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April 10, 2007



I have recently begun changing my mind about Giuliani. Simply put, he seems far too ready to elide civil rights protections and to take an interventionist stance in moral matters. I think he's a man who cares about doing the right thing, but he seems to be under the impression that the Constitution shouldn't standing in the way of government fixes to whatever exigencies come along. Even if I agreed with his personal moral compass and practical solutions in every situation, there's a point past which I can't support that mode of operation because it does too much damage to the Constitution's ability to moderate government action.

This isn't a deal-breaker for me since he can't change things all by himself. Nonetheless, it's a very dangerous mindset for the most powerful person on the planet. If it were between McCain and Giuliani, I'd have to think much harder than before


"Far better than to elect someone who thinks the war was a mistake"

There's several positions here. Was the war a mistake ceteris paribus, or was it a mistake as-it-was? I mean, say I'm driving to the grocery store late at night. Is it a mistake?

Well, some people might say it's a mistake ceteris paribus, since I'm more likely to be sleepy and visibility is lower when it's dark out, etc. These arguments are easily dismissed - they in no way show that it's *always* wrong to drive to the grocery store at night. Same with that set of folks who will always oppose any military intervention.

So I get into my car, tipsy from a couple glasses of wine, and start driving to the store. I neglect to put on my seatbelt since it's such a short drive. On the way, however, I pass a police officer and suddenly feel paranoid that she'll notice I'm not wearing a seatbelt, so I sort of swerve as I hurry to plug it in. The tire leaves the road, I overcorrect, fishtail and smash into an oncoming car.

I would say that there's a variety of defensible ways in which to describe this trip to the grocery store at night as a mistake. Same with many of those who describe Iraq as a mistake.

Nathan Smith

The drunk-driving, car crash analogy is invalid because Iraq was already a car crash before the war started.

Come to think of it though, I would have no problem supporting someone who opposed the war back in 2003. First, there were sound reasons to oppose the war then, even if most peaceniks opposed the war more out of ignorance about the nature of Saddam's regime, and/or indifference to the welfare of non-Americans. Second, I care about the "forward offer." A candidate who voted against the war in 2003, but then, once we were in, refrained from anti-war rhetoric and seeking political advantage and just supported the troops, could be pretty appealing.

What I can't tolerate is the told-you-so attitude that some politicians have. First, even if it were completely valid, it's unhelpful and unchivalrous. Second, since most hawks stand by their initial support, simple respect requires that one offer straight arguments against that, rather than sneers. Third, it tends to go hand in hand with the sort of anti-war populism that takes cheap advantage of war casualties by acting as if every soldier's death is intolerable, which undermines the whole concept of a military. In theory, I could support a candidate who had opposed the war in 2003, but in practice I don't see it happening.

Nathan Smith

One more thing. The "damned incompetence" position on Iraq is still one of my pet peeves. While one should always regard the complaints of Monday-morning quarterbacks with a grain of salt, I think it is likely that the war could have been better managed. But this is typical of wars. In the Civil War, a whole series of Union generals starting with McClellan missed opportunities and got beaten by smaller armies. In World War I, generals were always ordering stupid over-the-top attacks where men rushed uselessly to their deaths. The management of war usually is, to a significant extent, incompetent. Voters can hope for, but should not expect, better.


The "Monday-morning quarterback" defense would hold more weight if it weren't for the fact that everyone (myself included, to some extent) assumed that many things were being done that weren't because it was just so obvious that they were necessary. I don't blame the Army or anyone else for our early lack of armor because it wasn't obvious that armor would be all that useful - in a normal war it's not and for the first 9 months or so it wasn't all that useful. Now, moving slowly to field the same after its necessity had become clear is less defensible, but even then I would have been okay if the explanation had been "well, we didn't expect things to get so much worse so quickly; we've now sped up our timeline". (Of course, that's not how it happened) Even the disbanding the Iraqi army was, though a horrendously boneheaded decision in hindsight, excusable in the rush of things coming from a flat-footed, inexperienced Bremer.

No, the obvious missteps were things like backing Chalabi; whose crookedness had ot be obvious to anyone reading his dossier anytime after 1996. Ignoring Army doctrine about the numbers needed for reconstruction. I was not familiar with the figures at the time, but one would expect, say, the Secretary of Defense to have taken a gander. Before I experienced it myself, I would never have believed how little emphasis or support was *really* given to intelligence. I would never have believed how little in the way of resources of expertise we constructed the US civil administration in Iraq. It's like no one was running the show.

And don't tell me it was a totally unprecedented enterprise. Every such thing is going to be different in some way, but since the end of the Cold War reams and reams of lessons-learned came out of the ups and downs of the Bush I/Clinton years and I cannot see how it is understandable to just ignore all that and proceed based on wishful thinking. Hell, even the AEI "plan" for the surge was just so much wishful thinking arranged in Powerpoint bullets.

Robert Lee made mistakes, some of them boneheaded, but history recognizes him as a wily general. McClellan also made mistakes, and history regards him as a deluded fool.

Fortunately, he wasn't president.


I agree with Nathanael that we must be careful in our after-the-fact analyses, because decisions are made, not in retrospect, but at the tip of the spear. We rightly should allow and expect a certain degree of mistakes and miscalculations. That being said, even though we must be careful in our critiques, we must also not shirk our responsibilities to proffer them. We must be careful to avoid the reductio ad absurdum inherent in micromanagement, and I think that's what Nathanael is most leery of. However, there are clear cases where we can say "things could have gone better if...", and be perfectly justified. Perhaps Nathanael himself doesn't recognize any such cases, but he can't deny that it's at least conceivable that others can and do recognize such cases. General Shinseki and Colin Powell are famous examples of people who had alternative ideas of how to proceed. Shall we automatically consider those ideas inferior since they weren't actualized? If we consider the "Monday quarterbacking" analogy, clearly it's not helpful to criticize the direction that the quarterback decided to scramble on a particular play that eventually led to a turnover and a touchdown for the other team. However, isn't it appropriate to criticize the quarterback for throwing an interception deep into triple-coverage that resulted in a touchdown for the other team when his own team was actually winning at the time? The quarterback's goal in this instance was to score a touchdown and win the game for his team and his fans, and so he took a great risk to try to make a great play. Why should we fault him for that? The reason we fault him for that is because the game would have been won if he had been less reckless in that particular decision. So we tell him he made a mistake, his coaches and teammates tell him he made a mistake, he practices the following week on that sort of situation so that if it ever comes up again he will make a better decision. Critique is a necessary part of learning and improvement. Yes, I agree with Nathanael that we should not criticize *everything*, but we should also not criticize *nothing*. We should criticize, we need to criticize, but only in the right amounts and about the right things. In a sense, Nathanael himself offers a criticism of Criticism. Is that ironic?


I should note that my previous post is mostly a response to previous attempts by Nathanael to defend Bush over the past few years. As I read it now, I realize it doesn't directly respond to other posts in this thread (except maybe the "Monday-morning quarterback" part). I apologize for that.

Val Larsen

Briefly on the war, after all these years, American casualties are still far below what most conjectured they would be (and what polls suggested the American people would accept) as the initial price of unseating Sadaam. And the money cost has been barely noticeable in our massive economy. So the most disspiriting thing about this war is that it has so clearly exposed the soft underbelly (a flaccid, inconstant public will) of the most promising agent for peace, stability, and growing liberty around the world--the United States. If Bush is ultimately judged to be a failure because of his intervention in Iraq, he will be a Romantic failure (in the manner of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats). And one might argue that it was his country that failed him (and humanity), not he who failed his country. It is almost inconceivable that the United States could lose this war given its relative military and economic power and the minimal cost in lives and treasure that war has exacted were it not for the ephermeral resolution of the people, a resolution that is undermined by a press that is, objectively (by the standards of almost all previous wars) allied with the enemy.


"American casualties are still far below what most conjectured they would be"

Especially from chemical weapons and other WMD. How fortunate that Saddam had no such to deploy!

Val Larsen

With respect to McCain, I think his chances of winning the Republican nomination are dim. While he has been good on the war, virutally all the Republican candidates are supportive of the war effort. And the war isn't the only issue. On most other issues of interest to mainstream conservatives, McCain has been inconstant, unpredictable. He is an inconstant friend of free markets, of free speech, and of freedom from judicial tyrrany. Witness McCain-Feingold and his role in the gang of 14. Since along with the war, conservatives tend to care most about free markets and the courts, McCain is poorly positioned on two of the three main domains of concern to conservatives. Make that three of the four. While (like Nathanel), I like McCain's stance on immigration, it is a third strike against him for many social conservatives. And in additon to those policy problems, McCain lacks the demonstrated managerial ability that Guilani and Romney both have. While his temperament was well calculated to help him bring honor to himself and his country in a North Vietnam prison camp (what a contrast with the recent British captives!), it is ill suited to governance. My guess is that the Republican nominee will be Romney or perhaps Fred Thompson, if he gets in. McCain has stiffed Republicans (or major constituent groups in the Republican party, e.g., Evangelicals) too often to win the Republican nomination.

Nathan Smith

Tom misses an important distinction in the role of criticism. Constructive criticism that leads to learning is fine and dandy. I have no doubt that the brains at West Point are analyzing events in Iraq in great detail, gleaning lots of lessons learned and lots of issues to be debated. But anger, resentment, bitterness, attempts at public humiliation, and so on, have no place in constructive criticism. They do, of course, have a major place in criticism of the Iraq War.

It's interesting that the things Nato *doesn't* blame the Army for-- lack of body armor, or disbanding the Iraqi Aramy-- are precisely the ones where the decisions are of a more technical nature. If you're going to say we should have sent more troops from the beginning, you can't answer that question just by looking at Iraq. More troops might help us in Iraq, but at an unacceptable cost elsewhere. The Secretary of Defense should "take a gander" at the Army's estimates of the number of troops needed, and of course he did so, but he can legitimately take more global factors into account as well.

Nato's response to Val's point-- "How fortunate that Saddam had no WMDs to deploy!"-- actually *underlines* Val's point. The US public is so stupid that it seems to think the lack of WMDs is some great humiliation for the Bush administration, when it should be regarded as a stroke of luck. I've sometimes argued that it's clear Bush and Blair really believed there were WMDs, because if they weren't almost certain of that, they would have made a different case for war in order to avoid the humiliation they eventually underwent. But it occurs to me now that Bush and Blair could have hoped to reap a rebound in popularity when it became clear they had overthrown Saddam at exactly the right time: *before* he could re-acquire WMDs, which he certainly intended to do when the sanctions regime unraveled.

This is actually a parallel between Iraq and the Crusades. The Crusaders tended to be militarily superior, man for man, to their Muslim opponents. They were often victorious when outnumbered, and hardly ever the other way around. They also had somewhat greater spontaneous solidarity among themselves than the feuding Muslim princes. And they probably treated their subjects better. Most importantly, they had a strange but potentially very important asset, the moral support, and the potential material support, of the states of western Europe. Twice, coalitions of European kings came to the aid of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. But both Crusades of the Kings were completely incompetent. The first crusade of the Kings arrived at a time when the Kingdom of Jerusalem had suffered an important setback, the destruction of one of its four great counties, and when it was in a perilous military situation, but not actually at war. The kings certainly should have attacked the Crusaders' main enemy, Nur-ed-Din, but their strategic vision was so faulty that they instead chose an attack on Damascus, a Muslim state which, however, was not allied to Nur-ed-Din, and was an important potential/intermittent Crusader ally. (Though admittedly the Frankish Syrian barons did nothing to set them straight.) The second Crusade of the Kings beat Saladin's armies a couple of times, then went home without even attacking Jerusalem because Richard the Lion-Hearted had a fit of chivalrous respect for Saladin.

Christendom had the resources, then, to sustain the Crusader states, but the amazing stupidity of the home front prevented those resources from being applied effectively. The stupid home front problem, though, is no accident. It is in part a function of the disinterestedness of the cause in question. Self-interest focuses the mind. A profit-maximizing corporation has a clear goal, which can focus its activities and provide accountability; a charitable NGO has much more difficulty measuring its success, thus raising the internal pay-off to lofty ideas and rhetoric, or to networking and cronyism, in the absence of more scientific, as it were, measurements of performance. Self-interested undertakings will tend to have a competence advantage over disinterested ones. But that doesn't mean disinterested undertakings are not worthwhile. Not at all.

Nathan Smith

re: "[McCain] is an inconstant friend of free markets, of free speech, and of freedom from judicial tyrrany."

Val no doubt knows more than I do about the details of these allegations. On free trade, McCain's pro-trade and pro-globalization rhetoric is impeccable. Has his voting record belied this? Yes, McCain voted against the first Bush tax cuts, but that just shows he cares about deficits, anyway he has reversed his position since. And he has always been better about pork than most of his Republican colleagues.

Free speech is an allusion to the McCain-Feingold Act. I think that's one of the issues that resonate with only a small fringe of the Republican right. As for freedom from judicial tyranny, McCain has consistently voted for conservative nominees, so this is presumably a reference to the "gang of 14" deal. I'm surprised that there is still conservative criticism of this. The Gang of 14 paved the way for the appointments of Supreme Court justices Roberts and Alito, and now that the Republicans have lost control of the Senate, the filibuster is the only thing protecting the Republicans from being run roughshod over in the Senate. I guess if you have strong views on the process issue of the judicial filibuster. I have no understanding of it myself, and the way right and left took sides on it always seemed very suspicious to me.

A quibble: "social conservatives" is not the right label for people who object to McCain's stance on immigration. Many social conservatives are Catholic, and most sympathize for many Catholic positions. And the Catholic Church is on the side of the angels with respect to immigration. The word for these people is "nativists."

If the charge against McCain is that he's "inconstant," Romney, who used to write flattering letters to planned parenthood, and whose health care plan in Massachusetts will surely strike many conservatives as socialist (though I realize there are two sides of that debate), is at least as inconstant as McCain. And Thompson avoids inconstancy only by having such a scanty record.

Why should Evangelicals dislike McCain so much? If the alternatives are Giuliani and Romney, McCain is the most pro-life of the three. And McCain may have less managerial experience than Giuliani and Romney (though not Thompson) but he has more legislative experience, which is very important if you want to get laws passed, and of course he has much more military experience, which is quite important during a war.

The conservative case against McCain doesn't make sense.


"So the most disspiriting thing about this war is that it has so clearly exposed the soft underbelly (a flaccid, inconstant public will) of the most promising agent for peace, stability, and growing liberty around the world--the United States."

In my opinion, the most disspiriting thing is that because of incompetence the US is unlikely to attempt other regime changes in the near future. I think it's unfair to attack the general public's will on this issue considering that some polls were 80% in favor of Bush and the war in Afghanistan at the beginning. Bush even had a large majority of support for invading Iraq. Claiming that the American people are weak-willed because they don't like how things have turned out is rather silly.


Regarding the Crusades, I find it odd that Nathanael seems to be defending them by giving a glowing review of a book about them and by comparing them to the Iraq war (which Nathanael approves of) here. Does Nathanael actually approve of the Crusades, or does he just wish they had been undertaken in a way that allows/encourages approval? Because as far as I'm concerned, I'm in the latter camp with regards to Iraq (and maybe the Crusades as well, depending on the imagined scenarios).

Calling the Crusader homefront "stupid" is also curious to me since it's obviously meant to apply by analogy to the American homefront as well. If we're so stupid, should we really be the ones attempting regime change in the first place? Maybe we should focus on becoming un-stupid before we try to fix problems in other countries? It's interesting that what once was pride in the American people turns to revulsion. It is the government's job to justify its actions/inactions, not the homefront. If the government can't find some way to rally public support, then maybe the cause isn't worth it (either that or maybe the government is simply incompetent at rallying support).

The American public is not "flacid" or "stupid". If those terms apply to America, I'd love to see what terms would apply to other countries. I'm kind of disgusted that loyalty to Bush would seem to trump loyalty to the American people in some circles. It's like listening to Arabs that apologize for Saddam (though, obviously that's an unfair comparison, it still bothers me in both cases). Bush might be a wonderful person, but he's a bad president. That's the reason people don't support him anymore. It's not because they're flacid and stupid.


a few more comments: The US public is probably mislead into thinking that the lack of WMD is a humiliation for Bush and Blair for the same reason everybody else in the world views the lack as a humiliation. Seriously, this whole debacle is like a case-in-point against preemptive war.

"More troops might help us in Iraq, but at an unacceptable cost elsewhere"

Is that so? Well, it doesn't appear to be such an unacceptable cost *NOW* does it? And here's a question - over the last five years, why hasn't the Army expanded to be able to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan? Why is it forced to keep shortening dwell time, to skip this or that "requirement", to expand the use of stop-loss... No, the "unacceptable cost" argument is complete horse-hockey. If the administration had been honest (apparently with *itself*) about the real cost of doing anything right, then we wouldn't be in this situation, but it's like everything had to be (not quite) done on the cheap. Politically cheap, anyway.

Yes it's fortunate that the initial war did not prove so difficult as many had feared, but the horror for Iraqis has turned out to be much worse than feared as the administration threw away chance after chance to correct course, apparently because it didn't want to believe things weren't going well. Yes, it always takes time to rebuild a country, but we've hardly been able to get started!

Yeah, I'm brimming with anger, resentment and bitterness. I don't know how I could *not* be so, under the circumstances. Most of the time I can at least attempt to focus on the future, but when folks like Val want to say that the whole thing's not such a debacle and want to identify the problem as lack of public commitment, I get simultaneously furious and frightened. It just enables further denial and more mistakes predicated on delusion.


One other item - would public opinion really be changing so much against the war if there had been the same number of deaths, but actual progress on the ground? Maybe it;s people disgust with FAILURE that's turning people against Bush, not inability to stomach loss.


Good point, Nato. We clearly have not lost much in this war, so why is public support waning? Because the administration has utterly failed. The Americans paying the most for these failures are the American servicemembers. The reckless use of the National Guard, Reserve, backdoor-draft (otherwise known as stop-loss), and Active Duty component has severely disrupted lives and destroyed futures if not resulted in outright death. The National Guard, Reserve, and stop-loss were only ever intended to be used in an emergency. These people are not career soldiers. They have lives, jobs, families, studies, commitments, plans for the future. They signed the dotted line to volunteer their services to their country in a limited capacity, not to become slaves of it. Active Duty servicemembers are also abused, though, it has been argued to me that it's their job and that they "signed the dotted-line and knew what they were getting into". I know what Nato's going through with his significant other, since my own wife has been told that the Navy might stop-loss her. That would effectively destroy the future we had planned together. The only way we could get out of it would be to get her pregnant earlier than we want to. Is that not sick and twisted? To have a child to get out of an already-expired military contract? But the alternative is accepting a future that neither of us wants, nor signed-up for. Let's hope we won't have to decide between those two options when the time comes.


McCain's "walking freely in Baghdad" stunt did not go well with me, by the way. I wasn't livid or anything - all politicians are going to grandstand a little from time to time - but I didn't appreciate the farce's rhetorical thrust.


And now they're going to extend tours by another three months? What next, all soldiers' contract expiration dates will be replaced with "until death"?

Nathan Smith

re: Iraq War-Crusades parallel.

I disapprove of the Crusades, in general, and support the Iraq War. But there are parellels nonetheless. Just because a cause is disinterested does not mean it's good. (That's a bit too glib, because whereas the First Crusade bears the mark of Cain forever because of the massacre at Jerusalem, at the end the Kingdom of Jerusalem was an established, semi-free state fighting against a tyrant: their cause became just, sort of, just when it was doomed.)

re: "would public opinion really be changing so much against the war if there had been the same number of deaths, but actual progress on the ground?"

Answer: Yes, absolutely. Americans wouldn't know progress on the ground if they saw it, if they even care anyway. But then, this isn't a counter-factual! Remember the three elections, remember the constitution, remember the growth of the Iraqi economy. There has been progress on the ground, you can't deny that. The trouble is that we've let the criterion of victory be civil peace, and this in a region racked by terrorism.

Tom and Nato act like they're agreeing when they're refuting each other: the anecdote about stop-loss policies shows that we're already straining the human-capital equation of our armed forces, so clearly we were in no position to spare still *more* troops. Expand the army? Fine, but it takes time. Anyway, that's not a failure of military strategy, that relates to broader issues of the national budget constraint etc.

If the charge here is that the US is, in effect, breaching its contract with its soldiers, that is a serious charge. If you want to say we're honor-bound to expand the army if we want to run a Bush-style foreign policy, fine. But the armed forces' personnel policies are a separate issue from strategy in Iraq.


"Expand the army? Fine, but it takes time."

So if we barely grow the Army in 5 years during which it's obvious we need to, whose fault is that? Did Congress refuse to fund Bush's urgent request back then? I believe the current appropriation is the first that hasn't just sailed through. Since armed forces personnel policies have a direct impact on our ability to execute in Iraq, I'd say the issues aren't all that separate*.

As for "we're already straining the human-capital equation of our armed forces, so clearly we were in no position to spare still *more* troops" - this is just completely mistaken. In 2003 we had far more leeway than we do today - only a small fraction of the military was resting and refitting from previous deployments and pretty much none of our equipment had holes in it. We could have maintained 2-300k boots on the ground for a year without really stressing the Army or reducing our presence in Korea, though of course I doubt we would, since we'd want to begin drawing down after the first few months and perhaps have been down to our current force levels by the end of 2003**. It would have been really expensive to get all those troops over there, though. That much is true. Heck if *I* were doing it back then, I'm sure I would have massively over-estimated the difficulty of it all and sent many more than was really necessary - Rumsfeld et al were right to think that it wouldn't take quite as many troops as doctrine would suggest. I might even have politically embarrassed my party to some extent when the Army ended up sending a bunch of units home after having done very little. But I don't think we would have lost.

As for the progress being made, well, the country has not stood still nor has it imploded Zimbabwe-style. Those are good things, and show how close we've come to actually succeeding at times. But we didn't.

*To some extent I don't blame the Army - or at least components of it - for doing whatever it can to accomplish its mission, including distorting the meaning of contracts in every way it can. Is it truly *breaching* the contracts? No. The nature of them is that the Army can pretty much keep you in forever without literally breaching the contract as long as the DoD authorizes it.

**I say this based on the fairly optimistic attitude I think Iraqis took toward American intervention early on. For the purposes of this prediction I presume us doing a good job out the gate, allowing a relatively small number of troops to suffice.

Nathan Smith

re: "In 2003 we had far more leeway than we do today - only a small fraction of the military was resting and refitting from previous deployments and pretty much none of our equipment had holes in it. We could have maintained 2-300k boots on the ground for a year without really stressing the Army or reducing our presence in Korea..."

For a year? But suppose we want, or need, to stay more than a year, as has turned out to be the case? *Maybe* a larger presence initially would have allowed us to "win" (in the sense that has acquired, of creating civil peace) more quickly, and brought our troops home. But I doubt it; and if *not*, what do we do when the year is up and it's time to rotate in fresh troops that we don't have. Nato's assumption seems to be that a larger initial presence would have meant a smaller total commitment in troop-years because it would have allowed a quick withdrawal. Color me skeptical.


"Terrorism also occurs because counter-insurgency strategies have hwarted the development of more effectual peasant organization for the redress of economic wrongs (coercive interventions upon the marketplace). The more imperialism succeeds in the short run, the more it insures its burial in the long run. It was the unreasonable policy of the French in Indochina that made Ho Chi Minh, instead of a moderate, the ultimate choice of the populance. It is the success of infiltration and disruption technique and the lack of channels of reforming peacefully the extremes of imperialism that create, almost directly, terrorist activity.

When you torment an individual, first that person is going to scream or cry, and then she or he is going to lash out wildly. When a population is tormented the same syndrome follows. The more efficiently individual acts of terrorism are suppressed, the greater the number of such acts to be expected -- until sooner or later imperialism is toppled.

Resorting to ever more convoluted and conspiratorial tactics, a minority is enslaving a majority that is potentially capable of eradicating that minority. Less than 10% of the world's population controls more than 80% of its land. Only the immense profitability of this mileau for the oppressor-minority lends it any stability at all. Every other factor militates for its destruction.

For a politician representing imperialist interests to treat terrorism as a perversely unnecessary evil that is simply the result of the unprovoked ill will of malevolent persons is incredibly evasive." (kerry Thornley)

Unless we address this issue with the knowledge that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword, or that to fight the ripples in a pool of water with physical attacks only makes more waves, there is no way to Win this "war".

To just assume that the enemy have "evil" natures and must be killed, is not a stance which provides a useful solution.

Instead we must realize that only when we comfort our attackers will they calm down and stop their attacks. Instead of slaying the beast, can we not pull the thorn from it's paw and thereby make ourselves a friend?

The thief may stab you and take your money, but is not his vindictive nature and his violent behavior an outword indication of a troubled soul? Is he not the product of layer after layer of betrayal and mistreatment that his heart would turn on his fellow man for selfish gains?

Shall we add to his insult by degrading him as a criminal, shall we add salt to his wounds by tortue or even death? OR Shall we offer him our hand in kindness, in compassion and unconditonal love, even if he strikes us shall we not turn the other cheek and smile with acceptence?

Can we not discourage the behavior, while encouraging the man?

Can we not apply these techniques to inter-cultural relations even unto terrorists.

Can we not turn away from might, power, and economic pressure, forget our insecurities, turn away from personal grandeur and lend help our brothers who suffer?

Can we not be the bigger man, and back down from the fight? Are we to afraid to lose face? Are we too consumed by desire for vengeance, is it too late to purify our hearts, and those of others.

Are we to become as Medea so possessed with hatred that we slay our own children?


"But I doubt it; and if *not*, what do we do when the year is up and it's time to rotate in fresh troops that we don't have."

Woah - we'd still have troops after the year was up, but not enough to maintain such high force levels - we'd still be able to field about as many as we can right now*. In the meantime, if we're serious about this whole thing, we can be growing the Army and Marines as fast as possible - once again expensive, but necessary. Also, we could be conducting diplomacy to see whom around the world might be willing to take over the quieter, safer areas. There were so many options available before we totally screwed everything up so that no one wanted to touch it with a ten foot pole.

Now, one thing I can imagine being the problem is that to be fair we'd really need to commit as many troops to Afghanistan as *it* needed, which would have about doubled our troop comittment there. That's only one extra division, but it would certainly start to push the issue. Fortunately my alter-ego NATO decided to take that failure and continue to fail with it.

*Not indefinitely, of course - we'd need a truly monstrously large force to sustain current deployment schedules without slowly (or quickly) running down readiness. The basic idea is, though, that a minimal level of success would allow for a fairly thin tail in line with doctrine in which we have to leave 50K troops in-country for ten years after the initial phase. In troop-years, we're already catching up to the entire life-cycle committment that doctrine would suggest.


Of course, these kinds of committments would make it clear we were engaging in a nation-building enterprise.

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