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April 25, 2008

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Appalled

The question the GOP needs to ask is whether McCain is just a more competent version of Bush. Bush, in terms of policy seems like warmed over-Nixon without the foreign policy competence.

I doubt McCain is the future. I doubt social issues is the future. How about concentrating on keeping government out of our lives? (Sorry, David Brooks)

Rodney Graves

Tom,

I'm less unhappy with Bush than I am with McCain. Bush is now a lame duck, so there is just not much point in expending energy in his defense.

McCain benefits from the quality and nature of the two remaining Democratic contenders for the nomination, neither of whom is qualified to serve as a local dog catcher.

What a sad situation.

Richard Aubrey

How difficult is "this difficult"?

This being Anzac Day, corrected for time zones, I've been reading about Gallipoli, and a book by a participant there and at sea. "Gunner Depew".

My father's division (104th Infantry Division) was so good at night fighting in the ETO that they managed to get the job done with a fraction of the casualties other divisions sustained.
In fact, they were the gold standard. When I got to Benning in 1969, our block of instruction in night fighting and night ops opened with a long reading from the 104th's lessons learned.
Men named their sons after the commander, Terry Allen, out of gratitude.
When I was in, Viet Nam was eating up 200+ guys a week. That was down some from a couple of years earlier.

The best math I can do, comparing my father's division--so good as to be a lesson several wars later--to the war in Iraq is that the 104th had sixteen times the casualty rate of our troops in Iraq.
Some folks with more interest in stats than I have claim that the casualties are about the same as peacetime, a view somebody noted after Desert Shield/Storm. Net negative casualties.
We hear more about combat casualties than we do about training deaths, deaths from drunk driving, or sudden diseases because, among other things, they are politically useful for the left.

The point is, if there is any serious argument to be made about whether Iraq war casualties are more--or less--than peacetime casualties, the definition of difficult has been substantially redefined.

Perhaps Bush should have anticipated more resistance from the left and the dems. If he thought he'd get cooperation, he's nuts. And, looking at prewar issues, he should have known it.

Still, when you have a national security matter and your toughest opponent is a major political party, not the putative threat overseas, you can't really say that, now, can you?

Veeshir

I'll defend him, at least on Iraq.

First, IMO disbanding the army was a good thing. The officers were appointed by Saddam or his thugs and were his thugs. The soldiers were not trained properly at all. The chain of command was all screwed up.
Question: Have you ever worked in a place where new management came in and tried to change how you did things? It's not pretty. Yes, many of them became insurgents, so? How much more damage do you think insurgents would have done while in the Iraqi military? We needed to fundamentally change the way they think and do business. We would, at minimum, have had to investigate each and every officer and that would have been ugly. We might have had to get rid of all officers. We also would have had to check each and every non-com as well. So we probably would have had to decapitate the army. Nope, starting anew was much easier and neater.

As for his horrible, post-war occupation. Let me remind you of something that, as I recall, plenty of people were saying, "We didn't beat them enough. Japan and Germany were subdued because we beat the crap out of them, but we didn't do that in Iraq." There was no unconditional surrender where they admitted they were beaten, they immediately went into an insurgency.
Also think of how the Iraqis themselves were protecting their own brand of terrorists. In Fallujah they were hiding al Quaeda. Now? After the Iraqis have figured out who is their friend and who is their enemy, they are helping us help them.

Read up on post-war Germany where we had Nazis hiding in and raiding from the hills for years, in Japan we had a military dictatorship for years before we even tried to allow them to govern themselves and we wrote their freaking Constitution.

I'm not saying no mistakes were made, but I am saying that I don't think the Surge would have worked in 2005, the Iraqis were still helping their preferred brand of terrorist.
Also, many of the soldiers blogging from Iraq all seemed to make note of the same thing, the Iraqis blamed America for everything. They needed to understand that it's their country and they have to take control of it.

We had to make a fundamental change in so much thinking and we're getting there.
A western military is fundamentally different from most others (that's why western armies always kick their asses). They can show no initiative, only blind obedience. And if they need new orders, they don't improvise, they wait for a higher officer to tell them what to do. We kept the police forces relatively intact and have had to beat them down repeatedly as they act like, well, like Saddam's police force acted. They even appear to be understanding that corruption and graft are bad things, even though "That's the way it's done here".

Nope, I'm not saying Bush is perfect, I am saying he had a plan (of course our military had a plan, to think otherwise is just silly), I'm not saying the plan was the best, I'm not saying no mistakes were made (that would be equally silly) I am saying that plenty of what we are accomplishing now is directly because the terrorists did our work for us by showing the people that Americans are fighting for their freedom while the terrorists and jihadis are fighting to subjugate them. We also needed the Iraqis to help themselves. And that appears to be working as well.

boris

if it was always going to be this difficult, should never have been fought

Which is why on this point you (and many others) don't get it.

For me it is to Bush's credit that he did what needed to be done even if MORE difficult, even if MORE damaging to legacy, even if MORE destructive to the party.

For those who agree with your statement, of course it falls on the negative side of the equation. That's why all the rest of the criticism falls flat IMO.

JB

Yup, I don't buy into the notion of a "more perfect plan" in a task as dangerous and complicated as transforming post-Saddam Iraq.

Sure, the reconstruction has been chaotic but the process of Iraqis discovering for themselves whether Al Qaeda/local theocrats or a more secular federal entity allied with the US is preferable has been invaluable and may have some positive effects on the entire ME for decades to come.

Rick Ballard

In light of the fact that you apparently can't even fix your own comment section I hesitate to validate your observations concerning "coulda, woulda, shoulda".

The President has returned a modicum of dignity to a very soiled office under rather trying circumstances. If you're terribly concerned about "America's good will around the world" then I would suggest that you should support something such as an American "Money For Smiles" campaign, after all "Oil For Food" purchased a lot of "good will" for Hussein.

The war really should not have as difficult. I'm not sure that the President can be held responsible for the Dem alliance with al Queada but he certainly could have have pulled the lawyers out and loosened the ROE.

That might have diminished the huge "good will" reservoir that the MSM was filling from day one though. Such a conundrum.

boris

Have you ever worked in a place where new management came in and tried to change how you did things?

For example the new Bush administration trying to function in a Mandarinate bureaucracy infected with BDS.

George Connolly

Noonan says:

"He has never had to live in the world he helped make, the one where grandma's hip replacement is setting off the beeper here and the child is crying there."


Okay, so GW flew those planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Noonan sounds like a truther here. Just the flavor of the Month. Noonan changes her mind more often than she changes her hair color. Proof positive that some people can dine out forever on Reagan's legacy.

Two years ago Hitchens said Bush jokes were for the stupid. Noonan is now pandering to Bill Mahers audience.

narciso

I'm getting a little tired of 'our Maureen Dowd's inanities. What does she mean the world he helped make! How about the fact he spent a decade drilling dry holes in Houston, trying to find oil there; wouldn't that drive you to drink?. The prescription drug benefit, No Child Left Behind,the Ethanol mandate, isn't that what people said they wanted.The problem is still people aren't satisfied, they want more. They want more oil, but they don't want to drill for it. They want more services, but they don't want to pay for it
The Iraqi army an police, were the hammer of
the Sunni Baathist Tikritis who lorded it over the Kurds and Shia. It's taken a long time, but they've finally learned their place in the world. By comparison, the Kikuyu of Barry's native Kenya still won't really acknowledge the Luo, represented by Odinga.

Vaquero

Oh Peggy, et tu? I am not too sure that Peggy Noonan has the capability to feel the pulse of Lubbock...she would have had to remove her long tea gloves to do do...please, and Peggy will you ever get beyond menopause and shoe shopping?
The more I read Peggy the more I see a John Kerry tendancy to harken back to their glorious pasts.

JB

Peggy Noonan is no visionary. This is conventional conservatism that sometimes deserves the description of narrowmindedness that the left hurls at it.

The chaos of war is ugly, but Bush will be regarded for his courage and foresight in the decades to come. Already Iraqis have made the kind of progress that was unthinkable only a few years ago.

Veeshir

Oh, one more thing.
Put yourself in his place.
You've watched terrorists get more and more bold culminating in 9/11.
So Bush said we were going to war with terrorists.
How to do that? Terrorists habitually avoid militaries and attack civilians. How to make them attack your military?
How about invade a country in the middle of their terrortory and invite them in? Remember "Bring it on."? Afghanistan was too far and the territory was too difficult, plus, the locals don't like Arabs much more than they like us. Possibly less.

Nope, our military is killing jihadis in joblots, so much so that becoming a jihadi is losing its luster.
I'm sure that aspect, getting terrorists to fight our military, was a very important aspect in any Iraq planning.

And anybody who didn't know there was going to be a terrorist campaign against us in Iraq was paying absolutely no attention to the Middle East for the last, oh, couple of millenia.

clarice

I'm with Boris. And did I say how much I dislike Noonan? Let me say I really can't stand her.
Can I say that I do see a parallel with Truman and Bush? Because I do.
Can I say that I believe TM posted the following with his tongue in his cheek--maybe to distract us from the ridiculous new next/previous format headache:
"But he has squandered America's good will around the world, divided our nation, and strained our military to the breaking point fighting a war which never should have been this difficult (or, if it was always going to be this difficult, should never have been fought)."

Walter

Tom,

I'm with Veeshir on Iraq. It was the right decision, made for the right reasons, and has gone far better than most predicted even the war in Afghanistan would have gone.

If you'd like to see an incompetent invasion and nation-building exercise, compare our experience in Iraq with the USSR in Afghanistan. Then tell me how bad Bush is.

Bush lost me on the budget (well, technically, his lack of ability to stick to one).

But I finally threw in the towel on him with the American Airlines debacle. Those planes were safe to fly. No plane had ever crashed because of a failure to install wire shielding in the wheel wells of those planes*, let alone a failure to install it correctly. But Bush is so freaked out about the bad press coverage from Katrina that he let his FAA bureaucrats ground thousands of flights because a few inspectors had their panties in a bunch.

I used to think the guy had guts and backbone. Now I think he is hoping to leave office without something else bad happening. And I could do without that kind of Hope!.

-----
*The planes flew for twenty years without the change. What, they were going to start falling out of the sky over the next three days? Bah!

And Feh!

Pofarmer

State, State, State, DAMN IT.

Put the blame where it belongs. On the ones who were supposed to do the postwar planning and reconstruction.

Oh, yeah, and you can blame the UN too.

Bush delegated, and he's too much of a gentleman to point out the Colin Powell fucked up royally.

Pofarmer

Oh, yeah, and Bush decided not to run in 08.

Pofarmer

"But he has squandered America's good will around the world

Oh, yeah, and I'll ask the question, Where? What's the evidence, 'cause, frankly, I fail to see it. Show me the light, 'kay?

Walter

Tom,

I'm with Veeshir on Iraq. It was the right decision, made for the right reasons, and has gone far better than most predicted even the war in Afghanistan would have gone.

If you'd like to see an incompetent invasion and nation-building exercise, compare our experience in Iraq with the USSR in Afghanistan. Then tell me how bad Bush is.

Bush lost me on the budget (well, technically, his lack of ability to stick to one).

But I finally threw in the towel on him with the American Airlines debacle. Those planes were safe to fly. No plane had ever crashed because of a failure to install wire shielding in the wheel wells of those planes*, let alone a failure to install it correctly. But Bush is so freaked out about the bad press coverage from Katrina that he let his FAA bureaucrats ground thousands of flights because a few inspectors had their panties in a bunch.

I used to think the guy had guts and backbone. Now I think he is hoping to leave office without something else bad happening. And I could do without that kind of Hope!.

-----
*The planes flew for twenty years without the change. What, they were going to start falling out of the sky over the next three days? Bah!

And Feh!

Pofarmer

(or, if it was always going to be this difficult, should never have been fought).

Wasn't it JFK who said, "We do these things not becuase they are easy, but becuase they are hard."?

Good Lord man, get a little perspective.

Pofarmer

But I finally threw in the towel on him with the American Airlines debacle.

I agree, it's just one more reason not to let the Fed's control one more thing. You want these folks in control of health care???

I don't think so.

Pofarmer

O.K.

I don't neccessarily agree with the throwing in the towell.

But the American Airlines grounding was monumentally stupid.

Chris

Where to start with the vapid Peggy? And no doubt Bush has made mistakes but what should have been done in the Middle East? Seriously? It's easy to say this war shouldn't have been fought but that doesn't make it so. 78 senators and well over 300 congress critters agreed. Sorry. Not nor never will buy into the BDS.

Peggy loves the sound of her own voice and the only way she knows how to get the invitations is to spout conventional wisdom. The CW is easy to spout and will rarely get you into trouble. Just ask the US Senate. It will not, however, accomplish much of historical signifigance.

The CW 2 years ago said get out of Iraq and leave the place to the tender mercies of AQ. Bush and McCain, to their credit, defied the CW. Peggy would not have. Who was correct? Not a certainty but it's looking better for Iraq. Much better.

Easy to criticize, much harder to act and make the fateful decisions which lead to liberating (or not) tens of millions of people. Lincoln knew. So did FDR and Truman. Bush has many faults but historically he is more likely to resemble Truman than Carter.

M. Simon

Bush has been brilliant in Iraq (maybe by accident).

He let the jihadis have their run and now the Iraqis are so sick of them that they welcome a long term American occupation to keep the peace.

Guerrilla wars usually take 9 or 10 years until people can see definite signs of guerrilla defeat. Bush did it in five.

People who say Iraq has been badly handled have no idea. None. Zero.

Read some history. Puleeeezee.

MikeS

I'm sure there may be some opinion poll somewhere that backs up the argument that the U.S. has lost international 'good will.' Still it's hard to buy that premise when such openly pro-Americans have become the elected leaders of France, Germany, and Italy (again).
And by the way, "Who cares?" What good is it to have a French newspaper proclaim, "We are all Americans now," if their diplomats are going to not just oppose us, but stab us in the back diplomatically.

The War in Iraq, I agree has been a Media disaster. Journalist almost unanimously agree that it was a mismanaged and I don't disagree with that. I have never been anywhere where anything was managed perfectly.

narciso

Yes, the AA situation was monumentally stupid, but it wouldn't have happened if some folk let
Oberstar end up chairing the subcommittee; mostly the folks who said there was no difference between the parties; you know who you are. For all the reasons mentioned above, it's extraordinary difficult to balance a budget; and it's not gonna get any easier.

Jane

I'm still a huge fan of Bush. I don't think any war goes easily so I give him a pass on that. I have issues with him on spending, but that doesn't change how much I appreciate his character. I wish he could communicate better, but I am consistently overwhelmed by his personal humility. I think there is a lot of greatness in that man.

Abadman

To further pile on, take a close look at Kosovo, a smaller country and population. Almost 10 years later it is still a mess. I see no gnashing of teeth about Kosovo even though it is arguably in as bad or worse shape than when we went in.

There are many parallels between Kosovo and Iraq, chief among them a larger ethnic group subjugated by a much, much, smaller group. The liberation of both Iraq and Kosovo was followed by a period of breakdown in security and authority, in this void atrocities were committed by both groups. Expecting a Sunni whose family member has been murdered by a Shiite or vise versa to happily co-exist is idiotic. For whatever reason the post invasion plans seemed based on the happy fantasy that the Sunni’s and Shiites’ would all gather together and sing kumbya. Strike against Bush. On the other hand it is just as much a happy fantasy that any plan short of an almost complete post invasion military dictatorship by the US could have kept a lid on the ethnic tensions. (Gee, I wonder how a military dictatorship would have gone over?)

Bush always gets measured against some more perfect fantasy of how much better things could have gone. Not to minimize the US or Iraq death toll, the body counts for a 5 year war and occupation are incredibly low by any historical standard. On your way to Lubbock you might want to take a minute to think how much worse it could have gone. How much of the potential for death and destruction was avoided. Maybe you would not be so quick to kick sand on the Prez. While there was/is much room for improvement OIF has come much closer to the ideal of perfection than that of an unmitigated goat rope.

The problem is the belief that some how we could have gone into Iraq, shook the bee’s nest, and left in any sort of timely manner. When we attacked Iraq we committed ourselves to a multi-generational effort in the region, unless we are happy with chaos in the Middle East. Anyone who thinks it should have, will, or can be quick or easy should go the Alsace region of France and start talking to the local population about Germans.

syn

'Where to start with the vapid Peggy?'

I have to say leave her in the TV since there are too many points to address as to Noonan's vapidness and moveon.org to more important points such as, how in the hell can a war be planned which would produce a particular outcome?


I heard an interview with JD Johannes, producer of the movie "Outside the wire", he basically made the point that no matter what the initial plan was at the beginning we would have ended up exactly where we are today.

As for McCain's original complaint that we should have sent 350,000 troops into Iraq ignores the fact that if not for the changes Gen Petreaus made with the Rule of Engagement, having 350,000 troops on the ground would not have made one iota of difference with regard to the outcome we have today.


Back to Peggy 'she would have had to remove her long tea gloves' Noonan, I am so sick to death of the snotty country-clubbers such as Noonan and McCain. I realize that their position in the elite social register is important for them to maintain however these types of Republicans are the reason Reagan had a Conservative Revolution in the Republican Party.

If I wanted to support elite snobs I would be back in the Democrat Party supporting Obama however. becaue I love our tropps and support their difficult mission I am now being blackmailed into supporting a snotty country-clubber who representing nothing about the extraordinary ordinary American!

MikeS

I still think the decision to depose Saddam was the right one. At the time the public agreed with me at a ratio of 3 to 1.

Saddam was not contained. He was not going to be contained.

Porchlight

Peggy Noonan doesn't have an analytical bone in her body. She is worse than useless on a subject like this.

TM: "squandered America's good will around the world"? Goodness, did I click on Andrew Sullivan by mistake? No, from the comments, I see I am squarely in the land of sanity. Thank you to everyone upthread who has managed to avoid an attack of the vapors re: Bush.

Paul Zrimsek

Jesus wept. The Conscience of Gate 14. Why couldn't she just quote a fucking cabbie like everyone else?

TexasToast

But he has squandered America's good will around the world, divided our nation, and strained our military to the breaking point fighting a war which never should have been this difficult (or, if it was always going to be this difficult, should never have been fought).

One thing I must give you, TM, we don’t often agree, but you are always provocative – often in a very good way. The Jedi mind control trick that led to the above quotation has led however, to a revolt among the 29% dead enders who often post here. (I think Nixon had more support when he resigned.) A sampling:

Read up on post-war Germany where we had Nazis hiding in and raiding from the hills for years, in Japan we had a military dictatorship for years before we even tried to allow them to govern themselves and we wrote their freaking Constitution.

Um, how many American soldiers died during those occupations?

For me it is to Bush's credit that he did what needed to be done even if MORE difficult, even if MORE damaging to legacy, even if MORE destructive to the party.

When you are right , Boris, you are right. “Damaging” is, perhaps, a misunderestimation – to coin a phrase.

Unfortunately, when you are wrong, it’s a doozy.

Invading Iraq did not need to be done in order to fight AQ, it did not need to be done to protect us from imaginary WMD’s or a contained Saddam and it did not, in any sense, need to be done to enhance our security. Moreover, GWB managed to take a bad idea and magnify it a thousand times with severe “misunderestimation” of the enemy, severe overestimation of the abilities of a 100000 man army to pacify a population, and pathetic execution. Faulty goals, faulty plans, and faulty execution. A real trifecta.

The war really should not have as difficult. I'm not sure that the President can be held responsible for the Dem alliance with al Queada but he certainly could have have pulled the lawyers out and loosened the ROE.

Wow, Rick. Traitors behind every tree? We are in the mess we are in because of traitors?

As to the ROE, GWB did “… pull out the lawyers.” John Yoo comes to mind. That really helped our “standing in the world.”

Ranger

Well, I have to say that the critisism of Bush on the immidiate aftermath of the war is off base for a couple of reasons.

First, it is based on comparisons with Germany after WWII. That is a very bad analogy because we went into Germany planning to "anihilate" the German State, litterally. As such, we had prepared general plans to take over pretty much every aspect of the German state from the moment we entered its borders. We never intended to do that in Iraq.

We exspected to face a situation more like Japan, where we removed the top leadership but used the existing government structure to manage the situation until we could re-organize it. That didn't happen, and why it didn't happen still isn't clear. What happened in Iraq was something phenominal and unprecidented (at least as far as I have seen). The Iraq government at all levels simply evaporated litterally over night. Not just the senior leadership, but every single government employee simply dissapeard into the woodword the morning after the US occupied Sadam's palace. We couldn't even find a single person to formally surrender the Iraqi Army to the US forces and end the hostilities.

Second, many of the specific decisions being critiqued, such as the "disbanding" of the Iraqi Army were a direct result of the total evaporation of the Iraqi state. In fact, the Iraqi Army disbanded itself within days (if not hours) of the fall of the capital. US Army units went to Iraqi Army bases exspecting to find 10,000 troops and negotiate a surrender, instead they found a few dozen who hadn't gotten around to leaving yet.

It is interesting to note that so many people who critique the immidiate post war situation can not point to a single written statement where anyone predicted that the Iraqi Government would evaporate in the space of 24 hours. Now, maybe, in the future, we should prepare for any post war situation the way we prepared for Germany, and simply assume that the local state will cease to exist the moment we enter the country, but up until the invasion of Iraq, I don't seen any historical president for that having happened.

As an asside, I note that all the people who are so vocal about Bush's failures in Iraq were totally silent over the total failure of NATO to establish law and order in Kosovo or protect the Serb population from ethnic cleansing at the end fo that war.

Veeshir

Wow, I figured I would be all alone, surprise surprise.
I did miss this
But he has squandered America's good will around the world,

What a load of rich, creamery butter. Oooh, China, Russia and the NY Times are no longer our friends. But notice that among real allies, the anti-Bush leaders are being replaced with people who are friends of America, except Australia, but Howard had a good run, he was PM for at least close to a record (for them) number of years and they're not leaving Iraq.

Bush has regained some respect for the US that we squandered in Vietnam, Somalia and Kosovo.
We are, provisionally, no longer viewed as having too short an attention span to finish what we started.

boris

Invading Iraq did not need to be done in order to fight AQ

Then why did AQ abandon Afghanistan and make their stand in Iraq?

Seems they agree with me. Seems you are the one making shit up.

Jane

Invading Iraq did not need to be done in order to fight AQ, it did not need to be done to protect us from imaginary WMD’s or a contained Saddam and it did not, in any sense, need to be done to enhance our security.


Riiiight - I've read all those plans the democrats laid out to accomplish those things.

Oh, except there weren't and aren't any. Funny you don't add any to the trough, either. Just words and all that.

bio mom

Peggy Noonan has been in a snit since the Bush reelection campaign froze her out of the speecwriting for them. She ended up having to write for Pataki. She even left her WSJ stint to help the Bush campaign. So that must have hurt and she has been taking revenge ever since. But I didn't need this to dislike Peggy Noonan. She is quite a silly woman who secretly is still in love with Ronald Reagan. And Bush will be a very good president once the finally history is written. Our country is now filled with a lot of little babies: overindulged, impatient, judgmental, who wouldn't be able to make a courageous decision that risked the good opinion of their peers if their life depended on it. That is what is destroying this country. Certainly not George Bush.

clarice

My fav Dem strategy was to concentrate all our troops in Afghanistan expecting, I suppose that (a) AQ wouldn't slip back and cross the borders of neighboring states as it fit their needs and mood;(b) That would have persuaded the chuckleheads there that we were there to expand our dominion over them and led to a British/Ussian type quagmite in the land of historic quagmires;(c) It would have neatly deprived us of our technological advantage, allowing every geezer with a hundred year old blunderbus to knock off our troops marching up and down unfamiliar wadhis in search of the turbaned pimpernel.
Now, those guys can strategize!

boris

Hey what happened to Next/Previous???

Kinda ticks me off when some people claim that since the enemy considers Iraq worth fighting for that's why we should just let them have it.

clarice

***British/Russian ***

MikeS

If we only wanted to fight AQ the Iraq War may have been unnecessary. But the President said we would fight all terrorist groups with international reach, AND those who support them. That part really is the key. Prior to 911 some countries had been engaged in what President Clinton called "false flag operations," using terror groups to carry out attacks against U.S. interests.

Saddam's support for terrorists was only one of many reasons for deposing him.

centralcal

First, I completely agree with Clarice, Jane, and Pofarmer about Noonan and about Bush!

Second, I see the funeral happened in my brief absence and Previous/Next has passed on to the great ethernet.

OH HAPPY DAY!

Now I am off to Grandparent's Day at the granddaughters' school.

MayBee

"the world" = Europe

MikeS

This may be off thread, but the reaction to Tom's remarks reminded me of Obama's 'Race' speech.

In that speech Obama implied that there is a lot of racist talk going on in barber shops etc. I remember thinking at the time, that there isn't any racist commentary going on at my barber shop, but I wondered how would people react if someone started making slurs or comments that were generally disagreed with.

MayBee

I also recall the days during Noonan's beloved Reagan's presidency when backpackers were sewing Canadian flags to their back packs.
Any world goodwill he had was earned retroactively.

clarice

Many,many years ago I was in NYC and saw a performance of Genet's The Blacks.There's a scene in it where one of the actors hands a set of knitting needles and yarn to an older White man in the audience and later has him hand it back in a way that makes him acknowledge responsibility for all the evils which have befallen Blacks.
After the show I went out with one of the actors. I told him I thought that was an outrage and it had taken all my restraint to keep from jumping out of my seat (It was a small, off-Broadway theater) and grabbing that stuff and making the actor come get it himself. I asked him what they'd have done. He said he wished I had done it, the actors always wondered if anyone would ever have the courage to do that.

M. Simon

As I understand the Democrat plan:

1. Find Osama
2. Kill him
3. War over
4. Everybody goes home

narciso

No, that's true we ended up signing up the heart of the SS and the Abwehr for the Gehlen Org; Eichmann, Brunner, the godfather of Palestinian nationalism in Syria and Egypt,
Wolf, Globke,and hundreds of others. We paperclipped the administrators of the Peenemunde labor camps like Von Braun & Rudolph, we let loose businessman like Schacht, Krupp, & Thyssen. Ratlined Mengele, Rudel & co to South America.

In Japan Class A war criminals likeKodama,and Kishi were 'rehabilitated' to create the LDP and run for President. The butchers behind the Phillipines and Wake Island massacres including one crown prince, were let go

Don

Clarice-the knitting story is weird.

M Simon-if you're wondering why even TM is sick of Bush, its because:

As I understand the Republican plan:

1. DONT Find Osama
2. DONT Kill him
3. War NEVER over
4. Everybody NEVER goes home

M. Simon

Tom

THANK YOU

That must have been the outage I noticed about 1/2 hour ago.

boris

As I understand the Republican plan:

As you don't, who cares?

clarice

The story was in response to Mike's post, and ,Don, your description of the "Republicn plan" is utterly preposterous and jejune.

M. Simon

Don,

The jihadis have been fighting for 1400 years. The question is: do we have more bottom than they do?

I'm with McCain:

We're Americans and we will never surrender, they will

So how long am i willing to keep at it? One day longer than they are.

M. Simon

So Don,

If we find and kill Osama all the rest of the jihadis will give up?

They have a centralized command structure and once we get the top commander it will all be over?

MarkJ

Question of the Day:

When was the last time anybody gave two s***s about what Peggy Noonan thinks?

Not me, for one, pards.

MikeS

Well, I got the knitting story. Tom's remarks fired me up a little. When I cooled down I realized that no one here was afraid to take on the biggest fish in the pond if they disagreed with him.

Also, I am wondering if Tom is familiar with that performance piece.

clarice

Hint:It would not be the first time TM said something provocative to spur the discussion. The tip off is cost us friends thr/out the world.

Don

Well, TM, a guy gets the commenters he deserves.

Look at this blog in say 2003.

The comment section is a textbook example of Grisham's law.

Don

Gresham's rather

Gmax

Imagine yourself, stuck in Lubbock Texas, a place that has a bicycle race in the summer Called " the Hotter than Hell 100" and also a place where the sunset often glows red, from all the red clay dust in the air. Then imagine yourself having to listen to a speech by Peggy Noonan. Hopefully this was oncampus where they no doubt have a gun free zone, as it would have tamped down the instinct to put yourself out of the misery.

boris

From a Cecil link to a Hewitt interview with Douglas Feith a few threads ago:

at the beginning of the war in Iraq, the CIA was talking about the number of jihadists we were facing in Iraq, and they were saying it’s 5,000 at most. And then our military kept reporting that they were killing more people than that, and yet the insurgency was growing. So it was clear that our intelligence community just didn’t have a handle on that problem.

. . .

the fact is, especially when it came to Iraq, on issue after issue, they revealed that they knew very little. And one of my main frustrations, which I highlight in the book, is that not simply that they knew very little, but that when they talked about Iraq, they pretended to know a lot more than they knew. And they pretended it to policy makers.

How would it even be possible to develope "The Perfect Plan" under this circumstance?

Also, if the TANG memos were some kind of abberation, one off FUBAR, isolated incident, then maybe cirticism of the administration's failure to sway the MSM and the public would be fair.

But it wasn't. What was different about the TANG debacle was they got caught. By who? A freeper. Even knowing the story was not accurate the administration had no way of establishing the memos were fake. The MSM really is in a position to undermine policy in ways that are essentialy undefendable.

clarice

Better than TANG, Boris , was the Joe Wilson lie which set the pattern for "Bush Lied"--when he most certainly did not.

clarice

Tiday 30 NYT' editorial staff writers will get the axe...And it's hard to keep from considering that a just reward for the paper's disreputable behavior over the past 8 years.

Elliott

Thank you, TM for the rapid invalidation of Rick's criticism of your management skills.

MayBee

to a revolt among the 29%

I always find that an amusing taunt.
There was a time when about 29% were against this war, and I'm sure those people never felt shamed that they were only 29%ers/
There was a time when Bush had something like 90% approval ratings, and I'm sure the 10%ers never felt shamed when they were told their opinion was in the minority.

Why is it supposed to be an insult when one doesn't have the popular opinion?

hit and run

The squander good will and all that were a distraction to keep is all from. Focusing on the next/previous assault.

Dangerous you might say, why wouldn't this same group of reactionary right wing Bushbots form a brute squad and go after TM for that?

Because TM knew the likes of Don would give us a target to satisfy the mob's lust for blood.

So here Don thought TM was agreeing with him when in reality he was feeding him to the wolves.

And in the meantime TM fixes the next/previous mess and returns to hero status.

The title of Magnificent Bastard is taken, but something similar is surely appropriate.

Well played, TM. Well played.

MikeS

During a speech a couple weeks ago Rove was interrupted at the precise point where he was accusing Brocko Bama of dishonestly saying "Bush Lied" us into war.

Has Obama stopped making that remark?

MikeS

The title of Magnificent Bastard is taken

Bush?
Cheney?

Elliott

divided our nation

Starting in November/December 2000. We could have been unified if he'd stepped aside and let Al Gore take over!

Unity is important: we must agree to abide by the enactments of our elected legislatures, enforced by our elected executives and subject to review by our independent judiciary.

I'd like to see the Democrats make some progress on that before I consider signing up for their version of "unity," i.e., total capitulation to the policy preferences of Democratic presidential nominee.

M. Simon

Well, TM, a guy gets the commenters he deserves.

Look at this blog in say 2003.

The comment section is a textbook example of Grisham's law.

Posted by: Don | April 25, 2008 at 01:09 PM

Evidently you have explained your own presence here perfectly. Way to go.

May I suggest returning to 2003 when things were so much nicer? We won't be offended at all.

hit and run

Rove

Elliott

MayBee,

Well stated.

M. Simon

Today 30 NYT' editorial staff writers will get the axe.

Jeeze, it takes 30 of them to write that drivel? No wonder they are going broke. I'm sure one guy cribbing from KOS and DU would be more than adequate for the job.

Charlie (Colorado)

Peggy has assumed for years that all True Conservatives think like her, by definition.

SunnyDay

Sounds like some of you have read Doug Feith's book. :)

I see it was so popular that Georgetown decided they don't want him to teach there now.

Bill in AZ

President Bush's only mistake with the war was not identifying and dealing with the problems within our own government - the ones undermining everything he did regarding the war. No, it's not a traitor behind every tree. Bush did what he did because it was right for the country. As hard as it must have been to make and live with his decision, it needed to be done, and he and most of us can live with that.

Those who undermined him did it for the 2004 election. They know it and they have to live with that for the rest of their miserable lives.

M. Simon

I see it was so popular that Georgetown decided they don't want him to teach there now.

It is always dangerous to prove to believers that heresy is actually the truth. They will resent it mightily.

kim

Don 12:51. Why, the plan smacks of realism.
============================

Anon

bio mom

She ended up having to write for Pataki.

Oh and now you know why I am "Anon" use to comment here under another moniker-under which I had revealed somewhat of a military status-and well it get's damn well embarrassing how Tom has more respect for what Noonan thinks of the war and how it is going than some of his own commenters.

Who you can tell have had "the experience".

Either in the past, present-whatever.

I've always come here for tom's humor but what keeps me coming back is the wisdom, humor and experience of the commenters.

Tom doesn't have as much respect for that I guess-he has more for the media elite-and that's a majority opinion by the way.

Notice how the elitist have told everyone to "stow it" on Obama's hanging out with Ayers.

the only reason you might not be bothered in the least by that?

It's if you really have no respect for the military.

It really is that simple.

Cripes I'm out.

I think I am really done with it all.


It was nice to try to find some damn support someplace for awhile...

Me -just the wife of the guy that does that shit you don't want to do.

It's all so difficult!

Christ you sound like Scarlet O'Hara.

kim

Despair not, Anon. There's always a thin red line. Or blue one. But one there is.
========================================

kim

I've long attributed Dubya's seeming 'sans souci' with respect to the press and the expression of his message rather to giving primary attention to business instead of to the distribution of information about the business of government. It was an executive choice and an operating imperative that left them somewhat inattentive to certain opportunities. I continue to believe that internal satisfaction with the ethics of process strengthened the administration's resolve; there is truly little factual compromise of its probity.
========================================

M. Simon

Well anon,

I have had the Experience such as it was. Reactor Operator on a Frigate in the Enterprise Task Group '66. Yankee Station. You might have heard of it. Nothing very dangerous as it turned out. Still, we got combat pay for it.

In the 80s I turned to the study of War and military history. All reports are fragmentary, exaggerated, and mostly just plain wrong. And that is in the military.

The most important thing I learned from my study (I'm reading Grant's memoirs these days) is the morale of the troops and the will of the commander. Most of all the will of the commander because that affects morale.

However mistaken Bush, Rummy, or any of that lot were they had the most important thing. The will to defeat the enemy. And how did that manifest itself? In the morale of the troops. There will always be complainers and quitters. If their numbers are below 5% and are in the non-combat arms it don't mean nothin. Supply sergeants are always more easily rattled than infantry. Which is what makes the Marines such a great force. All infantry.

But I'll make you a deal. Survey the front line troops. If they are ready to pack it in I'll support that. I see no evidence of that. Re-enlistment rates are highest among units who have been to the sandbox.

JM Hanes

TM:
"But he has squandered America's good will around the world, divided our nation, and strained our military to the breaking point fighting a war which never should have been this difficult (or, if it was always going to be this difficult, should never have been fought)."

I have my own long list of what I would call Bush's considerable failures, but it doesn't resemble yours in almost any regard.

Did Bush really squander "America's good will" or just expose long festering resentments? He certainly upset the international status quo, but contra the inspirational vagueness of Obama rhetoric, real agents of change are more likely to be hated than loved. Substantive change is almost always a long hard slog. The beneficiaries of such change are those who follow.

Outside of Pew polls, however, how precisely does this oft cited squandering manifest itself? Others have pointed out the counterintuitive shifts in European leadership (to which Democrats seem utterly oblivious). Anyone who can momentarily take their eyes off of Iraq might notice that Bush has built an astonishingly productive relationship with India (at no small expense to Russia & China) and actually managed the near miracle of getting Japan to sign on to our commitment to defend Taiwan, among other successful endeavors. While the jury on North Korea is still out, his aggressive push for a regional response was the first official, (realistic!) recognition of China's pivotal influence, for good or ill, on the outcome there. If Russian chauvanism and paranoia are on the rise, it's because Putin views democratization (gasp!) and growing American influence at his borders with alarm. It's certainly not Bush, pushing immigration reform and NAFTA, who has been squandering America's goodwill with allies in our own hemisphere.

On the domestic front, Bush clearly failed to unite us, but we divided on our own devices, and it looks to me like the cure for BDS may well be worse than the disease.

He strained our military to the supposed breaking point because the idea that we would ever actually have to fight another "difficult" war died with the Soviet Union, and we happily set about spending our peace dividends elsewhere. A lot of folks claim bragging rights for accurate predictions of disaster in Iraq, but nobody had a prescient blueprint for this war, including Powell & Shinseki -- perhaps especially Powell & Shinseki -- till Petraeus abandoned the VietNam generated principle of no-body-bag force protection and rewrote the manual for 21st century battlefronts. I don't doubt that he's rewriting that manual for Afghanistan as we speak. In the mother of all ironies, Obama is arguing for a return to the demonstrably disastrous protectionist approach right now, while Petraeus is busy standing the conventional military vs political equation on its head. The fact that American troops can both destroyers and builders be, should, IMO, be a source of enormous pride. They are winning a lot of Iraqi hearts and minds right now. That's the very essence of counterinsurgency, and it can never be done by parachute from Okinawa. Unfortunately, we had to learn that lesson the hard way, but then that's hardly new. Nor is the fact that those who insist on looking backward at the war have yet to comprehend it.

In equally myopic fashion, Obama argues for jaw jawing Ahmadinejad and Clinton threatens massive retaliation in the event of Israel's destruction. Apparently it's never occurred to the folks in a dither about Iran that a US friendly Iraq, reversing the current flow of Shia influence, could well be the singular change which brings that intractable stalemate to an end. The strategic interests underlying our previous bargain with the devil in Iraq were only compounded by the rise of terrorist organizations -- both freelance and state sponsored -- in the region. They are a response to containment! Bush and Petraeus have created an opportunity for a great deal more than "something like a non-defeat," and I must admit to considerable surprise that you seem unable to entertain that possibility.

As for Noonan, she's just poisonous cotton candy.

royf

TexasToast

Um, how many American soldiers died during those occupations?

What a load of BS, tell me how many American soldiers died before getting to the occupation after WWII. Then tell me what condition those countries were in when the occupation started. I can tell you they were bombed into submission, they were completely destroyed industry demolished, millions killed or injured.  They had been totally defeated there is absolutely no comparison to the conditions with which we occupied Iraq.

The Iraq Army and its many terror organizations melted into the population with a goal of fighting a guerrilla type war. They never fought on any large scale but their stratery did give cover to the worthless liberals such as yourself to turn against and undermine a war they voted to authorize.

 
Not that anything you say ever means anything anyway just the usual DNC/Kos talking point. The rest of your post has been shoved back in you face countless times I hold no interest in it.


 

JM Hanes

Meant to write: They **were** a response to containment.

boris

the cure for BDS may well be worse than the disease

Except there is no cure, but I get the point and agree. Completely.

Sue

I have my own long list of what I would call Bush's considerable failures, but it doesn't resemble yours in almost any regard.

I too have a list, though it isn't very long, that doesn't resemble our dear leader's list.

I wonder why he [Tom] included the unity of our country? We were about as divided as you could get in 2000 and have stayed that way, with a brief honeymoon after 9/11. That honeymoon would have been over no matter what Bush had done. The presidency and congressional seats mean more than unity of country for either party.

I don't blame Bush for the republican House and Senate squandering their own good will.

And I don't have the ability to know what would have happened in Iraq if Bush had kept the Iraqi army intact. No one does. It is speculation on their part and there is no way to argue against their speculation.

Elliott

Excellent stuff, JM Hanes and Sue.

JM Hanes

anon:

I don't think we're really competing with Noonan for Tom's respect. It seems to me he is open to a thoughtful opinion whether he agrees with it or not, which is refreshing. In fact, I can't really think of another blog where I'd be as surprised by the host's own bottom-line opinion, as I was by the opinion I just responded to -- and thanks to that host's generosity and good will, I've been posting here for a looong time. His speedy trashing of Previous & Next is the kind of respect I can live with!

Sue

What really bugged me about Noonan' article is this...

a fine and bitter conservative sense that he has never had to stand in his stockinged feet at the airport holding the bin, being harassed. He has never had to live in the world he helped make, the one where grandma's hip replacement is setting off the beeper here and the child is crying there. And of course as a former president, with the entourage and the private jets, he never will. I bet conservatives don't like it. I'm certain Gate 14 doesn't.

...was the bitch even around when 9/11 happened? Bush created this? I bet this conservative doesn't mind it.

Thomas

Apparently Peggy is looking in the wrong places.

I'm frustrated with Bush, and disappointed after a fashion. I'm frustrated that he won't stand up and explain and argue, and to a certain extent that he can't do those things as effectively as he needs to. He came into office wanting to expand the powers of the presidency, regaining some of what had been lost, while also shrinking the presence of the presidency. Perhaps the shrinking of presence was a mistake.

I find most of the complaining about Iraq to be misplaced. The war, whatever the arguments for or against, was inevitable; the conflict began in '91 and everyone knew (but many have forgotten) that a resolution was only a matter of time.

I do like Noonan's complaints about air travel. Not because I agree or disagree, but only because they reveal her to be an advocate for her class. (See also the recent musing about air travel from Judge Posner. Posner, a libertarian, calls for additional regulation to benefit the professional class at the expense of the leisure traveler.) Most of us don't experience the indignities of the middle-aged woman at the hands of TSA very often, but Peggy sure does.

As for the rest: She includes in the litany the usual bits about spending, which is a fine complaint, if misplaced. Lots of money is and was wasted, but the cause of the spending increases is the war and entitlements. One is temporary and the other is popular and not going anywhere.

The part I do agree with is the longing for a world where conservativism was clear. I understand that longing, and I see it everywhere. Noonan has long understood, perhaps shared, the nation's exhaustion with war and its uncertainty and discomfort and ugliness. But longing for an easier time won't bring those days back. It is hard to know what conservativism means now, just as it is hard to know what liberalism now means. In an age of globalized terror and war and finance and financial meltdowns, all that's clear to me is that the old order is dead and that almost everyone wishes it weren't, because we all knew where we stood then.

Rick Ballard

"Thank you, TM for the rapid invalidation of Rick's criticism of your management skills."

My God, Elliot, consider how long that quagmire lasted and the suffering that it cost. There was obviously no plan going in and it took widespread criticism over a long period in order to effect the changes necessary to remedy the initial errors.

You're being far to kind to Tom. The damage to his reputation is irreparable.


boris

Can we fire Rumsfeld again?

M. Simon

My God, Elliot, consider how long that quagmire lasted and the suffering that it cost. There was obviously no plan going in and it took widespread criticism over a long period in order to effect the changes necessary to remedy the initial errors.

You're being far to kind to Tom. The damage to his reputation is irreparable.


Posted by: Rick Ballard

Rick,

It is really unfortunate the way you have taken our kind host to task. Totally uncalled for. Beneath you.

And BTW I LMAO.

bgates

he has squandered America's good will around the world
Or at least in Le Monde and Die Welt.

Walter

'suffering'

But the pea has been removed from beneath our mattresses and we can again rest peacefully.

Is it possible that the extent of rebellion is somewhat related to the concurrent technical issues? Tom didn't receive the same degree of dissent the last few times he has made this argument.

And I too appreciate his willingness to harbor those of us who hold differing opinions.

Just the same, the Yankees are overrated.

M. Simon

Thomas,

Loved it.

It is August 1914. The lights have gone out in Europe. We had our Gilded Age with Clinton, and like most of the rest of America at the time I was fine with all of it. The Peace Dividend. Everything. Billy Boy's philandering with a nice zaftig Jewish girl. Oh bring back those days when the most important thing we had to worry about was the Blue Dress with stains.

But on 11 Sept 2001 at 13:03:07z - 4 seconds before 2nd plane hit, I knew it was over.

Some still want to see the lights go back on. A return to what was and will never be again, at least for a very long time.

But I'm a War Horse. I march to the sounds of the guns and what were my words in the 4 seconds before the world changed forever for me and so many others?

"This means war"

The Gilded Age was fun while it lasted. I have no nostalgia for it. Only memories.

TexasToast

JMH

As usual, a thoughtful post. A few points.

He certainly upset the international status quo, but contra the inspirational vagueness of Obama rhetoric, real agents of change are more likely to be hated than loved.

Do you consider the reassertion of American exceptionalism a positive? It has certainly put our “soft power” accounts with the rest of the world in the red. Is this supposed to be a good thing?

Substantive change is certainly a “long hard slog” - Obama himself exemplifies the spadework of MLK and others, and MKL was indeed hated in his day. But MLK’s goals were clear. What, in your opinion, were GWB’s goals in Iraq? Those advanced have been, to put it bluntly, a mishmash of anti-Terrorism, security from WMD threats, democratization, control of the straits, removing a tyrant, oil, security of Israel, etc. The continued effort to force the hand of his successor on the permanent basing issues in Iraq might be somewhat instructive. Do you really think we invaded Iraq to be an “agent of change” in the Arab world - or something else?

On the domestic front, Bush clearly failed to unite us, but we divided on our own devices, and it looks to me like the cure for BDS may well be worse than the disease.

He made no effort to unite us. His way or the highway – on appointments, environmental policy, tax policy, executive power – especially executive power.

He strained our military to the supposed breaking point because the idea that we would ever actually have to fight another "difficult" war died with the Soviet Union, and we happily set about spending our peace dividends elsewhere.

We were told this was not going to be a difficult war – last throws and all that stuff - our “shock and awe” Rumsfeldian military would allow us to fight it on the cheap (in fact, for free - Iraqi oil revenues would pay for it). Petraeus is indeed rewriting the counter insurgency manual – but it has been an awfully expensive lesson to date and I doubt that developing a new method of counter insurgency warfare was one of GWBs goals in the first instance. If it had been, don’t you suspect most people would have passed up that particular opportunity?

Unfortunately, we had to learn that lesson the hard way, but then that's hardly new. Nor is the fact that those who insist on looking backward at the war have yet to comprehend it.

Comprehend what? The war as an opportunity to master counter insurgency?

clarice

Yes, I believed the world had changed, too, on that day. For months I was depressed, and yet most people I ran into didn't feel that way at all. Maybe it's better to go thru life lobotomized or valiumed or just plain stupid.

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Wilson/Plame