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Iraq

The Hubris of Nation Builders

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Guest Post by Lee A. Presser

My friend Bill Hennessy wrote an excellent 11-12-16 blog analysis of Anglo-American history and how it relates to Mr. Trump’s victory (http://hennessysview.com/2016/11/12/how-the-second-born-twin-can-be-older-than-the-first/).  After reading that blog I phoned him to add a tangential thought.  Bill suggested I share the thought with you.

It took 561 years (from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence) for the idea of limited government and political equality to infuse itself into Anglo-American culture.  By 1776 enough people believed in the possibility, that they were willing to fight for it and organize a government based on it after a battlefield victory.

In 2003 George W. Bush sent American troops into Iraq to remove its leader, Saddam Hussein.  At the start of the war, 72% of Americans interviewed in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll were in favor the war, while 25% were opposed.  That support rapidly eroded when the public discovered that after Saddam Hussein was in custody, President Bush intended to keep troops in Iraq until that country was democratized and a representative form of government was inaugurated.

President Bush had a strong mandate from the American people to win a war and remove an evil leader.  He did not have a mandate to sacrifice American lives to democratize Iraq.

Unlike the Anglo-American quest for limited government and political equality, the Iraqi people had been on no such journey.  They never imaged limited government as a cultural goal nor were they going to organize a government based on it after a battlefield victory.  Their culture, like most Middle-Eastern and Asian cultures, believed in strong leadership from the top down.  Individuals owed allegiance to the head of the family, the various family leaders submitted politically and militarily to the strongest leader.

Had President Bush crushed Saddam Hussein, hung him and his immediate chain of command, warned the successor leaders of Iraqnot to attack American interests again, he would have ended the war there and then.

Apparently, President Bush thought the Iraqi people could immediately achieve what it took Anglo-American culture over 500 years to accomplish; for the idea of limited government and political equality to infuse itself into a culture.  He insisted on providing the Iraqi people a form of government they did not seek and most knew little about.

Greek philosophers had a word for President Bush’s thinking process, hubris.

Can You Trust Barack Obama for 4 More Years?

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Barack Obama came to office promising to heal the planet (I didn’t know it was sick), lower the waters, and end war as we knew it “whilst waking on water squirting wine out his ass,” to borrow William S. Burroughs’s anti-Christian blasphemy in Naked Lunch. (Funny. I don’t recall reading about Christians blowing up embassies over that book’s publication.)

world-on-fire

Four years later, The One might want to let the waters rise. Maybe they’ll put out the fires in the Middle East.

When Obama took office, the only international hotspots were Afghanistan and Iraq, where allied forces, led by the USA, had Iraq all but tamed. Afghanistan was ready for a surge to bring that conflict into its waning days.

Four years later, The One sees Chinese demonstrators threatening nuclear annihilation of Japan, Iran warming up its nuclear arsenal, Israel preparing to forcibly demilitarize Iran, and American embassies under deadly attack around the world.

When Obama took office, he promised that Muslim hostility would ease.

Four years later, Muslims around the world feel free to rape and murder ambassadors from the USA.

The most common mistake made by man in looking forward is believing that the future will be a linear progression of the recent past. Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a book about this fallacy. So did William Strauss and Neil Howe.

History does not move in a linear progression for long. Events interrupt the best laid plans.  This is why I don’t really care much about a candidate’s position on  issues of the day, except as guideposts to understanding the candidate’s world view and mindset. The issues that weigh on an office holder are usually very different from the ones he campaigned on. Instead, I want to know why the candidate takes a position. What’s his moral and philosophical reasoning for arriving at a conclusion.

More importantly, we should ask if a candidate has the temperament to deal with crises and the humility to realize that his grand strategy might fall victim to Black Swans.

Barack Obama has proven he lacks the temperament required of the American President. We always knew he was born without humility.

Barack Obama’s presidency has made the world, not just the USA, a worse place to live.

It’s time for him to go.

If You Want Something Done Right . . .

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. . . you have to do it yourself.

That’s the MSM’s motto over the upcoming Patraeus report to Congress on progress in Iraq.

The facts are obvious:  since the surge and offensive began, the terrorists in Iraq have become less effective.  The surge and the offensive are working.  Those who agree with this view inlude these liberals and Democrats:

I can’t the MSM disagree, but I can say they don’t care.  They want America to lose the war, and they won’t sit idly by while George Bush and the military go out and win this thing.

The MSM counted on the insurgents to stage massive attacks prior to the Patraeus report to Congress.  So far, that hasn’t happened.  The MSN, particular through their Associated Press, have filled our heads with every negative story on Iraq they can find–even if they have to make them up. 

If mainstream reporters had any guts, they’d strapped bombs to themselves and detonated them up in malls. They’d join the terrorists outright in the war against Western Civilization. 

But these AP cowards are just that:  cowards.  They run gratuitous, negative statistics about Iraq and ONLY negative statistitics.  They intentionally bury good news out of Iraq.   They invent negative statistics when no one else will provide them.  When nothing else works, they conduct a slanted poll attempting to prove that most American believe Patraeus’s report is a lie.   

How do we start a new service for people who don’t hate America?

Where I stand on Iraq

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I stand for total victory in Iraq.

Background

Some say that I blindly support President Bush and everything he does. I do not. Nor do I publicly lambaste his missteps the way others, like Peggy Noonan, do. This blog, I hope, will explain to my readers and friends how I can hold several seemingly incongruous positions on Bush and the War.

  • The United States, the free world, in fact, was justified in invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam
  • The war in Iraq was not successful in its early days despite the perception of a rout
  • The administration’s greatest failure was kowtowing to the left
  • The symptom of that kowtowing was establishing a defensive posture instead of continuing the attack
  • Donald Rumsfeld failed the President by refusing to return to an offensive strategy
  • The key to victory is ruthless aggression
  • Republicans should limit criticism of Bush to recommendations that will achieve victory

Justification

Following 9/11, President Bush told Peggy Noonan in a private meeting that every night he goes to bed expecting to be woken and told that Saddam has unleashed a WMD in America. I don’t believe he was lying or exaggerating to her. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton cited the same intelligence that kept Bush awake at night. In her support for the war, Hillary Clinton was unequivocal: Saddam is a threat to his neighbors and, through terrorists, to the United States directly. Having experienced terrorism’s capabilities first hand, President Bush had no choice but to take America to war. He also had no choice but to win quickly.

Early Flaws in Iraq

The military, the White House, Congress, the press, and the people told themselves that first 100 days of the war were an overwhelming success. But on the night that the US Army overran the last of Saddam’s palaces in Baghdad, I saw the seeds of the next four years planted. I was on the phone with my, then, girlfriend watching young Iraqi men, some in uniform, walking and laughing through Baghdad’s streets even as US troops took hot showers in Saddam’s palace. I said to her, “I know this sounds cold, but we should be shooting those people, not letting them walk away. We will fight them again.”

That was April, 2003. I was right as much as I wish I’d been wrong. (I think I blogged about it, but a back-up problem in 2005 lost a lot of files from that period.)

War is for the ruthless. Not the cruel or criminal, but ruthless. Once a government commits to war, once an ounce of American blood spills in war, the President is obliged to achieve unconditional surrender of the enemy, whether that enemy is a traditional state or shadowy terror group. In Iraq, America’s hatred of war – a flaw – drove us to declare victory (“mission accomplished”) and go home. But in May 2003, the job was only half done. There was still the shadowy terrorist group to deal with.

Instead of dealing with the terrorists and thugs head on, the Pentagon and the White House succumbed to liberal pressure to back off quickly. We stopped shooting long before the enemy ever did. By declaring victory too soon, we prolonged the war by at least 2 years, in my opinion. I expected that opposition to a new government would end in 2005.

Kowtowing to the Left

The early flaw, then, was being kindhearted to our own detriment that that of the Iraqi people. The left in America and elsewhere was all for this. They wanted us to get our heads handed back on a platter, but their public mantra was to be kind to everyone so that everyone will like us. All that huggie, smarmy crap they feed us every time an enemy threatens to kill us all. “Just try to understand where they’re coming from.”

The President and the Pentagon had reservations about this, I’m sure. But they didn’t want to be seen as killers. They hoped to extend the positive press by becoming every Iraqi’s buddy. The Pentagon flooded the media with photos of dirty, tired soldiers accepting freshly picked dandelions from smiling Iraqi children. It made me feel good, too. I know the kinds of people who were on the ground, and they are decent, loving human beings doing a horrible job. But the images were deceiving.

Going on the Defensive

As we know now, as some of us feared then, the monster was licking his wounds and steeling his resolve to fight back. He had bent, not broken. We, on the other hand, were like the boxer who, after four rounds of scoring with many landed blows, decides to skip and hop and put on a show for the audience rather than putting his opponent on the canvas and hitting the shower. We danced and aped for the crowd, but the challenger was finished.

Another analogy is the hated and dangerous “prevent defense” in football. This a horrible strategy in which a team with a lead concedes the entire field, save for their own end zone. The Rams tried this in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. The Pats covered 70 yards in half a minute and kicked the winning field goal as time ran out.

The defensive strategy got a lot of good people killed and wounded.

Rumsfeld’s Follies

By June of 2005, it was clear that the strategy of waiting for the enemy’s bullets to run out was failing. Bush had just won re-election. He controlled Congress. The press were afraid to mount a charge against him, as his poll numbers rose after the election. The time was ripe for a surge. The left would have balked at throwing in another 50,000 or 100,000 troops, but Bush could easily have ignored the complaints.

Rumsfeld, though, is a very proud man. The defensive hunker was either his idea or one he publicly endorsed. Going back on offense meant admitting that he’d made a mistake when he put on the prevent defense in June 2003. For more than a year, Donald Rumsfeld held George Bush prisoner in a failed strategy. Bush should have fired him after the 2004 election, but one of Bush’s strengths and flaws his fierce loyalty to those loyal to him. Rumsfeld stood by Bush, and Bush would do the same for Rummy. After losing both houses of Congress, though, even Bush had had enough. He realized that Rumsfeld’s loyalty ended where Rumsfeld’s pride began.

Back on the Offensive

Unlike the Rams in 2002, Bush had time left on the clock—two years, in fact. After firing his defensive coordinator, Rumsfeld, he let the new SECDEF describe a fairly bold (but not bold enough) tactic: The Troop Surge.

The left screamed bloody murder over this. Democrats claimed a mandate to get out of Iraq immediately (which wasn’t true), and here was Bush doing the opposite. Again, if liberals are angry, you’re doing something right.

The surge is working. Liberals like Dick Durbin and Michael O’Hanlon have admitted that the surge is working, that things are getting better in Iraq, and that the media and other liberals are lying to the American people about it.

Of course, things are getting better. We’re on offense. If Bush remembers to attack until the final buzzer, he will walk away with total victory. It will have taken too long and cost too many lives, but it will be victory nonetheless.

Republican Disloyalty

Which is why Republicans must knock off the “Republicans hate Bush, too” talk and focus on victory, on outcomes. Politically, vilifying a Republican President whom we’ve vocally supported in two elections is really, really stupid. The mistakes he made were made during his first term, and we all saw the writing on the wall in April 2003. The Republicans who now claim to “hate” Bush show their own selfish stupidity with the comment. What they hate is that the GOP lost Congress, and Bush is the easiest person to blame. Do they look in the mirror? Did they write letters to the editor every day for three years decrying the unbalanced, anti-American spin in the news? Did they have the courage to tell their friends, “We should have killed more of them when the war started instead of claiming ‘Mission Accomplished’ and popping champagne?” No. They watched their 401Ks return to pre-9/11 numbers and ignored everything they could about politics.

And I’m one of them. Like most of the right, I left the President blowing in the wind for a couple of years. I worried about my life and let him deal with his.

We all let him down, the same way Rummy did. We told him everything was okay when it wasn’t—Peggy Noonan included. So before you go claiming to “hate” Bush, think about this: if you had reservations about your neighbor painting his siding so close to the Webber Kettle, does that mean you don’t try to rescue his kids when the house catches fire? Your neighbors have sons and daughters and spouses and daddies and mommies in harm’s way. When the war was “popular,” you offered philosophical reasons for your “reservations,” but, by and large, you enjoyed the American prestige. Now the house is on fire, and you sit smugly in your living room, watching it burn, gratified that you can now say, “I told you so.”

Keep your mouth shut. Remind us when this is all over that you had “reservations.” No, you didn’t shout from the rooftops, “Don’t do it.” You didn’t write long, logical essays about why Saddam is not a threat. You simply kept silent reservations and waved your six-inch by four-inch American flag some American Legionnaire handed you at the Support the Troops rally. Your President is now the only man alive who can bring them home victorious. Hating him might have to wait.

The Left’s Foreign Policy

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The left’s foreign policy is both domestic and global.

John Hawkins, in Right Wing News’s Q&A, responds to a question posed by RtWingNutCase, to wit: should the US pull out of Iraq prematurely, would the left turn its activism toward influencing a withdrawal from Afghanistan?

Hawkins correctly says, “Yes,” but he stops short of speculating on motives. I won’t.

The left’s motive in withdrawing from the world is to weaken America and the West. The left hates Western Civilization the way Hitler hated Jews, the way the Cromwell hated Irish Catholics. They give not a hoot for American soldiers’ lives nor for the tax dollars spent on the war. They care nothing for Iraqis whom they claim suffer more harshly today than under Saddam. They really don’t care which party controls the White House or Congress, save for one compelling distinction: the Democrats have shown an obsequious willingness to acquiesce to leftist demands to weaken American while the GOP resists such suicidal tendancies.

In a sense, no voting bloc typifies the “lesser of two evils” approach to voting more completely than American leftists. They prefer a Soviet style choice of non-competing candidate from the same state-owned party. Knowing that a string of military failures would accelerate the fall of the United States and the decline of Western civilization, democracy, and capitalism, the left would neuter America’s ability to both project strength abroad and to defend itself against outside invaders. The left, after all, supports the right of Mexican criminals to parasitically suck the wealthy teat of American capitalism. Our surplus is not ours, they believe, but the world’s. From each according to his ability, to each according to his sloth-like expectations.

Leftism, then, is a proclamation that laziness and sloth are not rights but duties. Hard work and surplus are not virtues but crimes. Global warming, universal health care, and military incapacitation are all means to the end of making the work ethic a social sin.

I can conclude only that Buckley’s foreword to God and Man at Yale was something of a universal truth: the battle between individualism and collectivism is the same as the battle between good and evil, between God and Satan, only fought on a different plane.

Given that stark contrast, do you see how much rides on every little battle with the other side?

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Beth at MVRWC points out that the left’s tactics also derive from the KGB.

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