just because no Politically Important Constituencies chose to take umbrage with the GOP's war plan, did not mean it was not in massive conflict with that other Politically Significant Constituency, reality. And the fact that the Press thinks that it can only report when two factions of the Elite disagree, and that it cannot report when one or more factions of the Elite are flagrantly violating Reality, is an enormous problem.

The remedy: Reality deserves automatic standing. If some elite faction says A and reality says X, you don't need another elite faction to point out X, for the press to be allowed to point out X. Nobody "important" has to find it in their self-interest to say X, for X to be worthy of reporting very seriously. Right now, Rahm Emanual has to say "you know, their numbers don't add up" before anyone will repeat on the airwaves "their numbers don't add up." (Even then, they'll say "Democrats argue their numbers don't add up.") No. Reporters are allowed -- hell, the core obligation of their profession ought to be -- to do a final check-in with reality while they're writing up what all the Elite Actors are doing. And in this case, when all the Elite factions found it politically convenient to either 1) take us to war in Iraq or 2) let us go to war without objecting, it was the obligation of the Press to report to their subscribers that these plans had a barely tenuous connection to the real Iraq. The fact that they did not report that just because Gephardt wouldn't say it did this country great harm and should cause them real shame.

"Americans should accept that the entire nation has, to one degree or another, failed in Iraq"

The entire nation? I don't think so. Count me out.

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