Striking a Pose

Look, let’s just get this out there. Over the last few hours, I’ve gotten a fair amount of flak over my last post, mostly from the right wing of the gallery. For whatever reason, you seem to think that I’ve made common cause with al-Qaeda.

It’s likely that nothing I write will convince you guys of the error of that assertion, but in the interests of fair time and rebuttal, let me jot my piece.

What it comes down to is striking a pose. Over the last three years, George W. Bush has done a good job of saying the right things, and generally acting like an aggressive son of a gun. I’m not going to go into detail over all the statements he’s said, but in my opinion, he’s said the right things.

What he hasn’t done is actually do the things he said he would do. I’ve been to Iraq. Trust me–there’s no grand strategy there, beyond making it up as we go along. That’s why things are going as swimmingly as they are, and why we’re surrendering city after city to the insurgents, many of whom are thugs, many of whom just want us out of there.

It’s one thing to say you want freedom to reign. I’d like to be able to run a four-minute mile. It’s another thing entirely to enable freedom to reign over a land that’s never known it. If I’m going to run the mile in four minutes, then I have to get off my tuchis and work my arse off in order to be able to do it. Hope is not a plan.

But that’s exactly the plan we’re using in Iraq, and in the war on terror in general. You hear lots of fulminating about how we need to be steadfast, and be strong against the Islamist menace, particularly from folks like Reynolds, Lileks, Steyn, and a good chunk of the GOP.

But how? How would you guys wage this war? Words ain’t gonna cut it here. It’s hard to think that we’re being strong in this war in Iraq when we’re afraid to go into Fallujah, or we’re ceding Samarra–a town that I was in many a time–to the insurgents. What kind of strength does that show?

That’s why I’m referring to your collective stand as striking a pose. Because you strut around the room, declaiming to one and all your strength, but in the end, your sound and fury signify nothing. Especially when the man you’ve all come to idolize lays it flat out:

“I don’t think it can’t be won”.

Shoot, if you don’t think it can be won, then what in the world are we doing sacrificing the lives of my brothers and sisters in arms on the altar of this war?

Moreover, I don’t think that I’m delusional, and wanting to tear this country down. If my country wants me to lay my life on the line, then I’m going to ask some really tough questions in my capacity as a private citizen. Especially if everything I experienced over there ran counter to what I was originally told. That is the least I can do.

I’m sick of hearing from my pals in the right hand gallery that if we don’t support the current strategy to win this war, then we’re automatically rooting for us to lose. Bull! I lost three friends on 9/11, one each at the North & South Towers and the Pentagon. If you’re going to pimp out our tragedy–my tragedy–for the sake of scoring political points and striking a pose as a manly stud, don’t do it at the same time that you’re bashing us on the head for insufficient fervor in this crusade.

While I’m at it, can we quit with the parallels to 9/11? I can see Madrid as a parallel, but what happened in Chechnya, horrible as it is, has very little to do with 9/11 and everything to do with the brutal war that has been waged in that tragic land for the better part of the last decade.

At any rate, if we differ with the President, it’s not because we lack patriotism, but because we embrace so fully. We have a government of laws, not men; yet, the GOP, in its lust for power, would have us believe that if we disagree with the current holder of the Presidency, then we aren’t patriots. “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism”, Teddy Roosevelt said.

It’s tragic that a century later, his party has chosen to forget those words.


7 responses to “Striking a Pose

  1. OK, as one of the folks who gave you stick let me respond.

    I agree that the Bush admin often seems to be (and probably is) playing it by ear in the WoT(TM). Frankly, I am not even happy with the name WoT, much less a lot of what they have done. I suspect that going after Iraq may have been our best chance to avoid having to obliterate the Mulsim world, and I am willing to give a small amount of slack to Bush on this account, but no more.

    My big problem is that the Donks don’t show ANY interest in arguing about this kind of stuff, it is ABB and “war sucks” or “I went to Viet Nam, so don’t tread on me” all the way. What kind of campaign is that?? Then your over the top “we gotta get rid of the Republicans” sounded so Weathermanish that I just had to let you know that a lot of Reps think the far left of the Dems is going to bring back violent days of the anti-war movement or worse when they lose in November.

    As to dissent, do you REALLY think the left is engaging in dissent when they say the scurrilous things they say? And if you don’t think Woopi Goldberg is the “heart and soul of America”, your candidate does. If you don’t want to be burnished with the same brush as these people, you need to distance yourself from them, and your party should have done so too, although that is too late for this election.

    As to the not being able to win the WoT, Bush is right, until you institute complete mind control and prediction, there will always be terrorists. (One reason I prefer calling this WW4, or “The Jihadi War”, rather than the WoT. If you want to discuss how to win the Jihadi War, start a thread and I will participate. Act like Michael Moore, and I will give you more stick.

  2. Ark: In your Chicago-days post you proclaimed that the terrorist takeover of the Russian school–and subsequent killing of 350 innocents–had nothing whatsoever to do with our “war on terror”.

    I think you couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s why:

    One of the hallmarks of modern civilization is that we’ve discovered a way to change government policies without killing someone else to do it. Same goes for resolving disputes that in ancient times became multi-generation feuds between clans.

    By contrast, a small-ish fraction of humans have decided either that change via ballot wouldn’t be quick enough for ’em, OR (my bet) that their ideas *can’t win in the free market*–i.e. most people think their ideas *suck*.

    The change method selected by this group of fanatical whack-jobs involves using violence to terrorize other humans into surrendering to the fanatics’ rule. This is the idea that links the Russian school abomination with 9/11 and Islamo-facism.

    You complain that Bush really doesn’t know what to do about terrorism, but I haven’t heard any brilliant ideas from the Dems. And I do think the Bush crew had a damn fine idea in going into Iraq: It’s created a magnet that’s attracted every terrorist-wannabe for a thousand miles around, and I think you’ll agree that it’s better that they be *there* than *here*.

    The Democrats’ ‘plan’ for how to deal with terrorism is to “retaliate after an attack” and fight a “more sensitive war” (Kerry). But we were unquestionably attacked (9/11 and others), and now U.S. troops, on Bush’s orders, are retaliating quite effectively.

    Is there a certain amount of “improvise as you go” to our military strategy in Iraq? Sure. That’s the way it’s *supposed to work*! If the other side comes up with some innovative strategy and you don’t devise a counter, things go south.

    But the best your man can do is mouth platitudes about fighting a “more sensitive war.” That strikes most rational people as an oxymoron, and it seems to me that as long as the Dems embrace that kind of nonsense, you’ll keep losing.

    Unless, of course, Islamo-facism and other terrorists suddenly decide to abandon the bloody violence that’s characterized their acts so far.


  3. Sf, if the russians allowed a fair election and referendum in chechnya with the agreement that if the chechnyans voted for the russian troops to leave then the russian troops would leave, I think there would be considerably less violence in chechnya.

    Similarly, if we allowed local elections in iraq, with each local government setting up its own local police, and they each had a referendum whether to request US troops to patrol, I think we’d have a lot less violence in iraq.

    So there’s a third alternative.

    1. Maybe waiting for elections isn’t fast enough.
    2. Maybe they don’t think they’d win.
    3. Maybe they don’t think the elections are actually coming.

  4. Nationalism. That’s what at the root of a lot of the world’s problems, and the Wilsonian doctrine of, Self-Determinism is a large part of the cause (that and the Declaration of Independence… there’s a reason so many people who read it today call it seditious, or treasonous, when they don’t know its iconic status… it is both).

    If you see the “War on Terror” as an attempt to wipe out all acts of terror… it’s worse than non-winnable, it becomes Cnute actually thinking he can stop the tide.

    I was in the V Corps Main interrogation center for the war, then I was managing a set of Humint Teams in the northern edge of the Sunni Triangle… Iraq is screwed. None of us really believed there were weapons (and what we thought there might be were piddly-shit… some Mustard Gas, maybe a little bit of Sarin, and that’s it).

    The resistance… that’s what it is. It isn’t a lot of people who wanted Hussein back… it was people who wanted us out. We said we were coming to get rid of the weapons (they don’t exist, so that’s done), get Hussein (that’s done) and let them have their country back.

    That last part is the sticking point.

    This is what I said on the topic last year

    I said, and was sadly right, that there were people in Iraq who were tolerating us, out of fear Hussein would come back, and that when we caught him, they were going to expect our imminent withdrawal, and, should that not come to pass, start shooting us.

    Chechnya, well that’s a festering wound in the side of Russia. The Russians have been screwing the pooch on that one for more than a decade… at this point they need to realise that one of a handful of things are going to happen. They will decide it isn’t worth it to keep. They will find a middle road of local autonomy, and Russian oversight (which may no longer be an option, given the way they have handled things). They can put up with the situation as it is (and, like Israel, accept that the brutal methods of their government will lead to more theaters, and more schools… without the justifications of Israel… because the Chechens don’t want to wipe Russia from the earth) and know that the large Moslem population will lead to Jihadis coming to the aid of the Chechens.

    Or they can let the Chechens go to hell on their own, because they don’t know how to run the country for themselves.

    Which is part of the problem in Iraq… too many people each want to have the whole pie, and we seem to be setting the stage for another Shah… our strongman (Allawi) is not the one the people want… so we can set him up, and they will; at some later date, when we have washed our hands of him, knock him down.

    A small amount of honesty in policy making (i.e. admitting the casus belli was hogwash, and finding a legitimate one) and some planning foresight might have forestalled this. Better, just leave well enough alone.

    Hussein may have hated us, so what? Lots of people hate us, but that’s not justification for waging a war, spending the national treasure (and the money may be recovered long before the goodwill we squandered and the moral high ground we pissed away).

    It was a mistake, and for that alone (never mind the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in the blunder) is reason enough to want a to have some regime change at home. All the rest, is just icing on the cake.


  5. TK – When did you KNOW there were no WMD’s? Alot of intelligence services seem to have thought there were, so it must have been a high priority to figure this one out.

    Also, I heard that post op intel indicated that many Iraqi military officers thought they had weapons, but they were in other units. Any truth to that one?

    I agree that WoT is dumb, because as you state, and apparently Bush has agreed, that can’ be won. All you can do is reduce the likelihood of occurrence, and reduce the likilihood of damage of any particular occurrence. However, unless you have a broader definition of “Nationalism” than I do, I don’t think that is the problem, although it is certainly ONE of the problems: one reason to scrap the UN and ignore the EU is that they both pay excessive worship to existing borders. (To be fair, a lot of folks in this country do too.) A lot of borders are going to need to be redrawn, but the biggest problem is a movement with a goal of world domination or death, and short of wiping Islam from the pages of history, there is unlikely to be a short solution for that. One thing the Bush Doctrine does is suggest a way to make changes without killing too many people. But that meant that get in, get out quick was not an option in Iraq: we didn’t do it for them, we did it for us, and we need to leave the country in a state we think is safe for us. That is why we stayed so long in Germany, and we succeeded: they are one of the most pacifist countries on earth right now.

  6. Nationalism. That’s what at the root of a lot of the world’s problems

    Yes, definitely. The USA would be a whole lot better off if everybody else in the world gave up nationalism.

  7. NGR: Could you sum up in a simple phrase what your time in the Guard did for you?

    Bush: Well I kept a level head in a time that was pretty chaotic. For me it was much more practical. I am not very good at psychoanalyzing myself, but I learned to fly. I learned to fly jets. General James perhaps had the same experience. I remember telling people everywhere I went that it didn’t matter where you’ve been, where you were going or what you were doing, when you put a burner on you are focused on the moment.