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January 13, 2007

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Peter D. Lederer

"If President Bush wants to win back the trust of the American people, he has to begin by being honest with them."

It goes beyond candor, I fear.

Look at the editorial in yesterday's Washington Post: "Unveiled Threats
A Bush appointee's crude gambit on detainees' legal rights",
January 12, 2007; Page A18

A White House that seeks to pressure lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees, portraying them as disloyal or unpatriotic, probably lacks the moral capacity to figure out -- assuming it even wants to -- what "being honest" means.

nessy

The problem I have with the detractors of Pres. Bush is they are quick to say Bush should admit mistakes because there were no WMD but never seem to have any answers for the underlying issues. That is, when the world says and believes that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and passes resolutions demanding that Iraq give them up, then they don't, what does it do to the efficacy of that organization when they don't use force? If a country thwarts the will of the international community, what consequences should that have? I'm not an ardent Bush supporter, or think he has acted properly every step of the way, but I think this situation is much more complicated than Professor Stone depicts.

Erasmussimo

First, I'd like to address an assumption in nessy's post that I believe to be incorrect. It is commonly held among some people that the whole world believed that Saddam possessed WMD, that this was not just an Administration delusion because every other secret service in the world had come to the same conclusion. That claim is incorrect. The British government believed as the American government did -- but that was a matter of policy, not independent judgment. The French and Germans suspected that Saddam possessed WMD, but retained considerable uncertainty on the matter, and most certainly did not consider the matter certain enough to justify war.

But the clincher here is that the United Nations had addressed the problem forthrightly by setting up an investigatory agency to determine the truth of the matter, and that agency had far better intelligence than anything available to the USA. The ongoing reports from Mr. Blix were carefully worded but quite clear that there was NO evidence of WMD in Iraq. Mr. Blix did note that he was unable to definitely answer some of the questions, and so could not issue a definitive answer to the overall question, but he was equally clear that there was no evidence in support of the American claims. Thus, the argument that Mr. Bush's justification for the invasion was well-reasoned is false. Indeed, Mr. Bush went to great lengths to insure that he got the answer he wanted from the American intelligence services. In one case, Mr. Cheney ordered the firing of a CIA analyst who insisted on a point calling the Administration's claims into question. In another case, the White House, dissatisfied with the carefully written intelligence reports of military professionals at the Pentagon, replaced the group's supervisor with a young political appointee who rewrote their reports to insure that they reported what the White House wanted to hear.

Let us dismiss this canard that the Bush Administration was justified in its claims that Iraq possessed WMD. Those claims were based on fabricated evidence, deliberate suppression of contradictory evidence, and a decision to "fix the facts around the policy".

Monahan

Before we can take Professor’s Stone any more seriously than all of the other left wing, Democratic, appeasers, Professor Stone must admit his mistakes, if not his intentional misstatements. Too many to list all or most, I merely touch on several.

Not just Bush, but the vast majority of those apprizing the situation, including Saddam’s generals, almost all foreign intelligence services, most Democrats in Congress and former President Clinton, all believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, it is far from clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I do not believe that any serious person would not conclude that based on what we know about Saddam, that had the US allowed the UN sanctions against Iraq to end and the US removed its troops from around Iraq, that Saddam would have directed hundreds of millions of $ into Iraq’s WMD programs.

While WMD was one of the reasons for the US using force to enforce the cease fire agreement of the “First Iraq War” (don’t forget that the US / Bush did not start this war - Saddam stated it when he invaded Kuwait - Bush I and Clinton never finished it and left the job of finishing it to Bush 2), WMD was only one of a number of reasons, including Iraq’s support of terrorist activities, including those related to the Palestinian issue and those related to the Islamic jihadists.

Bush never assured the Congress or the American people that ending the Iraq War would be easy. In fact, the initial phase (deposing Saddam) turned out to be much quicker and less costly than almost everyone predicted. Bush 2's phase of the Iraq War has been relatively easy in terms of major conflicts. Part of the problem is that the vast majority of the US has become weak and spoiled. We want our wars to be like our video games, no real cost, no real casualties, just push restart when you get killed and push the pause button when you get bored, get distracted by the Super Bowl or Jessica Simpson or O.J. Simpson or have to go the bathroom. Sorry, that’s not the real world. That’s why they call them video “games”.

Since Professor Stone does what law professors do - ask questions - but never give answers - I will suggest an answer to his question about what happens is the US allows Iraq to collapse completely? The US will lose any remaining credibility amongst it allies and potential future allies and the US will be, rightfully so - considered a weak, paper tiger by all of our enemies, including the Islamic jihadists. We saw what happened when we abandoned our former Vietnam allies. Hundreds of thousands were murdered, uncounted number drowned as fleeing “boat people” and millions more re-educated. Any intelligent student of history would not throw their lot in with the US where their very survival depended on our steadfast loyalty. We only in as long as the next US election. Osama has stated repeatedly to the Islamic jihadist that if they killed a relatively small number of US troops that the US people will demand that the US surrender and flee the battlefield. If the US allows Iraq to collapse, we will have proven him to be correct. The world is a tough neighborhood. It is a nice thought that if you hug you enemy and sing “Kumba Ya”, that the whole world will love you - but it just an’t so.

Erasmussimo

I would now like to address Mr. Stone's points. I do not believe that he presents our options as starkly as they really are. The small-scale "surge" that Mr. Bush has decided upon is a waste of time, money, and blood. It is too small to accomplish anything positive. It will ramp up the violence without achieving any substantial result.

Any analysis of our options in Iraq must begin with the simple question, what is our policy objective? What do we seek to accomplish? The answer has been "a stable and democratic Iraq". I suspect that few people appreciate the magnitude of the effort required to achieve that policy objective.

Democracy can survive only where each citizen is confident that most other citizens will honor the rule of law. If citizens do not trust each other to honor the rule of law, then those who play by the rules will be taken advantage of. Whence comes this universal confidence in the rule of law? It is a form of trust, and trust is not the default condition among humans. Our initial assessment of others is suspicion; trust must be built up from a long relationship or tradition. A military coup is unthinkable in the USA, because in our 200+ years of existence, such a thing has never happened. Were the military to attempt such a thing, the American people would absolutely refuse to acquiesce. They would reject the legitimacy of such a coup. Yet military coups are quite thinkable in many countries. Why the difference? Tradition.

So let's look at the political traditions in Iraq. That area has known civilization for 5,000 years, and during the entire expanse of that period, it has NEVER known anything remotely like democracy or even the rule of law. NEVER in 5,000 years in Mesopotamia have political leaders been forced to conform to any law. If we wish to establish a stable democracy in Iraq, then we must build a political tradition of respect for the law. This will require us to provide the security forces necessary to maintain the peace -- we cannot rely on Iraqi forces to do this, as they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. This will require a force of about a million Americans. Roughly half of these will be military, and the other half will be economic, technical, social, and political personnel. Having secured the country, we must next rebuild the infrastructure that we have destroyed. It will cost something on the order of a trillion dollars to bring the Iraqis up to a standard of living necessary to permit them to banish desperation from their political deliberations. Fortunately, we could use Iraqi oil revenues for much of this expenditure. However, the maintenance of the American personnel will probably run about $100K per person in salary and logistical support, and we shall have to pay that cost -- about $100 billion per year.

Our approach to building democracy in Iraq was exactly backwards. We attempted to impose democracy from the top down. That's ridiculous -- democracy must grow organically from the bottom up. The correct approach is to establish an American office in every village and neighborhood in the country. People can learn to appreciate and respect democracy when they practice it at the town hall level. However, the town hall level means that each initial democratic unit will consist of no more than about a hundred persons. There are 25 million Iraqis -- that means we'll need 250,000 separate political units, each run by a team of Americans. That's why we'll need so many people.

Only after we get neighborhood democratic units operational can we start to build groupings of such units -- and the process of building those associations must be democratically negotiated by each grouping. This slow process is necessary to insure that everybody respects the process and the results. It will take decades to build the democracy up to the point where they can actually have a democratic national government.

We will face fierce resistance from the existing power structure -- the local headman whose power will be destroyed by democracy. We can only undermine that power by purchasing the loyalty of Iraqis. That means that each low-level political unit will have to be given the responsibility to allocate substantial funds for local improvement. That means lots of money.

This process will take at least a generation to establish a solid political tradition -- I'd guess 30 to 50 years.

So, if we want to achieve our political objective, then we must commit a million Americans and perhaps 100 billion dollars a year for at least 30 years.

If that price is too high, then there is no point in remaining in Iraq, and we should pull out immediately.

nessy

It's not just me and "some" people who believed that the world thought Sadamm had WMD. Colin Powell believed that the world thought Sadamm had WMD. Enough said.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Monahan, you write, "it is far from clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." While it is true that there is no definitive proof of the claim that there were no WMD in Iraq at the time of the invasion, the vast preponderance of evidence is in favor of that thesis. Mr. Blix's work showed this prior to the invasion, and the very thorough (might I add strongly motivated) search for WMD after the invasion found absolutely nothing. Please, let us be reasonable -- the evidence is overwhelming here.

You disparage the American people for their unwillingness to expend large amounts of blood and treasure in pursuit of the policy goals you favor. I remind you that democracy is a free market of ideas, and if you're happy to suggest that Americans are spineless, then you should be just as happy to accept their characterization of your approach as "bloodthirsty" or "warmongering". Would it be fair of me to question your patriotism if you do not wholeheartedly support the will of the democratic majority? Remember, "United We Stand". Get with the program! ;-)

You write, "Bush never assured the Congress or the American people that ending the Iraq War would be easy." Gee, I recall a big celebration on an aircraft carrier with a big sign saying "Mission Accomplished". I remember numerous claims that the insurgency was on its last legs, that purple thumbs proved that progress was underway, that the adoption of a constitution proved the light at the end of the tunnel, and so forth. Yes, Mr. Bush never made the specific promise you mention -- but there certainly was a lot of unjustified optimistic spin even as things grew worse and worse. And many many Americans have observed that, had they known then what they know now, they would not have supported the war.

You fear that the US will lose any remaining credibility among its allies should it retreat from Iraq. I suggest that the USA has already lost most of its credibility, and that there is now little left to lose. I ask you, what do you think the reputation of the USA will look like in, say, ten years, if we simply continue the current feckless strategy of pointless violence and accomplish absolutely nothing other than more death and destruction? If we pull out now, perhaps we'll be seen as a paper tiger -- but if we hang on in the current mode, we'll be seen as dangerous bloodthirsty idiots. Not much of a choice, is it? That's what happens when you screw up. We screwed up big time and now it's time to pay the price for our foolishness. You're right -- the world is a harsh place, and we're now learning how harsh it can be when you screw up.

curtisstrong

Paper tiger?

Are you kidding me? We already look like a bunch of inept morons to the entire world, and mr. Monahan is worried about appearances.

Mr. Monahan, there are over 3,000 families in this country that have lost a loved one to this stupid war. 3,000+ funerals. Dead. Gone forever. Lost their lives.

I´m not sure how many of those people have little kids who depended on them for money/support. I don´t know how many had wives/husbands at home who no longer have their companionship. How many had parents who still set a place at the table for them each night in order to remember them? I know of at least one who camped out, demanding a response from President Bush. But there are 3,000 fewer members of the armed forces who could have been used when there was an ACTUAL threat, and 3,000 human beings who can´t live their lives anymore.

Move on to the 47,000+ wounded. People without legs, arms...that kind of thing. People whose faces look like the war zone they were fighting in. People who will be on medication the rest of their lives...etc. Probably quite a few who can´t have sex anymore...but you still can, so I suppose you´re happy, eh?

Not to mention (cuz most of us don´t really care anyway, right?) the 53,000+ dead Iraqis. 53,000 deaths WE caused. Monahan, your vote and support of the Iraq war caused 53,000 iraqi deaths.

Paper Tiger indeed. Want another image?

How about a mountain of dead people?

curtisstrong

Monahan writes,

"We saw what happened when we abandoned our former Vietnam allies. Hundreds of thousands were murdered, uncounted number drowned as fleeing “boat people” and millions more re-educated. Any intelligent student of history would not throw their lot in with the US where their very survival depended on our steadfast loyalty."

How long? 30 years? 50 years? 100 years?

You´re right, Monahan. In an effort to save the Vietnamese, the US should have stayed there all these long years. It certainly would have been much better for everyone involved. Just like in the Philippines. Wait...

The US is not going to save the world from it´s problems. It´s not going to save Iraq, no matter how long we´re there. There may be some situations in which we could be of help, but it seems very clear that in the future we´re going to have to balance and plan extensively before getting involved.

"It is a nice thought that if you hug you enemy and sing “Kumba Ya”, that the whole world will love you - but it just an’t so."

That´s the image you retards want to put out there, isn´t it? Anyone who can see past Bush´s 7 points of IQ that was put into this war really wants to sip tea with Osama Bin Laden and then have dessert with Saddam.

This isn´t argumentation, it´s intellectual dishonesty.

And retarded.

Let´s see. I believe it was John Kerry (gasp) who wanted to go after Osama. I believe that it was John Kerry who wanted to focus attention more on the "war on terror" than on the war in Iraq. Hmmm...

John Kerry aside, every single last person on this blog that opposes the war in Iraq takes the possibility of terrorism seriously. Every single one of us believes that there are measures that may actually work that may be taken to reduce that threat. Every single one of us believes(and imagine, for those of us that can read, there´s a comprehensive study out there that confirms this) that the Iraq war actually INCREASES the threat of terrorism both in and outside of the US.

There are terrorist attacks against Americans EVERY SINGLE DAY in Iraq.

"Part of the problem is that the vast majority of the US has become weak and spoiled. We want our wars to be like our video games, no real cost, no real casualties, just push restart when you get killed and push the pause button when you get bored, get distracted by the Super Bowl or Jessica Simpson or O.J. Simpson or have to go the bathroom. Sorry, that’s not the real world. That’s why they call them video “games”."

Alright. So I suppose that we should be, say, "strong" and "relentless" and we should "forge ahead" and "stay the course." Let´s just call it a crusade and we´ll be there for the next thousand years trying to create a stable Iraq. We´ll be as ruthless and cruel as we need to be in order to force those damn Iraqi´s under control. We´ll use whatever means necessary and we´ll destroy all of those that oppose our rule.

I guess that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn´t it?

Let´s go tough guy. You think we´re all a bunch of spineless Osama supporters in disguise? Grab your colt 44 and get your ass over to Iraq, cuz I know someone that needs 21,000 extra troops.

Have a nice trip.

Leif

I am always amused when strident, irredentist Leftists point out why helping to advance some particular Leftist agenda or point will "help" the President. Why, Professor Stone, should the President - already the subject of withering, daily scorn from the Left and the media - for his "mistakes" grant more ammunition to those attackers who pummel him daily from the Congressional wells, in the press, and in the public sphere? No rational person can seriously believe that such an "admission" would do anything but open him to more serious attacks and more aggresive insult. The President accepted responsibility for mistakes without naming who was responsible for making the mistaken decisions. It is the acceptance of responsibility that is key to the American people. If the President is serious about winning in Iraq, refusing to be bullied into pointing the finger specifically at himself is not just defensible, but likely necessary, as it deprives Democrats, Leftists, and other agitators of what would be used only as a bludgeon against the President's current plan, or whatever other plans he might propose in the future.

Josh Miller

As to whether or not there were indeed WMD's in Iraq: as a matter of fact, there were, and we've found them. Mustard and sarin gas qualifies, though I doubt that's sexy enough to appease the majority.

Regardless, however, simple logic tells us this: Saddam Hussein was ordered to give UN weapons inspectors "complete, unfettered access" (as the language was, at the time) to the country. He did not. What are we to conclude, then? What would you conclude?

Saddam essentially brought the war upon himself. So enough about the WMD's: the real question is, "Did Iraq ever pose a significant threat to either the region or the United States, WMD's or not?" if you are to question the legitimacy of the war. But - per normal - leftists are latching on to the easiest, most emotional argument they can find, and running with it.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Lief, you argue that Mr. Bush should not admit his own mistakes because this would give his political opponents a better opportunity to attack him. I should hope that the President of the United States, especially a second-term President, would put political considerations aside and simply do what's best. Inasmuch as Mr. Bush made some serious mistakes, it certainly behooves him to admit those mistakes and move on. However, I don't think that it is necessary that he do so; history will surely do it for him. The value of an immediate admission of error is that it sets the stage for correction of those errors. It appears from his policy decisions that Mr. Bush does not yet believe that he has made any errors, and so only a minor touch-up job is needed to put things back in order. This, of course, is incorrect and eventually a certain number of additional deaths and the waste of an additional few score billion dollars will convince everybody else that Mr. Bush was in error. My impression is that Mr. Bush will continue to insist, for the rest of his life, that he was right all along, even though in ten or twenty years the magnitude of this colossal blunder will be clear to everybody else.

Mr. Miller, I recall some reports about searchers finding old mustard gas shells left over from the war with Iraq, but they were rusting and useless. I do not recall seeing any reports of sarin-based weapons; could you please refer me to such reports?

The invasion of Iraq was a blunder of gigantic proportions. You offer a defense of that invasion based on your belief that Iraq posed a threat to the USA. However, your logic suffers from a leap: you assume that, if there was a threat, invasion was necessary. Now, I don't believe that there was a threat, but even if there were, that does not constitute a compelling argument for an invasion. You have to focus on the policy: what was Mr. Bush trying to accomplish in invading Iraq? What was his policy goal? If it was merely to depose Saddam, then why did he remain in Iraq after Saddam was deposed?

Never forget von Clausewitz: war is the extension of policy to other means. If you don't have a policy goal, then there isn't much point in starting a war, is there?

Frederick Hamilton

Prof Stone,
Per the president yesterday, to be viewed tonight on 60 Minutes: "The president concedes that his decisions have led to more instability in Iraq. President Bush made the admission in an exclusive interview with Scott Pelley at Camp David yesterday, his first interview since addressing the nation about Iraq."

Heavy is the head that wears the crown and leadership requires decisions that can be second guessed easily retrospectively.

Suffice it to say, Bush and his team have done much right. Any attacks since 9/11 for instance?

Should Iraq really turn out to be the disaster Prof Stone already places around its neck, Bush's legacy will be that of LBJ's. Fair enough.

Should Iraq become a stable nation with their form of democracy and individual freedom then Bush and his team will have a great legacy of leadership.

Easy to criticize. Tougher to lead. Partisan left wing demonization of Bush is indicative of small thinking on Prof Stone and his ilk. That's OK. Its politics and Stone reeks of politics. I wonder how he is on the law? Equally on the fringes?

Great ideas such as freedom and liberty for nations contain great risk. Liberals never like risk. But then liberals would have carped that to fight the British in the Revolutionary War was a mistake and all the early loses by Washington proved it. Thank God Prof Stone wasn't around then.

Erasmussimo

Mr.Hamilton, your question, "Any attacks since 9/11 for instance?" reminds me of the old joke about the guy flapping his arms and calling "rok! rok! rok!". When asked why he was engaging in such odd behavior, he replied, "To keep the elephants away." His inquisitor objected, "But there are no elephants here!", to which he replied, "See? It works!"

Attributing the absence of terrorist attacks to Mr. Bush's policies is an unsubstantiable assumption on your part, a speculation. I can think of other explanations that having nothing to do with Mr. Bush. The best of these is the simplest: hijacking airliners is no longer a viable tactic, because passengers now know they face certain death and will offer the resistance that they did not offer on 9/11. Indeed, the experience of the fourth airplane demonstrates that the tactic lost its effectiveness within an hour of its first use -- and Mr. Bush had nothing to do with that.

You write, "Should Iraq become a stable nation with their form of democracy and individual freedom then Bush and his team will have a great legacy of leadership." Indeed so. And should cancer be cured through faith healing, terrorists surrender upon realizing the moral superiority of Christianity, and prisoners at Guantanamo confess under torture to every crime imaginable, then Mr. Bush will have been even further vindicated -- but I wouldn't count on it.

You state that it's tough to lead. Indeed so. Leadership has little margin for error. Mr. Bush has made many errors, which demonstrate just how tough it really is to lead. Obviously, Mr. Bush is not up to this tough task.

"Partisan left wing demonization of Bush is indicative of small thinking on Prof Stone and his ilk." Am I a member of his ilk? Just who belongs to this ilk denomination? I find it striking that every single commentator on this blog who defends Mr. Bush relies on straw man arguments. Consider:

nessy: "the detractors of Pres. Bush... never seem to have any answers for the underlying issues."

Monahan: "It is a nice thought that if you hug you enemy and sing “Kumba Ya”, that the whole world will love you - but it just an’t so."

Leif: "...as it deprives Democrats, Leftists, and other agitators of what would be used only as a bludgeon against the President's current plan..."

Josh Miller: "But - per normal - leftists are latching on to the easiest, most emotional argument they can find, and running with it."

Frederick Hamilton: "Liberals never like risk. But then liberals would have carped that to fight the British in the Revolutionary War was a mistake and all the early loses by Washington proved it."

It should be obvious to any reasonable person that these people are not addressing the issues being raised here. They are concocting straw men and then triumphantly skewering same. I put this question to each of the above correspondents: Why do you attack statements that have not been made here?

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,
No more skewering Stone et al than you and Stone skewer Bush.

Bush's arguments have never been straw men anymore than terrorist Muslim jihadists are straw men. You may not agree. Public opinion may not agree. But don't trivialize your arguments by trying to trivialize the threats.

Equating defeating terrorists to curing cancer with faith healing is a nonsensical trivializing argument.

I attack the statements of Prof Stone regarding mistakes, responsibility, et al. Sorry if I have offended but trashing Bush and second guessing is the easy part.

What would you do with Iraq now? Yes I know you were smart enough to have not gone to war in the first place (Senate, House and the president weren't so smart). So with what we face in Iraq now, what would you do? Simply completely leave post haste? I also would like to read what Prof Stone's solutions now are.

I will say this. I for one don't trust "Stone and his ilk" to protect me. My opinion and I have what I believe to be good reasons for it.

The terrorists will be defeated by strength not by appeasement. You may not like the Bush team approach. Fair enough. So far it has worked for the homeland. And those terrorists to be found, watched and killed want at least me dead. Maybe not you. Actually I think you are in their crosshairs also. Dangerous folks with world wide nasty ambitions. The threat I beleve to be very real and straw men they are not.

Frederick Hamilton

Oh, by the way, NYT reports today that military expands domestic intelligence activities. How dare they do that, right? Rok, Rok, Rok. Just looking for non-existent elephants, right?

nessy

Just to clarify. I was trying to point out that the WMD issue is really in the noise at this point. (I hate sports analogies, but it would be like Jim Tressel admitting that he made a mistake by going for it in the first half of Monday's game.) The decision to go to war was made in a difficult geopolitical context here at home and abroad, where a new approach was needed to deal with rogue regimes in a post 9/11 world. So, let's have that discussion -- Foreign Policy in a post 9/11 world with geopolitical barriers becoming much smaller due to globalization. But it's silly to continue this talk of Sadamm and WMD.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, perhaps you did not understand the point I was making. It does not advance the discussion to conjure up imaginary arguments that have not been made and then attack those arguments. You are welcome to contest such arguments with those people who have made them -- but the arguments you contest have not been made in this forum and it is at the very least divagatory to argue them -- indeed, I will go so far as to speculate that you attack nonexistent arguments because you have no good responses to the arguments that have been made.

If you don't want to discuss the issues raised here, why bother posting at all?

Leif

Eras, address my entire argument, please, not the part that you wish to address in isolation. If public support is necessary for the President's plan to work, why should he give ammunition to those who have been, from day one, attempting to undermine public support for the war in Iraq? If they're going to attack him anyway - and they are - why should he help sharpen their knives?

Extremely Annoyed U of C Law School Alum

Professor Stone -- I access this blog to read about matters related to law. Your posts often offer your political views, but usually lamely cloaked in the context of a legal issue. This post is purely a political flame. Unfortunately, I now find it hard to take seriously your earlier post regarding the late Professor Meltzer. That is sad. (Note the passive voice.)

Erasmussimo

Mr. Leif, I do not understand your plaint -- I directly addressed your central argument in the first paragraph of my post of 11:52 PM. If you would explain how you find this paragraph wanting, I will be happy to provide your answer.

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,
I addressed the "mistakes" passive voice issue by stating the interview with 60 Minutes for instance. Sorry you don't appreciate that.

Stone mentioned the Revolutionary War and Civil War thank you. In both the critics crucified Washington and Lincoln. Thank God, they weren't of the mindset of some to simply declare defeat and hit the road.

The Iraqi's deserve our support (military, political and economic) for many years to come.

The Vietnamese Democrats think it is positive to abandon Iraq.

I for one think Bush will be vindicated. Could be wrong for sure.

To reiterate, great ideas such as freedom and liberty require great risk. Washington, Lincoln and Bush understood the implications of that. Freedom isn't free. Terrorists aren't straw men (your argument not mine, nor are they Rok, Rok, Rok elephants). Sorry, we disagree. History will prove one of us right. I hope for the Iraqi's and the U.S. it is I and not you. Peace, eventually, when the terrorists get tired of getting killed and marginalized by the civilized world they are trying to destroy.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, when you assert that the Iraqis deserve our support, you fail to complete the statement by stating how MUCH support they deserve. Do they deserve nothing more than a 'Godspeed' from us? At the other extreme, should we draft all military age men and dedicate our GDP to the support of the Iraqis? I have already outlined the amount of support that I think is required to achieve the policy goal of a sustainable democracy in Iraq -- and the bill comes to "a million Americans and perhaps 100 billion dollars a year for at least 30 years". Do you maintain that the Iraqis deserve that degree of support?

You cite Mr. Washington and Mr. Lincoln as examples of Presidents forging ahead to victory in spite of criticism. But there remains a crucial difference between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War on one hand and the Iraq War on the other: the policy objectives in the former wars were achievable with an acceptable degree of sacrifice. Had the British committed, say, ten times as many troops, then Washington would have failed. But the British underestimated the amount of effort required to subjugate a foreign population (a mistake Mr. Bush has also made) and Washington's eventual victory was, if not a certainty, at the very least a probability. The central maxim for insurgency is that you don't have to win, you just have to avoid losing, and that's what Washington did right up to Yorktown.

You write "The Vietnamese Democrats think it is positive to abandon Iraq." Can't you make ANY statement without casting mud at somebody? Besides, your statement is poorly worded; I have not seen any opinion polls of Democrats of Vietnamese extraction.

You declare that "great ideas such as freedom and liberty require great risk." Indeed so. Would you jump off a cliff for freedom? Risk is measured in probabilities. You seem to be prepared to risk thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars on the tiny chance that we'll achieve a stable democracy in Iraq. Aren't there better places to risk our blood and treasure?

You write, "History will prove one of us right. I hope for the Iraqi's and the U.S. it is I and not you." That statement differentiates us. You are basing your position on hope; I am basing mine on reason.

One of the hardest things to do is admit failure and throw in the towel. Good planners insure that they'll never face such a horrible situation. Mr. Bush, who is not a good planner, has utterly failed in that regard and dug us into a deep and bloody hole from which there is no dignified exit. Yes, it's difficult to contemplate the humiliation of failure -- but when failure stares you in the face, it's better to be humiliated than dead. That's the price we must pay for foolish policy.

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,
Read my post. I told you what Iraq needs from us: military, political and economic support. I didn't put specific numbers of either troops or dollars. Who can?

Eras your getting a little cavalier on me. Of course I wouldn't jump off a cliff. Who is being asked to do that?

I cast mud on the Democrats and you howl. Democrats and you call Bush an idiot and that is OK. Forget all the pejoratives. We have a nation to help save, to help become a stable nation. Got any answers other than pulling out?

Good planners sometimes fail. We won't fail unless we listen to you and the need to quit.

Sorry Eras, we are going to prevail in Iraq. Failure is not an option. Peace.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, why do you refrain from putting numbers on your proposals? I suspect that it is because you know that the numbers required to do the job are totally unacceptable.

You want to know who is being asked to jump off a cliff. We are, Mr. Hamilton, and you are the one asking us to do so. You want us to make an indefinite commitment of an indefinite amount of money and an indefinite amount of blood, for an indefinite period of time. You want us to step over an edge that you "hope" to be a tiny step down, but you don't know how far down it really is, and you refuse to even guess. I claim it's a cliff, not a step, and I have presented my reasons for that claim.

You equate criticism of Mr. Bush's policies with mudslinging at Democrats. I suggest that we focus on policies, not people. It's quite appropriate to criticize an idea or a policy. Just keep people or groups out of it, OK?

You ask, "Got any answers other than pulling out?" Did you not read my lengthy post of Jan 13, 10:43 AM, in which I presented an alternative to pulling out? If you wish to challenge my analysis, please do so. But please don't perpetrate the false suggestion that I have offered no alternative when in fact I have.

You conclude, "Sorry Eras, we are going to prevail in Iraq. Failure is not an option." That's a slogan, not a reasoned argument. Is this how you would have us make policy -- by slogans rather than logic? Is this the best you can do?

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