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11 March 2007

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johnf

As those of us against this war from the start said - it would open Pandora's Box. Once in, no way of getting out. If you stay in, things get worse. If you come out, things get worse. If you just hang on, things will get worse.

Nothing will end it til the body of The West is carried off the battlefield.

It is like a Greek Tragedy. Except Bush, Blair and the Neo-Cons are creatures without stature or dignity.

Chris Marlowe

Instead of trying to cut off funding, the Democrats could try to investigate the run-up and mismanagement of the war in the first four years during the Rumsfeld/Cheney period.

In order to do this though, the Democrats would first run into opposition from Sen. Hillary Clinton and her supporters, who do not want to be "inconvenienced" by revelations about her position during the selling of the war in the 2002-2005 period.

My guess is that this will lead to a grassroots revolution in the Democratic party against the Democratic party establishment led by Sen. Clinton.

Instead of a majority constituency, there will be different Republican and Democratic party bases formed around various candidates. This will let Bush keep the troops in Iraq, along with the four superbases, at least until the end of his term.

Iraq will become a cancer in US domestic politics, and the politics will become even further fragmented and polarized. This will make it impossible to build constituencies to reform Social Security, Medicare, etc.

This new Dark Age of American politics will make it more politically expedient for American politicians to start more foreign wars, in an effort to divert the publics' attention from the domestic political crises.

It will all end when the US economy breaks, just as the US armed forces have been forced near to the breaking point by the current war on terror.

Grumpy

Col. Lang.,
As for this article, you are on the point! In all honesty, you have dealt with this issue with "The Constituency That Counts" before. We need to remember there is a joint constituency that counts even more than the Congress and the Administration, even combined. This joint group that really counts are the potential recruits for our military and their families, friends and extended families. If we don't win this combined group, the rest is folly. This is the reason the Walter Reed issue is ABSOLUTLELY CENTRAL to the future of our military. Thank you, have a great day.

Respectfully,
Grumpy

Richard Armstrong

COL Lang,

Your next to the last paragraph sounds as frightening as Burt Lancaster in Seven Days in May when he said "You're not a weak sister, Mr. President. You're a criminally weak sister."

Jerry Thompson

Seems that too many in the Congress and elsewhere just can't turn loose of their angst over the process that got us into this war and deal with the situation we face. The challenge we face is a separate issue from the issue of accountability for getting us into it. Pieces of that prior experience can inform the "way ahead" -- most notably, we need to be careful that we are not still using the same assumptions as our guide -- but, the problem we face is different in its nature and its magnitude from the problem we (thought we) faced when we invaded Iraq.

Richard Armstrong

COL Lang,

Are you describing Seven Days in May? Frightening.

W. Patrick Lang

RA

Ah. You "fear the anger of the legions." Interesting.

No. I am not talking "ECOMCON" here. What I meant is that if the donkeys are so foolish as to do something that can be said to have contributed to defeat, then the POLITICAL costs of having given up before the soldiers will be enormous.

The American military does not have it in its "cultural DNA" to act against constitutional authority, but I must admit that I find that line about "criminal weakness" to be intriguing and amusing. pl

arbogast

In the United States, there is no military constituency.

Thank God.

In addition, I do not know how many of the military in Iraq want to be there or think they are doing something worthwhile, but it is not 100%.

If we are to design our foreign policy around the wishes of the military constituency, then we don't need elections.

Chuck

As a nation we are indeed truly blessed that the tradition of civilian control has become so deeply entrenched, even in the military itself. However, I am concerned that the pressures of the Iraq fiasco, together with increasing presence in the career military of people from the Christian dominionist right (eg. Gen. Boykin et al) could be undermining that tradition. In contrast to the Seven Days In May scenario, which was led by general officers as I recall (it's been a while), a great many coups in the real world are led by strategically positioned more junior officers (e.g. Nasser, khadafi) and occasionally even enlisted men (e.g. Sgt. Maj. Fulgencio Batista of Cuba in the 1930s). Positive traditions do not necessarily preserve themselves without constant nurturing.

Richard Armstrong

COL Lang,

I believe it to be a foregone conclusion that the Democratic Party and liberals in general will be blamed for losing the war in Iraq. Based on that conclusion I think it interesting to consider whether the Democratic Party will ignore the voices that don't understand the "sunk costs" of lives already lost and end this war or will they succumb to their desire to cement their political future by allowing the war to continue to it's inevitable disastrous conclusion. I believe the former to be the "good" thing to do and the latter the "right". I don't know if either could be considered "correct".

This week I enjoyed the opportunity to dicuss this very topic with Mr. Joe Galloway at a book signing in Lawrence, Kansas. Mr. Galloway was very vocal about the political similarities between this war and the war in Vietnam.

W. Patrick Lang

Folks

1- The Bush A. shows no sign of wanting to settle things through the kind of approach I pushed in "A Concert of the Greater Middle East."

2- The military still believes it has a good shot at "prevailing" in Iraq, although Petraeus is showing signs of wavering.

3- The Democrats do not control the Executive Branch and therefore lack control of diplomacy or the military. Because of that, they can't "direct" anything in those fields. They can only weaken the forces in Iraq though impediments involved in funding.

4- A military disaster could be brought on by weakening the force in the face of a set of un-defeated opponents.

5- The political consequences of such a disaster brought on by "weakening" in the face of military opinion that they still "have a shot" would be massive for the Democrats.

Is this rocket science? pl

Chris Marlowe

As conditions worsen in America (economically, socially and politically), we can expect a succession of one-term presidents.

As if things weren't short-term enough, politicians will increasingly seek dramatic moves to boost their short-term popularity, hoping that these moves will push them into a second-term. Ultimately, these will be moves which have all the relevancy of rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. This was what George W. Bush did in 2004, starting the war in Iraq in 2003 to consolidate his base and win the election.

It really doesn't matter whether we have civilian or military leadership in the US; the problems are bigger than that. Basically, the US standard of living is going to go down no matter who's in power, and this is going to be a trend for the next 30 years. (This is an age/demographics/economics issue, not a political policy issue.) The wealthy will be those who have made their money in investments, and the rich/poor barrier will become much more clearly delineated with little crossover. America was a country where everyone had a chance; that will no longer be true.

This is the real legacy of George W. Bush.

Richard Armstrong

COL Lang,

I have to admit that I cannot put the pieces together in order to understand your point.

You seem to be saying that in order to avoide political recriminaton, the Democrats should fully fund the war in Iraq until the military feels they no longer have any chance to prevail or until a new administration takes office. This course of action is dictated by the fact that the current administration will not change course no matter what the Congress does in terms of funding and would therefore leave a dangerously under-funded force in place to risk suffering a Diem Bien Phu type defeat.

Am I close?

semper fubar

Thank god our constitution doesn't grant the military a "constitutency." That sounds more like a banana republic or military dictatorship. When the military gets to decide when and where we fight wars, we're screwed.

Keep funding the war in Iraq because the military wants to keep fighting? Are you nuts?

ali

I'm not sensing much appetite in the in the US military for "going wide" or digging the hole much deeper, "going long" perhaps.

British soldiers, half admiringly, say the "Septics" only extraction strategy involves clinging to helicopter skids.

John Howley

The Democrats need to gain greater leverage over Bush by squeezing him on other issues unrelated to Iraq. If they decide to impeach him, then it should NOT be over Iraq but rather on of any number of other causes of action that are available.

arbogast

We have lost the lives of over 3,000 troops in Iraq.

Tens of thousands have been wounded, with wounds that, though not lethal, appear to be far worse than wounds in prior wars, closed head injuries perhaps being the worst.

The wounded are being cared for in a criminally irresponsible way.

Our opponents are un-defeated.

That is a disaster.

Can our troops be withdrawn safely from Iraq today?

If they cannot, what will it take to permit them to be safely withdrawn?

Is the only way to avoid a military disaster to support increasing troop levels for an indeterminate period of time?

Tim Ryder

Col Lang,
If the military does prevail, what would this outcome look like? Victory and a long occupation may be the worst ending to this neocon adventure.

Ben P

Col. Lang,

When you say the military, do you mean the middle level officers and so forth, or the hierarchy up to Patraeus and his braintrust?

This is from the "The Swoop" website, which I have found to be one of the best public aggregators of US government intelligence:

"Despite the bold face he maintains in public, President Bush is being advised in private that military prospects in Iraq are unhopeful. A typical evaluation from Pentagon counter-insurgency experts is that, far from pulling back from contested neighborhoods, anti-American insurgents “are spying on us, waiting for us to make a mistake, then striking.” Outside Bush’s immediate circle, there is thus little confidence in Washington that the increase in US forces will achieve sufficiently rapid progress to stem the continuing erosion of public support for the war. National Security Council officials tell us, however, that there is no readily available alternative. The multilateral political approach represented by the Iraq Study Group – originally dismissed, as we reported, by Bush as a “flaming turd” – is now receiving more attention, but here too confidence levels are low. The way forward for the White House is thus uncomfortable. Its plans for extended engagement, including suggestions from General Petraeus, the commander in Iraq for higher force levels are increasingly colliding with domestic political pressures calling for a drawdown of US forces. We continue to believe that we are now entering the “end game” of the US presence there."

Link: http://theswoop.net/sys/article.php?art_ID=1302&color=0&PHPSESSID=3785fae3908e89ff3a82abf1615b1054

From what I can tell, your take on folks lower down the hierarchy is more gung-ho, as you suggest. But pessimism isn't limited to Petraeus alone . . .

Dave of Maryland

All what you say may be true, but the murder of a single additional Iraqi is unjustified & a stain on us all.

psd

Well, Col., sometimes it feels like rocket science to me.

Interesting that you should post this thought the day before my (step)son leaves with his Marines for his 2nd tour in Ramadi. As someone who has been suspicious of this war from the very beginning, I have struggled with wanting to take a strong stand against the war, while at the same time not wanting to "give comfort" to the insurgents while expressing my total disgust with BushCo. As strong a Democrat as I am and as much as I want to see an end to American participation in this war, I too fear that at this point there is very little the Dems can do (without suffering total blame for a military disaster) until more of the military--but namely Petraeus--gives a very strong signal that things are getting worse and that this "surge" is not paying off. It sure doesn't seem to be paying off yet in Ramadi. The grunts haven't even left and 2 of the senior men on their advance team were shot the other day, one seriously enough that he's coming home. Great, huh? They're not even officially "there" yet and already there are casualties. But the word is that things are better "overall." I guess we'll see soon enough. In the meantime, I'll continue to pray like mad for the safety of the American men and women over there (especially my son and grandson) and for the administration to have a serious change of heart and commit to diplomatic as well as military solutions to this mess they've dug us in.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

Best is then for the Democrats to do nothing to impede the President's policy of defeat.

lina

70 percent of the American public has already written off this war. It's over.

Staying there because some percentage of soldiers still think there is a possibility of "victory" (whatever that is) is ludicrous.

In Vietnam, the U.S. got the same political "deal" in 1975 that it could have gotten in 1968. At what cost?

You're right about the Democrats and unfavorable political consequences, but for the wrong reason. They need to stop cowering in the face of White House propaganda (i.e., defunding the troops will leave them naked and stranded in the desert) and stop feeding George Bush's ego driven war.

Get those soldiers out of there. Period. And don't ever start an unnecessary war again. Write it down Congress - so you don't forget.

brenda

Colonel, I am a little surprised to read this latest post from you. Why should we care what the political cost to the Democrats may be for ending the war? We voted them into office last November for the precise reason of ending the war. There have been enough soldiers coming home without arms and legs, enough young widows, enough American children and enough Iraqi children orphaned by this misbegotten war. Enough hellish lives to be lived with untreated PTSD. How can this enormity ever be vindicated? What I am worried about is that the Dems don't seem to be doing anything about the Iraq war except stonewalling.

JDL

Col. Is the nobility of an honest defeat in Iraq better than a pragmatic retreat?

It seems like both the civilian and military commanders of this fiasco have made horrific mistakes, starting with Bush/Cheney thru Rumsfeld thru Gen, Franks etc etc. One has to wonder at the morality of feeding more lives into this meatgrinder for what end?

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