The Eclectic One

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Archive for the ‘iraq’ Category

They Just Never Give Up

Posted by Bill Nance on January 21, 2009

In case you were wondering why it is that the Bush administration not only screwed up everything it touched, but repeated its errors again and again, this article by Peter Wehner gives ample evidence of the causes of this clusterfuck of an administration.

The Juice:

As George W. Bush spends his last few hours as President, many of us who worked for him and deeply admire him are filled with mixed feelings. It is hard to see him leave the scene with approval ratings hovering at 30 percent, with the nation clearly weary and ready to turn the page. All of us hoped he would leave the Presidency with an outpouring of gratitude and affection from the nation.

It was not to be, and it would be silly and misleading to pretend that this did not matter at all. How could it not? Yet most of us have the conviction — a fairly deep one, actually — that President Bush will be looked upon by history favorably and that his decisions will be, in the main, vindicated. The obvious question concerns what we see that most of our fellow citizens do not. Why are we convinced that Bush’s presidency will be judged a success when so many people right now consider it to be a failure?

The answer, I think, is several fold. For one things, it is rooted in the belief that on the most important issues of his presidency — keeping America safe after the attacks of 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our broader struggle against militant Islam, the appointment of two Supreme Court justices, and more — Bush got it right or mostly right.

This doesn’t mean that there weren’t serious missteps along the way — failures in judgment, personnel, execution, communication, and persuasion. In Iraq especially, we were much too slow in recognizing the nature of the conflict and adjusting to it. Yet despite those mistakes, it is certainly possible that Iraq will end up very nearly as we initially hoped it would: free and self-governing, an ally of America instead of an enemy, a counterweight to Iran, the place that gave rise to an Arab uprising against militant Islam, and a nation that eventually helps to reshape the political culture of the Middle East. If this in fact occurs, the verdict on Bush dramatically shifts. What was widely seen as his greatest failure while in office will be seen as a significant, and even history-shaping, success. As Ambassador Ryan Crocker has said, how we leave Iraq will matter a great deal more than how we got into Iraq.

Whatever you do, DON’T take responsibility. That has been the mantra of the Bush years. That lack of acceptance has meant the same mistakes get repeated over and over. And the gist of Weher’s article is that this type of approach, to never question whether one might be wrong is good management. -No wonder bush was such a disaster with such nincompoops serving as Deputy Assistant to the President.

Remember this?

President Bush is responsible for “keeping us safe after 911?” Really?  So let me get this straight. We haven’t had another attack here since 911, therefore Bush is vindicated? That’s called a logical fallacy folks. There could be dozens of reasons why no attack has come, none of which necessarily have anything to do with Bush in particular.

First, let there be no mistake: NO American president would have failed to go into Afghanistan. Jimmy “dufus” Carter would have invaded. The public wouldn’t have stood for anything less and a clearer case of causus beli never existed. -When you can get the French to go along… well, you get the idea. So this is no Bush triumph. You don’t get to claim success based on something which absolutely anyone in the office would have done. As for the other possible reasons for no attacks? Who knows. But claiming that the Bush Administration is specifically responsible for this does not follow. Trying to claim it does is illogical and belies all the evidence of incompetence in every other possible arena.

Bottom line: We haven’t been attacked for any number of reasons, none of which can be laid at the feet of GWB. Maybe we’ve just been lucky. God knows the Bush administration’s “security theatre” we see in airports hasn’t kept us safe at all.

Similarly, the wholesale destruction in Iraq, the strengthening of Iran, the neglect of the main enemy based in Afghanistan, will never be vindicated.

George Bush is responsible for throwing out 12 years of Pentagon planning for how to invade and occupy Iraq. Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki testified to this fact before the war and was promptly forced into retirement for daring to call the emperor naked. The absolute clusterfuck of post-invasion Iraq has led to perhaps hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, a fractured polity and a new ally and power base for Iran, which, unlike Iraq, actually does pose a potential threat to U.S. interests.

I supported the war and I still think it was the right thing to do. This had nothing to do with WMDs possessed at the time by Iraq, I hasten to add. I stated at the time this threat was overblown in the extreme, and I thought Colin Powell’s testimony befiore the UN was laughable. If little ‘ole Bill Nance can figure this out, the fact that Bush didn’t is all the more damning.

From Iraq to Afghanistan to Katrina and the TARP, which has mystically disappeared $350 BILLION, to Harriet Miers and “Bring it on,” the Bush presidency has been the most colossal disaster in American History.

Anyone who thinks this president will be “vindicated by history” needs to get off the crack pipe.

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Posted in afghanistan, george bush, humor, Iran, iraq, National Security, Politics, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The conservative vote should go to Obama

Posted by Bill Nance on October 23, 2008

On September 12, 2001 I started a reading program so I could understand exactly what the Hell had just happened.

I started with re-reading the Koran (yes, I had read it before, along with several apologetics on Islam), continued with my trusty Encyclopedia Btrittanica and of course everything I could get my hands on from the Web and the local library. I also re-read the incomparable Orientalism,” by the late Edward Said. Within a matter of days I had a reasonably good idea of what our enemies were up to and why, as well as a solid understanding of how incredibly wrong were the arguments Bin Laden and others of his ilk.

This wasn’t terribly difficult to do. All I had available were the resources of a fairly small local library, an encyclopedia and the web. Since then I have done my best to keep up with the issues and read new books and articles, knowing that having my information filtered through the lens of television and it’s focus on ratings and infotainment is no substitute for well thought out and researched books and news articles.

It’s blindingly clear to anyone who open to reason that Sarah Palin has never done anything of the sort, even with seven years time to accomplish it. On my worst day, after a few dozen beers, I could give a more clear, cogent and comprehensible view of national security issues than Sarah Palin does even with coaching. I am not a genius. I am not a scholar. I’m just a regular guy with something Sarah Palin clearly lacks: A brain and an interest in using it.

The absolute ignorance of this woman on every significant international issue is nothing short of astounding. She parrots the most stupid and jingoistic catch-phrases as though these are some substitute for actual knowledge or understanding of the subjects. This ignorance might be acceptable (if still stupid and ill-informed) coming from the mob. It is catastrophic coming from a President or someone in line to be President.

As the last seven years have proved, intellectual laziness, group-think and assumptions based on the false”truths” of ideological orthodoxy make for horrendous policy. Our failures in Iraq should prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt. They led directly to too few troops to win an occupation, silencing of even supportive voices of dissent and an absolute unwillingness to deal with reality, even when the cost, both in blood and treasure were showing beyond doubt the existing strategy wasn’t working. (The time for the surge was 2004, not 2007)!

Palin represents a choice so stark for anyone who actually loves their country I can hardly believe any sane person could support her. George W. Bush has shown even Republicans how anti-intellectualism and a lack of curiosity about the world are clear and present dangers to our national security.

Sarah Palin takes all the worst qualities of the President and expands upon them. Never in the history of this country has a person more clearly unqualified for high office been nominated to be in the line of succession.

This isn’t just about experience, it’s about good judgement. John McCain, in his most important decision as a potential President, has shown an utter disregard for the safety of the nation in a cynical attempt to get elected at any cost.

McCain famously said he’d rather lose an election than lose a war. What about placing the entire country in jeopardy? No sane person can defend Palin’s lack of understanding on the serious issues facing the country. For McCain to have picked her as V.P. is a move that makes him utterly unsuitable to be President.

On November fourth, I hope my conservative friends will make the right choice and truly place their country first. Given John McCain’s age and questionable health, placing Sarah Palin anywhere near the White House is the most irresponsible act I can think of, strictly from a national security viewpoint.

Hold your nose if you have to, but if you reach for the McCain lever, remember the buffoon who you may be voting into office. Patriots will vote Obama.

Posted in Barack Obama, Election 08, iraq, John McCain, National Security, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Iraq, what went wrong. Part I

Posted by Bill Nance on September 5, 2008

Editorial note: This is the first in a series of articles in which I will attempt explain what has happened in Iraq and how. By necessity the series is long, so I will break it up into somewhat more manageable bites. There is a great deal of complexity to to situation, and it deserves better treatment than can be reasonably addressed in a single post. I have been studying this matter intensely since 1993, and in doing so have come to many conclusions, which disagree with many of the most common arguments both for and against the current conflict in Iraq.

In 1993, two years after the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s army in Kuwait, one thing was abundantly clear: We screwed up in 1991.

The war ended for a several reasons, most of which seemed reasonable at the time. Indeed, the majority of those decisions were the right ones given the realities of February 1991. Hindsight is always 20/20, but in this case, the hindsight wouldn’t have changed most of the decisions about ending the conflict when and how we did. Mistakes were made, some things were just plain bad judgment. But many of the so-called mistakes were simply necessities. No war-time leader has unlimited options. To blame George HW Bush for “not finishing the job,” is to badly misunderstand the realities he faced.

First, the carnage among the Iraqi forces retreating out of Kuwait was playing very badly in the press around the world. We didn’t do anything wrong, but the grim reality of war is something few people are prepared to deal with, particularly after it’s clear the enemy has been utterly defeated. The coalition was absolutely right to do what it did. The goal was to destroy Iraq’s capability to retreat behind it’s borders only to launch another war after re-grouping. But war is an ugly thing; and seeing it’s consequences up close revolted many. We risked losing public support for the war if we continued.

Second, the assumption made at the time was that the Iraqis themselves would get rid of Saddam Hussein.

This was a miscalculation on the part of George HW Bush, and a predictable one. Hussein had launched an absolutely devastating war on Iran only a few years earlier. A war which the Iraqis lost and in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers perished to no purpose. There were no repercussions for Saddam at that time, and it was overly optimistic to assume that things would be different in 1991.

Third, The prospect of invading Iraq with a western army was something our Arab “allies” (who were allies only in that we either bribed or frightened them into cooperation) would have decried. They would certainly have pulled out of the coalition completely, including Saudi Arabia, our only real base of operations. This would have made supporting such an invasion nearly impossible. Kuwait was in tatters, the condition of it’s ports unknown but suspect, and the oil-fires raging in the country presented serious problems for aviation. Imagine if, on day-6 of the Normandy invasion, Britain demanded total withdrawal of US troops and bases from its shores. That is the situation we would have faced had Saudi Arabia, already under enormous internal and external Arab pressure, kicked us out.

And so a ceasefire was signed, the Iraqis agreed to inspections and the relinquishing of of its weapons of mass destruction, and we called it good enough.

To be honest I don’t see what else we could have done. We might have hit the Iraqi army harder, we might have done a more thorough job blasting the Republican Guards, but even that would have produced a lot of problems for the coalition. Bush was stuck between a rock and a hard-place and I think he took the only road available to him.

The real mistakes, the ones which were predictable and frankly unforgivable, happened later. But it is important to remember how we got there in the first place. Cries of “We should have finished the job in the first place” are flat-out wrong. They ignore the facts on the ground at the time.

-To be continued-

Posted in history, iraq, National Security, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »