Bomb Throwing Pacifist
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
We Americans, despite our current grumblings, are fundamentally an optimistic people. Our optimism has helped us achieve great things. But it can also be a problem. There is an assumption in public life that every problem has an optimum solution, all gain and no pain.
No shit Barone. It's called "leadership." No wonder you're unfamiliar with this odd feeling of abandonment on the part of the American public. Then again, if my candidate's approval ratings were in upper 30s, I'd feel that way too. As for your comment on American society and its attitude concerning optimism...
Much of our political debate takes the form of yelling that everything would be just fine if the other side weren't so stupid that it failed to see the perfectly obvious policy.
Well that's only when you're not busy bitching about how the liberals are ruining everything in the country when your own party controls the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Whtie House, and the Supreme Court. Talk about a freaking martyr complex.
The debate over Iraq has often been based on this assumption. The Bush administration has been blasted for dissolving the Iraqi army (actually, allowing it to disperse), which left it harder to maintain order.
Which was of course the same time of sane, logical and well-informed reasoning which caused Viceroy Bremer to decide to fire all government workers who were eeeevil Ba'ath party members before realizing that if he did that, not a single school teacher would be left on the job. Talk about your less-than-optimal solutions here, B.
But maintaining Baathist officers in place would have produced much oppression and left weapons in the hands of many determined enemies.
I agree. I can totally see how leaving the professional, multi-ethnic inact army in place would have just lead to opression and death squads. Firing them all and rebuilding the police and army fro scratch was a brilliant maneuver. Speaking of which, I wonder what that flashing thing on the back of my news blotter is.
Well at least with the army disolved, it's not like the Iraqi insurgents could get their hands on any weapons now, could they? Or that the disollution of the professional, multi-ethnic army in any way, shape or form contributed to the lawlessness and insecurity plaguing the country from right after the fall of Baghdad up until today right? Gah, this is too easy.
There was no optimum solution here -- there were serious downsides to either policy.
Um, yeah there was an optimum solution, one which I came up with in the spring of 2003. It was called Operation DONT FREAKING INVADE IRAQ IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! If you follow that plan, then you never even have to worry about what to do with the Iraqi army in the first place, savvy?
A superficial view of our history buttresses the assumption that there's always an optimum policy. In times of crisis, we seem always to have found great leaders -- Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt. In war, we have always surged through to victory.
Yeah well, there's a time for everything I guess. Our number must have been up.
Our economy has grown so bounteously that we have come to take its miraculous performance for granted.
Well, some of us are *cough cough* Royal Dutch Shell *cough.* Not all of us though.
We haven't won all our wars: the War of 1812 and Korea were ties and Vietnam ultimately a loss.
Well, but if you look at it the way Dennis Hastert does when it comes to the recent congressional elections, we didn't "lose" so much as "we took second place."
And sometimes we have been faced with tragic choices. Just 65 years ago, just after Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill spent Christmastime at the White House conferring with Franklin Roosevelt.
Really? Was it only 65 years ago? My, my, time does fly.
Churchill and Roosevelt were determined to move forward, even (as in the North Africa invasion of November 1942) against the advice of their military leaders. And they both without hesitation chose to support the Soviets, even though they were well aware of the evil of Stalin's regime -- and understood that in destroying Hitler they were risking Soviet enslavement of Eastern Europe.
But then again, Nazi Germany had kinda declared war against us, so you know. It's not like we really had a choice in the matter, short of having FDR get out of his wheelchair, tear off his shirt, high-five Winston, and take down the tag-team Duo of Hitler and Stalin in a winner-takes-all world domination match. Just sayin'.
We forget now, but there was opposition to Roosevelt's decision to go after Hitler first (hadn't we been attacked by the Japanese, not the Germans?) and to support Stalin (an indubitably evil leader).
Indeed, some people thought that going to war against Hitler was totally the wrong idea to begin with, and that the real enemy was Stalin and Soviet Russia. You know, people like Charles Lindbergh, Gerald Ford, and the America First Committee.
George W. Bush now faces an array of less-than-optimum choices on Iraq. On the campaign trail and on Sunday interview shows, many Democrats and a few Republicans for months blithely talked of withdrawal. But as they have faced the probable consequences, spelled out by among others the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, the downside risks seem ominous.
You know what else seemed ominous at the time? GOING TO WAR IN THE FIRST PLACE. I know that that's not really an option now, but oh well. This is just your circa-2003 "coward" 'traitor" "appeaser" and "surrender monkey" hammering out a rousing chorus of "I fucking told you so you fuckedy-fuckers."
And now, for your two choices. Choice 1: immediate withdraw of US troops, followed by civil war and ethnic cleansing. Choice 2: A few thousand more U.S. casualties and a few billion more dollars down the drain for our kids to pay off, followed by a withdraw, civil war, and ethnic cleansing. Guess which one looks more attractive to me?
Nor does the ISG's recommendation that we negotiate with Iran and Syria look at all promising, given the recent behavior of Iran's Ahmadinejad.
Q: Why does a hyena lick its own genetalia?
A: Because it can. What are you going to do about it, punk?
The success of military tactics, as Churchill and Roosevelt knew, is never certain. But the challenges before us are surely not as daunting as assaulting Hitler's Fortress Europa and reclaiming the Pacific from Japan.
All that talk about Germany and Japan and rebuilding and alliances and appeasement and Chruchchill/Chamberlain and being greeted as liberators and cakewalk and axis of evil stuff aside, we really didn't mean it!
Bush has stressed that he has followed the advice of his military leaders.
Except for when they unanimously disagree with him. Because he's the decider and stuff. He makes the decisions.
He needs to engage now with his new secretary of defense and his military leaders, in the aggressive and detailed way that Churchill and Roosevelt did, probing and critiquing their proposals, eliciting from them plans that can reduce the sectarian violence in Baghdad and the Baathist and Al-Qaida attacks there and in Anbar province to tolerable levels. Even over Christmas, as Churchill and Roosevelt did.
In conclusion, war is tough stuff. And when you're a president, you need to be prepared to put in long hours, even over Christmas. Doing what exactly, I can't really say, but I'm sure when its all over, the White House will have come up with yet another rock-solid, foolproof plan to dilly and dally until January 1st, 2009, at which point everything can be successful blamed on the incoming Democratic administration. "Til next time kids!