Thursday, August 18, 2005

My response to Running for the Right

RTFR has posted a lengthy rebuttal to my earlier comment on his blog regarding his posting about Cindy Sheehan. My comment got larger and went after the reasons (or lack thereof) given for the war in Iraq.

This is my reply to his response.

OK. So you claim that you regret the loss of every casualty in this war. But then you turn and state that, since Cindy Sheehan previously objected to the lack of justification and objectives for this war, her loss of her son in Sadr City gives her no special standing to demand an explanation for his death from the man who sent him there.

Really? Who cares what her previous position on the war was? She paid the highest price any mother can pay for this war which, as nearly as I can determine, was nothing more than an attempt by Bush and Cheney to intimidate the Iranians, overawe the Muslims in the Middle East with out unsurpassed military power, and remove an irritating but non-threatening dictator. The latter goal seems to me to justify us going after Robert Mugabe, too. But those goals are mere supposition on my part because Bush/Cheney has never presented a serious and believable case for the war since their WMD lies fell apart under the light of truth.

What sacrifice have you made for this war? Do you have any real reason to care if we are fighting in Iraq? Nothing, and no. No matter what Cindy Sheehan's previous view of the war was, she has paid as high a price as a mother can pay. She has a right to demand a justification from the people who wanted this war so badly that they lied, cheated, and who knows? Even stole? to start it and invade Iraq.

We all have that right, but she has paid more than most of us to ask that question. And what answer do any of us get? Pure political pablum. Our soldiers and Marines are dying for truth, justice and American way of life. They are dying to take freedom to the Iraqis. [Hey? What about Zimbabwe? Don't they deserve freedom too?]

Why should I give her a megaphone? [You overrate my traffic on my web magazine, I fear.] Because I want the people who started this abortion of a war to explain why and to take responsibility for what they did.

You undermine your entire case when you state "If it hasn't been honestly explained, then who are you to judge whether or not it's worthwhile? Wouldn't you need to know the explanation in order to make that determination?" You are admitting the war has NOT been adequately explained, and that without that explanation the public cannot make a reasonable cost/benefit judgment that supports the lives and treasure we are wasting in the sands of Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan and her son Casey have paid the cost. What is the benefit that offsets it? "Freedom in Iraq?" That hasn't been enough justification for us to invade Zimbabwe, Cuba, or the rather nasty dictatorships north of Afghanistan whose names contain too many consonants and "Z's" to be pronounceable.

Your argument that we cannot now unilaterally withdraw because Iraq will collapse if we do ignores the fact that it was our initial invasion that caused the instability there in the first place. Essentially it is an argument that as long as we are fighting there, we have not lost. That is the same argument that kept the U.S. in an unwinnable war in Southeast Asia for way too long. It is no better as an argument now. Essentially your argument is that we are fighting because we are fighting.

Bush still needs to stand accountable for the invasion that set all of this mess into play, and at least honestly explain why he decided to destroy Iraq, spend $5 billion per month and an cause increasing number and rate of both American and Iraqi deaths and casualties in the process. I think Cindy Sheehan has the right to demand that Bush stand accountable for his failure. So far he and the entire right have been remarkably capable of avoiding accountability for the actions of this President.

Your attempt to blame Casey Sheehan for his own death because he volunteered to join the marines is disgusting. I don't care what the source of a soldier or marine is, volunteer, draft or what. You don't waste their lives and then try to blame them for their own deaths. You don't waste their lives - period!

As a commissioned officer I was taught to accomplish the mission and to protect my troops. When there is no mission, then troops protection is the top priority.

We have NO MISSION in Iraq! We are just THERE! Our presence is bringing out the insurents and causing a large number of the population to at least passively support the insurgents. We don't have enough reliable troops on the ground to pacify the place, and we don't have a strategy for using our inadequate forces to win - we don't even have a decent set of objectives that define winning.

Instead we have a hope. We hope the Iraqi government we have installed [to replace the one we unnecessarily destroyed] can get together to agree on the structure of a new government. They just missed the deadline for agreeing on a Constitution because the Iraqi powers cannot agree on a single think that was to go into the Constitution. There is no reasonable indication that will change. There will be a document produced, but it will be dead-on-arrival. But that doesn't really matter. There is a deadline, and it is next Summer.

Regarding the proposal that we unilaterally withdraw from Iraq, I don't propose that. I predict it.

We will be effectively out of Iraq by September 2006 regardless of the cost to Iraq or anyone else. One reason is that the U.S. military is now on the edge of destruction because of the war in Iraq and because of the refusal of the Bush administration to make a case for focusing American resources on winning the war there. See Politics Plus Stuff for one significant reason (and to give me more traffic!) If you want to see what I think will happen in Iraq, go Here.

The biggest casualty of our unilateral withdrawal is not going to be in Iraq. It will be here when the Bush administration is blamed for the failure of their actions.

Your accusation that failure to support this abortion of a war will benefit terrorists ignores the fact that it is the very existence of this war that has provided the greatest support for the terrorists. Had the U.S. not invaded Iraq, Osama bin Laden would have faded into the mountains of Pakistan and into obscurity. [I supported and still support the war in Afghanistan.]With more resources and greater international cooperation focused on him, Osama might even have been captured by now. Bush, Cheney and the invasion of Iraq have been his biggest promoters.

The battle against terrorists will progress no more badly once we are out of Iraq than it is now. Any allegation to the contrary from you is mere political rhetoric which you cannot support.

Yours is a very weak justification for our continuing to fight a war we didn't need to fight in the first place, at very high cost to both America and Iraq, and with little or no prospect of gain as an outcome. Cindy Sheehan's presence in Crawford is an effort to get Bush to take responsibility for his screw-up. She puts a face on the effort, and your objection to her is based in her effectivness at personalizing the general disgust at the failed voluntary Bush War and the public demand that he take responsiblity for his clear failure in Iraq.

My comment regarding Rumsfeld's attitude on the capabilities of airpower to win wars was, as you suggest, a reflection of my bias against a long-term attitude that I have seen held by military aviators since WW II. My bias, however, results from recognition that the promises of airpower have never panned out strategically. That is not to say that strategic and tactical bombing is not highly successful. It just does not win ground wars. [It is, however, the key to surface naval combat since WW II.]

The aviators oversold strategic bombing in WW II, they oversold the potential of strategic and tactical bombing in the 50's, and the invention of smart bombs has brought the same argument back again. Rumsfeld's history as a naval aviator from the 50's and 60's makes it very reasonable to associate him with this on-going argument.

As powerful as military bombing has been and continues to be, there is no historical evidence that it ever won a war without boots on the ground to follow it up. Efficient airpower has been oversold, and I suspect that it contributed to Rumsfeld's failure to adequately plan for the post-combat occupation in Iraq.

Speculation regarding Rumsfeld's attitude on my part? Of course.

Everything about this administration is speculation. They have brought secrecy to a high art, and many of the things they do tell the public have been shown to have little connection with fact. They tell us very little and their history of omissions and lies make it unreasonable to ever believe the little they do tell us unless we can get independent corroboration.

We Americans are the new Kremlin watchers, except that instead of the Kremlin we are applying the same techniques to the White House.


RFTR said...

I'm sorry, that's entirely my fault—I made the mistake of assuming that you spoke the English language.

I didn't say that the loss of her son gives her no special standing, I said that the loss of her son lends no additional strength to her argument. You clearly can't understand the difference between those two statements, so I won't waste time explaining it.

What sacrifice have you made for this war? Do you have any real reason to care if we are fighting in Iraq? Nothing, and no.

I have not had to make any significant sacrifice for this war—but to say that means I have no real reason to care if we are fighting it is absolute crap. Fighting something yourself is not the only justifiable reason to care whether it is faught or not. Communism had no affect on most of the world's population, and most people had to make little-to-no sacrifice to defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War—does that mean we should have let the Warsaw Pact countries languish under that terrible system without making any kind of effort to overcome it? Don't be stupid.

I'm sorry you think that freedom is "political pablum." I really am. I pity that you have no idealism left in your stone cold heart. And YES. If you would listen more to people like me, instead of assuming what we believe, you'd know that I do think we need to free the people of Zimbabwe and other countries around the world. But we can't do it all at once—and successfully accomplishing that goal in the model of Iraq can only serve to embolden people who yearn for freedom around the globe. That's the whole point. If we pull this off, then we start moving around and tipping other dominos. I'm sorry that you're so proud of your freedom that you want to exercise it to keep others from sharing in it.

And now we're back to where you lose track of the English language.

You undermine your entire case when you state "If it hasn't been honestly explained, then who are you to judge whether or not it's worthwhile? Wouldn't you need to know the explanation in order to make that determination?" You are admitting the war has NOT been adequately explained [...]

Hm. So you didn't see the big "If" at the beginning of that sentence? Or the alternative case presented immediately following it? If you can't read the words on the screen, then why waste time by responding?

You keep making the point that "hey, we're not freeing these people over here, so why should we free those people over there?"

BECAUSE WE CAN'T DO IT ALL AT ONCE. We have to start somewhere, and as long as there are people like you whining that if we can't do it all, we shouldn't do any, the world will continue to languish. I thought liberals were supposed to be the compassionate ones, but apparently they only care about themselves. Answer me one question: Why is an American life more valuable than an Iraqi life?

You keep saying that you think Cindy Sheehan has the right to ask these questions—and you're right! Everyone does! But you still haven't explained why the loss of her son makes her position any more tenable—and that's because you can't and that's because it doesn't.

I don't blame Casey Sheehan for his own death—nor do I think the lives of soldiers should be willfully sacrificed. I do, however, think that to take him out of the equation and allow his mother to speak for him is absurd. Without knowing what he really believed, I think it's unforgiveable to pretend that he was some sort of victim in all of this. For all you know, he lay dying in that dusty street with a smile on his face—for all you know, he had a clear understanding of the mission and was proud to be a part of it. The several marines and soldiers that I know who've been back and forth to Iraq since the invasion all feel that way.

Did you read the Chrenkoff piece I linked to? Did you realize he puts one of those out every two weeks? And do you still have the gall to claim that we have no mission in Iraq? If so, then you really don't understand the English language. Things are changing, and for the better. It's slow, and it's not yet reflected in the body count—but it's coming.

(By the way, stop using "aborted war" with negative connotations, unless you're willing to use "aborted baby" with the same).

Really? Bin Laden would have fallen into obscurity? You really believe that? So then how come a few months ago you were bitching that we hadn't caught him? Sounds to me like it doesn't matter if we'd caught him or not.

As far as Iraq drawing out the terrorists, well, it didn't create the environment. The problem is, these people (Syrians, Saudis, etc.) were waiting for a reason. Iraq provided it, sure, and they went there for jihad—but who knows what else might have happened in the world to get them off their butts and start attacking. I'd much rather we control that environment, control the theater of battle, than simply waiting for the right thing to set them off and have to deal with another 9/11. I know you don't agree with it, but I'm hoping you can at least understand it. Then again, maybe the words don't make sense.

And this... this is total crap:
Yours is a very weak justification for our continuing to fight a war we didn't need to fight in the first place, at very high cost to both America and Iraq, and with little or no prospect of gain as an outcome. Cindy Sheehan's presence in Crawford is an effort to get Bush to take responsibility for his screw-up. She puts a face on the effort, and your objection to her is based in her effectivness at personalizing the general disgust at the failed voluntary Bush War and the public demand that he take responsiblity for his clear failure in Iraq.

Yes, my effort is weak, in your opinion. But you've not established that it is actually weak with any kind of certainty. And for you to move from that weak-ass claim to an assertion of what goes on in my head—well, stop coming to my blog. I don't like people accusing me of thoughts I don't have. If you want to attack me for the words I put on the page (something, as I've pointed out, you seem incapable of), well then fine. But don't tell me why I don't like a person or why I don't like a policy unless I've communicated that. I've expressed absolutely nothing that implies I'm insulted, threatened, or upset by her "effectiveness" at characterizing public opinion. I'm bothered by the media coverage she gets, but that's because I don't think she has a particularly salient message, and because they aren't covering things like her abject anti-semitism. Beyond that, don't tell me what I believe—I'm perfectly capable of expressing such things myself.

Don't bother visiting RFTR anymore unless you can deal with the words I put in front of you.

RFTR said...

Oh, and read this.

Then don't ever try to convince me of the compassion of liberalism.

Richard said...

I do not defend the Saddam Hussein regime, just as I don't defend Mugabe or any number of other dictators we didn't consider it cost effective to remove.

Your failure to recognize that we reserve wars to those cases in which America is under direct of attack seems woefully blind of you.

As a comment on your first statement, show me how there is going to be "Freedom" in the Shia theocracy that we have created in what was once Iraq? In the mouth of G.W. Bush the word "Freedom" is a feel-good statement everyone supports, like Mom and Apple pie. Bush simply has no concept of how to achieve it, and the deaths he has caused do not achieve "Freedom" for anyone.

Your failure to recognize that you are being conned every time Bush opens his mouth in public is lamentable. Apparently Yale is not educating its graduates any more.

RFTR said...

Way to dodge all of my points save one. Impressive.

And you didn't even address the one. I know traditionally we have reserved military action for direct attack—you know, like in Vietnam and North Korea. Good tihng we waited until they attacked us!

And I'm saying that we should take care of Mugabe et al., but have to move one step at a time. The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step and all that jazz. Just because we can't do it all at once, just because no part of it will be easy, just because you and so many others will lose the stomach for it does not mean it's the wrong thing to do. These people deserve freedom just as much as you and I—and we should help them to achieve it.

Furthermore, to imagine that freedom in a Muslim country will mean an absence of any Muslim beliefs in their Constitution is absurd. I do not expect their free republic to mirror the United States. They will acknowledge Allah in their Constitution, and that's fine. There will be some elements of Sharia law that they will observe, and while that's not ideal, it's a far cry from the tyranny of Saddam.

I can't speak to Bush's intent with his use of the word "freedom," or what he envisions as he says it, because I lack the amazing talent you seem to have to tell me what people are thinking (first me, and now the President). I know that when I use it, I have a very open-ended definition in mind. The threat of being fed into a wood-chipper just because your "elected" leader doesn't like you isn't it.

Having representatives get together with the right to disagree over the form a Constitution should take IS. There is still a lot of violence and danger in Iraq—no question. But the fact that they can even discuss these issues says a lot.

And the fact that you don't think their worthy of having that liberty screams a lot.

Richard said...

My. I wasn't expecting you back. Your angy and irrational rant seems to speak for itself.

I notice that you are able to read my mind regarding who I consider worthy of what. I don't recall ever saying the Iraqis are not "worthy" of obtaining "Freedom." My statement is that they are not going there now, and Bush's idiotic and purposeless invasion is not likely to get them any closer to it than they were before. That invasion caused most of today's problems. It didn't do much good on balance.

Regarding the alleged constitution that the government we imposed on Iraq is crafting, they currently agree on nothing and the deadline was last Monday.

There will be a piece of paper called a constitution written. It will have no more effect than the Iraqi law that set last Monday as the deadline for presenting the final proposed Constitution.

Instead we are going to take that figleaf constitution and use it to justify operation bug out next Summer. After that, Iraq will break up into three political entities, with civil war continuing in Baghdad and probably war between the Sunnis and the Kurds over the oil fields. The South is going to become a theocracy in which, among other things, most of the freedoms women have had in Saddam's Iraq are going to disappear.

Very little of this is good, and none of it is at all anything we can do a damned thing about. Bush, for reasons he has not yet disclosed and probably never will dare to now, set all this in motion with his invasion.

Most of it was presented in the book in which his father explained why he did not go on to Baghdad in the Persian Gulf War.