Drunken thoughts on Iraq and Go

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This is the continuation of the ongoing "Iraq: Now What" conversation. Here's the history:

No relation's Rantings of a Drunken Vet: Winning the War on Terror, No Relation's Sober follow-up, and Jacob's Sober Thoughts on the War

Something that concerns me about all this is that I often hear things like, "We have to remove Saddam" or "Leaving Iraq is not an option" or "If Iran is supplying weapons, we have no choice but to expand the war..."

It sometimes sounds like our enemy has completely boxes us in, and is leading us deeper down a tunnel, and we have no choice but to follow.

Has anyone here ever play the board game called Go? In it, two players try to control as much territory on the board as they can while attacking and attempting to gain control of their opponent's territory. It's an ancient game, that's been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years as a tool for teaching Chinese and Japanese generals about warfare.

Anyway, in Go there's a term called Sente, which means, "having the initiative." A player who is controlling the game is said to have sente. The longer a player is able to keep sente, the longer he will be able to force his opponent's hand, and in doing so will prevent his opponent from developing his own strategy. In the end, the player who is able to control the game will win the game.

The war in Iraq isn't a board game, but every time I hear something like, "We have no choice to..." or "Our only option is..." or "If we want to protect our way of life, we have to..." it makes me wonder which side is really in control of this war.

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30 Comments

jacob said:

Marshmallow,
In war ther are some things you can choose to do, and some things you never have a choice about.

Things which are never an option on any conflict ...
1. giving up
2. not fight to win (the single biggest mistake in Vietnam was we never entertained invading the North, which is akin to saying invading Germany once we were in France was off the table because that would be "escalating the war")
3. not tending to the morale on the home front (FDR censored the press, we should burn the NYT to the ground for its treasonous behavior)

All statements which you allude to in your posting take what was written out of context therby reducing them to mere slogans. Which is cheap.

The emphatic statement made by myself and possibly others allude to the above three guiding principles.

These principles which are lost on the Democrat party and the MSM of today. I will be posting about that too later.

I have repeatedly discussed the difficulty of guerrilla war. You have in this argument of yours shown me that it has apparently had little impact on you, so I will spell it out (again):
1. The enemy wants to win too
2. this is inconvenient
3. because of this, war is hell
4. when everything in a war is not coming up roses it is not necessarily because WE did not do our homework, or try hard enough ( recall all the ass kicking we experienced in WWII? I wrote about it some in my postings and comments)

your posting belies thinking ignores points 1 and 4 which leads to ...

5. monday morning quarterbacking is bunk

I once asked you for a Democrat plan that would be superior to what the current administration is doing and you refused to even entertain the discussion because you lacked the information that ONLY the administration could have. Yet now, here you are a few months later telling us that taking the fight to the enemy's homeland is a definite no-no. And, we are not taking the strategic initiative. Suddenly you have enough information! When did your appalling ignorance depart, sir?

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

You're just not making a lot of sense.

once again, you say your points #1 and #2 are not options. Yet in fact they are, and it's what we did during viet nam, and it didn't kill us. And I'll go as far as to say that pulling out of viet nam was a much wiser move than deciding to take on every socialist country in SE asia would have been.

I've said I don't have the information to come up with a serious, detailed plan. This is a complex situation, and any realistic plan would require detailed knowledge of the situation at the micro level. It would require specific knowledge of the sentiments of each Mosque, knowing the makeup of each neighborhood, etc... I don't have this information, the information I do have does not allow for an understanding the situation at that resolution. But as you zoom out, you can begin to have an understanding of things at the macro level.

So while I CANNOT say, "teenage boys in neighborhood X are at a higher risk for joining the insurgency, so we should be careful not to present ourselves as careless occupiers there, and have Iraqi units do patrols in that area whenever possible. Meanwhile, we have a good relation with neighborhood Y, we should focus on this area as a source of recruits..."

however, I CAN say, "Bombing Iran and/or Syria is a bad idea"

See?

And I told the Pres. and his Republic compadres back in 2003 that this war was a mistake. They didn't listen to me, but I don't think "monday morning quarterback" is accurate. Will you say the same thing when the situation is 1000 times worse after we drag the rest of the region into war and I say, "I told you so" ??

So you accuse me of trivializing your statements by treating them as simple slogans, then you come back with the lines, "We can never give up, we must fight to win" What, all of a sudden you're Mel Gibson? I understand that war is hell, that's why you don't start them on a whim.

and now you're saying that a good move in the fight to defend our freedom would be to shut down a national newspaper?

Seriously, what's the Republic plan for winning? Increase troops by a handful? And you like the idea of bombing Syria and Iran? I know this would be great news for certain defense contractors, but maybe you could spell out how attacking two more countries at once would be in the best interest of the rest of us.

At least I'm willing to admit I don't understand the complexities of the situation. You talk like you're some kind of expert. Yet your amateurish four-point plan:

1. use more bombs
2. bomb more countries
3. don't give up
4. win

makes me think otherwise.

Jack said:

The North Vietnamese did not vow to destroy us, the jihadists have. The jihadists have attacked us. If we leave, they will follow. Millions of people were murdered after we left S.E.A. Will you take responsibility for those murdered when we leave S.W.A.?

"I CAN say, 'Bombing Iran and/or Syria is a bad idea.'

You can say it, but saying it does not make it true.

SPMM said:

I might be wrong, but wasn't there this idea that if we lost in VN, the world would fall to communism one country at a time?

It's a good point that jihadists say, "death to america" Are you sure that's who we're fighting in Iraq? Are you convinced that these insurgents want to destroy America? Or do they want to control Iraq? Remember, there was an internationalist "export revolution" component to the communist ideology, but as it turned out, that wasn't the war we were fighting in Viet Nam.

"If we leave, they will follow."

not sure why you feel compelled to point out that I could be wrong. Saying it doesn't make it true, but it also doesn't make it not true...
You could be mistaken when you say, "If we leave, they will follow" (or not)

Are you taking the responsibility for all the murders taking place in Iraq right now? Will you take responsibility for all the murders when we succeed in turning Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan into one gigantic islamist playground?

SPMM said:

ok, I've calmed down now.

I don't want to argue, really. I'm interested in understanding how you think expanding the war would be a good idea, and in what consideration you've given to the inevitable backlash.

Aside from the military costs, we'd be further alienating our friends, and making it difficult for anyone in the region to work with us.

We'd be fanning the flames of a fire we're already struggling to control.

at the same time, the best defense against terrorism is law and order. We might not like the law and order that currently exists in Iran and Syria, but it's preferable to the alternative (ie. Iraq-style hell hole)

Jack said:

The jihadists have already attacked us here in the U.S. It stands to reason that they will do so again. If they are not busy in Iraq, they will have more resources to devote to attacking us here.

As for "expanding the war," is it expansion to attack those who are supporting our enemies? The best way to bring down a building is to take out its supports. Iran and Syria are the jihadists' supports.

SPMM said:

"The jihadists have already attacked us here in the U.S."

yes, jihadists, not Iraqi insurgents. going back to the VN analogy, it's similar to how we confused All Communists with the Northern Vietnamese.

Do we know to what extent this insurgency is being fought by America-hating jihadists rather than sectarian groups fighting for control of Iraq? Are you convinced that Iraq is the reason we haven't been attacked? Every time I head about a foiled plot, it's because of good policy work.

"is it expansion to attack those who are supporting our enemies?"

by definition, yes. These are sovereign nations. Attacking them would have implications. especially since we refuse to talk to them.

SPMM said:

hey,

What do you think this Ahmineinedinadinajad really wants? Do you think he's just a mad man trying to bring on Armageddon, or does he have something else in mind?

whatever it is, I don't think he has a lot of support among the Iranian people. There must be a way to exploit this fact.

Puft's last point is one I heartily agree with. I think more can be accomplished by fomenting the discontent among the next generation of Iranians than by bombing them.

Within Iraq ... putting No Relation in charge might not be a bad place to start.

But here's a thought: At a luncheon here last month Tony Snow related a story about President Bush's visit to Vietnam. Observing the hyper-capitalist economy and growing liberalization, Bush said "Y'know what, we won that war."

A few million people murdered by Pol Pot might take issue with that statement, but it is an interesting historical perspective.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Hey,

I just found this blog called Healing Iraq, which is, "Daily news and comments on the situation in post Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi dentist"

it's a nice take on the situation "on the ground" (and in english!)

check it out:

http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/

Definitely one of the most important blogs, going on 3 1/2 years now.

Jack said:

Puffy:

The jihadists attacked us, and the jihadists are supporting the Iraqi terrorists with arms, munitions, and terrorists. The Chinese, although they supported the VC, had never attacked us, and did not show any intention of doing so. However, when Korea was declared a draw, they turned their focus on Viet Nam. When we gave up that fight, communism took over much of S.E.A. Similarly, the jihadists want to take over SWA, but they also want to attack us here. As it is, they are busy supporting the Iraqi terrorists.

Imaheadjob wants power. He wants to control the entire Middle East, and the oil with it. While I grant that we are too dependent on foreign oil (which is why we should drill offshore and in ANWR), that will not change for many years. As such, oil from that region is vital to our national interests.

We are already at war with Iran -- Imaheadjob just sends in money and munitions to Iraq, and fights by proxy.

SPMM said:

I'm not sure how you reconcile

"The Chinese, although they supported the VC, had never attacked us, and did not show any intention of doing so."

with

"We are already at war with Iran -- Imaheadjob just sends in money and munitions to Iraq, and fights by proxy."

I was also unaware that we had been attacked by Iran or Syria, or that they have shown any intention of doing so.

Do you distinguish between the jihadist movements and sectarian fighting in Iraq?

I think it's important to have an understanding of what extent the fighting in Iraq is 'jihadist' vs. sectarian.

the impression I get is that you have a handful of jihadist groups mucking around in a largely sectarian civil war. Maybe I'm wrong.

Jack said:

I reconcile those with the assertion that we should have attacked China.

Iran's Imaheadjob would certainly want to attack the U.S.

I think we have a large number of jihadists trying to stir up a civil war that would not occur without them.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

nice.

Imaheadjob WOULD attack us? Has he "shown any intention" to do so or not?

are you denying that there is currently a civil war underway in Iraq? (I should have known!)

Iraq is three countries that Saddam forced to be one through terror and brutality. With Saddam out of the picture, sectarian groups are using those same proven techniques to assert their autonomy. That's the root of this violence. The jihadists are just along for the ride.

Jack said:

He has certainly declared his intention, as di Hussein.

Whether we call it action in Iraq a "civil war" is irrelevant. We only see the losing side (the Sunnis) of an election getting pissy and blowing things up and murdering civilians. The winning side (the Shiites) has not been doing any such thing. The Shiites have NOT been killing Sunnis, as we have seen in many civil wars in the past.

The jihadists are NOT "just along for the ride." They are fomenting the discontent of the minority and supplying them with arms, men, and munitions. However, I do think the country might be better split into three or four countries.

spmm said:

Has he expressed his intention to attack the US?

I can't find that anywhere.

In this article, he says that "Iran is committed to [the] UN charter" and another Iranian official states that Iran has no intention of attacking Israel.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4387852.stm

And I've seen interviews with Iranian officials who say that Iran would retaliate if attacked by the US. That's the closest I can find to a "declaration of intent" to attack the US on Iran's part.

Can you enlighten me?

I did hear that today Ahmed......jad said Iran cannot give in to it's enemies because they would take it as a sign of weakness. Who does THAT sound like? Why is the world being run by balls-for-brains idiots?

This isn't a clash of civilizations so much as a clash between dumb and dumber, both of whom are living in an "epic showdown between good and evil" fantasy land and dragging the world reluctantly along with them.

Damnit! This is what they made World of Warcraft for! Can't we get these two a subscription, let them fight their little battle on line against orks and goblins, they can even refusing to 'chat' with each other, but leave the rest of the world out of it! Seriously.

Neither of these two got elected on a platform of, "I'm going to start WWIII just to prove I have bigger balls" Where is the Soviet Union when you need it? At least that was about something, and we had that bad-ass Kremlin Hotline. Now we're going to get sucked into an even bigger mess than the one we're already in because Bush and Ahme.......jad refuse to say anything to each other beyond, "I know you are but what am I." what a goddamn joke.

spmm said:

ps, you could be right about the Shiite-Sunni deal, except that Muqtada Al-Sadr and his militia are Shiites

Dean Settle said:

SPMM,

Number one rule in winning battles, which is the primer for winning wars.
Keep your enemy busy, at all costs.
We are as still unmatched in our ability to fight two fronts at the same time, something that we became aware of thru necessity in WWII.
No other outfit or standing army has ever been sucessful in that regard, and a loose leaf organization like Al Queda is not capable of planning an attack as long as they are engaged and keep losing the top heirarchy and having to replace it weekly.

You do the math, man.

jacob said:

Marshmallow,
The Iranians and there nut-in-chief, Imaheadjob, HAVE threatened the US more than once. For instance
http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,1726374,00.html

or

http://www.bigpicweblog.com/exp/index.php/weblog/comments/ahmadinejad_threatens_west_to_join_islam_or_die/

or

http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2006/04/iran_threatens_.html

and many others.

We are the Great Satan and the mad mullahs have been threatening us with extinction for over 20 years now. They have financed Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizatoins. The have killed US soldiers and civilians when ever they can. They have tried to harm us by manipulating the oil market. They tried to close the straits of Hormuz(sp?), does your memory go back that far, or do you only remember the misdeeds of your real enemy, Christian Social Conservatives. Scary bastards that they are.

Imaheadjob's letter to Bush was an echo of the letter sent to the non muslim powers in the ME before the muslims attacked them. When one considers the health of the Armenian, Greek, and Zoastoarian cultures today in places like Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran one can see what happen to those who ignore such letters.

You are willfully blind. You think you are being sophisticated? There is a huge difference between sophistry and sophistication, and you, by being so willfully blind, are engaging the former.

It would be better for all of us that your blind world view were the correct one. But, unfortunately it is not. Our civilization is dieing because of the sickness carried by the willfully blind. A sickness born of monumental arrogance coupled with an overt relativism.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

dude, I found a bunch of examples of threats of retaliation, but didn't come across anything from ahmed'jad that hinted at unprovoked attacks on the US.

thanks for the links, but I think you're reading way too deeply into the question. How is asking if he's ever said a specific thing being "willfully blind?" How are we supposed to have a conversation if you're going to get all uppity when I ask a simple question?

We ought to keep in mind that we've got troops along Iran's eastern and western border, and because of that the Iranian gov's rhetoric is likely to take an even more anti-American tone.
(Imagine if China was occupying Canada and Mexico and was all, "America: dismantle all your nukes or ELSE!" I'd expect to see some anti-Chinese rhetoric coming out of Washington.)

We need to try to distinguish between what the Iranians say that is a result of our large presence along their borders, and what they mean as a real threat against us. We're on the offensive, but each time we invade a country it leads to more neighboring countries saying anti-American things.

We'll invade Iran, and another country will start talking shit about us, and you'll be all, "well, now we have to invade that country, too, because they're a threat to our way of life" and before you know it we've established a world empire built on fear.

We need to make the distinction because otherwise we've started a "domino effect" and are on a path to taking over the world, (or dying trying).

jacob said:

Ah yes, "Why do they hate us?" Lets make a deal. When an Iranian nuke goes off in our country, will you admit you are wrong then? Or will it be Bushes fault because "put your favorite lame reason here"

Any ol' country talkin smack is not the problem. If you do not see the distinction between a Hugo Chaves who pretty much talks the same game as did Castro as does N. Korea, as does China then you need to go figure it out.

Iran has been talking this way long before we had people in Iraq or Afganistan. So your entire example is not applicable. Try again.

Imaheadjob was one of the terrorists who held our people captive in our emabassy. Face it, it any ol nutjob. This is a different of nut, and you just don't want to beleive it.

SPMM said:

Now listen here, flamer

You just seem awfully eager to write of caution as, "willful blindness"

I asked if ahmedinjand had ever threatened to attack the US outside of the context of retaliation, and you come back with "selective memory, revisionism, relativism, arrogance" and all that other 'liberal' hocus pocus.

You were so preemptively sure that my statement was wrong, on the grounds that everything liberals do is wrong, that you overlooked the fact that I wasn't making a statement, but asking a question. And the cherry on top is that you accused ME of "willful blindness" in the process

very nice.

And what's the outcome you envision from dragging this country kicking and screaming into a war it doesn't agree with while turning the world against us in the process? Are you saying this is the road to a lasting peace? Madness!

So the sooner you stop bitching and moaning about how the American people are a bunch of arrogant slobs who don't know what's best for them and realize that the bottom line is that there just isn't a whole heck of a lot of support abound here for expanding the war the better.

but, being the dutiful conservative that you are, I don't expect you to have a shadow of a doubt in your mind about what you think needs to be done. Thankfully there are other points of view out there, and I only hope our country's actions will reflect an aggregate understanding of the situation, rather than being hijacked by one particular POV.

I'm not saying ahmed'jad's a good guy, only that we ought to make every effort to understand the situation and what our options are, because going in with guns blazing can't be our solution to everything, nor can it go on indefinably without there being a backlash.
Remove your own blinders and recognize that.

"Flamer?" When did Jacob's sexuality become an issue here? Jacob does dress extraordinarily well, but I wouldn't read anything into that beyond good breeding.

In any case, here's a thought:

I am admittedly of two minds on Iran - which by definition means don't go by me.

But I think the reason many American people turned against the Republicans is not because they want to surrender in Iraq, but because we appear to be fighting the war to effect an idealistic political outcome - and because such a goal is inherently stupid for an army, the American people said: "Anything but this."

This has given the Democrats an opening, and some are misreading the opening as "the American people just want us out of Iraq". I'd argue at least an equal number are saying: "Does anyone remember how to win a war around here anymore?" and the Democrats were the only other choice.

Winning the war - the strategic objective - may require installing a friendly dictatorship ASAP. THAT'S how you win wars.

This bonny daydreaming dilly dallying over a really fu---ed up part of the world suddenly embracing democracy is, I think, a tactical disaster and many people recognize it as such.

Just as I think many people, upon hearing "religion of peace" emanate from the White House in late September, 2001, said "Uh oh."

I think many had a similar reaction after the first unpleasantness at Fallujah highlighted what seemed to be a flawed strategy. I remember my own reaction (admittedly, uttered in haste and emotion) had to do with "the Iraqi people" and began with a very bad word.

Iran? Not sure it would be prudent, given the massive cluster -you-know-what which seems to be growing right behind our troops supposedly massed on the Iranian border, back in Iraq. If the latter situation is not solved, the new venture could be REALLY a bad deal.

Additionally, I have read stuff to the effect that the Iranian people may be more susceptible to a pro-U.S. "hearts and minds" endgame than those of many outher countries, including Iraq. Maybe we should show we have our act together about knowing how to solve the one before dropping ordinance on the other.

jacob said:

Marshmallow,
Flamer?!! You wound me sir! OK, not really. My intention was not to flame you but to get you to see how ludicorous some elements of your argument are to me. If I wax sarcastic tht is because I AM sarcastic by nature (ask Joe).

As for misreading your comments, I will go look and see what you are talking about. The last thing I wish to do is talk past you. For such a course is itself ludicrous. Frankly, I see to many others talk past people and it is distastful. Are you out there listening Zim-bat? So if I did this with you, whoops!

jacob said:

Joe,
I think your point that the public is not interested in retreat is a correct one. I fervently hope that the Democrat party eats its own on this one and tries to sound the retreat.

If they sound the retreat they will be cast into the widerness for another 12 years. Reasonable democrats, like Marshmallow, are themsleves not interested in retreat.

If the Democrats eat their own well, could not happe to a nicer bunch of people.
Their stance in this war has been pathetic, self serving and politically motivated.

jacob said:

Marshmallow,
BTW, there is evedence that a specific target has been chosen ...
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17312636/site/newsweek

The evidence that they are coming for us is mounting.

stay puft marshmallow man said:

Ok, I'm going out of town, so let me just say some ideas down:

We ought to push to get the UN involved in Iraq, and push for revisions of the Iraqi constitution to make it a federation of Sunni, Sheit, and Kurdish states. The federal government should control the army and the oil fields, and should be in charge of oil exports and redistributing the revenue equally to the three states. The federal governmnent should consist of an equal number or representatives from each state.

The US should maintain a presence in Iraq to insure stability, and especially along the border, "to defend the newly formed country against an Iranian invasion."

We should use what clout we have left to unite the world in pressuring Iran. We should organize a an international dimlomatic effort to confront Iran, along the lines of the 6 party talks. (This could even be an opportunity for us to reestablish ourselves as leaders rather than, "hell with y'all we'll go it alone"ers)

Maybe a bit of saber rattling is a good thing. (every statement China issues on Taiwan begins with the line, "We have 600 missles aimed at Taiwan" and that's had an effect on maintaining the status quo in that situation...) But the solution should be a diplomatic one, because I think the people in Iran who have a big problem with the US are a small minority, it just so happens that they're also the ones running the country. But we want to keep them in the minority, rather than turning Iran into an unholy inspiration for world-be jihadists by turning it into another Iraq.

jacob said:

I am floored...
This is the same UN that was corrupted by the Iraqi food for oil money right?

This is the same UN that put the SUDAN on the human rights panel along with Iran?

The place is a good for dispensing vaccines, food aid and clothes.

Disaster relief in the form of money also disapears.

The place is an asylum where the inmates have taken over. If you WANT Iraq to fail call in the UN.

Dean Settle said:

As I sat last night watching Wes what's-his-name Clarke chiding the American government for not stepping in and talking to Iran one-on-one...I had to chuckle.
Wasn't that turd one of the biggest mouths telling us to let the UN handle Iraq??

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