OxBlog

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

# Posted 9:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SOMETHING DOESN'T ADD UP:

Republicans are leaving a sinking ship, and the sinking ship is the Republican approach to the war in Iraq, and to the war on terror. --Howard Dean (CBS, Sept. 3)

I think Secretary Rumsfeld's done an excellent job. He'll be remembered as one of the great secretaries of defense. We've liberated Afghanistan and Iraq. By staying on offense, we've protected America here at home. --Mitch McConnell (CBS, Sept. 3)

I think Secretary Rumsfeld has done a fine job as the defense secretary, and the problems that we are confronting are problems of an enemy that’s a very potent enemy—much more potent than I think anybody ever anticipated. --Rick Santorum (NBC, Sept. 3)

Now, I wouldn't go as far as to describe McConnell and Santorum's remarks as grounded in empirical reality, but Dean may be missing something too.
(27) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
David,

With all due respect, I believe that if we were in first class on a plane together hurtling out of control towards earth, you would be telling me how great the food was.
 
If anything, Mr. Primal Scream is being measured in his response. Rumsfeld is deeply unpopular at the Pentagon, and his henny penny act has worn thin with the American public. He already offered his resignation at the height of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

In any case, you should get some balancing quotes from sitting senators such as Lieberman, Collins, McCain, Clinton, Feinstein, .... Rumsfeld is about to suffer a vote of confidence in the Senate. It isn't clear that he'll pass it.
 
How about some context, here. Dean probably made that comment right after Chris Shays and a bunch of other Republicans called for Rummy's resignation. So Santorum and McConnell still back him. Big deal. What really matters is that, for the first time, a LOT of Republicans oppose him publicly. Dean was right.
 
"Rumsfeld is about to suffer a vote of confidence in the Senate. It isn't clear that he'll pass it."

So what? Would a vote of no confidence mean anything outside of the usual political bullsh*t?
 
Elrod, I'm always glad to see your comments on OxBlog. And I'm especially glad to have the chance to tweak you a bit.

You suggest I might have taken Dean out of context. If you followed the links I provided, you'd see that Dean and McConnell made their comments on the same edition of Face the Nation (although Dean was interviewed first, so he couldn't have heard McConnell.)

You are correct, however, that Dean did mention Chris Shays in the same breath. But can you persuade yourself that the defection of a moderate Republican in Lamont territory represents a significant data point?

And Randy, I think you've really developed a habit of reading the absolute worst interpretation into everything I write. So care to address my actual point?

To remind you in case you've forgotten: Isn't it surprising, given that neo-cons like Bill Kristol bash Rumsfeld constantly (and for non-trivial reasons), that a senator like Santorum, whose career is on the line, has decided to stand by the SecDef?
 
You didn't have a point.

Your summary was: "Now, I wouldn't go as far as to describe McConnell and Santorum's remarks as grounded in empirical reality, but Dean may be missing something too."

This could mean anything.
 
Could one of Mr Rumsfeld's critics please point to a war that was better run than Iraq, and explain the metrics that let them make that judgement?
 
David,

The point you raise is about the empirical reality behind Dean's assertion, and a sample size of two Senators is no way to answer that question.

The issue is whether there is a trend among Republicans in Congress, and rank-and-file Republicans nationally, away from the existing policies on Iraq and the war on terror, or toward it. My sense is that it is definitely the former, but maybe you have better information.
 
Deans statement is so broad as to have limited meaning. The "republcian approach to the war on teror and to the war in Iraq"

a GOPER whos "left the ship" could include a Republican who A. Thinks we should stop fighting and make peace with OBL 2. Thinks the war in Iraq was mistaken 3. Thinks the war in Iraq was a good idea, but that Rummy misran it (like McCain) 4. Thinks Rummy ran it right overall, but critique specific mistakes, etc. etc.
 
"Could one of Mr Rumsfeld's critics please point to a war that was better run than Iraq, and explain the metrics that let them make that judgement?"

Is it Panama or Bosnia?
 
Bosnia and Kosovo and the 1995 aerial bombing campaign were all US led yet under the auspices of NATO. They were limited, effective and economical. These wars did not spin out of control into a larger regional war, and our relations with the Orthodox world hasn't suffered long term consequences. The results are a free Bosnia and Kosovo, and Serbia freed itself of Milosovic. Serbia has also turned over most of the war crimes suspects to the Hague.
 
To call Panama and Bosnia wars is absurd.

Besides, there were any number of criticisms at the time, during and immediately afterwards.

The Stealth bomber missed--on purpose, it turned out. SEALs were hurt badly taking an airfield, not their thing. Where's Noriega was gloated about just like where's OBL is today.
There were accusations of mass killings of civilians.

I would suggest reading Atkinson's "An Army at Dawn" about Operation Torch and subsequent fighting in North Africa. How many big shooters (Marshall, FDR, etc.) lost their jobs over the incredible screwups? And we won that one.

Get a grip.
 
Well David, it's only because it seems to me that no matter what you consistently try to put the best possible spin on a situation that by any "empirical reality" is worsening.

What is Dean missing? McConnel is a senator in a safe red state appealing to his base. Santorum is a kook with a tin ear.:
 
Richard,

the challenge was to find a war that was better run than Iraq. Too easy. I think that only Panama, Grenada and Somalia are in the running for modern wars that were more incompetently managed.

And you're right about Atkinson. Dude can write. But I didn't understand your sentence, How many big shooters (Marshall, FDR, etc.) lost their jobs over the incredible screwups? Can you rephrase?
 
I'll rephrase Richard's sentence, and my own question, since it seems you didn't understand it either.

There were many mistakes during WWII far worse than anything that has occurred in the 21st century, from failure to anticipate Pearl Harbor to Market Garden, yet that war is remembered as a resounding success. Why were the men in charge of that war not sacked or impeached?

Your response to my question was to point to:
1) the 1995 NATO bombing of Serbia, which was so effective it led to
2) the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia.
These campaigns had less UN support than the Iraq invasion, saw hundreds of civilians killed by NATO, and risked war with China when their embassy was bombed by NATO. Among your criteria of success is the fact that we have not been subjected to a wave of Orthodox Christian suicide bombers, a distinction we share with every other nation in the history of the world, since that is not something Orthodox Christians do.

Astonishingly, you also claim that there was no larger regional war associated with those campaigns. In fact, between these two glorious episodes, another 100,000 civilians vanished (that's Clinton's figure, not mine). Since the second of your triumphs a quarter million Serbs fled their homes. 10 years later, men such as Radko Mladic (accused of responsibility for the Srebrenica massacre) have still evaded capture.

Besides the laughable level of success of these two operations, they weren't wars. What about WWII, Korea, or the Malayan Emergency? Would you say WWII was a disaster, and if not, what is the metric by which it is superior to Iraq?
 
Well, you didn't get anything right, but that isn't surprising.

The key reasons why WWII is considered a success are:

1) it was a necessary war, not a war of choice
2) we *succeeded* against three difficult adversaries
3) the Marshall Plan secured the peace (look at our WWII opponents today)
4) the alliances we made were instrumental in forming the UN and in confronting our next opponent (and key WWII ally) the Soviet Union
5) the country was united before, during and after (unpoliticized)
6) the stature of the United States *increased* immeasurably as a result.

Now let's move on to the Bosnian and Kosovo conflicts. What's this non-sense "Among your criteria of success is the fact that we have not been subjected to a wave of Orthodox Christian suicide bombers" ?

Oh, it's non-sense. Yes, do get a grip.
 
You say I didn't get anything right.
I asserted:
We did not anticipate the Pearl Harbor attack;
Operation Market Garden failed;
the Iraq invasion had more UN support than NATO bombing Serbia;
NATO killed hundreds of civilians in those attacks;
there was a regional war in the Balkans in the late 90's;
the 1995 campaign did not prevent the need for the 1999 campaign;
China was angered by having their embassy bombed;
violence has continued in the region since 1999;
some Serbians wanted for war crimes are still free 7 years later;

could you show evidence that any one, let alone all of those assertions, is wrong?

Of your six criteria for labeling WWII a success, 3 are retrospective. That is, in 1944 when we had not yet won, nor secured the peace, nor established an alliance to confront our next opponent - would you have labeled the war a disaster?

A fourth criteria is that the country was united. Since the decision to enter a war is by definition taken by the party in power, unity is a function of the opposition's support. If Republicans had called for FDR to be tried as a war criminal, would he have been that? Would that make the war a failure?

As to the war of necessity vs choice - in response to being bombed by the Japanese in Hawaii, FDR attacked Vichy France in North Africa. What national interests of ours did Germany threaten? I think Germany was a threat, but I thought the same of Iraq.

In an earlier post, besides calling a month-long bombing campaign a war and offering various other mischaracterizations of American action in the Balkans, you pointed to 'relations with the Orthodox world' as...I can't bring myself to call it 'evidence', of our success there. Presumably - and here I'm attempting to draw parallels between you and rational people, so I might get this wrong - your point was to analogize Balkans:relations with Orthodox Christians as Iraq:relations with Muslims. Would you like a list of the reasons why that's a bad analogy?
 
Truman and the Pentagon got blindsided twice in Korea. Once, when the Koreans attacked, and again when the Chinese attacked.

I can see the first. Nobody was paying attention. But the second came when there was a war on.

For the fun of it, look up on the web, "Task Force Smith".

Know of anybody who lost their jobs--big guys like SecDef etc.--over these catastrophes? Seen anything this bad in the last five years or so?

When we start applying the same standards to the current unpleasantness, it won't look so much like partisan hackery.

Until then, it's clear as sheet of polished plate glass.
 
We did not anticipate the Pearl Harbor attack;

These are irrelevant points you keep inserting and I keep ignoring. It wasn't as if Roosevelt's Presidential Daily Brief was titled: Japan determined to strike in US, or that after hearing about Pearl Harbor he kept reading The Pet Goat with a bunch of children.

the Iraq invasion had more UN support than NATO bombing Serbia;

First, the Iraq *invasion* didn't have UN support let alone UNSC support let alone NATO support let alone full US Senate support let alone full Pentagon support. Furthermore, the UNSCOM weapons inspectors left because Bush was ignoring their findings. Second, the UN was already in the Balkans as the United Nations Protection Force (reflagged as NATO IFOR on Dec 20, 1995), and the Balkan operations were done with full NATO support, including the German Luftwaffe operating in a conflict for the first time since WWII.

NATO killed hundreds of civilians in those attacks;

It is probably more than that, but still fewer than are killed in Iraq. In a month.

there was a regional war in the Balkans in the late 90's;

The war did not spill out of the boundaries of the disintegrating Yugoslavia. Hence it was not regional. It was essentially civil or ethnic.

the 1995 campaign did not prevent the need for the 1999 campaign;

duh. And your point is?

China was angered by having their embassy bombed;

duh. The Swiss were pissed when Reagan accidentally bombed their embassy in Tripoli, too. Bomb an embassy and people get pissed.

violence has continued in the region since 1999;

Violence certainly. But I can book a hotel in Dubrovnik again.

some Serbians wanted for war crimes are still free 7 years later;

As of March 16, 2006, the ICTY had indicted 161 persons. Only 6 of these remained "at large": Vlastimir ?or?evi?, Goran Hadži?, Radovan Karadži?, Ratko Mladi?, Zdravko Tolimir, and Stojan Župljanin. By contrast 8, of the famous Iraqi deck of 55 cards are still at large: Izzat IBRAHIM al-Duri, Hani Abd Latif Tilfa al-Tikriti, Sayf al-Din Fulayyih Hassan Taha al-Rawi, Rafi Abd Latif al Tilfah, Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, Rukan Razuki abd al-Ghafar al-Majid Sulayman al-Tikriti, Abd al-Baqi abd al-Karim Abdallah al-Sadun, and Yahya Abdallah al-Ubaydi.

could you show evidence that any one, let alone all of those assertions, is wrong?

Done. Your WWII stuff was just wacko, so I'll leave it be.

... your point was to analogize Balkans:relations with Orthodox Christians as Iraq:relations with Muslims. Would you like a list of the reasons why that's a bad analogy?

It wasn't an analogy, but actually, I really don't care.
 
it was a necessary war, not a war of choice

Well, the one against Japan was. The wars against Germany and Italy were wars of choice; we could easily have arranged a peace treaty with them and saved countless American lives (and trillions of 2006 dollars) by doing so.

the country was united before, during and after (unpoliticized)

The country was reasonably unified *during* the war. If you think it was unified before and after, you need to hit those history books again. FDR was *hated* by Republicans right up until the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor, and Truman was reviled for his perceived bungling of dealings with the USSR and China.

the stature of the United States *increased* immeasurably as a result

True. But our stature can't improve further; we're already the richest and most powerful nation in world history.
 
As of March 16, 2006, the ICTY had indicted 161 persons. Only 6 of these remained "at large" [...]By contrast 8, of the famous Iraqi deck of 55 cards are still at large

I'm not sure what the point is of contrasting the Iraqi deck with the ICTY, given that (a) the latter has had four times as long to do its work and (b) the Iraq list was of people wanted for capture, while many of the ICTY indictees were *already* captured.

The ICTY has been around for about 13 years. Half of the cases that began in that court are still continuing; of the half that have ended, over a third resulted in acquital or in the charges being dropped. That's not a very impressive track record; either a lot of innocent people are being unfairly smeared by the court, or a lot of war criminals are going free.
 
Germany and Italy declared war on the US on December 11, 1941. But you made some other good points.

About ICTY, Gates said that "some Serbians wanted for war crimes are still free 7 years later" and I was demonstrating that few are.
 
Well, duh, indeed. I stated a number of facts which you claimed were not right, and when challenged said you were ignoring those.

I assume that when challenged on your latest mistakes, you will again say you don't care or you're ignoring my points. I'd appreciate it if you would say up from which of your arguments even you consider defensible.

First re PH: In fact, "U.S. civilian and military intelligence forces had, between them, good information suggesting additional Japanese aggression throughout the summer and fall before the attack." None of it specified Pearl, as no 2001 intel specified WTC.

The 'full Senate support' you appear to be claiming for Kosovo was a 58-41 vote; the corresponding vote for Iraq was 77-23. So you're wrong there.

I never claimed the Iraq invasion had full UN support, only more than the episodes you held up (to widespread derision) as military successes. I never said anything about 'full Pentagon support' because no military action meets that threshold (do you think Kosovo did?) NATO likewise is a red herring; goodness, we managed to convince Europeans to be concerned about a war in Europe, what a diplomatic triumph.

You're very proud that Yugoslavia did not lead to a regional war. Has Iraq? Since the violence in Iraq is "essentially civil or ethnic" is that as good as sign as in the Balkans?

Do you think about the 'points' you are trying to make, or is it just typing?

You can book a hotel in Kurdistan if you'd like. I've read accounts of people who've gone and said it's quite nice. Is that your standard of success, that you can get a hotel room after the end of military action by Clinton, but not during military action by Bush, therefore Bush is a disaster?

Nice job inventing a difference between 'few' and 'some', though. I hope you're at least pretty, because your demeanor and debating ability are beyond unappealing.
 
We're losing in Iraq, either because winning was impossible from the start, or because we have never had enough troops. If winning was impossible from the start, we should never have started the war. If we don't have enough troops, we should have seen this at some point and corrected the situation. Either way, Rumsfeld and his superiors have failed the country. I don't care how just the Iraq war may have seemed back in 2003. We're LOSING, and our loss is having as terrible effect on our country as Vietnam.
 
You're very proud that Yugoslavia did not lead to a regional war.

I wouldn't say proud. I'd say thankful.

Has Iraq?

Newt Gingrich is calling this not a regional war but World War III.

I hope you're at least pretty ...

Thanks, I'm gorgeous.
 
Germany and Italy declared war on the US on December 11, 1941.

I'm aware of that. But we could have ignored them and arranged a peace treaty the next year, when it was obvious to Germany that they didn't want a war with us after all. Neither Germany nor Italy posed any threat to the United States. That's why I said that was a war of choice -- we didn't have to fight it.

We're losing in Iraq, either because winning was impossible from the start, or because we have never had enough troops.

Hm. The death rate for US troops has been trending downwards for about two years now, while the death rate for insurgents has been trending upwards. So no, we're not losing the war.

We are certainly losing control of the domestic Iraqi political situation, if ever we had it -- the rate at which insurgents are killing *Iraqis* is steadily increasing. This may eventually lead to a civil war within Iraq, the fractioning of the country, or some similiar turn of events.

But none of those would be a "loss" for the United States. Just less-optimal victories. We've already *won* the war -- Hussein's gone and Iraq won't be resuming its WMD programs anytime soon. What we're trying to do now is build a lasting peace, and that's what we might fail at.

our loss is having as terrible effect on our country as Vietnam

Heh, not even close. The war has no impact at all on the average American's life. Granted, it is causng the Left to have a hissy fit, but when has that ever not been the case? All they did was scratch out the word "Bosnia" on their protest signs and pencil in "Iraq". :)
 
Neither Germany nor Italy posed any threat to the United States.

The German U-Boat attacks of the Battle of the Atlantic started against Allied shipping during the Lend Lease program ranging along the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada and into the Gulf of Mexico. This was not a war of our choice. Certainly we could have sued for peace, but it was Germany and Italy who declared and pursued war against us.

BTW, I agree that we are not losing in Iraq. We have by far the strongest and most effective forces on the ground. But once it became an occupation rather than a liberation, we lost.

And as for whether Iraq is having a terrible effect on our country, even Bush says that the war is "straining the psyche of our country."
 
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