A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Why the "Good News" From Iraq is Irrelevant and the Good News Bearers Muddleheaded

This is a little exchange between myself and Joe Katzman over at Winds of Change which puts the matter in a nutshell:

"Joseph Marshall:

"More generally, this is NOT a matter of "half empty, half full". You can find places where things are better? Well you darn well OUGHT to be able to, given the billions of dollars that have been poured into the region. So two cheers for our fledgling democracy.

"The serious question is whether the place is secure enough to allow the 80% of our combat troops rotating through it to do anything else BUT chase Iraqi insurgents. Like dealing with Iran, for example. This is a binary question. It is either secure enough or it isn't.

"It isn't secure enough. It doesn't look like its going to get secure enough any time soon. And it looks very strongly like the only way it is going to get secure enough is to commit more troops which may soon be needed elsewhere.

"This is a problem for which the "progress" and "reconstruction" of ordinary Iraqi life is an irrelevant issue.

"Joe Katzman:


"You are correct in pointing out the potential problem. You are incorrect in that the issue is not irrelevant.
The potential problem you note describes a potential cost. The progress made describes some of the gains.

"Then you have to fit it into a larger regional/strategic framework to see what a war is really getting you on a particular front. Even with the inevitable trade-offs, maintaining or even reinforcing a front is often worth the sacrifices.

"There's a flip side too, of course, which asks about the costs of actions designed to "solve" the problem - whether that means reinforcements, abandoning the front, whatever. Again, this is an inevitable question in war, which always forces one to make trade-offs.

"Finally, if you're in retrospective mode rather than looking ahead to solve the problem of the now, one still must ask what difference not opening a particular front would have allowed one to make in other areas of interest.

"Sometimes, the resources and strategies required are so different that the answer is: "very little."

"Sometimes, it truly is a missed opportunity, or a poor war strategy.

"Sometimes, one thing must be done to properly position oneself for doing another (the implied risk is obvious if task #1 is delayed, but there is still little alternative).

"So, what you have isn't THE question, but the first part of a larger set of questions that must be asked in any war.

"Joseph Marshall:

"Then you have to fit it into a larger regional/strategic framework to see what a war is really getting you on a particular front."

"Exactly. We have an Iranian nuke time bomb which is ticking. Clearly, one of the long term goals in Iraq was to have strategic bases to replace the ones we gave up in Saudi and use them to influence events in Iran.

"There was a window of one year while the carriers got back into shape from fighting one too many wars in close succession. Nothing serious could be done about Iran until they were back on line to provide the close air support for permanently based troops in Iraq.

"They're back. But still nothing can be done because of the massive strategic blunders since the "mission" was "accomplished". Blunders like disbanding Saddam's army and letting those military skills melt back tracelessly into the civilian population and not securing Saddam's vast store of small arms from looting while obsessing over stores of non-existent Weapons Of Mass Destruction.

"The strategic result? The Bush Doctrine is a great big flag reading "Get Nuclear Weapons BEFORE the Americans Can Get To You!" The Iranians are so confident now that they talk of refining yellowcake openly, and we don't even need "better intelligence" to divine their capabilities and intentions.

"Not that we even yet have any "intelligence" in both senses of that word. This result was a perfectly plain strategic possibility from the moment Iraq was invaded. It was a glaringly obvious danger from the day we toppled Saddam's statue and had to send all those carriers (we went down to ONE on the entire world ocean for months, by the way) back to drydock.

"But, somehow, it never seemed to penetrate to the people running our show.

"On many political blogs I read, it hasn't penetrated yet."

Daily Link: "Beltway Traffic Jam"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: Joseph Marshall
RE: The Good News

The 'good news' is not, as you would like to think, 'irrelevant'.

Good news is good news. Bad news is bad news. And the difference is in the eye of the beholder.

RE: 80%

Do you REALLY think it takes 80% of our combat formations to chase insurgents?

As I've said before, I could control Fallujah or Najaf with a single infantry-heavy brigade, that's only 3000+. The plus being additional odds and ends company-sized support and service support formations.

We are not using 80% of our ground combat formations to merely chase a several hundred jihadis.

Iraq, at this point, is a hands-on, performance-oriented, live-fire training area where the other guys shoot back with real bullets. We're training those combat formations to prepare for the next campaign; Syria or Iran.

You touch on this yourself with respect to the discussion of the carrier battle groups. Although I disagree with your assessment.

My personal opinion is that we're getting ready to take on Syria, before it can get a handle on how to properly employ the WMDs that Saddam passed them and they are currently experimenting with in Sudan. [Note: I'll wager that if we were to kick in the door, before they're ready, we'd capture the WMDs and see the Made In Iraq labels all over them, with component parts labeled Product of France or Product of Germany.

As for Iran, we'll let the Israelis deal with Iran's nuclear capabilities. They have a precedent; Iraq '81. They have the equipment; 5000 precision guided bombs we're selling them. They have the national interest; their survival.

We'll deal with Iran later, if necessary. Personally, I hope those brave kids in their universities will do the job themselves.



12:14 PM  
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12:12 AM  

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