« Shocking! U.S. Police Patrol on German Autobahn! | Main | Irak-Krieg: "Saddam, come back!" »

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451c42969e200d834c9482253ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Commentary: Doing our best to hand our foes victory:

Comments

Well. This commentary actually caused me to break down and register in order to reply.
Helian makes many good points, but in my opinion misses one big one.
He acknowledges that what is at stake is Western Civ, but points repeatedly to problems in America in what I feel is a pretty one-sided way.
In WWI, WW-II and the struggle against Communism we had the support and goodwill of our European Allies.
For good or ill, America has a longstanding inbuilt feeling that Europe is out wiser and more sophisticated older brother. (Just look at our late-night television advertisements - if you've got a piece of junk that isn't selling well, just prepend "Euro-" to the products name and watch the orders flood in!)
The time since the fall of the Soviet Union has, however, been characterized by jealousy and sabotage of America and everything American on the part of our "friends" across the ocean.
This situation has resulted in two big problems in the American psyche: the non-support and backbiting by our esteemed longterm allies in Europe has caused a contagion of self-doubt as well as an increase in isolationist feeling.
By the time it occurs to Europe that it needs America's help to save itself once again, it is not certain that America will have confidence in its ability to do so, much less whether or not we SHOULD.
The nations and peoples of the West need to once again stand together and develop the determination that Western Civilization can and should be preserved. This cannot happen while Europe continues stabbing us in the back every time it gets the opportunity.
(This is not meant to be snarky - I love Europe and would prefer that it continue to exist. I just wish Europe were as interested in its own continuance.)

Maybe the "nation building" strategy was a bad idea. Not because it couldn't have worked - because I'm sure it would be possible. But maybe the destructive role of the media, of the Democratic party and of the left-wing, so-called "allies" of the US could have been foreseen. After all, these are some parallels to Vietnam.

However, the next terrorist attack seems unfortunately to be only a matter of time. We will again have to deal with regimes that harbor and finance terror and try to build WMDs. And that's only a part of the problems the world is facing in the future. I'm sure and I hope that the USA will continue to lead a coalition of those nations who are still willing to defend their values and their freedom - militarily or by other means. Will my own country (Germany) be one of those countrys? I hope so, but I'm far from certain.

For those who still support the war I'd have the following questions:

1) How can this war be won? More troops? Stay the course? Wait and let the Iraqis sort it out and just safeguard the pipelines until they grow tired of slaughter?
2) How can civil war be stopped? Do you actually want to stop it? If you think it's not a civil war, what does civil war look like to you?
3) How many Americans are going to die for that victory? What would a victory have to look like you'd accept as victory? What would have to happen to make you change your mind and accept that this war is not winnable?
4) How many hundreds of billions more are you willing to invest?

And please note: I wish Iraq would have been a swift and comprehensive victory in April 2003. It was not. Reading Woodwards "State of Denial" makes me just shake my head in disbelief.

@ Amelie,

Not knowing exactly how to resolve the Iraq conflict is not a justification for irresponsible withdrawal. Our enemies win by not losing. Insurgencies typically last a decade.

I think we win this conflict by learning from our mistakes, coming up with and adapting new strategies, and muddling through. There are numerous indications that we are learning to fight an insurgency slowly but surely. It won't be pretty and there will not be a decisive moment of victory. The fact is, however, that if Iraq is what you would call a "civil war" now, it can only get worse if the US leaves the country at the mercy of the warring factions and Iran, Syria and Al-Qaeda. And then the question becomes: How bad will that bloodbath be? How much of the region will it engulf? (Right now the violence is largely confined to within 30 miles of Baghdad.) Who will be left in control of the vast oil wealth? (To fund God knows what.)

Again, just because we don't see a clear path to immediate victory and just because Iraq is a bloody, frustrating place and just because we as a society have short attention spans and just because the coalition has made a multitude of mistakes (along with doing many good things - and can you name a war in which there have been no mistakes?), doesn't mean that we have to throw our hands in the air and declare defeat and do a Vietnam-embassy-rooftop-type withdrawal.

Should the US choose to prematurely withdraw, we will have proven Osama bin Laden correct: The US is a paper tiger that will cut-and-run if you only bloody its nose and wait it out. Again, the better alternative is to continue to slog through and make the best of a difficult situation. That hardly sounds attractive in a society used to instant gratification, but it is a hell of a lot better than the alternatives. As one of the Generals on "Meet the Press" said yesterday, we simply cannot sell the people of Iraq down the river as we did the Vietnamese. There is simply too much at stake and, compared to other wars, the loses in men and money are relatively low. The long-term costs of premature withdrawal will be far higher in terms of lives, security and treasure. On that you can bet."

@ Amelie

I think every honest person should be able to agree on one thing: Leaving now would be the worst option.

>> How can this war be won?

Unfortunately, it seems to me that the only way to stop the "insurgents" is to deal with Iran and maybe other state sponsors of terror. That doesn't necessarily mean attacking them, but of course it doesn't mean to fulfill their demands either. Sooner or later the Iranian threat will need to be dealt with, maybe they can be persuaded to stop their nuclear program and their destructive role in Iraq. Until then, the Iraqis must be trained and equipped to kill as many bad guys as possible.

>> How can civil war be stopped?

Maybe the country could be split in several parts after all? This option would create new problems though.

>> How many Americans are going to die for that victory?

The American voters probably will be able to decide this question. As a German, I can only say that every news of killed or injured coalition soldiers makes me very sad. They fight for our freedom as well. I can however not demand any sacrifices from the American people, especially since my country hasn't helped much in the whole process.

>> What would a victory have to look like you'd accept as victory?

A pro-American regime in Iraq that's strong enough not to be overthrown once the American soldiers are back home.

>> How many hundreds of billions more are you willing to invest?

Again, the American people have to decide how much they are willing to spend. Of course, they should understand the importance of the mission for their country, their freedom and their values. Yes, President Bush and his party were and are not as good in explaining this as they should be.

I have no comment, Amelie, other than to congratulate you on so succinctly and thoroughly summarizing the current ideology of the defeatists. I recommend your post to anyone with any doubts about the contemporary intellectual currents I referred to in my post. I must admit that I am still puerile enough to believe that it is not utterly impossible for the richest and most powerful state the earth has ever beheld to achieve such modest "victory" conditions as a functioning government in Iraq that can supply its citizens with a reasonable level of physical security. I am well aware that this childish opinion must appear ludicrous to you in the extreme. Nevertheless, I must, sadly, assure you that it will be useless to bury me with another dumptruck full of syllogisms and proofs that defeat is inevitable. Some of us are simply incorrigible, and much too thick-skulled to ever learn a thing.

Helian, where have you been? We've missed you.

powerclam makes my first point. The mindset of Europe is so diseased with anti-Americanism that the international landscape today cannot be compared to that of the great wars. Europe - France in particular - has been Islam's whore specifically to counterbalance the United States. But the sneering and contempt are not confined to France - it's all across the EU and I think they just forgot to enshrine it in that constitution thing. Here's an example from Friday's Financial Times (sorry, no link, all emphasis is mine):

France honours its American war hero

There is likely to be an ambience of schadenfreude at the chateau de Tocqueville in northern France next week, when Colin Powell is awarded a prestigious French literary award in honour of his life's work.

The former US secretary of state has always had a special place in French people's hearts as one of their few allies across the Atlantic when they struggled to stop George W. Bush, US president, from embarking on a war in Iraq.no mention of how the French fucked him over at the U.N.

"I told you so" is likely to be a common refrain about the situation in Iraq, as Valery Giscard d'Estang, former French president, awards Mr. Powell with the prix de Tocqueville next Thursday at the French historian's former family residence.

Mr. Powell is popular in France, not least for inventing the Pottery Barn rule by warning Bush that if he invaded Iraq it could have a huge cost, mistakenly comparing the invasion to a "you break it, you own it" rule at the US home furnishing retailer.

Most French people seem quickly to have forgotten Mr. Powell's famous speech at the UN in the build-up to the war, when he claimed Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons and was seeking nuclear capability.

"He was just a soldier following orders" (sound familiar?) seems to be how this is remembered by most of France. As Alexis de Tocqueville himself argued: "I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America."

-------------------------------------
And although I agree that Islam ain't gonna make it in Peoria, we have another co-commitant enemy that may make it beside the point. The Earth-as-Gaia cult. As Mark Steyn notes:

the new presiding bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to run a national division of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Kate gave an interview to the New York Times revealing what passes for orthodoxy in this most flexible of faiths. She was asked a simple enough question: "How many members of the Episcopal Church are there?"
"About 2.2 million," replied the presiding bishop. "It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than other denominations."
This was a bit of a jaw-dropper even for a New York Times hackette, so, with vague memories of God saying something about going forth and multiplying floating around the back of her head, a bewildered Deborah Solomon asked: "Episcopalians aren't interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?"
"No," agreed Bishop Kate. "It's probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the Earth and not use more than their portion."
Now that may or may not be a great idea but it's nothing to do with Christianity, only for eco-cultists like Al Gore. If Bishop Kate were an Episcogorian, a member of the Alglican Communion, an elder of the Church of Latter-Day Chads, this would be an unremarkable statement. But, even in their vigorous embrace of homosexual bishops and all the rest, I don't recall the Episcopalians formally embracing the strategy that worked out so swell for the Shakers and enshrining disapproval of reproduction at the heart of their doctrine.

@Amalie

We have to start killing the right people a bit more often. Al-Sadr and his henchman for starters. Bulldoze and mine the borders. And tell Malawi that we overthrew one Iraqi gov't and we'll do it again if he doesn't get a grip. I am not qualified to have an opinion on troop levels. I've been in contact with American troops all over Iraq. They're confident in their mission(s) and in most places they feel they've pretty much won already. It's Baghdad that's the problem. And I promise you, if you got all the media out of Baghdad and moved them to Kirkuk, for example, Baghdad would quiet down and Kirkuk would blow up.

This is a very winnable war, but it won't be won just in Iraq. 'Victory in Iraq' is a non-sequitor, really. We have to, somehow, take out Iran and Syria. That may take a long time - it may not be done in the form of military operations, altho I do think it would be a good thing to recognize that a few people over there just need killin'.

How many troops must die? I don't know. But I know if we don't send troops to risk their lives, a lot of civilians are going to be dying real soon. And they won't be just the crude, ignorant cowboy American religious whack jobs.

Sorry for the long post. Gotta hit the grocery store, back later.

[Off topic]
@Pamela: A late reply on but_why_germany; sorry for taking so long and not having much time.

What is truly disgusting to me is the Left is now calling for talks about Iraq and they want to include Syria and Iran. The fact that they want to include other countries proves that they KNOW the insurgency is largely sponsored by them, but they don't care. They'd rather have stability (and cheap oil) than freedom, and are willing to sell the Iraqi people out, let them go back to being afraid to speak their mind, being murdered by secret police, it doesn't matter to the Left, as long as we have stability!

What kind of monsters have taken over the so-called "liberals" so that they no longer even believe in liberty or democracy, only in stability no matter how evil the tyrant. And they way republicans want cheap oil at the price of blood? They need to look in the mirror. It's cheap oil for the blood of Iraqis that the Left, Germany, France, and Russia have always wanted.

First of all, we should avoid calling people "defeatists" who don't agree with you or the way a war is waged.
Those who want to leave say: "We better leave because we can't make things better, only worse."
Those who want to stay say: "We need to stay because if we leave we only make things worse and we lose what we invested already."
Both have valid points. But I think those who decided to go in in the first place need to provide the first answer to how they are going to solve the problem.
If you say "we need to deal with Iran and Syria" try to solve the Catch 22 problem by what Germans call "Die Flucht nach vorn". Sometimes that works, many times it doesn't. Solving a conflict by enlarging it did not go well in Vietnam, it certainly did not go well for the Germans, who could not beat Britain and invaded North Africa and the Soviet Union instead.

What makes you think that "dealing with Syria" does not generate the same results as in Iraq? Instead of a weak Syrian dictator, you might not be dealing with a Syrian democracy, but an fanatic Islamic regime and another region in turmoil. Iran is even bigger. To believe that people topple their not so beloved rulers when they are attacked from outside is naive.

A defeatist says no matter what anybody does we are bound to lose. I never say that. I want to know what can be done to win and I only get very vague suggestions, most of them three years old. Killing more people? How many more? In Vietnam millions were killed and the U.S. troops had to leave anyway in the end.

Since total annihilation of Iraq is not an option (like in Vietnam) I don't see how this war can be won. By attacking Syria and Iran you just change number of wars that can't be won.

And more people died after the failed Stauffenberg plot against Hitler than during the four first years of WW2.

Sun Tzu says: "Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting."

thank you blue, I've replied on that thread.

Amalie, by your lights, Britain would have surrendered after Dunkirk.

Pamela, the British left Dunkirk didn't they? In a hurry. Why didn't they all stay and fight to the last man?
Because that would have been stupid. Retreat, regroup, regain strength was a better option.

The Wehrmacht was ordered to stay in Stalingrad even after it became obvious that the city could not be held.

See the difference?

I agree with what Helian says, especially with the conclusion:

We will continue to progress, either rationally or catastrophically. Nature doesn't really care. The result will be the same. Humanity has survived the Christian theocracy of Innocent III in the past. It will also survive the Islamic theocracies of the present. The number of people who die in the process will be, as far as nature is concerned, a mere incident. Perhaps we shouldn't take it all so seriously.

I am convinced that the tide of Islamist aberration will eventually ebb away (and probably make room for the next historical aberration). I am not worried about that. The thing that I am worried about, the one single huge unknown is how the world, our lifes will look like until we reach that point (IF we will reach it during our lifetimes).

Should the Islamists succeed in carrying out another attack, or several attacks on US soil, all the years when they weren't able to touch America will be forgotten. (In fact, even now all those years without attacks are being derided by Democrats who claim that "Bush hasn't made America safer"). Depending on the target of the attacks America could be badly wounded, even more so than on 9/11. America can not be mortally wounded by terrorist attacks or defeated on the battlefield, but the course of life as we know it can be very seriously altered.

The greatest threat to America is not the White House displaying the green flag of Islam - this is a sweet bedtime story for future generations of Jihadists. The threat is that the way of life could be seriously impeded; more seriously than not being able to buy the next generation of plasma TVs. Is it really impossible to witness some equivalent of the Great Depression with the markets being destabilized not by speculations, greed or lack of regulations, but by an economy crippled by terror attacks?

That was the terrorists' intention on 9/11. America has shown the world that it can absorb the shock wave of such an attack. The terrorists have watched too and learned the lesson. 9/11 type of attacks are great for their prestige, but it doesn't help them come closer to their goals. If they are goal-oriented, they will come up with other type of attacks, less spectacular but more damaging. If that happens, will people still wait in line all night at BestBuy stores for the cool gadgets they have to have? If not, how fast will America recover? Let's not forget that meanwhile the Islamists' plans for a future Muslim Europe are not being met with a lot of resistence.

The media also plays a huge role. I believe that the media's influence and power are far greater than in the 30's when the elites were enamored with the previous aberration, communism. Unless Democrats are in power, the media will only contribute to any damage done by terror. I still hope though that the media, now that Democrats have some power, will start educating the larger public about some of the dangers of Islamism.

I have no doubts that eventually we will win this war. My only question is what state will we be in when we come out of this struggle. It could be very ugly, but it could be the only choice. We could also look at the bright side: Iran wipes out Israel, America retreats from Iraq and Peace finally prevails.

@ Amelie:

First you write:

"A defeatist says no matter what anybody does we are bound to lose. I never say that."

But then, a few lines later, you write:

"Since total annihilation of Iraq is not an option (like in Vietnam) I don't see how this war can be won."

As Arsenio Hall always used to say, that is one of those things that make me want to go (in questioning thinkers pose with index finger placed firmly against temple): "HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM...."

As far as calling that defeatist: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Anyway, as far as offering suggestions, I think I offered quite a few in my last comment. Did you read it?

As far as Dunkirk and Stalingrad go, they certainly did not have the strategic implications of today's Iraq. You are comparing apples with oranges with grapes. (Am I sounding too much like Rummy here? Sorry Bob Woodward...)

Amalie, you are giving me whiplash. First, you contend that this war is not winnable, then you use the evacuation of Dunkirk and the stand at Stalingrad as stratigies for winning and losing. (And btw, even if Hitler had given up on Stalingrad when his generals wanted him to, Germany would still have lost the war.)

If you think the war cannot be won, then no strategy matters.

By attacking Syria and Iran you just change number of wars that can't be won.

Ultimately, this is not about 'winning' vs 'losing'. It's about survival vs. annihilation. Faced with that, there is no choice but to fight. I can survive or I can die. Surrender? You first.

Since total annihilation of Iraq is not an option

Total annihilation of anything is always an option. We've done it before and we can do it again. Don't go all squishy on me.

And more people died after the failed Stauffenberg plot against Hitler than during the four first years of WW2.

So what? Is your yardstick of whether something is worth doing a body count? There are things worse than death. Living in a burka would be one.

RayD, When I'm saying "I don't see how" it's because nobody shows me how.
Excuse me but what suggestions?

"I think we win this conflict by learning from our mistakes, coming up with and adapting new strategies, and muddling through."

Sorry this is HOT AIR only. What mistakes, what new strategies, please? How are they going to solve the problem? Will they stop the sectarian violence, the daily bloodshed?

The rest you say is just "We can't leave because things get worse if we do". That's not an answer to my question about how to achieve victory.

An please stop calling people "defeatists"

Führerbefehl an die Berliner Bevölkerung, 22. April 1945

Dieser Befehl wurde über Flugblätter verbreitet. Er ordnete die sofortige Erschießung von Personen an, welche die deutsche "Widerstandskraft" beim Kampf um Berlin schwächten (so genannte Defätisten).

@Pamela
If I understand the reasoning of the so-called "War on Terror" Iraq is just a part of it. Like Dunkirk was part of the WW2. The Nazis certainly were hell bent on annihilating their enemies. Still the British retreated, only to come back stronger.
Maybe that's what the West should try.
Of course you can annihilate Iraq. It just doesn't look good on the resume when you actually wanted to liberate it, does it?
And please stop that burka vs death crap. It's just plain silly.

The problem Amelie, is that by EVERY objective measure, the West is not "losing", insurgents are being defeated, we see the government going after it's own police and prosecuting them when they step over the line, deaths are the lowest of any war in recorded history. And less civilians are dying now than "disappeared" under Saddam. No matter how you slice it, it's a slow march towards independence and freedom for the Iraqi people.

To leave now would be to abandon them to the Syrian and Iranian paid for "insurgents" who aren't even Iraqi, but want to destroy and murder them all.

"And please stop that burka vs death crap. It's just plain silly."

I've had my freedom taken away for only 3 days due to a mistake, and those were the worst 3 days of my life. It's not silly. Not at all. Only people in the West, safe and secure whose lives will never be in danger, can possibly have such an outrageous opinion as yours.

@PlutosDad
What do you know about my life? You'd be quite amazed to learn how insecure it has been at times.
And in what parallel universe do you live?

"The place is a mess. It's an absolute mess. There is nowhere you can go in the Baghdad area as a Western journalist without an escort, where you could feel safe from being kidnapped, shot at, whatever. The amount of death that's on the streets of Baghdad for U.S. forces and for the Iraqi people is at an astronomical level."

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003438513

@ Amelie,

I love the Nazi, guilt-by-association smear.

As far as victory goes: First, we need to take a deep breath and learn to be patient and gain some endurance. A lot of this will simply be outlasting and frustrating the enemies. Second, we need to continue to promote training of Iraqi police and undermine sectarian divisions within the Iraqi government and security forces. We need to pressure the various factions in Iraq to come to a political settlement and share the oil resources. We need to disarm militias and degrade the influence of outside forces including Iran, Syria and Al-Qaeda. That means we need to keep killing members of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. We also need to continue to work to build the nation's infrastructure and health care system.

That said: None of those steps is going to stop the sectarian violence that is rooted in centuries of Iraqi history. We can largely hope to contain and minimize the negative influences, but we would be crazy to assume we can stop them. As I said earlier, that is a heck of a lot better than abandoning the country and leaving it at the mercy of the warring sects, Iran, Syria and Al-Qaeda.

Do you have a better idea?

As to your quote: "The amount of death that's on the streets of Baghdad for U.S. forces and for the Iraqi people is at an astronomical level."

That is the defeatist popeycock that we have come to expect from members of the media's Angry left. Compared to Stalingrad or the seige of Leningrad or Berlin 1945 or any city in the middle of a real, high-intensity war, the killing in Iraq is a drop in the bucket. The Battle of the Bulge alone cost the United States 19,000 dead. World War II cost the United States 300,000 dead. And now the United States should turn tail and run after suffering less than 1% that number of military deaths? All of you shreiking, hysterical defeatists really need to get some historical perspective. Look at your Stalingrad example. The winning side suffered around one million casualties in just that battle. The Soviet Union lost between 20 and 30 million people. But it still won the war, primarily because the nation refused to give up and accept defeat. Much of war is about will. And Americans need to ask themselves if they have the will to perservere.

>> And please stop that burka vs death crap.

That IS part of what this is all about, like it or not. Calling it silly doesn't make it go away.

And you are right: President Bush chose the easy way by calling it the "War on Terror". Terror is a strategy, not an enemy that can be defeated. It is not even a war between defined countries. It is - somewhat similar to the Cold War - a struggle between the free world and an (islamistic) ideology. You should inform yourself about this ideology. Maybe you will realize that giving up is not an option.

About Iran: Their nuclear program is a threat regardless of Iraq. Persuading or forcing them to give it up is necessary.

Maybe you should explain how running from Iraq would be better for the US anyway.

Amelie

First of all, you will never be happy with any suggestions, unless it guarantees victory by Sunday (ideally without any casualties).

Secondly, that's what you do in such a war: you keep fighting the criminal gangs, you forge alliances with the locals (like here) so that you can be more effective, you train the local police and army, you reduce the influence of vicious neighbours and, did I mention this, you fight the criminal gangs. I can hear the next question: for how long? For as long as it takes. Definitely longer than it takes to order a meal in a restaurant or remodel your home.

You still want to know how long, don't you? Years. Many years. You kill bad guys and you help the good guys. You do this today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, in five years, in ten years. I've lost you by now, haven't I? You are appaled, aren't you? That's too much, isn't it? In five years you want Peace on Earth unto all Beings, don't you? Well, at least many of the bad guys will have found peace by then. In death.

That's how it works. No magic pill, no morning after pill, only good old tenacity, adaptability, perseverence, until you break through. And we will break through! Later rather than sooner, but we will. We always do! The problem is that many Westerners have been so pampered the last decades that the thought of a long war is alien. For you, Amelie, doing all the things I outlined is simply impossible, you can't conceive such a tactic. Tenacity is a word out of novels. You might use tenacity to save money for a wortwhile goal or for finding the perfect pair of shoes, but that's about it. Your long-term will has been neutered by your environment, and you forget that the enemies' will is not neutered at all.

Pretty much the only things that the ordinary Westerner uses his/her will for nowadays is a better job, better pay, better home, better toys etc. Basically, stuff related to the material world, where finality is, if not within reach, at least within sight. OTOH, the Islamist prefers to use his will against the material world of the Westerner. The Islamist has loftier and longer term goals, they are not of this Earth (to paraphrase a wise guy). The conflict will last until the Islamists change their view, or until there are too few Islamists left to worry about. Both will take time, and Time is a word you and people like you can not come to terms with.

@Amalie
And please stop that burka vs death crap. It's just plain silly.

I think some women - if they had the chance - would beg to differ.

45 Honor Killings in Germany in 8 years

Hmm, there is something that has kept me wondering for a long time and I would like to ask it here. I think it is worth considering when musing on what to do in Iraq. If you search the internet for "poll Iraq 9/11" you will find a few articles on perceptions of US Americans on Iraq. To quote one, from a Harris Poll in February 2005:

  • 47 percent believe that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001 (up six percentage points from November).
  • 44 percent actually believe that several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis (up significantly from 37% in November).
  • 36 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded (down slightly from 38% in November).
None of these views is true (emphasis by me):
THE PRESIDENT: [...]Now, look, part of the reason we went into Iraq was -- the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction. But I also talked about the human suffering in Iraq, and I also talked the need to advance a freedom agenda. And so my question -- my answer to your question is, is that, imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of the world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.

You know, I've heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of "we're going to stir up the hornet's nest" theory. It just doesn't hold water, as far as I'm concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case.

What has gone wrong, that a large part of the US population seems to believe the opposite of what is true? Any ideas? How much does this misinformation influence decision making?

And sorry for the bad timing, I will need to check on your answers much later, as real life ties me up; I put it here as this thread is about Iraq and what needs to be done. I have been waiting some time to find an appropriate thread.

blue, look at the sample size. Just over 1000. In a country of 300 million. I don't care WHAT they 'controlled' for, that's sheer idiocy. (As was that Pew Hispanic poll that put the number of illegals at 11 million - using a technique called 'residuals'. Garbage in, garbage out.

@Pamela
While any number is too high, I think I'd like to refer you to the latest TIME article about real risks and perceived ones. 45 honor killings in 8 years? I think the Sicilians in Germany would have more of that in the 70s per year. But anyway. Pamela, I grew up in a Civil War, I know what it's like.

@RayD and WhatDoIKnow,
I'd like you to re-read my comments. Nowhere have I stated that I advocate leaving Iraq immediately. I'd certainly not mind to hear about a viable exit strategy though.
And I tell you this: You can't sustain this for "many years". How many years will a president come back to Congress and ask for another 100 or 200 billion dollars per year? 5? 10? Are you kidding yourself? Public support will simply melt away if there is nothing to show for all these billions.

In the meantime, Russia and China form new strategic alliances, new kids appear on the block. Iran is emerging as the new power in the Gulf. How will America look after those 1000 little cuts? It's not a shape I want to see her in. We all lose.

What can be done? You don't make peace with your friends. You make peace with your enemies. If you spend the next 100 billion dollars on peace and development and not on war operations, it might work.

You can still go back to killing if it doesn't

Oh and blue - remember those awful floods in Germany a few years back? I remember reading about a poll in which 30% of Germans blamed them on Bush because he didn't sign the Kyoto agreement.

Amalie: Fine dear. You keep on worrying about those nasty Sicilians. And I have no problems making friends with my enemies. After I defeat them.

>> My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

Neville Chamberlain, 1938.

Good luck "making peace" with islamists. Maybe it will work this time?

I knew someone would trot out Chamberlain.
And Pamela: Don't know that poll but I refer you to those polls about Iraq and 9/11.

How many years will a president come back to Congress and ask for another 100 or 200 billion dollars per year? 5? 10? Are you kidding yourself?

How many years was WWII financed, a far more vicious war with far more casualties than this? What about after WWII? If a war can not be financed it's because of people like you, for whom five years is an eternity and ten years is something only God/Allah can fully comprehend. You made exactly the point from my previous post. For you saying "it takes Time" means now or next week, saying "in the Future" means next year and anything beyond that is the Great Unknown and it feels like a mystical experience, which you don't feel like exploring.

If you spend the next 100 billion dollars on peace and development and not on war operations, it might work

LOL. Yep, that's about it. Love them and they will love you back...

Unfortunately the Islamists, by their own words, want something else than development funds. They want to kill us for who we are NOT for what we do. Still, we should strike back violently with dollar bills. People like you, Amelie, don't bother to listen to what they really say. When they tell you "I want you dead", you tell them "OK, I'll pretend I haven't heard that, you naughty boy, take this cash, build yourself a nice hut, get some sleek camels and life will make more sense again".

You don't listen to what they say about killing you and *why* they would kill you (hint: it's not insufficient development funds form IMF), just as you don't listen to RayD, to me or anyone else. You only listen to yourself and to people who reinforce your views. Then you project your views out in the world as being the one and only reality, regardless of the fact that don't play along.

@Pamela
1000 people seems to be a standard size in US polls. More polls with similar results
worldpublicopinion.org, October 2003
Washington Post, September 2003
Citing Associated Press, July 2003
Wall Street Journal, December 2005
Angus Reid Global Monitor, March 2006
I do see a trend. Don't get me wrong, it is a minority keeping these views, but it is a substantial minority.

@WhatDoIKnow

"That's how it works. No magic pill, no morning after pill, only good old tenacity, adaptability, perseverence, until you break through."

Nice post. In the end, it's really a matter of common sense. You can read history and learn to put things into perspective, or you can read history and learn that, because Hitler breathed, ate, and rejected defeatism, therefore, holding your breath, starving, and embracing defeat are good.

If you spend the next 100 billion dollars on peace and development and not on war operations, it might work
It may win minds and hearts of the general public, drying out the recruiting swamps of the terrorists.

You still will have to deal with the tough guys. Imam Mohammed Fazazi, Al-Quds mosque (where Atta and his ilk went), Hamburg, January 2000:

The infidels brought us the poverty and forced us to emigrate to Europe. And here all they give to us are crumbs and alms. We are doing the work, that the German don't want to do themselves: we are washing dishes, cleaning the toilets, we are doing this, we are doing that ... You and I, we are working for them like slaves. We are immigrants. We are nothing but slaves. We are immigrants, and therefore slaves of a different kind. We are cheap labor force. Therefore anything that we take away from the West, no matter how much it is, is just a small part of what is rightfully ours.
======================================
Germany and Europe are advanced - don't you see it that way? Scientifically, technologically, in their infrastructure ... everything here is advanced. That is the truth! But have you ever asked yourself, where they have taken it from? The West has stolen its wealth from our countries! It has been robbed from us.
======================================
In Jihad infidel women, children and priests must not be killed. But if they support - with their thoughts, their opinion, their money or by votes - the soldiers of the infidels, then they become warriors themselves.
That's how you poison minds.

>> It may win minds and hearts of the general public, drying out the recruiting swamps of the terrorists.

That's exactly what the US is trying to do in Iraq when they help establishing a democracy, building roads, schools, hospitals etc. That's also what Israel, US and EU tried to appease the "Palestinians". Didn't work so well, unfortunately. But how on earth do you want to do that in a country like Iran? You'd have to bypass the regime. Not possible.

blue
Sample sizes
If you really want to know the gory details, the formula is derived from the standard deviation of the proportion of times that a researcher gets a sample "right," given a whole bunch of samples.

Which is mathematical jargon for..."Trust me. It works, okay?"

That's how you poison minds.

You've got that right, blue. Now, look how similar the words from this Imam mirror the words from the documentary on Fox News. Worse yet, they are spewing their poison right HERE in the West...where they have more chances to prosper in life then they could ever dream of in their own countries. America has poured billions upon billions of dollars into developing countries over the years. What has it bought us? Now, we have a suggestion to keep doing the same.

Strange thing is...we are spending billions right now in Iraq "on peace and development", yet, the attacks have not stopped. It is not the coalition that is continuing the violence in Iraq.

http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2006/11/obsession_the_t.html

Mir, you beat me to it.

@James W., Mir
Did you think I am unaware of the threat?
America has poured billions upon billions of dollars into developing countries over the years. What has it bought us?
Return on investment does not look too bright. How hard do we try? Back in the 1970 the industrial countries pledged to give 0.7% of their GNI as Official Development Assistance. We really can be proud on how well we keep our word: in 2004 Germany gave 0.28%, France 0.42%, UK 0.36%, Japan 0.19% and the US gave 0.16% of their respective GNI. Notable exceptions are Norway (0.87%), Sweden (0.77%) and a few others. See the OECD data for yourself.

@Pamela
I do know statistics and am well aware that the numerical uncertainties, as big as they are, are the least of your problems when you are doing polls. Picking a proper sample (gender, political affiliation, age, social surroundings, ...) and "correcting" your numbers accordingly is pretty difficult. E.g. when sampling online or by telephone you are already neglecting a bigger part of the population that you just will not sample. "The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself" Winston Churchill.

On the other hand, do you have polls, that shows the number of people holding these misconceptions is negligible? Take a look at Angus Reid's poll "Few Americans Perceive Hussein-9/11 Link", they spin it differently than the other polls (and yes, all of them are spun); however, even Angus Reid find more than 1 in 4 thinking Hussein is linked to 9/11. That deviates significantly from a zero hypothesis, even when taking into account the standard deviation.

P.S.: There is an addendum to but_why_Germany.

Sorry, signing off now; I will come back and read and answer, however that could take a few days. If you see me post elsewhere, come here and check back.

blue
On the other hand, do you have polls, that shows the number of people holding these misconceptions is negligible?

nope. I was a software developer in marketing for years. You wouldn't believe how those people structure vehicles for marketing feedback and polling. The level of detail used to give me migraines.

The problem I have with these polls is that nobody ever gets to the bottom. Who are these people?

And my personal experience with pollsters - especially political pollsters - is that they don't listen. I've had pollitcal pollsters try to poll me even after I've told them we're lobbyists. They have quotas to meet, they could care less.

I saw the addendum. I'm still pissed off. 'new ways of sex' and I missed the memo.

*sulk*

Problem: The Islamists don't like us. Solution: Give them money. Outcome: They still don't like us. Well, let's give them more money...

>> 'Cause I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love
I'll give you all I got to give if you say you love me too
I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love
Can't buy me love, everybody tells me so
Can't buy me love, no no no, no ...

Are we all too effing maidenly to mention the O word? Oil?

I don't know what victory in Iraq might look like, but I do know what defeat would look like. The loss of all the middle eastern oil, which would come under the domination of Iran and its Mini-me Syria. Then blackmail, if they're feeling charitable; slow strangulation if they're not. It's worth noting that our other suppliers are far from reliable friends. You want to rely on Putin, who already is teaching Europe who is boss? Chavez in Venezuela? Mexico which is falling into civil war? Remember, they can sell to China who will pay lavishly.

Hearts and mind are a luxury; you can always toss them when you take the last chopper out, but oil is our blood. No oil, no US. Our leaders may be cowards, but they can't be so mind numbingly stupid not to understand this.

Blue, do those numbers you gave include private donations from Americans?

Why give money to many countries that do not use it responsibly? Furthermore, some people on the receiving end of the money have claimed that it makes them dependent on this aid and less inclined to develop their own prosperity.

Maybe their is a way to kill two birds with one stone:
The U.S. is the largest importer of developing countries’ goods. In 2004, U.S. net purchases of developing countriesexports totaled $394 billion.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/scp/2005/53037.htm

But in the end, as Mir has pointed out, does this buy us love from the Islamists...or, just more envy and hate?

A few thoughts:

Maybe one the gov't should do, in order to force people to realize that ducking is not an option, to ... duck and do whatever the bad guys want. The important thing is to do it spectacularly and in a very public way. Say, North Korea wants $5 billion in aid. What to do? Give them! But announce it loudly that in order to be able to give it to them, first we need to raise taxes here. In a spectacular way. If there is another terror attack, and the perpetrators demand money, then ... raise taxes and give them. A few such actions, and it will do wonders to force people to wake up. Just hit them in the pocket in a very humiliating and painful way.

About retreating. This Iraq war is not a war of convenience. Actually Iraq is not a war but a battle. It is just one episode, albeit a very spectacular one, against Islamic expansion. We can retreat, and we will win some time, but it will come back and bite us in the ass. The more we retreat, the more it will bite us. This enemy won't go away since it doesn't want us to give them something, but they want to eliminate us (Hussein Massawi, former Hezbollah honcho). If we don't stop them in the small fights now, then we will have to go to the big one. The one which will costs uncomparably more resource be it lives or treasury. Our retreat now paves the way for a later world war which will make WW2 look like a joke.

And now a bit of theoretical thinking. I predict that what we are doing now is seeding the (internal) destruction of the West. We are facing an enemy who wants us to go away. We don't fight back. The enemy comes after us. We still don't fight back. They still come. Finally, we get to the point where we *HAVE* to fight back. Say after an provocation that makes 9/11 a child's play. At that time, the enemy will be too strong, and we need to apply far too much force to stop them. Think of genocide and nukes. We were there before. Hitler was a clear danger, but all the world did was to appease him. We could have stopped him through a small war or a series of small wars. But we didn't. We got the big one. Back to today. We might have to do a horrible overkill to stop the Islamic expansion. We will win the war. And what's going to come after? Within a few decades, our conscience will wake up and will ask awfully hard lessons. Did we really need to nuke 20 cities where 200 millione people died? Our societies will be torn apart under the weight what we have done (which had to be done). That will be the end of the West as we know and the dawn of the global caliphate (or another ruthless - and non-democratic - player).

Will we allow this to happen? Will this generation do the small fight and forcing our children not to do something truly awful to protect their lives? And forcing our grandchildren not to tear themselves apart for their fathers' actions which could have been prevented by their grandparents if they hadn't been so small-minded? In other words, do we worry only about our own little momentary asses, or do we worry about the future? What the "sweeping the mess under the rug" will bring about in the long run?

Vilmos

How to win the war? Kick the journalists out and let the military do their job. It's a dirty one but someone's got to do it. I don't know if Arabs are capable of democracy western style but I do know that they respect only strength. The current Iraqi political class is too tied up with sectarian groups. No matter who is in power there will be no solution as long as the militias run around. Right now, the American military is the only force who can fill the power vacuum - if you let them. No warnings before raids on cities like Fallujah anymore. People have to understand if they shelter terrorists they will die. Only when they fear the American military more than Sadr or El Quaida the situation will change. As long as we care about complaining Arabs they will cry even louder and still consider the West weak not nice. It will definetly not be nice but it's the only way to win it the hard way. Once the military is able to provide security the Arab or at least the Iraqi street will love them and play democracy with us! Easy!

Pam you're losing your support one Latter Day Chad at a time.

Blue, do those numbers you gave include private donations from Americans?
I was talking about Official Development Aid (ODA), that excludes private donations. It is my understanding (have to crosscheck my source) that in all countries private donations are much less than ODA, whereas your injection implies, that donations are substantial. Can you please back this up with numbers for private foreign aid (totals will do), either in absolute numbers or % GNI? Thanks.
Maybe their is a way to kill two birds with one stone: The U.S. is the largest importer of developing countries’ goods. In 2004, U.S. net purchases of developing countriesexports totaled $394 billion.
What is the tax structure for US imports? I know that the EU has relatively low tax on raw materials and high ones for products. It is cheap to ship e.g. cacao to the EU, but as soon as you try to ship chocolate (where much of the earnings would go to the third world) it gets expensive. Is it different for the US (I simply do not know)? I agree, in the past decades too often money was just thrown at the people, instead of getting the local people committed.
But in the end, as Mir has pointed out, does this buy us love from the Islamists...or, just more envy and hate?
You will never be able to buy the die-hard Islmaists and I do not propose to do so - but we may be able to get the non-radical muslim on our side before they turn Islamist.

Signing off, back on Monday, probably.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Our Mission

The Debate

Blog powered by Typepad

May 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31