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On Webb

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by rimrocker, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. rimrocker

    rimrocker Member

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    Glenn Greenwald writes well. A few weeks ago he tackled the difference between a serious thinker like Webb and the folks who got us into the Iraq mess...
    __________________

    Jim Webb, Marty Peretz and our "serious" national security leaders

    (updated below)

    One of the most harmful flaws in our political system is the irrelevance of rightness and wrongness. While George Allen was "arguing" in favor of the invasion of Iraq by spewing all of the standard, trite, adolescent GOP talking points about the Threat Posed by Saddam-- almost all of which turned out to be completely false -- Jim Webb, in September, 2002, wrote an Op-Ed in The Washington Post vehemently arguing against the invasion of Iraq. It is striking just how right Webb was about virtually everything he said, and it is worth quoting at length to underscore what "serious, responsible national security" viewpoints actually look like:


    Meanwhile, American military leaders have been trying to bring a wider focus to the band of neoconservatives that began beating the war drums on Iraq before the dust had even settled on the World Trade Center. Despite the efforts of the neocons to shut them up or to dismiss them as unqualified to deal in policy issues, these leaders, both active-duty and retired, have been nearly unanimous in their concerns.

    Is there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and a long-term occupation of Iraq? And would such a war and its aftermath actually increase our ability to win the war against international terrorism? On this second point, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the Joint Chiefs vice chairman, mentioned in a news conference last week that the scope for potential anti-terrorist action included -- at a minimum -- Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Georgia, Colombia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and North Korea.

    America's best military leaders know that they are accountable to history not only for how they fight wars, but also for how they prevent them. The greatest military victory of our time -- bringing an expansionist Soviet Union in from the cold while averting a nuclear holocaust -- was accomplished not by an invasion but through decades of intense maneuvering and continuous operations. With respect to the situation in Iraq, they are conscious of two realities that seem to have been lost in the narrow debate about Saddam Hussein himself.

    The first reality is that wars often have unintended consequences -- ask the Germans, who in World War I were convinced that they would defeat the French in exactly 42 days. The second is that a long-term occupation of Iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of force levels elsewhere, and could eventually diminish American influence in other parts of the world.

    Other than the flippant criticisms of our "failure" to take Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, one sees little discussion of an occupation of Iraq, but it is the key element of the current debate. The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years. Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade and stay. . . .

    The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam. Indeed, this very bitterness provided Osama bin Laden the grist for his recruitment efforts in Saudi Arabia when the United States kept bases on Saudi soil after the Gulf War.

    Nations such as China can only view the prospect of an American military consumed for the next generation by the turmoil of the Middle East as a glorious windfall. Indeed, if one gives the Chinese credit for having a long-term strategy -- and those who love to quote Sun Tzu might consider his nationality -- it lends credence to their insistent cultivation of the Muslim world. . . An "American war" with the Muslims, occupying the very seat of their civilization, would allow the Chinese to isolate the United States diplomatically as they furthered their own ambitions in South and Southeast Asia.

    These concerns, and others like them, are the reasons that many with long experience in U.S. national security issues remain unconvinced by the arguments for a unilateral invasion of Iraq. Unilateral wars designed to bring about regime change and a long-term occupation should be undertaken only when a nation's existence is clearly at stake.

    It is true that Saddam Hussein might try to assist international terrorist organizations in their desire to attack America. It is also true that if we invade and occupy Iraq without broad-based international support, others in the Muslim world might be encouraged to intensify the same sort of efforts. And it is crucial that our national leaders consider the impact of this proposed action on our long-term ability to deter aggression elsewhere.



    Each and every one of the dangers about which Webb warned has come to fruition. But thoughtful, sophisticated, rational and -- as it turns out -- prescient analysis like this was haughtily dismissed away by the tough-guy political and pundit classes as unserious and wimpy, even when coming from combat heroes. Instead, those who were deemed to be the serious, responsible, and strong national security leaders -- and who still are deemed as such -- were the ones shrilly warning about Iraqi mushroom clouds over our cities; handing out playing cards -- playing cards -- with pictures of the Bad People underneath their comic book nicknames; and making predictions about Iraq which the most basic working knowledge of that country should have precluded.

    And such individuals, rather than hiding in shame or expressing remorse for their grave errors, continue to prance around pompously as the Foreign Policy Experts and Serious National Security Adults. Witness Marty Peretz's revolting (though revealing) homage today on his New Republic blog to Bush-worshipping warmonger Mark Steyn as "a brilliant writer, a funny writer and a persuasive one" who "on the real agenda of the time, the challenge to civilization that you won't avoid even if it you ignore it (sic), he is absolutely correct."

    In a minimally rational political culture, political figures like George Allen, Marty Peretz, Mark Steyn, and most of the somber pro-war Beltway pundits would be hounded out of public life and would suffer a total loss of credibility, at least for a good long time if not permanently. They were so profoundly and patently wrong about the most important political issue of the decade and, much worse, demonized those who were right. Worse still, most of them continued to defend the war long after its failures were manifest and, through today, remain so unrepentantly wrong (George Allen, April 2006: "'You have to stay the course.' Defeating the 'vile terrorists' in Iraq is 'going to take perseverance and resolve'").

    By contrast, in a rational or honorable world, those who knowingly subjected themselves to an onslaught of vicious attacks from all corners for having been so right, such as Jim Webb -- and Howard Dean -- would be heralded as the serious and wise leaders whose judgment can be trusted. In such a world, there wouldn't be a close race between George Allen and Jim Webb. There wouldn't be a race at all, because George Allen wouldn't have the audacity and shamelessness to seek re-election.

    But, lamentably, that is not the political world we inhabit. As a result, the political party that, from top to bottom and with very few exceptions, was wrong about virtually everything with regard to Iraq still preens around as the serious national security party that can be trusted, while those who were right are still somehow depicted as the hapless, confused losers whose judgment can't be trusted to "protect" the country (John J. Miller: "The problem with Webb is that he's too liberal"). Those premises have eroded substantially this year, but the fact that they endure at all -- and continue to be particularly strong among the guardians of our political discourse -- is really one of the great and enduring mysteries of our political culture.

    http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/10/jim-webb-marty-peretz-and-our-serious.html
    ______________

    Glad to see the adults are back.
     
  2. Achilleus

    Achilleus Member

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    If nothing happens with the recount, and Webb wins it, it is interesting that now Virginia would have two former secretaries of the Navy as their US senators.
     
  3. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Member

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    you do realize "the folks who got us into the Iraq mess" include:

    Max Baucus (D-MT)
    Evan Bayh (D-IN)
    Joe Biden (D-DE)
    John Breaux (D-LA)
    Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
    Jean Carnahan (D-MO)
    Tom Carper (D-DE)
    Max Cleland (D-GA)
    Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
    Tom Daschle (D-SD)
    Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
    Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
    John Edwards (D-NC)
    Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    Tom Harkin (D-IA)
    Fritz Hollings (D-SC)
    Tim Johnson(D-SD)
    John Kerry (D-MA)
    Herb Kohl (D-WI)
    Mitch Landrieu (D-LA)
    Joe Lieberman (D-CT)
    Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
    Zell Miller (D-GA)
    Bill Nelson (D-FL)
    Ben Nelson (D-NE)
    Harry Reid (D-NV)
    Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
    Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
    Robert Torricelli (D-NJ)
     
  4. basso

    basso Member
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    you can't fight a war, much less win one, by pretending you're not in a war. perhaps in january when the democrats take over and are forced to get serious, they will realize we're in a war, and americans like to win.
     
  5. Major

    Major Member

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    Really? I didn't realize congresspeople made military decisions on strategy and force levels. When exactly did that happen? Oh right, it didn't.

    Authorizing use of force is in no way the same as actually doing it, let alone planning the specific strategies and tactics that got us in the mess in the first place.

    When people start trying to shift blame Iraq to Democrats, you know they've lost all sense of reality. It's amazing that the minority party in Congress is responsible for military decisions made by a party that controlled both the White House and both chambers of Congress. The GOP must be incompetent to have let that happen.
     
  6. SamFisher

    SamFisher Member

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    I won't speak for him but I'm sure he does realize that they voted for the resolution.

    Just like I'm sure that you realize that their degree of responsibiilty for the US military intervention in Iraq, in having voted for a congressional resolution (which the President claimed he wasn't bound by anyway) is not anywhere near the degree of responsibility of those who conceived, sold, and implemented the invasion.
     
  7. Major

    Major Member

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    Nor can you win a war by pretending everything is good and dandy and that your strategy that everyone knows isn't working is perfect. That's been the Bush plan the last few years.

    I wonder how the families and friends of American troops that died over the last few weeks feel about Bush holding off on changing strategy and changing the SecDef for political reasons. I'm sure their families are thrilled that Bush knew change was needed but refused because he wanted to play politics.
     
  8. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Member

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    are you saying these democrats are the architects of this iraq war and not the neocons?

    they only signed authorization for this admin to use all peaceful means first..

    talking about iraq mess, when saddam's army was disbanded, were those democrats you listed consulted or have a say in it?
     
  9. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Member

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    yeah thats why they kicked you repubs out to the curve
     
  10. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Member

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    you're right they didn't, but then again this isn't about strategy and force levels, this is just pointing out that you guys have "folks who got us into the Iraq mess" also.
     
  11. geeimsobored

    geeimsobored Member

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    Those senators authorized the use of force by the president. Even I personally wasn't necessarily against the Iraq war (of course I assumed the intelligence on WMD was accurate but that's another issue)

    What those senators couldn't control was the utter incompetence by which this administration ran the reconstruction of Iraq. That's where things went wrong. I still don't think the decision to topple Saddam was an inherent failure but one created by an absolutely mangled effort at organizing and rebuilding Iraq. So many things went wrong. (from disbanding the Iraqi army, to not having a system in place to organize contract bids, to not having recruited civilian leaders to help run and organize key industries in Iraq, to not having any sort of real strategy to build police forces, etc.. etc..)

    I could go on forever but the sheer lunacy of Bush's Iraq policy is what did us in. And furthermore, the almost cartoonish simplification of the Iraq debate to "cut and run" versus "stay the course" absolutely poisoned any chance at legitimate political discourse on Iraqi reconstruction. It shouldve been a question of how we go about reconstructing Iraq but it turned into Republican declarations that you are either for the entirety of the president's actions or you are a coward that will give aid and comfort to the enemy by cutting and running.

    Discourse on Iraq is an absolute joke and a representation of everything that is wrong with political discourse today and your post is another example of that sort of over-simplification.
     
  12. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Member

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    the list i posted above should get as much or as little blame as this list of republican senators who "got us into the Iraq mess..."

    Wayne Allard (R-CO)
    George Allen (R-VA)
    Bob Bennett (R-UT)
    Kit Bond (R-MO)
    Sam Brownback (R-KS)
    Jim Bunning (R-KY)
    Conrad Burns (R-MT)
    Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)
    Thad Cochran (R-MS)
    Susan Collins (R-ME)
    Larry Craig (R-ID)
    Mike Crapo (R-ID)
    Mike DeWine (R-OH)
    Pete Domenici (R-NM)
    John Ensign (R-NV)
    Mike Enzi (R-WY)
    Scott Fitzgerald (R-IL)
    Bill Frist (R-TN)
    Phil Gramm (R-TX)
    Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
    Judd Gregg (R-NH)
    Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
    Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
    Jesse Helms (R-NC)
    Tim Hutchinson (R-AR)
    Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
    James Inhofe (R-OK)
    Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
    Trent Lott (R-MS)
    Richard Lugar (R-IN)
    John McCain (R-AZ)
    Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
    Don Nickles (R-OK)
    Pat Roberts (R-KS)
    Rick Santorum (R-PA)
    Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
    Richard Shelby (R-AL)
    Robert Smith (R-NH)
    Gordon Smith (R-OR)
    Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
    Arlen Specter (R-PA)
    Ted Stevens (R-AK)
    Craig Thomas (R-WY)
    Fred Thompson (R-TN)
    Strom Thurmond (R-SC)
    George Voinovich (R-OH)
    John Warner (R-VA)


    the president, the now resigned rummy, and the rest of the clan should clearly get the blame.
     
  13. Major

    Major Member

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    Except the Iraq mess is a direct result of the strategy decisions. The State Department had a post-war plan - it was ignored. The CIA was prepared for insurgent resistance - they were ignored. The generals asked for more troops - they were ignored.

    The problem is a direct result of bad decisions made by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld - no one else.
     
  14. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Member

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    the iraq plan is a joke. rumsfeld's plan for light armor, and a small force rather than what the generals suggested was a huge mistake.

    simple plans from simple-minded leaders for the simple-minded masses. you don't want the white house confusing people do you?


    btw, the political discoure today, is now in the democrats court ;)




    well, in jan.
     
  15. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    That's the facts, Jack. If anyone has read Woodward's book, they've seen it all spelled out. The mistakes made are truly stunning. We could have had a far different result, in my opinion, but Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush thought they knew more than everyone else. The result was a ****-up of monumental proportions.



    Keep D&D Civil.
     
  16. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Member

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    that's what i said in post #12.

    my original post, the response to what rimrocker said,
    was to point out that the democratic party isn't full of serious thinkers, if the sole qualification is iraq. not to place blame on them, or the senate as a whole.


    besides, its nice to see all these responses, i like kicking the antpile every now and then. :D
     
  17. JayZ750

    JayZ750 Member

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    I've asked this question multiple times in here...never got a good response.

    What war, exactly are we in? I guess I concede we are in a war...I guess, but I don't really know which one - the "War on Terror", the "War on Iraq"....?

    More importantly, what the hell does winning mean? Even if there was a really good answer for the first question, what does it even mean to win? How can we even win this war if we don't even know when the mission will really be accomplished?
     
  18. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Member

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    http://ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2006-10-29-1.html
    by Orson Scott Card

     
  19. basso

    basso Member
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    i've answered it multiple times.
     
  20. Smokey

    Smokey Member

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    Mr. Macaca loses his position and his party loses the Senate. Sweet!
     

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