As predicted, the usual suspects completely ignored the op-ed by the 82nd Airborne NCO’s in the NY Times, but are having another link orgy regarding Beauchamp.
Well, that is not completely true. Hot Air had this to say about the op-ed:
Oh well. The Times had to make amends to the left for that O’Hanlon and Pollack op-ed in time for the big Iraq debate next month. And now they have.
And BlackFive weighed in with a lengthy piece that stated that while what they experienced may be true for their region, LOTS OF OTHER SOLDIERS EXPERIENCE SOMETHING ELSE and regardless, people have been wrong before and victory is right around the corner and these NCO’s don’t see the big picture.
Other than that, though… crickets.
And what does this big expose on Beauchamp rely on? Why, exactly the kind of things they are accusing the TNR of- take it away, Instaputz:
Some words that jump out in Richard Miniter’s “reporting” on TNR:
Perhaps because McGee worked on the business side of the magazine on the first floor and not with the editors and writers on the second, Foer didn’t consider him a genuine insider—and therefore gave him the company line. But McGee believes that Foer was speaking his mind. …
What appears to be his home phone number—the only Foer listed in D.C.—has been “temporarily disconnected.”
Perhaps a cone of silence has descended. A longtime New Republic editor told me that she was not sure that she was allowed to discuss the Beauchamp affair…
In the days after the party, Elspeth Reeve received the sympathetic attention of editors and fact-checkers at The New Republic’s offices. They did not blame her for escorting a fabricator into the magazine’s inner sanctum, who hoodwinked them and body-slammed the magazine’s reputation, according to McGee. Apparently, they did not ask what responsibility she might bear. …
Reeve is not talking to the press, most likely on orders from editor Franklin Foer or the magazine’s attorneys. Yet it is possible to reconstruct what she knew about Beauchamp. …
Indeed, it appears that Beauchamp’s relationship with Reeve shifted into high gear around the time he was first published in the magazine….
It appears Beauchamp had little interest in Reeve until she was in a position to help him. “I knew he was engaged twice before he was with me, but not with Elspeth [his college friend and now wife]. … Last summer, we were together in my room and he told me about her and made fun of her.”…
Beauchamp appears to repeating this behavior. Even though he has access to free phones on base to call the United States, he is not offering an explanation to the press—just as he didn’t offer one to Priscilla….
Etc., etc., etc. There are a host of other problems with this piece, in addition to the fact that it’s almost purely speculative.
It appears to me that the vast majority of the “respected” right-wing bloggers may be full of shit and completely capable of ignoring anything that they don’t like.
Related news- Sadly, No! fixes the internet (NSFW).
Please add a NSFW onto that link. Just scroll all the way down and you’ll see why…
I thin I need to go bleach my eyeballs now…
Give them a break, John. It’s not easy to find an angle for unmitigated attack on the 81st Airborne piece. It’s dry, it lacks drama, etc. There’s nothing there at all macabre, nothing to grab the imagination, or to defy it. Nowhere does it describe an individual behaving in a way that does not pass the “smell test” (which is to say, in a way that our nation’s finest armchair commandos don’t imagine things would play out in their imaginary middle east which is full of imaginary people who are either fiendishly hostile or obsequiously grateful towards their own imaginary selves, minus, of course, their imaginary perenoidal cysts). Besides, the article says something that Doughy Pantload has been preaching for some time:
It’s not our troops’ fault: it’s that they haven’t been able to take the gloves off (probably because of liberal fifth-columnists at home!) and get the job done. Hell, you should be surprised that Jonah hasn’t picked this one up and run favorably with it as an endorsement of his views that nothing but some vague Greater Ruthlessness will see us through.
Well that’s all it takes. The article and all its contents are now dismissed. Can you believe you used to fall for it? I still can’t believe how easily I let them tell me what to read and believe. They used my own prejudices and incorrect assumptions against me the fuckers.
Beauchamp as date-rapist.
Good lord, they’re still going on about Beauchamp?!!
Try QandO. I couldn’t stomach it, but others might have a stronger constitution.
BlogsforBush did much the same thing, though with the added irony of having several members of the peanut gallery go on record as saying that “the troops'” word is not above criticism. Which, to the shock of exactly nobody, I’m sure, is in direct contradiction to their usual “the troops = America = Bush = Jebus” pabulum when they see “the troops” agreeing with their own political ends.
I don’t think we’ve met, Mr. Cole, but I followed your link from my piece at BlackFive.
I’ll leave aside the question of whether it’s fair to summarize it as you do; as you said, it’s a long piece, and I’d rather people read it and decided for themselves whether that description is the right one. But I would like to note something about the Memeorandum issue:
I was also watching to see who would comment on the piece by the several NCOs of the 82nd, and I noticed that it had largely spammed off Memeorandum last night. I had thought it would be the top article under discussion today, but you can see what the board looked like around 11 PM last night:
The content replacing it, at that time, was obsession about Karl Rove’s retirement. There was a great deal more activity around the Rove pieces than today’s STB stuff.
So, it may be that there is a market for entertainment news on both sides of the aisle. Beauchamp today for the Right; Rove yesterday for the Left; and only a few of us took time to make note of what the NCOs had to say.
And you would expect something different?
Cracks me up. The little playground bullies, the Jack Bauer defenders of the sandbox, have seven guys walk in and tell them eyeball to eyeball they’re full of shit. In large measure they blink. What to do? It comes to them. Let’s pile on the little Bill Gates like nerd with the big glasses AGAIN! They’re tough like that.
Just skimmed the Blackfive post by Grim. Not bad. I’ll disagree with his disagreement of the op-ed authors, but on balance a decent post. There’s also a good comment in the thread by a wife of one of the op-ed authors.
Next they’ll resurrect the Green Helmet guy and Jamil Hussein kerfuffles. So predictable … and enjoyable!
Genocide is always a viable tactic for achieving victory in a guerilla war. A repugnant morally inexcusable one, but whether it is Nigeria starving Biafrans to death to put down a guerilla war there, Stalin killing 80% of the population of Chechnya to put down the first Chechnyan rebellion, etc.
The fact that there are some right-wingers advocating genocide as official U.S. policy does not surprise me. The question of why their head does not explode from the sheer cognitive dissonance as they talk about “moral issues” at the same time, giving that genocide is probably the most immoral evil thing to take place on our planet, is more surprising. Well, maybe not. These are the same folks who believe that the best way to avoid war is to, err, make war, and that serving in the military is the bestest thing anybody could ever do, unless, err, you ask them why they’re not serving, in which case they hurriedly develop anal cysts or something to excuse why they’re not serving. Irony is lost on them.
– Badtux the Genocide Penguin
Given that these are the direct descendants of the settlers who held that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”, it should not be a surprise that they consider genocide a viable and public policy. It worked pretty well the first time around, to our shame as a nation.
The Other Steve
Look, if we don’t start imposing Genocide in Iraq, and we leave, the Iraqis will start imposing Genocide on one another, and that’s bad, eh.
I get the impression that the righties just like to be the guy pulling the trigger.
So, if I understand you correctly, Grim, are you implying that the Lefty Dems are just as bad, if not worse, than the Tighty Righties?
C’mon Nikki, what else are they going to talk about? A desire to ignore unpleasant facts (by focusing on STB/NR)shows some contact with reality. The folks who continue to insist everything is going swimmingly are the ones who worry me.
Grim, srsly? Digby blogged it, and everybody reads Digby. Atrios doesn’t appear to have picked it up yet, but it’s in favor of running more media criticism (that’s most of what Atrios does) and the bit about the Iraqi governor being blown up, not about Rove. Glenn Greenwald is blogging about the editor of Foreign Policy’s latest jab at lefty blogs. Matt Yglesias is covering the Harvard class of 2003 reunion (has he mentioned this post yet that he went to Harvard? no? well, he did), Natalie Portman, Krugman’s article on the fallout from the subprime lending mess, and the Sam Nunn Unity08 shtuff.
I mean, I guess it’s all Liberal Pron if you open the definition wide enough, but still…
“So, if I understand you correctly, Grim, are you implying that the Lefty Dems are just as bad, if not worse, than the Tighty Righties?”
Nothing quite like that. I mean only that few of us seem to want to talk about it seriously. I thought people across the blogosphere would be deeply interested in it; it seemed important to me, and indeed it still does. Leaving the partisanship aside, there are some serious challenges and hard decisions ahead, and I was surprised last night to find that everyone had moved on. It captured some narrow attention for a few hours, and now it’s just a few of us who even noticed.
The debate on the Left about the foreign policy establishment is interesting and also important, of course; I was reading up on it today, and made a small comment of my own:
And surely Rove is more important than TNR or STB; I don’t mean to suggest that they’re equivalent issues either. I’m just surprised at how quickly this story vanished, from the Left as well as the Right. I think we owe them serious consideration of the issues they raise, and a respectful hearing. I don’t feel obligated to agree with them, obviously, but I wish more people were thinking and talking about what they said and what it means.
Grim- I read your piece twice, actually, before summarizing it. I had to read it twice because I paid no attention to the byline at first and was actually shocked that thug Uncle Jimbo had written something so lucid. I caught that you had written the second time through.
I thought it was a fair and honest rebuttal, I just disagreed with it, and I think my summary indicates pretty clearly why I disagreed with it. There is little in there other than precisely what I have said- these soldiers don’t have the big picture, the surge needs more time, etc.
We will have to agree to disagree, although I do respect the fact that you actually even discussed the issue, as that is far more than the cheerleader wing of the right blogosphere would ever do.
Like I said, I’ll be happy if people read it and decide for themselves. I can accept polite disagreement. I think it’s important to be able to accept it, and indeed, it’s just what I have for the NCOs in question.
Question for Grim,
Why is it that the soldiers who wrote the op-ed are considered to “not have the big picture,” are “speaking from their own microcosm,” etc., but O’Hanlon, Liberman, McCain, Malkin and all the rest who visited under the armed guard and supervision of the DoD are considered sacrosanct in their perception of the war?
Thank you for your concern, Grim. Now back under the bridge, I think I see some billy goats coming.
RedState cracks me up. Not a frontpage peep about the NYT op-ed. Not in side blogs either. Not even a RedHot.
But not very long ago, especially from the Moe, they all got their juices flowing doing the Beauchamp in post after post. Wonder why that is?
“Who’s that trip, trip, trapping over my bridge?
I say it’s all Steely McBeam’s fault.
“Why is it that the soldiers who wrote the op-ed are considered to “not have the big picture,” are “speaking from their own microcosm,” etc., but O’Hanlon, Liberman, McCain, Malkin and all the rest who visited under the armed guard and supervision of the DoD are considered sacrosanct in their perception of the war?”
Well, I don’t think I’ve ever written anything of any length about what any of those people think about Iraq (except perhaps Lieberman and McCain; I don’t remember doing so, but both have been a factor in politics long enough that it’s possible my memory fails me). The NCOs got serious attention because the opinions of NCOs are important and worth considering at length.
I wouldn’t simply assert that a sergeant wouldn’t know the big picture. I did try to describe what I think the big picture is, and why I think things are as I believe them to be; and I tried to explain how the events they describe fit into that context. I don’t dispute the accuracy of their reports at all. We differ on what we think it means for Iraq as a whole.
Now, if your question is, “Why do you disagree with their conception of the big picture?”, that’s the question that the piece I wrote tries to explain. They appear to think they are seeing the early stages of a national liberation movement among Shi’ites; I think there is strong evidence that what we are seeing is not anything quite like that, but is instead a different kind of problem. If you’re interested in my thoughts on what kind, and what my evidence is, you’ll find those in the piece linked in the post above (under “Blackfive weighed”).
Well, if Grim is going to insist on the importance of getting the Big Picture as well as the worm’s-eye-view, let’s quote from Kevin Drum today:
“In any case, that [NYT piece] may be the grunt’s-eye view, but what about our experts in the foreign policy community? What do they think about the surge? ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine asked them:
” ‘More than half say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all. When the experts were asked to grade the government’s handling of the Iraq war, the news was even worse. They gave the overall effort in Iraq an average point score of just 2.9 on a 10-point scale. The government’s public diplomacy record was the only policy that scored lower.’
“In other news that people are increasingly coming to their senses, 68% of FP’s experts, including 54% of conservatives, agree that we should draw down the majority of U.S. forces over next 18 months and redeploy to Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. That’s progress.”
Note, of course, that THESE Big Picture viewers happen to be those who are not currently involved in the US war effort, and who therefore do not currently have any reason to cover their own asses by insisting that things are going peachily.
The Other Steve
I actually just read Grim’s post, and I find it frankly naive and filled with cliche stuck in the box thinking.
His solution, the make the people more afraid of the American army than they are of the insurgents, is a valid anti-insurgency strategy. It has worked in the past for Hitler, Stalin and tin-pot dictatorships in South America.
I’m curious, though, considering the level of disgust events such as Abu Ghraib has generated in the US, how he thinks a modern free society would put up with such tactics by it’s military. Especially given that the struggle is not vital to US national defense and is rather a war of choice waged by blustering politicians in Washington afraid to admit they made a mistake.
The Other Steve
According to Michael from MI, a commentor over at the Grim article… They are traiterous pigs who deserve to die.
I don’t believe I suggested anywhere that people should be made to fear America more than the insurgents. I did say that when people choose to back the insurgents, and see the insurgents lose, they will understand that the road to peace and stability can’t run through an insurgent camp. Partnership with the Coalition is the only road to stability.
I also said that we needed a robust reconciliation policy, one that readily offers amnesty to those who may have fought us before, and offers fellowship and defense of their interests going forward (even from other allied factions), in exchange for their defense of the new political state in Iraq.
I would say the policy is based not particularly on fear at all, but on two better qualities: tenacity in the face of insurgency, and forgiveness for those who are tired of the fighting, and willing to offer their support. (Combined, of course, with guarantees — for example, our biometrics program to help ensure that former insurgents do not return to the field against us.)
Now, a pair of questions in return: Iran is already playing with the Shi’ite factions in an attempt to swing control of Iraq. The Saudis have said openly that they will support Sunni fighters in Anbar and elsewhere, and may in fact deploy troops in Anbar, if we withdraw — precisely out of concern about Iran. Turkey has moved 140,000 troops to the border, and is increasingly difficult to hold out of the country even with America there. The vacuum if we withdraw will pull all three powers into Iraq.
So, the questions are — if we do care about Iraq, and I do, what other road offers them any chance for peace and stability besides that we stick it out? If we don’t really care about Iraq, as some don’t, what national interest of ours is served by allowing a war like that to engulf Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, and with them a substantial part of the world’s oil supply?
I don’t see that there is either a humanitarian or a realist answer that allows a withdrawal. I do see a road that doesn’t require America to do it all, one that is based on another kind of reconciliation. We’ve seen the early signs of it with the UN announcing that they will consider another try; the French visit of this week; and even the Democratic candidates for President warning of the dangers of a withdrawal ‘that is too fast,’ i.e., one that happens before stability is obtained.
That kind of reconciliation seems important to me, too. If we can ask it of the Iraqis, who have suffered more at each others’ hands, we can ask it of ourselves.
(1) So, how long should we stick it out, given that the Army is teetering on the brink of total exhaustion? Do you propose activating a draft on an emergency basis to try to solve this dilemma (assuming it isn’t too late already), and thus prevent that war that will “engulf Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, and with them a substantial part of the world’s oil supply?” Nobody in the Administration seems to. There isn’t just a “realist answer that allows a withdrawal”; there is a realist answer that COMPELS a withdrawal. (And that’s not ven to mention the little fact that we may well also need troops on an emergency basis to cope with any sudden, major new crisis connected with the facts that Pakistan and North Korea already have the Bomb and Iran seems to be on the verge of acquiring it — which, you’ll recall, was the one reason officially given to us for invading Iraq in the first place.)
(2) And which “new political state in Iraq” should we back — the one currently controlled by hostile Shiites to the point that the former Sunni partipants have now given up and pulled out completely?
I’d say the answer to question 1 is, “As long as necessary,” even if it means making serious changes to Army force structure and deployments. I think we could pull some units out of South Korea, and over time, perhaps all of them; North Korea is self-contained largely by its poverty. I see no reason to believe it could mount an invasion of South Korea without Chinese backing, and I see no reason (having lived in China during 2000-1) to believe that China wants a war of that sort.
I also do in fact believe we can reinvigorate the Coalition, and that we are seeing the start of that process.
We should not wish to limit our Naval and Marine deployments elsewhere, as they (in partnership with the navies of local states and regional partners) are the guarantor of peaceful world trade. The economy of all nations is based on that, which means that disruptions in it will be literally lethal on the periphery — in the poorer African nations, for example.
There are plans underway to set up an African Command out of EUCOM, which are designed to have deployable combat troops. It may need to start smaller.
2) The question you ask probably needs to be decided by new elections in Iraq; but that is an Iraqi matter. I think we have to stand guarantor of basic rights of factions that support us, as described above; but it is important that their state, if it is to be theirs, use their own mechanisms.
I’ve said that I would support a withdrawal, for example, if the Iraqi government asked us to go. They may. I suspect that we will be right back there if we do go, as the three states I mentioned are pulled into Iraq, and into conflict. But I would support leaving anyway, if they asked, even knowing we would probably have to return. When we did come back, perhaps things would be different, if only by bitter experience; the peace plan that worked in Ireland was known by some as “Sunningdale for slow learners,” since it was essentially the same peace plan that fell apart some years earlier.
IMO, the only time to cite a commentor like Michael is when the OP agrees with him. “X is a hate site because some commentors say hateful things” is Bill O’Reilly logic, and BOR’s grasp of logic is shaky, to say the least.
Sure, if people received some signs that cooperation = stability early that would make sense. But to say, today: If you’ll play along things will get better, I promise…well, someone would probably start shooting.
Pity they didn’t think of that when they disbanded the army. Is it too late to stuff that genii back in the bottle? I guess you could argue that given enough time, we could but given enough time you can do anything. The problem is finding the resources to accomplish what you want.
What if a continued US presence makes matters worse?
In his interview with Hugh Hewitt William Odom makes the claim that the longer we stay, the worse it gets for the Iraqis both now and when we finally do pull out. I think Odom has the big picture though I think he sounds a bit callous. But that’s reality. The military in Iraq makes it harder and while I’m thinking of it, our refusal to take more than a handful of refugees is creating an humanitarian crisis.
Odom’s a smart guy, no doubt.
We had a discussion over at Lawyers, Guns and Money a while back. The other reason I gave for which I would support a withdrawal is if, by the end of the year, we can’t show real progress at securing the civilian populace. I believe in what we’re doing, and — in a small way, but the best way I can — I’m part of it. I think it’s helping, and I think we are seeing signs both of grassroots reconciliation movements within Iraq, and an international movement toward reconciliation with the Coalition. This region is critical to all of us; and we Americans, of course, have a special duty to set things right.
I don’t know that Odom is specifically thinking of the potential for a regional war between Iraq, Iran, and Saudia Arabia (and pulling in Turkey, which could have consequences for NATO). I don’t think a lot of people are. I looked at the Foreign Policy piece mentioned, for example, and the #1 concern on both terrorism and nuclear issues is Pakistan. If that’s your major concern, then yes, a redeployment to Afghanistan does make sense.
The problem is that it assumes Iraq will not become somethign worse than a failed state. A Zimbabwe in Iraq is a managable problem, in a cold sort of calculus.
The power vacuum is not something I’ve seen widely discussed. That may, of course, mean that I’m wrong — that there are some good reasons I haven’t heard for why it’s not possible.
I can’t think what those reasons would be, however, if they are not a continued Coalition presence to guarantee that the power vacuum doesn’t develop. It changes the equation. A failed Iraq, perhaps the nations of the world can live with that. A regional war encompassing these particular states, however, seems to me disasterous for the world economy.
How does that compare with the threats of an unstable Pakistan? That’s genuinely hard to answer, since an unstable Pakistan might lead to several different types of problems. Given the two, however, I’d rather use what strength we have against the threat of a regional war in the Middle East, and to follow through on what seem to me our obligations in Iraq. In the event of serious problems in Pakistan, both China and India are nearly concerned, and so there would be partners in solving that problem that will not be available in Iraq. There are options, even diplomatic ones, for some of the crisis types that might arise; and a military solution, were one necessary, might be on a small scale, such as trying to neutralize its nuclear facilities if we felt the place was melting down. Yet we might not need to wage a wider war.
If people in the foreign policy community are thinking a lot about Pakistan right now, they may not be thinking much about what might happen in an Iraqi power vacuum. If you know of any serious thinker outside the military who has considered the issue at length, I’d appreciate the pointer.
Here’s the relevant paragraph from the FP piece, as far as I can see:
“Raging violence in Iraq has raised the specter that similar savagery could bleed over into neighboring countries. Many have feared that there could be a spillover of violence in Turkey, which has reportedly amassed troops on its border with Iraq, or in Saudi Arabia, home to a series of recent al Qaeda attacks, including the 2003 bombing of a residential compound in Riyadh. But the index’s experts fear for someone else in Iraq’s backyard. Nearly half said that Jordan is the neighbor most likely to experience a spillover of violence from Iraq—more than twice as many who pinpointed any other country.”
That’s not the issue that troubles me at all. I’m not particularly worried (and neither are they) that Iraqi will send spillover violence into other states. I’m worried that those states will be pulled into conflict by the power vacuum. That question seems not to have been considered by the study at all — and it’s a curious absence. I’m prepared to believe that there’s some very good reason why I’m wrong to think it’s a serious danger. What, though, would that reason be?
(1) “North Korea is self-contained largely by its poverty.”
NK is made very dangerous by its own poverty. Its current rulers live in terror of their eventual violent overthrow (one Japanese political scientist says that NK officials, in private conversation with him, constantly bring up the Ceaucescus) – and the fear of such a domestic massacre is exactly what might spur them to do something as reckless as using the threat of their Bomb to try and extort from their neighbors the cash to stay in power. They are, after all, doing precisely that with the US right now. We have only two alternatives: either keep bribing them permanently not to threaten anyone with the Bomb by keeping them propped up in power permanently – or announce that we won’t spend one cent to keep them in power, but that we WILL be willing to take any measures necessary to protect their wretched government and military officials from being slaughtered by their own people if they DO give up power peacefully. That is, give them a way to climb off the back of the tiger without being eaten. But to do that convincingly, the US – with or without help from the rest of the world – will need a hell of a lot of spare troops to occupy and peacekeep NK.
(2) “The question you ask [exactly which ‘political state in Iraq?’ are you talking about backing?] probably needs to be decided by new elections in Iraq; but that is an Iraqi matter.”
Would you mind giving me any reason why new elections would lead to an Iraq any less fragmented than the current one? The last election consisted mostly of the separate ethnic groups voting for “parties” devoted to their own ethnic groups’ interests. Another election will do about as much to resolve Iraq’s crisis peacefully as the 1860 election did to peacefully resolve America’s slavery crisis.
(3) “I think we have to stand guarantor of basic rights of factions that support us, as described above.”
Which factions are those? The Shiites who dominate what currently passes for Iraq’s govenrment, and which (understandably) have strong ties to Iran? The Sunni insurgents that (as we are constantly being told nowadays) have started allying with us in giving al-Qaida the boot, but show no interest (understandably) in trying to placate the Shiites? The Kurds, who are determined to become independent? Turkey, which is equally determined to keep the Kurds from becoming independent? The whole problem with the Mideast – and certainly with present-day Iraq – is that the enemy of our enemy is very often NOT our friend.
(4) “…I would support leaving anyway, if they asked, even knowing we would probably have to return. When we did come back, perhaps things would be different, if only by bitter experience; the peace plan that worked in Ireland was known by some as ‘Sunningdale for slow learners,’ since it was essentially the same peace plan that fell apart some years earlier.”
You have just stated – in miniaturized form – the only possible course of action we can follow in ANY part of Islam’s current crisis. They are NOT going to accept the word of Infidels that the authoritarian form of their religion is the root cause of their troubles, until they are finally exhausted of bloody religiously-motivated infighting, and of theocratic dictatorships that turn out to be as corrupt as the secular dictatorships which they replaced. And in order to get tired of those theocratic dictatorships, they are going to have to be allowed to experience them first – for decades. The results of elections in the Moslem Mideast – except for the unique case of Turkey, which was previously secularized by the unique combination of the sheer brute force of Ataturk’s internal dictatorship and his personal commitment to democracy as a long-term goal – have shown this already.
Europe finally finished liberalizing Christianity in this way in the 17th century, after the staggeringly bloody Thirty Years’ War. Nothing short of such a huge generally recognized failure would have liberalized Christianity, and nothing short of it will reform Islam. All we can hope to do is stand by, take advantage of individual opportunities to accelerate the peace process as the Moslems finally do become grudgingly willing to accept liberalized Islam, and try to keep those theocracies from getting their hands on nukes in the meantime. The latter will be more than enough to keep our military hands full by itself. In effect, we are going to have to wait for the firestorm to burn itself out, while concentrating on trying to keep it away from the ammo dumps.
And as for the fact that the current Shiite-controlled government hasn’t yet “asked us to leave”: why on Earth would they do that yet, when they can get us to tenderize the Sunni regions by eliminating their armed militias – after which, when we do leave, the Shiites can march in and pulverize the Sunni regions without armed opposition?
In this connection, note also P. Lukasiak’s comment today on Greg Djerejian’s site:
“Keep in mind that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia was considered to be merely 5-7% of the insurgency — most of the rest of it was the former Baathists we are now calling ‘tribal Sunnis’. AQM relied upon the co-operation of the former Baathists in order to be ‘well funded and organized’ — this is especially true with regard to the foreigners who went to Iraq to join AQM. The former Baathists may well have been getting annoyed with AQM, but they didn’t need the US military to deal with the problem.
“The former Baathists took advantage of the Bush regime’s need to ‘rebrand’ the Iraq conflict as a war against ‘Al Qaeda’ — Bush and Petraeus are willing to spend very large sums of money in this new public relations campaign, including giving cash to ‘tribal leaders’ for their support.
“One has to assume that Petraeus, at least, is able to see more than one move ahead, and understands that turning the former Baathist insurgents into ‘partners’ of the US in its ‘war against al Qaeda’ is a recipe for a bloodbath in Iraq. This is especially true as the US is forced by military necessity to reduce the number of troops in Iraq next spring….. or if things fall apart in Basra, and US troops have to be redeployed there to prevent chaos in the south (including all along the US supply routes for the rest of Iraq).
“So, what is the plan here? What is the next move?”
Good question. Maybe just to leave the next President, and the next military commander in Iraq, as the ones holding the bag?
Damn, I thought I had posted something like this earlier, but apparently Beauchamp is running over the squirrels powering this site messing it up.
Regarding your questions, I share your concern that Iraq could get much worse. The questions you pose involve scenarios that could occur whether we stay or go. Especially given this civilian leadership’s strategic and diplomatic capabilities.
For at least the near future, whether we’re there or not, we will be obligated to at least maintain Iraq’s territorial integrity relative to its neighbors. How Iraqis carve up the interior or not is something still being played out by the Iraqis themselves, not us.
Saudia Arabia deploy troops? Troops that would be more effective than ours? Not likely. If Saudi Arabia were to support Iraqi Sunni it would be in the form they always use to achieve their objectives: money. No doubt the royal family is being pressed by clerics in their country to do just that. Are you sure they aren’t already doing so? Now if we were to see them ordering an enormous amount of spares for their US made military equipment, might think about it a little more.
We’re not there. Not in the three Kurdish provinces anyway that we’ve already turned security over to the Peshmerga.
Yes it is a tense situation. Would be nice to have a competent State Dept. and WH that could employ effective, hard diplomacy. Maybe lean on Iraqi president Talabani and other Kurd leaders. Though politically sympathetic to the militant PKK, if Talabani thought it was overwhelmingly in Kurd best interest no doubt he could have the Pesh solve that problem. But currently we don’t have an effective State Dept. or WH so that’s wishful thinking.
Turkey invade Iraq with 100k+ forces? Not very likely. At present, we would not be able to prevent it with ground forces anyway as we are not deployed in that area. We would respond, though, whether we were at current force levels in country or we had already withdraw.
Obviously if we had already withdrawn from Iraq, getting large number of US ground forces into Kurd provinces would at best be a logistical nightmare. I think we can all agree ISF (other than Kurd) would be of no value. Our air assets, though, could inflict damage to conventional forces and the Peshmerga know how to fight. There is reason why despite strong effort neither Saddam, Turkey, nor Iran have been able to wipe them out. Conventionally Turkey can’t stand up to us, and they don’t have the option of waging protracted insurgency type warfare in Iraq against us or the Kurds.
Turkey would have a lot of other costs also weighing down the cost side of a cost/benefit analysis. NATO and the strong desire to become a full EU member. Turkey does over half of its trading with the EU. They and our non-Turkey NATO partners would take a dim view of Turkey occupying a portion of Iraq for any period of time.
However, they are sympathetic to Turkey’s situation with the PKK. Turkey recently sought, and was given, EU acceptance of their attacking PKK bases in Iraq. Don’t see why we couldn’t also sign off on hot pursuit into Iraq by appropriate sized Turkish forces if the Kurds won’t reign in the PKK.
Yep. Something they were also doing all during Saddam’s reign. They have strong ties and relationships built over decades. SCIRI, a big player in the Maliki government was founded in Iran. Maliki’s own party, Dawa, founded in part by Sadr’s uncle has long been supported by Iran.
So why would Iran even need to move militarily into Iraq? Their proxies are already there and well represented in the government and ISF. We made it possible. Why mess with something that is already working so well for them?
Okay, looks like I won’t have to rewrite.
DAMN YOU SCOTT BEAUCHAMP!
And not a peep from the guys at Winds of Change. Surprising.
Here’s his testimony.
Odom also addresses (can’t remember if it’s here or another interview) the continued political and economic impact our occupation is having on the US. 1. Even nations that were glad to see Saddam out are disgusted with the aftermath, they don’t want to deal with us. 2. We’re unable to respond to other threats because the army is stretched and countries are aware of this. Look at how cheeky Russia has gotten. 3. Remember how oil revenues were supposed to pay for this venture? But the price of gas is higher now and I don’t think we’re going to see any of that money.
What I take from Odom’s various speeches and writings is this: If an enterprise is rotten from the beginning, it is going to fail and there is no way to stop that.
He is saying that whatever war, humanitarian crisis, international relations problems the US is going to have as a result cannot be avoided, they can only be worsened if we (to use his words) continue to hang tough.
Maybe the “usual suspects” ignored it the article because it doesn’t contain any impossible fabrications. As an Iraq veteran myself, I have no real problem with it.
Sorry, John Cole, I know you would like the Beauchamp story to go away, since you spent so much ink making fun of his critics, only to find out that they were right in the first place! But the story is bigger than Beauchamp. It’s about the TNR’s internal problems and being hooked in by another Stephen Glass. It’s about guys like me wondering how often this happens elsewhere in the media.
From the NYT article:
With the heavy emphasis on Iraqi forces, and MTTs (military transition teams) that’s exactly what we are doing.
The Kurdish regions in Iraq are in fact guarded by large numbers of Coalition forces. You’re right that primary responsibility for the regions and its defense has been turned over to the Kurds themselves, but we have not therefore reduced our troop levels, nor (as of a couple of months ago) did we have plans to do so soon. Gen. Cichowski and British Brigadier Baverstock spoke about that here:
The Turks, if we left, might be drawn in by guerrilla attacks from Kurdistan. That’s why they moved the forces into position, and we have twice caught Turkish special operations units operating in Iraq. There are reports that we are actually working with them now, in a covert way, to help keep them from invading by addressing their concerns:
In the absence of a strong Coalition presence, I don’t see why they wouldn’t make an incursion, at least.
As for the Saudis, I agree that they would prefer to send money and other material support to the tribes in Anbar and elsewhere. They have said they might deploy troops if we leave several times since 2004, most recently in January:
That they said it doesn’t make it real, of course. If they found Iran coming to dominate Iraq in a way that made them worry for their own security, however, they’ve laid the groundwork for doing so.
You say you might worry about it if Saudi Arabia started ordering lots of spares. Would it influence your thinking to see that they are also buying powerful new high-tech weapons systems with the stated goal of contesting Iran, all with the approval of the Israeli government?
The question of what Iran will do and is doing is the interesting one, and it’s something that bears more thought and careful watching. It’s clear that it’s trying to swing control of Iraq through the use of special operations forces operating with some factions of the Shi’ite militias, in a way similar to our original campaign in Afghanistan.
What is not clear is what they will do next. What we did next in Afghanistan was deploy Marines, after all; but their campaign probably won’t follow that model exactly. They appear to be carrying out assassinations of Shi’ite political leaders who don’t belong to the factions they support. That suggests that they don’t have anything like full control of the militias, but only an alliance with some factions. They may feel it necessary to adopt stronger measures, once America is no longer there, in order to ensure their dominance of the government.
Your point 4 is something I’ve heard also from the Right: that the proper strategy is to allow (or even, some have said, to encourage) wars within Islam, and to keep out of them. As a practical matter the global need for oil may not permit that approach.
Still, the argument normally asserts (as you do) that it’s the only actual choice — that everything else is beyond our strength. That’s not yet proven, but if it is true, then it removes the question from the realm of ethics. Obviously, you can’t be wrong for not choosing to do something you couldn’t do anyway.
If we do have the strength to prevent such a collapse in Iraq, either with adjustments to military force structure or through a reinvigorated Coalition, or through improvements in the ISF, then it’s a different question. I think we “can” stabilize Iraq, and bring about sufficient such stability that we can begin to see the political realm take on a better light. I don’t think there will be great political progress until we have arranged for increased security.
To answer your point 3, the factions we should help are those who (a) will agree to fight alongside the ISF and Coalition rather than against them, and (b) submit to biometrics and, should any of their members be caught cheating, agree to either punish them or turn them over for punishment. It’s too much to expect perfect compliance, but a rough agreement with tribal leaders and local communities will move things in the right direction.
You mention “former Ba’athists” and rebranding; but to some degree rebranding is what this is about. Forgiveness and reconciliation are important parts of the model, provided that you will commit to working with the central authority (not loving or respecting or even trusting it, but just not trying to break it).
There will be cheating, just as some American Southern leaders who took oaths not to fight the government and were readmitted to politics also, by night, rode with the Klan. But even allowing for that kind of cheating, the basic improvement in security allowed for gradual political progress, until Grant (as President) could employ US Federal Marshals rather than military forces to break the Klan as a force. It took years to accomplish that, but by the same token, the violence began to tail off and continued to do so. I think we can accomplish something similar in Iraq: we may need a long term commitment, but we don’t need to expect to see the same levels of violence continuing forever.
Your point two I think I may have answered above: political progress shouldn’t be expected until the security situation is improved. For now, the promise of future elections is what we need. That said, there will come a time when new elections are useful, as they may bring the Sunnis more fully into the central government. That may both hinder Iranian progress by making their allied factions in the Shi’ite parts of Iraq more dilute within the political community as a whole; and help ensure that the Sunni regions get a fair distribution of resources, so they will continue to support the government once we eventually do depart.
Now, as for point 1:
I agree that the DPRK’s poverty makes it dangerous. It also, however, seriously limits their capacity for harm.
I don’t think there is any capacity in North Korea for a successful conquest of South Korea, even without our help. If we provide naval gunnery and air support from Japan, the ROK should be able to handle a war with its neighbor with no US ground forces.
Ground forces in Korea have served for a long time as a ‘living tripwire,’ by ensuring that the North could not attack the South without killing Americans and drawing us into the war. A defensive treaty with ROK would serve the same purpose.
The ROK’s forces are as well trained and equipped as any in Asia, and they have the backing of a very successful economy to provision them with support. In the event that the North were to collapse, it is they and not we who should be doing the peacekeeping. I’d be happy to provide them with as much money as they wanted to do it, but not military forces. There is a strong ethnic Korean patriotism, and it seems clear from the limited interactions that there is a cross-border sense of kinship. South Korean military forces would fare much better at peacekeeping and nation building in the remains of the DPRK than we would.
In the meanwhile, the North is already weak enough that an attack would ensure its own collapse. It certainly could not mount an invasion and successful occupation. That being the reality, I see no reason we should continue to occupy parts of Korea except as a hedge against China; and I honestly don’t believe we will see China invading South Korea across the Korean sea (which would require naval transport they are still far from having; and when they do have it, they are more likely to use it against Taiwan than the ROK) or through the DPRK (which would require controlling and some rebuilding of it themselves, a problem with which they don’t want to task their economy). Besides which, in a general sense, I think China expects to benefit more from trade than war.
I think the Korean military mission, begun in the 1950s, is more or less at an end. We should be able to do what we want to do from here on with naval/air forces, and diplomacy.
Looked at your DefendAmerica link giving an 11-page transcript of bloggers posing questions to GEN Cichowski. While yes, he said current plans were to keep coalition forces at present levels, he did not say what those levels were. He said elements of three Iraqi Army divisions composed predominately of Kurds would be providing security as well as existing Kurdish forces. I presume that same level of deterrent would remain whether we remained in Iraq or not.
He did not say how many US forces were currently in the three Kurdish provinces that could act as a credible, immediate counter force to an invasion by Turkey. Not counting those operating from FOBs like Warrior in Kirkuk, how many US battalions, brigades are operating near the Iraq/Turkey border?
Sounds good to me. As I said, I’d have no problem with signing off on hot pursuit or their dealing with the problem with appropriate sized forces if the Kurdish government fails to reign in the PKK. Turkey is not going to invade with a massive regular army force whether we stay or go.
Doesn’t surprise me in the least. Nor Iran pushing Russia to deliver mobile SAM systems earlier this year by a full year ahead of schedule. Nor their purchase of sophisticated anti-ship missiles from Russia and China.
The region has become destabilized, and wish as you might, our continued presence in Iraq will not transform the country to become a pretty flowering democracy and ally in the WOT. One that would irresistibly cause all in the region to emulate and all join hands in peace.
We’ve created a melting pot in Iraq. Literally. Iraqis will determine when the pot cools and the resulting product, not us. Stay or go, the result will be the same.
Sorry; I see that you’re right. The Kurdish region is now locally led, but it has been the primary responsibility of Multinational Division Northeast, with some units from MND-North participating. I think the MND-N units were pulled out b/c their primary AO includes some major Surge cities, but there may be some units still operating there. The units in MND-NE change rotationally, and you can find the rotation lists online if you’re curious; but they have included both British and (to bring our discussion full circle) the South Korean contingent. In other words, it’s not a very hot AO (which is why the Koreans were there), but we do have a division whose responsibility includes keeping an eye on it, with a second division available to assist if necessary.
I don’t think we need a large presence in Kurdistan to deter Turkish incursions. We just need to be there, to help work with them and address their concerns. If we pull out, there won’t be anyone except the Kurds themselves for the Turks to deal with — and there won’t be units like our SOF to help keep the issue from igniting into a conflict between Iraq and Turkey.
As for the Saudi weapons purchases, and the Iranian ones you mention, we’re talking about the same thing. I’m not suggesting that flowers and peace are right around the corner. I’m talking about the potential for a major regional war caused by the power vacuum if we leave.
Both Iran and KSA are arming up for it, in a big way. That ought to be a source of concern. We can stop that war, but not if we leave Iraq before it is stable and capable of self defense.
In response to John Rohan:
(1) Since the Aug. 15 entry which he links to crowing that the military’s own investigation has announced that Beauchamp is a liar, Rohan has yet to write one word in response to TNR’s Aug.10 piece on the very extreme peculiarities in that investigation:
“For several weeks now, questions have been raised about Scott Beauchamp’s Baghdad Diarist ‘Shock Troops.’ While many of these questions have been formulated by people with ideological agendas, we recognize that there are legitimate concerns about journalistic accuracy. We at The New Republic take these concerns extremely seriously. This is why we have sought to re-report the story, in the process speaking with five soldiers in Beauchamp’s company who substantiate the events described in Beauchamp’s essay.
“Indeed, we continue to investigate the anecdotes recounted in the Baghdad Diarist. Unfortunately, our efforts have been severely hampered by the U.S. Army. Although the Army says it has investigated Beauchamp’s article and has found it to be false, it has refused our–and others’–requests to share any information or evidence from its investigation. What’s more, the Army has rejected our requests to speak to Beauchamp himself, on the grounds that it wants ‘to protect his privacy.’
“At the same time the military has stonewalled our efforts to get to the truth, it has leaked damaging information about Beauchamp to conservative bloggers. Earlier this week, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb published a report, based on a single anonymous ‘military source close to the investigation,’ entitled ‘Beauchamp Recants,’ claiming that Beauchamp ‘signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods–fabrications containing only ‘a smidgen of truth,’ in the words of our source.’
“Here’s what we know: On July 26, Beauchamp told us that he signed several statements under what he described as pressure from the Army. He told us that these statements did not contradict his articles. Moreover, on the same day he signed these statements for the Army, he gave us a statement standing behind his articles, which we published at tnr.com. Goldfarb has written, ‘It’s pretty clear the New Republic is standing by a story that even the author does not stand by.’ In fact, it is our understanding that Beauchamp continues to stand by his stories and insists that he has not recanted them. The Army, meanwhile, has refused our requests to see copies of the statements it obtained from Beauchamp–or even to publicly acknowledge that they exist.
“Scott Beauchamp is currently a 23-year-old soldier in Iraq who, for the past 15 days, has been prevented by the military from communicating with the outside world, aside from three brief and closely monitored phone calls to family members. Our investigation has not thus far uncovered factual evidence (aside from one key detail) to discount his personal dispatches. And we cannot simply dismiss the corroborating accounts of the five soldiers with whom we spoke. (You can read our findings here.)”
Of course, as Rohan says with a straight face in his entry, there’s no chance whatsoever that the military might be covering its own ass in this affair. After all, they’ve never done that sort of thing before.
(2) Rohan: “The story is about…guys like me wondering how often this happens elsewhere in the media.” I couldn’t agree more — which means, of course, that it’s as likely to happen in right-wing as in left-wing media.
In that connection, almost none of the anti-Beauchamp screamers have noted his earlier Feb. 5 story for TNR (“War Bonds”), recounting the story of an Iraqi boy who supposedly had his tongue cut out by barbaric insurgents for befriending US troops — and then went on befriending them anyway. Whether Beauchamp is a self-dramatizing liar or not, this story by itself, of course, blows to smithereens the insistence of most of the anti-Beauchampites that he and TNR are “trying to discredit our military presence there”. (As Matt Yglesias points out, TNR BACKED the war for a long time.)
(3) In response to the new Op-Ed by the seven soldiers’ recommendations:
“Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit.”
…Rohan replies: “With the heavy emphasis on Iraqi forces, and MTTs (military transition teams) that’s exactly what we are doing.”
How odd, then, that the seven writers have strongly concluded otherwise:
“Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.
“Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.
“However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave…
“The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (which was then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.
“Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.
“Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take.”
Comments, Mr. Rohan?
It should be added that the quote from the soldiers’ Op-Ed that Rohan cites (“Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit”) — in the context of their other gloomy pronouncements — can probably be best interpreted as saying that we can’t do a damn thing to control the situation now: the Shiites are (unsurprisingly) in charge of Iraq and will now do whatever they damn well choose to do. All we can do is stand back and watch. (Aside, that is, from actions on the periphery, such as — perhaps — maintaining a large presence in Kurdish Iraq, which might both keep them and the Turks from each others’ throats and provide a base from which we could bomb the bejeezus out of any large al-Qaeda camps that do turn up in Iraq. I suspect, though, that soon all of Iraq’s Sunnis — al-Qaeda-oriented and otherwise — will be too busy running for their lives to do much in the way of terrorist activities against the US.)
As for Grim’s lengthy responses to me — in which, at least, he takes a reasoned tone — I need to mull them over at more length, to see if there might be any truth in his more hopeful conclusions, before I reply.
With a nice senses of timing, Jonathan Chait has just published a new TNR essay on Wiliam Kristol as sleazy demagogue, with particular emphasis on his accusations regarding the Beauchamp case (which are exactly the same accusations made by other Rightbloggers):
“Legitimate questions have been raised about [Beauchamp’s] essay’s veracity. (We’ve been publishing updates on our continuing efforts to get answers to them at tnr.com.) But Kristol rushed past these questions, immediately declaring the piece a ‘fiction.’ Offering up his interpretation of why TNR would publish such slanders, he concluded, in an editorial titled, ‘They Don’t Really Support the Troops’:
” ‘Having turned against a war that some of them supported, the Left is now turning against the troops they claim still to support. They sense that history is progressing away from them — that these soldiers, fighting courageously in a just cause, could still win the war, that they are proud of their service, and that they will be future leaders of this country.’
“In just two sentences, this passage provides a full summary of the decrepit intellectual state of neoconservatism. First, there is Kristol’s curious premise that TNR only published this essay because we have ‘turned against’ the war. If Beauchamp’s writings were TNR’s attempt to discredit the war, why would his first contribution describe a pro-American Iraqi boy savagely mutilated by insurgents? [Exactly the same obvious point I made above — Moomaw.] For that matter, why would we work to undermine the war by publishing a first-person account on the magazine’s back page, rather than taking the more straightforward step of, say, editorializing for withdrawal?…
“Next, there is Kristol’s assumption that to concede that troops do terrible things in a war is to denounce the war as a whole. Of course, George Orwell, among many others, has written about the ways that the experience of war –and, especially, foreign occupation — can blunt moral sensibilities. It should be possible to believe this and still believe in the overall justness of a war. (Certainly Orwell himself was no pacifist.) There is an old leftist belief that, if soldiers have done horrifying things, then the war is evil. This turns out to be the Standard’s view as well. [This, of course, is the obvious point repeatedly made by Cole.]
“Then there is Kristol’s accusation that critics of the war don’t ‘support the troops.’ I wonder if, back in his youthful days teaching political philosophy, Kristol ever imagined he would one day find himself mouthing knucklehead slogans like this. I shouldn’t need to say this, but apparently I do: I strongly support and respect the troops and would desperately like them to succeed. My respect, unlike Kristol’s, extends to soldiers who don’t share my politics, and isn’t contingent on the fantasy that all of them are saints.
“Obviously, the way you support the troops is contingent upon your analysis of the war. If you think the war is succeeding, then supporting the war is a way of supporting the troops. If you think the war is doomed to failure, though, proposing that more troops die in vain is not a way of supporting them.
“The most incredible part of Kristol’s diatribe is his accusation that critics of the war really believe that the war is going well: ‘They sense that history is progressing away from them — that these soldiers, fighting courageously in a just cause, could still win the war.’ Now, perhaps Kristol truly believes that there is good news in Iraq hidden beneath the surface, but can he possibly believe that this good news is so obvious that even liberals believe it? And that liberals — including liberals who initially supported the war — are now trying to undermine it even though — nay, because — we really believe the United States is winning?
“The theme of traitorous liberals is becoming a ‘Standard’ trope. Last week’s cover depicted an American soldier seen from behind and inside a circular lens — as if caught in the sights of a hostile sniper — beneath the headline, ‘Does Washington have his back?’ The Weimar-era German Right adopted the metaphor of liberals stabbing soldiers in the back. Kristol is embracing the metaphor of liberals shooting soldiers in the back. I suppose this is progress, of sorts.”
I am, by the way, still waiting for Mr. Rohan’s response.
First of all, I have a full time job in the military already, so you’ll forgive me if I didn’t answer immediately. I’m also in the central Europe time zone.
You are wrong about so many things I don’t even have time to give it the full treatment, but quickly:
1) Yes, Foer at TNR, talked out of two sides of his mouth saying there were “legitmate concerns” about the article, while at the same time calling these concerns a “smear job” against the magazine.
2) Foer claims that the Army is preventing them from speaking to Beauchamp, and his communications are restricted. But the Army says he is free to speak to anyone. Here I tend to believe the Army, simply because, as I mentioned on my blog, unless he’s in confinement (which can’t be done if he only got administrative discipline, and even then he could speak through an attorney), it’s nearly impossible for them to monitor his communications. On FOB Falcon there are several MWR centers with free phones and internet computers. There are also AT&T calling centers. These are open 24/7. There are soldiers everywhere walking around with a cell phone that he could just borrow for a minute. Or he could just go to one of the Iraq vendors on base, pay $100 for a cheap phone, $50 for an Iraqna SIM card, and $20 for a pre-paid phone card and call TNR or anyone else. No one could stop him. Even if, in some bizarro world all that failed, as a very last resort Beauchamp could send a good old-fashioned letter with a stamp, something that no one can legally stop him from doing under any circumstances.
2) I also say in my blog that I don’t need to believe the US Army either. Why? Simply because Beauchamp’s stories to the TNR were completely impossible. I didn’t need an investigation from them or TNR.
3) As far as the “war bonds” story goes, I’ve never heard of someone changing a tire while on patrol. He doesn’t say what kind of vehicle it was, but HMMWVs and Strykers have “run flats” and unless you are very far, you just drive back to base with the flat. But it’s possible I guess. I have heard of children tortured or killed for for even lessor reasons. Anyway, I never claimed that the TNR had a particular agenda one way or the other, just that the “shock troops” story was bogus.
4) In regard to Iraqis taking over – I never said it was going well, I only said that is our strategy right now. Iraqis take the lead in nearly every operation, and Americans don’t (with rare exceptions) do anything on their own without first coordinating with the Iraqi unit responsible for that area. Moreover, for the past couple years, the emphasis has been on making Iraqi units ready, including embedding US “transition teams” with every Iraqi battlalion (I was on one of these myself). Bottom line is, yes, Iraqi units suck, and it’s not so much from lack of equipment or training but mostly morale. Too many of them are in it just for a paycheck and don’t feel much loyalty to “Iraq”, but rather to their tribe, religious group, or ethnic group instead.
OK. So Rohan doesn’t disagree at all with my last two arguments — namely, that (1) TNR and Beauchamp, whether he’s lying or not, cannot remotely be described as “anti-US military” (which of course is what all the anti-Beauchamp screaming from the Right has been about); and (2) the war is going to hell in a handbasket, precisely as that NYT op-ed by the seven soldiers said.
Not exactly… rather that I just don’t know what the TNR’s current views toward the war are.
After reading some of Beauchamp’s blog entries and myspace page, I think you can safely say he has a pretty negative opinion toward the war.
At the risk of being repetitious, let me repeat one more time: Rohan has just said tht he doesn’t disagree with my two main points.
(1) If Beauchamp and TNR were lying in that earlier story, they were lying in a PRO-Army and PRO-war way — but the swarms of conservatives currently screaming about his later story never uttered a peep about that. When one has nothing but straws to grasp at, one grapss frantically at straws — and the pro-war Right has clearly reached that point.
(2) Rohan seems to agree with the soldiers’ Op-Ed that the war is going to hell even militarily — and he doesn’t raise any objection to their other point that it’s going to hell politically as well. The whole point of the Surge was that — while it had no chance by itself of being able to repress the insurgents all over Iraq — it did have a chance of at least pacifying Baghdad itself enough to give Iraq’s politicians an opportunity to try and negotiate some kind of power-sharing arrangement. But (as Ambassador Crocker agrees, in a facinating statement in yesterday’s “Reuter’s” which suggests that he is not going to try to perfume the situation in his September testimony), they show little or no interest in doing so. As the soldiers’ op-ed said, we’ve already done everything the Shiites — who comprise 3/4 of Iraq’s population once you separate the Kurds — wanted us to do: we lifted the long-time oppression of the Sunnis off their necks, and now they can do whatever they damn well choose to do with Iraq, and they will. We can’t stop them — but we are still pretending that we can, in order to try to make the Bush Administration look better. All we CAN do (at the expense of still more soldiers’ lives) is to further enrage the world’s already-biased Moslems by leaving the (false) impression that we are tyrannizing Iraq.
As for all those othe errors that Rohan says I committed: by all means, when he has the time let him list them, and we’ll see whether any of them are relevant.
How you feelin’ today? Boy, you sure had the Beauchamp thing figured out as of your Aug 20 posting. Just like the NCOs had things figured out in August about Iraq.
How does it feel to hope for failure for our military? How much glee did you feel when you became convinced Scott Beauchamp was telling the truth – your new hero?
Now then, how does it feel right now as you continue to convince yourself that he WAS right, because “his heart was in the right place”? How does it feel to lie to yourself?
“Tsulagi” made a point about the “playground bullies”. I wonder, were you picked on by the “playground bullies” when you were young?
Man, I wish I could be you today.