Sober Thoughts on the War

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In a big sense this falls out from No Relation's articles Sober Follow-Up: Winning the War on Terror and Rantings of a Drunken Vet: Winning the War on Terror I credit comments from SPMM a.k.a. Marshmallow a.k.a. Puffy who asks some telling questions was the final goad, and I give him credit for giving these positions a local voice.

SPMM: I feel like you're beginning to misunderstand my main point: that winning at any cost could potentially be more costly than "losing."

In the last World War we lost over 350,000 all told. We currently are not at 1% of this number. We spent over 2.0 Trillion current dollars for WWII, we have not yet hit 400B in Iraq. We put over 16 million men into uniform, mostly through a draft. Our current armed forces consist of 1.4 million volunteers. We fought WWII with 130 million people. We now have 300 million. We are now far richer on a per capita basis. Our economy has not even geared up for war yet, and it is doing better than any other in the West. Now, you are asking if we are even close to a Pyrrhic Victory? With all respect, have you really this through to the end? We are ridiculously far from such a loss. When our losses surpass those of WWII, which we won, then such a question begins to look like something other than overwrought hysteria. The really crazy part is you are not alone; it is a mass hysteria running rampant in the nation. 3000 dead on the battle field was a single day of hard fighting in several of our wars. Did not the founders write that the tree of liberty requires the blood of sacrifice?

Furthermore, to show how defeatist we have become, in WWII the casualties we took in many places were kept secret, Tarawa, and the Bulge are two such instances. Today each casualty is reported individually. We hear about it at the time of death, when he is flown home and sometimes when he is buried. The death toll is reported each and every day. This is a drumbeat whose only effect is to destroy morale on the home front. The memebers of the MSM know this and their behavior can be charitably called defeatist; the proper word is treasonous. FDR censored the press, today the press tells the enemy what our top-secret programs are and does what it can to reduce the effectiveness of those programs.

SPMM: when I said, "here goes nothin'" I meant, we don't know where expanding the war would lead us (WWIII?) We'd be jumping down the rabbit hole (spider hole?)
I have a little news for you Marshmallow, we already are in WWIII. Were we expanding the war back in WWII we invaded Germany from France?
SPMM: I don't think I'm being blase about "cutting and running," while it is, literally, an option, I do not think it is an appropriate choice. On the other hand, you are underestimating the impact of a world turned against us.
In light of your allusion to the victory's not being worth the cost, especially when compared to what we paid for victory in the past, "blase" is actually an accurate description. Putting it into a historical context, you are way too casual about the price of defeat, and way to sensitive to the price we are paying to win. Nothing is free. Victory has a price; defeat is costly as well much more so than victory.

While I applaud your opinion that it is not an 'appropriate option,' calling such a decision ‘inappropriate’ is akin to calling a gang rape 'deviant behavior.'

Your assertion that I am "underestimating the impact of the world turned against us" is something I will politely disagree with, but I can see your concern, and it is a valid concern. I will endeavor to address this concern as I answer your other points.

SPMM: About europe, I don't care about the opinions of the french, or the germans, or the spanish. What we need to look out for is the EU. Some folks in the EU just don't like America, some thing we've gone too far with this GWOT, and some would like to see europe return to it's former position as the cultural/economic heart and soul of the west. All of this adds up to a continent that's indifferent (at best) about whether the US stays at the 'top of the heap'
If not for Germany Spain and France what is the EU? What is the EU without these three countries? Are we to fear reprisal from the Luxemburg Navy, the Belgian Air Force? The EU itself has NO army. Frankly none of the members of the EU has an army of any size. The British sent a division, and real small one at that, to Iraq. Why not two? Because the British do not have enough troops for that two fielded divisions. The Bundeswehr is an under-funded shadow of its former self. Militarily Europe is a joke. A single Aegis cruiser can sink the entire modern British surface fleet; which is very sad when one recalls that at one time Britannia ruled the waves. European navies have some excellent submarines. The Brits and the Swedes come to mind in this regard. The rest of the European surface fleet vessels are mostly what in the US would pass off as Coast Guard cutters. Go look at www.janes.com to see the state of the various militaries in the world.

Economically, Europe is a possible problem. Your point regarding the EU as a threat is valid in this arena. An embargo would hurt, but remember, it is a blade that cuts both ways. Frankly, European economies are far more fragile at this point in time. I am not saying it would be a push over, but, should it cause us to not to take the fight to the enemy?

Finally we must ask about Europe: Do they have the stomach for open hostility with the US? Would they start a shooting war with us? Would they engage in actual economic embargo? All would be costly. Does Europe have the will to go after us for invading Iran and Syria? They are not willing to defend themselves. Granted they do not like our being at the top of the heap. But how far are they willing to go for envy?

SPMM: at the same time there's China on the rise, and, in a more passive way (for the time being) India. So here's a "winning at any cost could potentially be more costly than "losing."" scenario: China and Europe would both like to be the next king of the hill, and they both sense that their chance is near. If we were to expand this war into a region-wide deal, we should expect the EU or China to make a move by saying something like, "This aggression will not stand! The world must come together [under our leadership!] to stand up to the belligerent policies of the US, which have already destabilized an entire region of the world, and if gone unchecked will lead us to a world war!"

it wouldn't have to be True, it's just rhetoric designed to catapult them into center stage as global superpower. And before you know it, our tentative allies would get the idea that there's no future in being our friend and realign themselves with the country that they perceived to be the next superpower.


My, how dramatic is that last sentence of the first paragraph. The sad part is that it is actually going to be a headline someday; probably in the NYT. Your first sentence above is precisely half-right. China is on the rise and is planning to become the rooster atop the heap as soon as it can knock us off the heap. The Chinese are smart, too. They support the N. Koreans and point the Korean nukes at us by proxy. The Chinese had the same deal going with Pakistan, and were pointing Pakistani nukes at the Indians. Do you think they are dumb enough to go to war with us in the ME when they still have not gotten us out of the far east? We have bases in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. We have influence in other nations in that part of the world. The Chinese already are helping Iran via the security council, and with technology under the table. But direct conflict? First, they must defang us in Japan and elsewhere closer to home.

Now for the completely wrong part of the sentence, since 9/11 our relations with the Indians have improved. Actually our relations with the Indians have not been this good since the Indians threw the British out. The Indians hate the Muslims. Yes, there is a sizable Muslim population in India, and they are not loved by the Hindu, Buddist, and Sikh super-majority. Go read about the murder and genocide perpetuated by the religion-of-peace in the subcontinent some day. The Indians are looking to cooperate with the Chinese economically, but they also know where the Pakistanis got their nukes.

As for our allies' turning on us, you are probably correct in the case of some, but probably not others. For Europe is still not one big happy family, some will break one way because others have gone the other way. In the end, Britain will either stand with us, or sit it out. France will oppose us. Germany leans in opposition to us; Denmark and Poland very likely are in our camp. Italy is on the fence. But I repeat my point from above, "Do you really think the Europeans have the stomach for this?"

SPMM: We see this "Follow me as I stand up to the evil US" game being played by Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinajad. But these guys are only seeking to be the BMOC in their corners of the world. The EU and China have more global ambitions, they're ready to seize what they feel is their rightful place as king of the hill, and (like our own invasion of Iraq) they only need an excuse. This all sounds crazy. So does, the "emboldened terrorists destroy America one sky scraper at a time" scenario. So does the "we just leave and everything will be fine" scenario.
I agree with you, again, with respect to China. Again, the EU is a place of dying countries. You should read Mark Steyn's "America Alone" someday. The Europeans have this huge problem, it is called several million Muslims living inside their borders and those Muslims despise the Europe they have moved to. As for Chavez and Imaheadjob, they are following in the footsteps of Castro, Kadafi, and Amin. They rail against the U.S. because it makes them bigger than they really are. The trouble is that Imaheadjob is getting nukes for his birthday.

I am glad to see we agree on the "leaving-equals-all-good" fallacy. The trouble is that for most of the kooks at the Kos and elsewhere in the nut-roots universe that is the mantra. The sad part is the Democrat party is repeating this mantra.

SPMM: All of our 'options' lead to unwanted eventualities. But it seems like so far we've done absolutely nothing to second-guess the guys we're fighting. We've never thought ahead more than the next move, (one could even argue that we've played into their hands) and this is where it's landed us. So before we go on saying, "let's expand the war to a few more countries; it worked for the Greeks!" let's make sure we consider the potential consequences of our actions.
In real life, and, in war especially, there are unforeseen eventualities. Kamikazes, the Bulge, the heavy casualties we took at Tarawa and Anzio, the defeats at Kaserine and Schonberg. All of these did not work out as planned, or completely caught us flat footed. FDR was not an idiot -- our foes were just trying their best to win. The same is true in this war.

Now, as for your characterization that, "we never appear to look more than one step ahead," I will politely disagree. There has been move and counter move all along. How the convoys move, the armament on the vehicles, how to deal with and detect the IADs, are constantly in flux. The enemy is also constantly adapting, because he wants to win as well. The real trouble with guerrilla warfare is that getting the initiative is very hard, which is why these conflicts last as long as they do.

Lastly I never said that the Greek solution involved invasion of a bordering country. It actually involved closing the border with Yugoslavia Albania, and Bulgaria to the North. This occurred back around 1947. Being glib and not paying attention to what is written in the same sentence you are demanding deep thoughts is pathetic.

I wrote in response to another one of No Relation's postings a comment...

JA: Former presidents and current Senators are going overseas and saying things that would have gotten them charged with treason 100 years ago.
Why are these people not charged today? We do not take the threat seriously. That is why. In our national psychosis we are so invincible that we can treat the war as a political game, a club to beat the other party with; which mocks the sacrifice of those who are doing the fighting and the dieing. Their sacrifice is not important because winning or losing is not seen as important. This is playing with our nation's long term viability.

In the end, your initial, "Is the victory going to outweigh the price of defeat?" question is the most telling. It is typical. For we as a nation have become so arrogant that we think losing will not affect us. This in turn allows us to become quick to give up. If the consequences of losing where stark and terrible in the nation's eyes we would be more resolute. For those who are so eager to leave, a more sober view of the consequences of defeat would give them pause before they ask if it is time to go.

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25 Comments

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Look, I am not saying that loosing is OK, alright? I am saying that, if we "loose" it will hurt us, and if we "win" it will kill us, dig?

I also don't like your 'you are a typical example of liberal arragance' attitude. Do you want to have a discussion or what? Ok, good. Now...

I'm not talking about 'cost' in terms of economic costs. I'm talking about the rest or the world seeing us as nazi-esque aggressors who must be stopped and certain leaders seizing the opportunity to catapult themselves into power.

What would happen if we up and left in Iraq right now? I'm sure you've thought this through. I'm sure it'd be ugly.

Now what would happen if we went to war with the world? you think we could take 'em? deposing saddam was important enough to start wwiii over?

I don't mean to say that spain france germany are insignificant parts of the EU, my point is that, while no one country in europe can rival us, the EU as a whole is a real power and a huge economy with a currency which is already on it's way to replacing the dollar as the world's reserve currency. If we expanded this war, no country in europe would support us. and with the whole continent alligned against us, 'with their powers combined' they could represent more than just a thorn in our side.

you say we've second-guessed the enemy and our tactics are in constant flux. I'm talking about the broader strategy of the gwot. We get bombed by a band of nut cases and we react by plunging ourselves headlong into world war three and you call this wisdom??

you said, "In our national psychosis we are so invincible that we can treat the war as a political game,"

I would say that you suffer from this psychosis yourself, thinking that we can expand our war games indefinably without there being a global backlash against us. You say we are 'blase' because we can't imagine the horrible consequences of defeat. Can you imagine the horrible consequences of us starting a world war in this nuclear age?

I disagree that this is wwiii, although your willingness to make it so is disturbing. A threat which parallels the islamist one is the eagerness of people in this country to hawkishly dig our country into a hole we can't get out of.

jacob said:

Marshamallow,
I am going to answer your huge missive in dribbles as I am busy till late tonight.

Currently the EU not even a sum of its parts. It is a sleeping giant. The malaise on the continent I am afraid is fatal. It would be better for humanity for Europe to remember what it is and even if it rises in opposition to the US, if in the process of that rising it remembers its real heritage, I would say that is a good thing.

jacob said:

Marshamallow,
one more item, I am not sure what this data point means when taken in the broader context, but it appears the Indians could be more alarmed by our behavior than I thought.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1386812.ece

Please note, this does fly in the face of other things I have read.

Excellent discussion, both of you; welcome back Jacob.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

"Currently the EU not even a sum of its parts. It is a sleeping giant."

exactly. and to hit my EU point home, an expansion of the war could be just the thing to wake the giant; by taking all those divergent views about what it means to be European and polarize them, against us.

This is all hypothetical, of course. Alas, so are the doomsday projections of what would happen if we pulled out of Iraq.

I think the problem is that we're considering two courses: 'cut and run' or 'WWIII'

In fact, there are many more possible courses, if we're imaginative enough to see them.

So, what countries out there don't want Iraq to become an annex of Iran. I'm sure we're not the only ones. I'd guess most countries in the ME would prefer not to see Iran take the place over.

The ME is the crossroads of Europe, East Asia, and the Subcontinent. All of these regions have suffered from the instability and radicalization of the region, both in economic terms and terrorist attacks. Each of these regions has a vested interest in the stability of the region, but right now they're all freeloading off our blood, sweat, and toil.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

here's a video I just found on youtube. It's an interview with an iranian general. worth a look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehbnYxPgV-I

Ted said:

I don't at all mean to be flippant and bear with me because I am trying to make a point, but is anyone else a little perplexed about how so many school systems are STILL closed because of this week's "blizzard"?

This morning WMAL ran a clip of a school administrator (didn't catch which one) who explained that his schools were still closed because there was ice on the sidewalks and he didn't want the kids slipping on the ice??!!!

Growing up in Minnesota one of the joys of going to school was slipping on the ice, playing in the snow and, heaven forbid, having snowball fights on the way.

I am in Manassas and every single road is clear, there are no kids to bus in from Bull Run Mountain, and yet the school system is closed, no doubt because some administrator is afraid little Johnny might slip and get a boo-boo on his knee.

Is this what we have come to? Have we become such wusses and so afraid of the world that we have to act like this?

We are supposed to be taking on a bunch of blood thirsty muderers around the world who will kill every one of us without blinking an eye, yet we act like a bunch of scared rabbits at the sight of two inches of snow?

This is insane.

Rich Tucker has an interesting column in today's Townhall that does a better job than I can talking about this and points out that we are in a battle of wills and that our children are watching our example.

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/RichTucker/2007/02/16/where_theres_a_will

jacob said:

Marshmallow,
We are currently in niether WWII or cut and run mode and the political shenanagans are disgusting for instance ...

"Murtha hopes to choke off the 4-year-old war in Iraq by placing four conditions on combat funds through September 30. "We're trying to force a redeployment not by taking money away, by redirecting money," the Pennsylvania Democrat said"
http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyid=2007-02-15T222749Z_01_N15464104_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-USA.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

They are forces us to leave by the end of the year. You wanna tell me that Pelosi and Murtha do not represent the Democrap party. This is forcing a defeat. "Redeployment", nice euphamism, CUT AND RUN AWAY. We get the goverment we deserve. I guess OBL was right we do not have the stomach for this. We are a paper tiger. When my daught is forced to wear a burka 20 years from now, it will be too late to say hey we should have fought when we had the chance.

Losers.

I will address your EU fantasy later.

spmm said:

I don't think we ought to drop the ball in Iraq. Please see my comment about the ME being the crossroads of europe, east asia, and India.

I guess what I'm having a hard time understanding is how it is that if we leave Iraq it's a sure thing (a "slam dunk" if you will) that your daughter will have to wear a burka, but the idea that if we attack syria and iran the world will turn against us in a big way is a fantasy.

The powers that be in europe are already at work to replace the dollar with the euro as the global reserve currency. There's talk of efforts to convert oil markets to the euro. This is a subtle but significant power grab, and as anti-americanism goes up, the political will and support for these sorts of things increases.

Again, it's hypothetical. So is the burka scenario, as well as any other attempt to forcast the future. But a fantasy? Not so much.

Dean Settle said:

Some people got beat up alot in high school, and it damaged them for life, I suppose.

When confronted with a bully like Iraq, kick his feet out from under him and while he's on the ground, bloody his nose for emphasis.
That way, they'll talk about it longer, and it'll be quite some time before anyone feels emboldened to try it again.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

ah, Dean here prefers the baathist approach to law and order.

Dean Settle said:

Nice shot.
But at the end of the day, there is Settle blood actually soaking the sands of Iraq, so I really do not have the time to dabate the point with someone who has not given that measure.
In the end of all of the discussions, it actually comes down to the questions.
Are you an American and do you want to protect all of your fellow citizens from another attack?
Have you ever heard of the Cold War, and the term "peace thru strength"?
That idealogy led us thru some difficult times and let us hold our hand long enough to see the collapse of an enemy who could not financially "wait us out".
The President clearly said this would be a long endeavor and that we'd need to be resolute in the face of it, or we deserved what we get.
Much like the defeat in South Vietnam, which I place SQUARELY on the backs of the liberal pansies with no stomach (or brain activity) for the "needed" course of action in stabilizing the South Vietnamese to fight their own battles, so that we could leave in better standing.
It's your basic misunderstanding of history,logistics, and drinking the kool-aid at your local liberalpress meetings that fails you, marshmallow boy.
Reports from the actual area are quite different that what you see on ABC here. There's quite a bit of outright fabrication (ala CBS's kinko connection) from the media, and as long as people like you suck it up without questioning it, they'll keep offering it.
Lotsa nerve posting anything about "brainwashing" when it's obvious that you've taken pains to ignore the clear facts in your argument.

Dean Settle said:

Sorry if that reads as harsh.
But I've picked up a rifle and defended this country and in so doing, offered continued protection for our freedom of speech.
The least you can do is make it intelligent and fact filled. You, as well as I, should be furious at the media's outright lies and misrepresentations of things that I know they are presenting as truth, when in fact it is merely something they wished were true.

Dean Settle said:

Rereading the whole article, I saw an old flashback.
I worked for Periscope. It was Janes.com's only competition, and back in 1995, we wiped the floor with them in editorial content, subscription base, and contracts.
Janes has existed forever in hard copy,and in that regard, they are giants. But in those years, our online subscription catalogue outsold their offerings five to one with a staff of a mere five member.
If you have an old copy of Time magazine, or Newsweek from the Persian Gulf War era, open one of the battle maps page graphics, and look in the lower right hand corner for the source.

:-)

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

well, I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

I guess knowing that makes it all the more confusing to me why you'd advocate an approach to regaining control in Iraq that is frighteningly similar to what Saddam was already doing before we invaded.

The admin. claimed this would be a short exercise in freedom-spreading until we were already there and it was clear that their pre-war planning was crap. While it's still the same war, our rationalization of what we're doing there is now so far removed from the freedom-spreading rhetoric that you can make these "kick-em-in-the-balls" kinds of statements. Changing rhetoric to match the situation.

I don't think I've said anything about brainwashing in this particular discussion, but if you believe that this war has always been about control of the ME, than what would YOU call all that, "this will be a short operation to bring freedom to the Iraqi people" BS the admin tried to sell us on?

It's also interesting that you would bring up viet nam while trying to make the point that winning in Iraq is imperative.

What were the consequences of those "brainless" liberals forcing us out of vietnam? The whole world fell to the communists? Our way of life was destroyed forever? We're all speaking Russian now?

No. You said yourself we came out on top in the cold war. So were we really in viet nam because of a bunch of paranoid hawks with vivid imaginations and an incomplete picture of the world, throwing us into an unnecessary war and howling, "anti-american!" at anyone who would disagree with them? (sound familier?)

Now, I haven't had kool-aid in years (liberals drink only the finest french wines), but it seems that the republican party line has, until recently, been that, "9/11 changed everything." Remember this line? It was the whole rationale behind the pre-emtion policy that got us into this war in the first place. Now all of a sudden all these people are talking about greek military strategy and the romans and the world wars and the cold war... changing rhetoric to match the situation?

"Are you an American"

yes

"and do you want to protect all of your fellow citizens from another attack?"

yes, that's why I'm saying that we cannot expand this war.

I think the biggest problem to having this debate is that both sides are convinced that the other is either stupid or brainwashed. Another consequence of this war has been to divide our society.

Also, notice how people don't complain that Afghanistan is still a huge mess? Because people feel that removing the taliban was necessary. Everything about Iraq is so much more questionable. That's why people are opposed to expansions of one sort or another, not because they're wussie-pansies or whatever.

Dean Settle said:

Certaimly you're old enough (or I hope you are old enough, because you write as if you are old enough)to remember that we WERE fighting to end communism. Feel free to go on and poison any debate by stating that you think communism isn't a bad thing --(that kind of thinking easily allows me to dismiss the real loonies)
The general disposition of anyone with a patriotic bone in his American body should feel repulsed by any part of anything that resembles communism or socialism.
As my great uncle says "we didn't claw our way to the top of the pile to sit second fiddle to anybody".

Truthfully, the rest of the world will hate us no matter what we do. The radical Islamic culture certainly will. I've worked in that arena, I've seen it first hand.
If you walk among the simple folks, you were okay. But there was always caution in walking outside of your designated areas, because the radicals saw you as a threat to their agenda.
They thrive on disinformation. It's why I recognise it here so readily.
They "train" those young minds to hate. Whole segments of their culture are geared at hate.
Why? Because we are successful, we are more powerful, and our walls literally "****" money (borrowed from Dennis Miller)
We could pull out and drop Iraq flat (which in and of itself would be horrendously irresponsible)but Al Queda would still come after us.
Better to face them down and stop it in Iraq. Better to finish what's been begun. Better to honor the men and women who died, better to honor those that readily serve up to 4 tours as volunteers before they are not allowed to serve again and are rotated out.

I watched the President's first speech regarding the terrorists and those who harbor them. He clearly said this was a long battle, and resolve was needed. I think you were hearing what you wanted to hear. Granny used to call that "selective hearing" when we only hear the words we've preapproved..
This is as necessary to us as World War II was to our grandfathers.
This is the challenge of this generation.
My grandfathers served in WWII, dad pulled Korea and Vietnam, I inherited Lebanon during my tenure. Grenada is pretty vivid on my mind as well, although I was not dispatched, I thought we might be.

Sam Rayburn once said that freedom is not something a nation can work for once and win forever. He said it's like an insurance policy; its premiums must be kept up to date. In order to keep it, we have to keep working for it and sacrificing for it just as long as we live. If we do not, our children may not know the pleasure of working to keep it, for it may not be theirs to keep.

There will never be utopia. Someone somewhere will keep on letting greed, power or hate push them to overtake their neighbors or those that they think have too much.


Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

ok, I missed vietnam the first time around. But I learned all about it from my public school teachers. ; )

I know it was about fighting communism. I know people were saying we have to win because otherwise the communists will take over (domino effect). Then the damn liberals said, "why are we involved in their civil war?" and they (or was it Nixon?) cut and ran in viet nam, and what happened to our way of life? nothing.

now, reread the above paragraph but replace the word "communism" with "terrorism" or "radical islam" and you've got an alright description of the current state of affairs.

Why is it that we study history? I forget.

Do you really think that the islamist leaders are jealous of us? The impression I get is that they want control over their society and they use us as their boogie man. So it seems like by invading Iraq we've just given them a bunch of good pictures for their 'America is evil' recruitment posters.

as to your statement about Granny (pbuh), I didn't say Bush said the war would be over quickly, but that the admin. led us to believe that. Check it out:

Chenney to Russert, March 16, 2003
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3080244/

Rumsfeld to Steve Kroft (search for the phrase "five days")
http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2002/t11152002_t1114rum.html

ok, I understand what you're saying with, "Better to finish what's been begun. Better to honor the men and women who died" but it's a sentimental rationalization of the situation more than a logical reason for continuing the war in Iraq.

Having said that, I respect your service, and your families tradition. and I agree with what you say in the last two paragraphs. I just disagree that this war in Iraq is, or ever was, the way to go about preserving our freedom.

I have a question:

what do you mean by freedom? what impact has this war had on your freedom (as you define it)?

also, if you feel like it, could you tell us more about your experience with these radical islamist types, and the 'simple folks' you were with?

cheers


Dean Settle said:

I worked with the most basic, bottom rung, down-to-earth Saudis. Great folks. (and although it doesn't sound like it in some of my rants, I scored as close to zero as one can on the Air Force-administered western ego-centricism testing)
The problem comes from only select mullahs who have a political agenda that they wish to impose on the rank and file in their mosque(s).
I say that I could move around over there because after a while you learned which mosques were the centers to stay away from (and we were actually "housed" in American "cities" most of the time, anyway.)
The face to face encounters with the bottom rank were always pleasant.
The actual radicals moved around and very much remind me of American MS-13 gangs.
When the Iraqis are able to stand on their own, and enter into a true Islamic Democracy, they become a trade partner with the US, and a whole plethora of other countries.
Much like the US, where free speech and commerce allow each individual to rise to their own level of existance, unencumbered by the restraints of the old Hussein Regime, able to express their frustration with the government without fear of having their tongues removed, then the radical element will actually lose recruits. Happy people are complacent people.
Do we have pockets of heated resistance in the US? Sure. But they get heard. They can openly voice their frustration and only one or two a year is compelled to go further and pick up a gun to go on a rampage.

When I say fighting for freedom, I'm speaking directly about the Iraqi people, and indirectly about us. I believe that the world's people should enjoy what we enjoy, speak when they want to speak, and come and go as they want to, just as we do here.
That way of life does not exist there yet. Saddam was a dictator. He saddled these people with countrywide debt, personal poverty, and death in many occasions when the crime was being born into the wrong ethnic group.
If Iran and Syria's influence were kept clear of the country while we deal with the problem inside for just another 4 months, I believe the Al Queda elements inside would be quited long enough to finish the government and finish training the Iraqi troops.
If I'm critical of Bush on any matter, it is that his administration did nothing with Iran and Syrian insurgents entering the country for no good from day one.
I lost hope on the police force there several months ago. They contain so much corruption that it's going to be very hard to root it all out.
The current push is one I support. Just as I did the Falujah clean-out.
What frustrates me is there weren't enough boots on the ground to hold that ground as the effort moved on to the next objective. Falujah fell back into enemy hands, and would require the same amount of effort all over to retake it. That goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing. Learning nothing and repeating strategic mistakes also dishonors the fallen.
If the current swelling takes cities and holds them for the "regular" folks, while keeping the radical element from retaking them, the enemy is easier to engage, and is pushed out further and further from dense population centers, also reducing civilian collatoral damage.
I think this surge for the current operation, coupled with closing the borders a lot tighter can actually turn this thing around.
The Navy term for attempting an endeavor and noting the difficult parts of that effort, as well as offering different strategies, is "lessons learned". I wish that the commanders on the ground would begin to issue those on a daily basis instead of a monthly basis.

Jack said:

Puffy:

Our way of life did not change, but millions died in S.E.A. as a direct result of our withdrawl.

Dean Settle said:

Jack, thanks. I should have pointed out that bit last nite. But it was late by the time I replied and I wanted sleep.

When we left, there was a vacuum where support for an oppressed people had been was suddenly dissappeared...
Lots of them died as a direct retaliation for even thinking of challenging the communists regime, or wanting to express their desires for themselves.
If you look at the outskirts of the image of that time, we could even be viewed as humanitarian aid to the South Vietnamese. We wanted to help S.V stand up to their bully neighbor because we were stronger than they were.
The war was engaged by Kennedy. I believe that Kennedy envisioned going in and taking care of business, and coming out again. I'd have backed him on it.
But tragically, Johnson ended up with the reigns to the beast, and quite frankly...the man was a waffle maker. He wasted much more time worried that history would paint him as the mistake between two Kennedy's than he was about progress in Vietnam.
Add to this, the stringent rules of engagement put on the troops by thier own heirarchy.
Do bomb here, don't bomb here. Do shoot this, you can't shoot that.
If we had committed 100% of our talent and engineering to that circus, we'd have been home by the third year, and Nixon wouldn't have had to cave to the hippies.
I shouldn't have gotten this worked up about ancient history. But I see that pattern reestablishing itself.
If we pull out of there now, we invite the bully who sucker-punched us 5 years ago to think that we didn't have the balls to square off with him after all.
Anybody want to tell me who the terrorists in Iraq will be rooting for in November? That should dictate our course.

jacob said:

All,
WOW! I turn my back on this place for a day I see I am up to my hips in comments that require my response. I will be a commenting tonight.

Marshmallow,
Sorry for not answering your comments sooner. Needless to say, I disagree with some of what you say. t sop, say your prayers ya varmint, I'm a comin to getchya!

Dean,
Thank you for your service. I wore a uniform once upon a time, but was never sent overseas.

Dean Settle said:

Jacob,

While I appreciate your thanks, and it means a great deal to me to hear it actually voiced... no thanks is necessary. It was my job, and my calling. I entered into it because I thought it made a difference in the world around me. I'm convinced that it did.
Lebanon was a dissappointment, but eventually came around, but it was well after I'd hung my boots up.
(we did recently see the very same situation occur when Hezbollah and Hamas went back in to stir the pot again... 20 years later.
I supported Israel on that one. There is nothing quite so inspiring as a country that takes protecting itself so seriously that every youth serves two years in it's defense. If the US did this, there'd be so much less noise from those who've never seen protection necessities from up close and personal.)
When Israel implemented step two of the three step manuevers for complete annihilation of an enemy, I recognised it immediately and evidently, so did the UN.
(Oh...you guys were serious??")
My nephew is the actual hero in the family. He's the first in 4 generations to actually give his life for what he believed in.

http://www.legacy.com/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=19157879

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Well, now we're talking about viet nam. It just seems like a funny example to bring up when trying to say that if we abandon Iraq the forces of evil will take over the world because it's the same thing people said about viet nam, and then we abandoned the country and, lo and behold, the forces of evil did NOT take over the world.

I'm not saying we should abandon Iraq, just that Viet Nam is a poor example of why we shouldn't.

Jack, millions of vietnamese died while we were there, too. so... damed if you do, damned if you don't.

but I think this discussion is still alive and ought to be brought back to the front page. who's with me?!

jacob said:

Marshmallow,
I agree we should continue the discussion on the front page. As you can see It is late and I just got home. I disagree with so many things you have written it will require a fresh posting of my own. It will be a summary of answers to your questions to me in this posting, I will put comments that address what you wrote in your new posintg in its respective comments section.

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