Supporting Stein’s Sin:
The Hypocrisy of Anti-War “Support”

Military — By on January 25, 2006 at 2:44 am

“I don’t support our troops,” admits LA Times columnist Joel Stein. “This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.” Stein adds,

And I’ve got no problem with other people ‘



  • http://punditdrome.com Scott Ferguson

    Your post is amazing. The glib tone in Stein’s article (“Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on,” etc.) and his apparent know-nothing stance on the war that was revealed in his interview with Hugh Hewitt would tend to suggest that he is unworthy of the mantle of martyrdom you are trying to place on him.
    Unless, of course, you can’t differentiate the morality of a petulent child like Stein with that of a Mother Theresa. In which case, how can we take you seriously.

  • KAM

    Stein says, “Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.”
    The T-shirts, decals, and other paraphernalia of “Calvin” peeing are libertarian frauds of Bill Waterson’s comic strip character. You won’t find an authentic drawing by Waterson depicting Calvin peeing on anything. The kind of maliciousness seen in those rip-offs can only be seen an adult. Someone who profits off of discipline and virtue but thinks that they are being daring or brave by pissing on what has been given to them at the cost of blood, sweat, toil, and tears.
    Joe, I don’t salute the “honesty” of people like Stein. As Matthew Arnold said, hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. When people no longer feel the need to pay that tribute, it means that vice has overthrown virtue. The fact that Stein is taking heat, perhaps even from those that wish they could say what he does, means that virtue still has some authority around here after all.

  • George

    I support Stein wholeheartedly.
    I think he’s a typical airhead leftist that bends his knee at the altar of leftist ideology – folk Marxism, if you will – and really has nothing of value to add to the conversation beyond the usual sloganeering and talking points of leftism.
    But his admission is simply a public statement that shows more courage than John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, or John Murtha have been able to muster.
    I delight in Stein’s honesty because, if nothing else, it serves as a bright line to help people discern for themselves which side of the debate they come down on. It’s certainly much better than: “I support the troops, they’re great people, I voted for them before I voted against them, and I wish they’d stop terrorizing women and children in the dead of night.”

  • KAM

    George, honesty, in the sense in which you are using it–sincerity–is waaaaay overrated as a virtue.
    Consistency or coherence, maybe, is what you are identifying. I too appreciate these qualities in the likes of those you listed. But only because, as you say, they make it easier to expose these people for what they are.

  • jd

    The whole “support the troops, but not the war” mantra of the left reminds me of another seeming contradiction: those who “personally” oppose abortion but support a woman’s right to choose.
    I’ll bet Stein’s getting some nasty email now. He hasn’t known depravity and degradation until he gets on the receiving end of hate mail from his lefty brigades.

  • Dan

    Stein and his ilk have nothing but contempt for the type of individuals who he depends on for his own protection. I do not admire him because he is consistent in his contempt. Big deal. If anything, it shows that he has no shame in his dismissive attitude regarding people with ideals.
    George, You think he has courage?? Kerry, Kennedy and Murtha may lack moral fortitude, but they at least had the courage to serve in the military. Stein wouldn’t have survived the first week of training.
    I could never understand the logic behind declaring yourself to be extremely selfish, but also proclaiming that your “honesty” to admit this was somehow a redeeming factor. To me it’s like eating those 3 Big Mac’s, large fries and then drinking a diet Coke.

  • Bryan McWhite

    Joe (and anyone else),
    Permit me to ask a question out of my ignorance. Frankly, I don’t know how to feel about the war. I tend to favor it, but I have a number of reservations. But with regards to your comments about the moral culpability of the troops if they are, in fact, engaged in immoral activity, I’m not sure that you are being realistic or practical in your implications.
    Could anyone really hold to the idea that troops, in the midst of a conflict like this, ought to be sitting around when they’ve nothing else to do, sorting out the morality of their involvement in a conflict so politically and morally complex that there is vast disagreements among people who actually do have nothing else to do than to sit around and think about it? Are soldiers really to be acquainted fully with all of the political details of their mission? Are soldiers really to be experts in Just War Theory? Must soldiers exhaustively formulate their fully comprehensive worldview, including all of its moral implications, in the midst of war?
    It seems that saying that ignorance and cowardice are the only possible explanations for a soldier being involved in an immoral war is overly simplistic. Is there not something to be said for the soldier who has not had the time or resources to sort all of these things out, but simply trusts the people who make these decisions (even if those people turn out to be immoral)? Surely, that soldier cannot be considered morally culpable for being involved in an unjust war, can he?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    You’re either being dishonest or completely and/or willfully ignorant of military history and military science.
    Quite simply, we support the troops because we don’t want them dead; taking your logic on its head would imply that you want the troops dead, and for any silly old adventure George W. Bush would engage in.
    All military personnel are volunteers who, of their own free will and based on rational choice, have decided to participate in a war on Iraq.
    Ah yes, let’s not talk about how really “free” many of these kids were to “rationally” make that choice.
    Let’s not talk about how the Army recruits with little information given about the stuff you can’t do in the military, how they don’t exactly furnish prospective recruits with casualty rates for those recruits lucky enough to land in the infantry in a conflict.
    They’re “free” and they’re “rational.”
    And you call yourself pro-life.
    Let’s not talk about what the military is, in effect: it strikes based on orders from the CiC, and those designated by him.
    The effort in Iraq was flawed militarily from the start; that’s why I joined millions of others in the streets.
    You and Hewitt can’t say you “support the troops” if you support a mission that is doomed to failure because of cockamamie military “theories” that fly in the face of history and statistics.
    Any fool could have seen it when the Iraqi army “melted away”; me, I simply did the math beforehand (you know, the stat that says it takes 10:1 to 50:1 troops to quell a potential insurgency).
    Which leaves you in a quandary, Mr. Pro-lifer: either you don

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com/2006/01/i-find-it-increasingly-hard-to-believe.html Notes in Samsara

    hard to believe that Joe Carter was in the militar

    The supreme excellence, Sun Tzu said, was to achieve the objective without the bloodshed. Our objective was – really- to maintain ourselves and those of the world without dealing with nasty religious zealots for petroleum.
    Rather than heed Jimmy C…

  • rdsmith3 (Bob)

    Aren’t we all hypocrites (inconsistent would be a better word) to some degree? How many people are pro-life yet are in favor of the death penalty and a pre-emptive war? How many people are in favor of science when it supports a pro-life cause (e.g., the embryo’s DNA is different from the mother’s so it is not just an appendage of her body, hence abortion is murder) yet are against science when it raises difficult questions for young earth creationists?
    As for me, I have no trouble saying that I support the troops, and that I was not in favor of this war. When I say that I support the troops, I mean that I respect them, and their willingness to sacrifice their time and their lives. I respect that they are willing to serve obediently, as they committed to do. I was against the war because the rationale for it was weak and inconsistent, and because it did not target bin Laden, who attacked us. Now that we are there, I think we should finish the mission, whatever it is today.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Joe,
    I agree with you that Joel Stein’s honesty and consistency are admirable, refreshing even.
    But I disagree with your reason why.
    His honesty is admirable because he is exposing himself to harsh criticism from potentially millions of Americans who detest his beliefs and/or his unwillingness to lend moral support to our troops in wartime. He is showing the courage of his convictions.
    Where I disagree with you is when you say it would be hypocritical to be against the war in Iraq and to support the troops at the same time. This is very, very not true.
    Joe, there are soldiers fighting the war on the ground in Iraq who are against the war. They may be a relatively small percentage of the troops, but they are certainly there. Are you saying those soldiers don’t support the troops?!?
    Think about it, Joe. Private John Smith is a patriotic American fighting on our behalf but who firmly believes the campaign in Iraq is just so much b___ s___, a waste of blood and treasure perhaps, or a misguided adventure in imperialism. You seem to be saying that Private Smith is a moral coward and a hypocrite — please correct me if I’m wrong.
    I’m sure you remember that I am an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq (see here for example). I still am, but I also know that opponents of the war can be just as principled as I aspire to be. They can oppose the war and support the troops without being hypocritical. Opponents of the war deserve our respect, and doubly so if they support our troops as well.

  • Alexander Scott

    I think you can truthfully support soldiers while opposing the war they are in if your opposition is procedural; whether there should be a “declaration of war” by Congress prior to fighting, if an engagement is actually worth the cost in strategic value, or if you believe we have limited resources best spent elsewhere.
    I think you CAN’T truthfully support soldiers and oppose the war on moral grounds. If a war is immoral, so are those waging it. Soldiers have an obligation to not carry out illegal orders. I would think it is even more important to not carry out immoral orders, since the peril is to your soul and not just the body. Someone who can’t be bothered to determine if their actions are moral should properly be called immoral (perhaps “amoral” if you want to put a fine point on it).
    In short, you can rationally support soldiers and claim that Iraq was a strategic blunder (which I do not believe but some do) but you can’t logically claim that a war is immoral/evil/”attack on humanity” and support the soldiers while not endorsing the immoral actions they collectively engage in.

  • tom

    How many people are pro-life yet are in favor of the death penalty and a pre-emptive war?
    There’s no inconsistency in these positions, because the issue isn’t just life per se. It’s the distinction between innocent life and non-innocent life.
    The death penalty (assuming it’s properly administered, which is a whole ‘nother ball of wax) punishes guilty life. Pre-emptive war (same caveat) strikes at guilty life to preserve innocent life.

  • George

    Dan,
    Having more courage than Kerry, Kennedy, or Murtha is analogous to Sharps beer having more alcohol than Kool-Aid. It’s kind of a distinction without a difference.
    However, the pack of liars listed above not only fail to support the troops (that horde of Jenn-Jis Khan terrorists who prey on women and children), but they lack the scintilla of courage to bluntly say so (if you don’t believe me, ask Mary Jo Kopechne – no, wait, you can’t do that). Stein has the scintilla of courage required to say so from the redoubt of a major “news” outlet.
    Just don’t question their patriotism.

  • Paul

    “If a war is immoral, so are those waging it.”
    “Someone who can’t be bothered to determine if their actions are moral should properly be called immoral …”
    How about this take on it – instead of calling those fighting it either moral dupes or moral cowards – maybe they could simply say that “I don’t support the war, but I support your freedom to disagree with me, and if you believe that this is an appropriate action, then I support you for taking it, and while I disagree with your decision, I wish you the success and safety.”
    Joe, it seems to me that your “You can hate the sin, just don

  • ucfengr

    Ah, the ravings of mumon. I could paraphrase mumon by saying “I supports da troops cus dey too dumb to know no better.” I can only assume that he prefers to support his troops from afar, and not have to personally associate with such dim bulbs. Let’s look at this little gem:
    Let’s not talk about how the Army recruits with little information given about the stuff you can’t do in the military, how they don’t exactly furnish prospective recruits with casualty rates for those recruits lucky enough to land in the infantry in a conflict.
    Now if mumon had ever actually met a infantryman he would know that soldiers volunteer to be in the infantry, they don’t land in it. He would also know that the infantry training course requires soldiers that are highly intelligent as well as highly motivated and the course itself is actually pretty difficult and requires a very high score on the ASVAB test to qualify to even attempt the school. The Army doesn’t put their dummies in the infantry.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Scott

  • http://dieguisto.blogspot.com Jon Gallagher

    Joel Stein is D-U-M dumb. He’s undoubtedly a product of self-involved education who doesn’t have the serious cultural, poltical or social knowledge to run a blog, much less be a column in one of the leading newspapers in the United States. Does Joel Stein think that the military is like summer camp, where, if it gets too hard his doting parents will swoop in and carry him home to his Playstation and PB&J sandwiches with the crusts trimmed off?
    Anyone who thinks that soldiers, sailors and marines choose who and where they fight is stupid. These people volunteered to serve their country and are required to respond to commands as the centurion describes in Matthew 8:9 :

      For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this [man], Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth [it].

    The warriors of our society volunteer to protect us, and, more importantly, follow our orders. We, the citizens of the United States, are ultimately repsonsible for them, it is our duty to provide their (inadequate) pay, care, feeding, solace to their injury and illness and honor for their sacrifice. We are the ultimate authority that the military turns to for direction.
    Joel is a weak man ultimately trying to dodge his own responsibility for the mistakes we have all made, icompetently prosecuting the wrong war in the wrong place for the wrong reasons.
    To quote Atrios:

      If our military rank and file have been betrayed by their civilian leadership they deserve our respect doubly.
  • KAM

    Joe: “Are you saying that it is better for Stein to be dishonest just to appease people who he disagrees with?”
    Until recently I didn’t see an important distinction between two types of hypocrisy (the subject of your post). Call the first “two-faced” hypocrisy. Here the person acts one way in one situation and another way in another situation. This doesn’t come up much–does it come up at all?–in the New Testament, or in the teaching of Jesus, because it is so obviously wrong to everyone. Jesus doesn’t condemn it because it’s so evidently wrong. But–here’s the point with application far beyond this question–neither is anyone commended for avoiding this sin by being consistently sinful. Prostitutes and tax collectors and other obvious sinners were not commended for consistency or honesty in their sinfulness. The Pharisees knew they were sinners. Jesus knew they were sinners. THEY knew they were sinners. They were commended for owning up to the fact that they were sinners.
    Contrast this with the “inside-outside” hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Jesus didn’t condemn them for being two-faced. They were NOT two-faced. By all the rules, albeit accommodatingly interpreted, they were faultless. They looked–from all angles–as pure as a white marble mausoleum. But INSIDE… foul and rotten cadavers of a person. They thought that because they were visibly law-abiding, they were OK. Jesus says they too need an extreme makeover. They are no less sinners. But what neither Jesus nor the Pharisees could commend, nor many Christians until recently could commend, is consistet or “honest’ sinfulness.
    OK, I’m on thin ice in drawing an analogy with Stein here, because I don’t want to equate his wrongness with prostitution or extortion. But that caveat aside…
    Joe, I think the principle behind your post misses–and I myself missed until it was explained to me–this distinction in hypocrisies. Hypocrisy of the two-faced type is such a straw man that it can lead us to commend consistency that we should never commend. Because it is consistently WRONG.
    So, to your concluding statement in the main post, I think that it’s not so much that what good soldiers and good people of all walks of life want is “honest” opponents like Stein as much as they really and rightfully detest dishonest ones. Not the same thing, though, is it.
    I know you are NOT commending consistent wrongfulness, but in condemning hypocrisy of the two-faced sort and commending consistency/honesty/sincerity as an abstract principle, you blur, for me, the importance of being in the right.
    I guess I’m looking at a state of affairs in which the Stein’s can be honest and get away with it over against a state of affairs where they have to hide their positions because they are widely recognized as wrong. I’ll take the latter. Which we seem to have. Which is good.

  • Rob Ryan

    “They can oppose the war and support the troops without being hypocritical. Opponents of the war deserve our respect, and doubly so if they support our troops as well.”
    Thank you, Matthew. I oppose the war in Iraq, but I support the troops in that I want them to have adequate equipment to do their jobs while maximizing their personal safety. I want them to be adequately compensated for the work they do. I think we should send them gifts and letters that show our appreciation for their efforts and the risks they face, even if we oppose the context of those actions. Soldiers obey lawful orders. I can support that, even if I feel the lawful orders should never have been given.
    I think what is going on here is not anti-war people trying to have it both ways; it is pro- Iraq war people trying to portray anti-Iraq war people as unpatriotic.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    ucfengr:
    If you had bothered to keep track of news, you’d find that even Air Force personnel are being relegated to tasks traditionally given over to the Army…
    They have to follow orders; didn’t you get the memo?
    Of course, Joe Carter, if he’s really concerned about the troops, can always re-enlist…

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Rob Thank you, Matthew. I oppose the war in Iraq,…
    When you say you oppose the war, is it because the war is inherently immoral or just that it is a just war, just not a wise use of our military?
    Mumon Of course, Joe Carter, if he’s really concerned about the troops, can always re-enlist…
    Of course, Mumon, if he’s really concerned about the troops, can always enlist…

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Joe Carter wrote:
    I put up with a lot of nonsense from you. But I draw the line when you start implying that the members of our military are too stupid or weak willed to make

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Sorry, Joe the comments are flying today.
    And, at the age of 48, I’m afraid I’m too old to enlist.
    And even so, I’d likely be doing research at DARPA or ONR a place like that, which wouldn’t exactly help the boots on the ground any time soon.

  • ucfengr

    If you had bothered to keep track of news, you’d find that even Air Force personnel are being relegated to tasks traditionally given over to the Army…
    Which means exactly what? That you know absolutely nothing about how the military operates. What specific tasks is the Air Force performing that are “traditionally” the role of the Army? There is a lot of redundancy built into the US military, it’s not surprising or unusal that there is a lot of overlap.

  • ucfengr

    And even so, I’d likely be doing research at DARPA or ONR a place like that, which wouldn’t exactly help the boots on the ground any time soon.
    My, we think a lot of ourselves, don’t we?

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Mumon I’m not implying that the troops are “stupid” or “weak,” I’m saying they’re not given full disclosure.
    Anybody here can show this to be the case: go over to the Army recruiting sites, and look to see if there’s a scintilla of information about the likelihood of becoming a casualty.
    So you

  • http://hifidelity.blogspot.com oneway

    Extremely lucid post and subsequent comments, Mr. Carter. Thank you.

  • http://mugglematters.com Pauli

    It was good to hear Hewitt dismantle Stein on Radio Blogger – the guy is so amateurish, he literally knows nothing about the people doing the heavy lifting to protect his right to bloviate, i.e., the U.S. military.

  • rdsmith3 (Bob)

    Joe Carter and Tom challenged my assertion that it is inconsistent to be pro-life and for the death penalty.
    First, I was giving some examples of how we are all inconsistent in our personal beliefs. If these examples do not fit for you, then pick another. Do you disagree that we may all be guilty of being inconsistent? I know I am.
    Second, being pro-life means (I believe) that we respect that we are all created in God’s image, and we respect the sanctity of human life. Murderers are created in God’s image, just as you and I are. Therefore, I am against the death penalty because there is not a sinning, imperfect human being on this earth who can determine that another human’s life should be extinguished. These are my sincerely held Christian beliefs.
    Aside from my Christian view, I also oppose it because:
    1) It has not been proven to be a deterrent. People still commit horrible crimes. Obviously, they think they can get away with it. The notion of a deterrent presumes rational thinking, but many criminals show an absence of long-term, rational thinking, so why would it be a deterrent? Alternatively, as with drug-related crimes, a criminal may feel that the economic rewards are so great that they are worth the risk. This is an example of rational thinking, but the death penalty is still not a deterrent. It is just a variable in an equation.
    2) It is sometimes administered incorrectly. In other words, we are human and we make mistakes. Even if the mistake rate is a mere 5%, that means, in this country, 50 people have been killed erroneously in modern times. Which leads to the most important point –
    3) By what authority does a nation claim to be able to execute people? When you move from incarceration to execution, you take the punishment to a higher level. Do states think they have some higher moral authority that grants them authority to kill people? In the U.S., there is no state-established religion, so the state cannot claim religious reasons for execution. So what is the basis for the states’ ability to execute people? If one of the functions of government is to maintain order, it would seem that lifetime incarceration meets that goal, without moving to the next, final, level of punishment. There is no “divine right of kings” in this country.
    Sorry if I hijacked this. Now back to the war …

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Rob Ryan,
    Hi Rob, how are you doing?
    I accept your thanks, but it would be very wrong for me not to respect you and your views, and I am just acknowledging that. Your views are highly intelligent and commendable, and your support for the troops is entirely consistent with your opposition to the war.
    I strongly disagree with your position, but I think I understand where you are coming from, and I would certainly be happy to engage your views and learn in more detail why you are still opposed to what we have been doing in Iraq.
    Joe,
    If you decided to resign from the Marine Corps because you felt you were being ordered to fight an unjust, immoral, or sorely misguided war, I would certainly support your decision wholeheartedly and commend you for it.
    If you decided to stay in the Marine Corps despite being ordered to fight in an unjust, immoral, or sorely misguided war, then I could not unreservedly support your decision without getting further information about what went into your decision.
    But if I were to conclude that you had decided to defer to the collective judgement and wisdom of the duly-constituted authorities of your nation, and were willing to put your personal misgivings aside out of a sense of professional duty, then I would likewise wholeheartedly support your decision and commend you for it.
    A soldier is duty-bound to serve his country. He must decide whether his duty demands fighting or conscientiously objecting. But agreeing or disagreeing with the morality/justice of a particular war is not necessarily going to be the sole factor, or even the most important factor, in making that decision.
    Deciding whether to participate in a war is perhaps the most important decision a soldier has to make, but it is by no means as easy as voting in favor or in opposition to a war. Reality is not so black-and-white as that, Mr. Carter.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Do you disagree that we may all be guilty of being inconsistent? I know I am.
    I

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Matthew But if I were to conclude that you had decided to defer to the collective judgement and wisdom of the duly-constituted authorities of your nation, and were willing to put your personal misgivings aside out of a sense of professional duty, then I would likewise wholeheartedly support your decision and commend you for it.
    Would you apply this historically? What if you were living in America during the late 1930

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Joe Carter:
    …they couldn

  • rdsmith3 (Bob)

    Joe,
    I read the Bible, too! In fact, I was reading Ezekiel at lunch time today. From Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV)
    Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
    I am sure we could both find scriptures to support our different positions. I am at work, and time precludes me from doing it justice now. But this is not a new debate, and there are many Christians who are against the death penalty for Biblical reasons. God’s word on the matter is not easily deduced. Moreover, if we are going to adhere to the Mosaic laws, then should we not use the death penalty for adultery and not keeping holy the Sabbath? In fact, I have threatened my 16 year old son with Deuteronomy 21:18-21 which allows me to have the elders stone him if he is repeatedly rebellious.
    Also, even if you believe that the death penalty is in accordance with God’s will, how can you ensure that the administration of it by non-believers is in accordance with God’s will? In the Old Testament, the leaders were men of God (and if they weren’t then God took care of it Himself). With today’s secular governments, how can you ensure that the judge, jury and executioner are not being guided by satan? Hence, my point that governments today have no moral authority to administer the death penalty.
    Finally, I always find it incredibly ironic that we followers of Jesus — the ultimate example of an improperly, politically administered death penalty — can support the death penalty.

  • Rob Ryan

    “When you say you oppose the war, is it because the war is inherently immoral or just that it is a just war, just not a wise use of our military?”
    Both in this case. The war is providing a poor return on our investment, in my opinion. Also, the deaths of innocents at our hands, while practically inevitable, cannot be characterized as just. In that sense, there is no “just” war. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is no war I could support. Sometimes, as in the case of WWII, war is by far the lesser of two evils. Let’s not sugarcoat it by calling it a just war, though. It was relatively, but not absolutely, just.

  • Bryan McWhite

    Joe,
    My response to your article:
    Is there not something to be said for the soldier who has not had the time or resources to sort all of these things out, but simply trusts the people who make these decisions (even if those people turn out to be immoral)? Surely, that soldier cannot be considered morally culpable for being involved in an unjust war, can he?
    Your response to my response:
    Are the Nazis morally culpable for their actions in WWII?
    I haven’t studied your “Know Your Logical Fallacies” sections as much as I’d like, but your response has to fall under one of them. You’re making an incredibly difficult case the rule. Clearly, a soldier should know that he is wrong to trust his superiors when they’re ordering him to execute hundreds of defenseless Jews. It’s an entirely different thing when your superiors ask you to go to Iraq. What the soldiers in Iraq are being ordered to do is far more complex. In their situation, I believe there is much to be said for the soldier who simply follows the orders of his superiors in such a morally ambiguous situation.

  • tom

    Murderers are created in God’s image, just as you and I are. Therefore, I am against the death penalty because there is not a sinning, imperfect human being on this earth who can determine that another human’s life should be extinguished. These are my sincerely held Christian beliefs.
    Bob, I don’t doubt your sincerity. But here’s my response: it’s precisely because murderers are created in God’s image, as were their victims, that I support the death penalty. It assumes that they are morally cognizant and therefore morally culpable when they commit a murder. The focus should also be on the victim.
    The Bible’s prescription for capital punishment is the only punishment in Scripture that is predicated on man’s being created in God’s image. OT scholar Walt Kaiser likens murder to killing God in effigy. (Gen. 9:6

  • tom

    As Dunnigan’s pointed out, mines tend to be unpopular with soldiers because there’s no one to get credit for ‘em.
    Huh!? You’ve obviously never been in the infanty. We loved mines (and artillery) because they protected us without us having to stick our heads up. Who cares who gets the “credit.”

  • Rob Ryan

    My first sentence in my last comment was an error. I would not characterize the war as inherently immoral; that implies a moral absolute. Neither would I characterize it as a just war, although I think some wars have been, on balance, just. The distinction may seem insignificant to some, but I don’t want to alarm those who know me by coming across as an objectivist. ;-)

  • tom

    The distinction may seem insignificant to some, but I don’t want to alarm those who know me by coming across as an objectivist. ;-)
    But the fact that you instinctively resorted to such language shows that, at heart, you work under those assumptions and only when you cognitively “turned off” these instincts did you have to go back to “correct” yourself. It’s ever so with moral relativists and other non-objectivists.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Bryan I haven’t studied your “Know Your Logical Fallacies” sections as much as I’d like, but your response has to fall under one of them.
    You may disagree with the analogy but I don

  • ucfengr

    But in another sense, the military is the same as it was way back when. As Dunnigan’s pointed out, mines tend to be unpopular with soldiers because there’s no one to get credit for ‘em.
    Who’s Dunnigan and what unit was he in? Seriously though, I really must question mumon’s moral compass. How can he support a bunch of dumb, bloodthirsty killers who sit around and worry about the number of notches they can carve on their guns?
    The “estimated” number of insurgents today look suspiciously like some folks in the Pentagon have worked backwards from the number of troops present, and they seem to change a lot.
    Seems mumon is using the same slight of hand. Make “the insurgency” so large that we would never be able to mobilize enough troops to quell it and then sit back and bitch that we don’t have enough troops and the plan sucked and Bush is evil.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    ucfengr:
    Who’s Dunnigan and what unit was he in?
    He’s a mensch.
    How can he support a bunch of dumb, bloodthirsty killers who sit around and worry about the number of notches they can carve on their guns?
    Like I said, I don’t want them dead.
    How can you claim to be pro-life and want them dead? Seems to be a problem with your moral compass.
    Seems mumon is using the same slight of hand. Make “the insurgency” so large that we would never be able to mobilize enough troops to quell it…
    Ummm… you could be able to mobilize enough troops to quell it. But you’d need a D-R-A-F-T.
    But if ol Jack Megachurch with the yellow “support our troops” bumpersticker on his SUV had to send his son to Iraq…well, there’s a reason we have an “all-volunteer” Army today.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I don’t get why Joe doesn’t support the United States of America?
    By that I mean there’s a long history here of civilian rule over the military. In other words we do not have the military making policy decisions but they carry out the orders of the civilian government, even in times of war.
    So to keep this clear let’s take an easy example and apply it to the big picture. If I think the speed limit should be 75 and not 65 should I blame the cops or the gov’t? If I campaign for increasing the speed limit am I not “showing support” for cops? Is it a contradiction to say that I support the cops but not the low speed limit?
    Any intelligent person, and even many regulars here, will know instantly the answer to the above question. They’d immediately see the difference between advocating a change in policy and respecting those whose duty it is to carry out whatever policy a democratic gov’t decides on.
    But the problem here is not what ‘the left’ did to Vietnam vets but what the right did in Vietnam & later on. They equated opposition to a military policy to disrespecting the troops. (BTW, this ‘rule’ was happily ignored when the military action happened to be ordered by a certain recent President who was not a Republican)
    Hence many people feel they have to head off such bogus accusations by emphasizing that they do not disagree with those who implement a policy but those who make a policy. This is a very told trick. Over 100 years ago Abe Lincoln had to do the same thing to dodge accusations that his opposition to the war with Mexico was also opposition to the American soldier.
    Both Stein and Carter are wrong on this one. To ‘support’ or ‘not support’ ‘the troops’ has nothing to do with whether or not one supports the war. Carter, being an ex-military man, though, should really know better. To equate ‘the troops’ with a particular policy implies that out gov’t is something other than civilian run. A military run gov’t should be abhorant to any sensible person but it should be especially abhorant to a member of the US armed forces.
    Sadly this failure to think clearly and remember American ideals leads Joe to this silly conclusion:

    This puts the protesters in a quandary. Either the

  • Mike

    Brandon Snider commented about this subject several months ago….
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/snider1.html

  • Nick

    Joe:
    I believe that it is immoral to participate in a clearly immoral war.
    Hi Joe,
    Would you favor changing the laws governing conscientious objector status? As I understand it, a soldier may be eligible for a discharge as a conscientious objector, if he can demonstrate that he has come to believe all war is immoral. However, if he believes that a particular war is immoral, but not all war, he is not considered a conscientious objector and would be required to continue serving. AFAIK, the law makes no distinction between believing that a particular war is a strategic blunder and believing that it is immoral. Your statement above indicates that soldiers should be making moral judgements about particular wars, not just war in general. In that case, wouldn’t it be a good idea for the law to recognize that moral responsibility?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I hope that’s not the case Nick. It would be a shame if Joe decided he did not support America anymore!

  • rdsmith3 (Bob)

    I said: It is sometimes administered incorrectly.
    Tom said: I agree, which is why I included my caveat in the original statement. One can be for capital punishment in theory (as I am) and still recognize that, practically speaking, it should be administered rarely. But in cases where they is no doubt to the guilt of the murder, then it is an affront to justice and to the victims that he gets to live while the innocent victim is dead.

  • Mike

    Boonton,
    What about when the politicians pass a law that instructs the state police to round up all Jews and the police comply?
    Speed limits on the surface are not largely a moral issue.
    I agree with you an Mumon for once.
    I think we need to make a distinction between the individual men and women and the “military”.
    The “military” is the administrative unit that consists of the careers of millions, and eats up a huge chunk of our federal budget. The “men and women” are individuals, all of whom entered the military for personal reasons.
    That these men and women served does not create a positive obligation on my part to provide them with anything. Most of them probably entered the military for personal reasons, not just to “protect our freedoms”. Reasons like adventure, an income, a large sign on bonus, promises of money for college, and federal benefits. I did not ask these people to serve.
    I would be inclined to believe our military was “defending our freedoms” if they would limit themselves to defending our borders…and if they did it successfully. Remember 9/11? They couldn’t even defend their headquarters–the Pentagon.
    It’s much more reasonable to believe that the military is just a tool for Congress and the White House to enact their foreign policy goals.
    And if the military is sooooo good at defending our freedoms, why do we need a Dept. of Homeland Security?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Boonton,
    What about when the politicians pass a law that instructs the state police to round up all Jews and the police comply?Speed limits on the surface are not largely a moral issue.

    I would think opposing such a law would not be opposint the police but rather the politicians who passed it.
    Here’s another example that’s less extreme. What about people who feel that pot should be legalized or at least that people should not get 20 years in jail simply because they sometimes use pot without hurting anyone? Does taking that position mean you have to not “support the police” who enforce such laws that you are seeking to change? Does feeling that the law is wrong mean that you feel the police should but their judgement above their fellow citizens and declare they will not enforce it?
    The problem with “but I support the troops” is not that it is not true. Many congressmen who opposed the war, for example, have been all over the administration for not giving the troops the proper body armour. Does not supporting the war mean you have to be against protecting the troops that we have in Iraq or else Joe Carter will find you guilty of hypocrisy?
    The problem with “but I support the troops” is the assumption that it has to be said. It is, quite frankly, an insult and the left should be calling the right out on it. There is no more need for a liberal who opposes the war to remind people that he supports the troops than there is for a libertarian who opposed public schools to remind people that he ‘supports the children’ or a conservative who disagrees with affirmative action to remind people that he doesn’t hate black people.

  • Chris Lutz

    I’ve read How to Make War by Dunnigan. It’s a good read but it’s definitely stuck in the past. That’s not to say that a lot of it isn’t relevant, but you can’t fight a new war by using past war standards. Also, I read quite a bit of military history and I’ve never seen anyone complain about mines unless they were on the receiving end.
    well, there’s a reason we have an “all-volunteer” Army today
    It’s called Vietnam. I find it funny that the same type of people who complained about the draft in the past, complain now that we don’t have one.

  • tom

    I am not sure what Paul meant exactly. Would you say this to the Iraqis under Saddam? Would you say this to the Jews under Hitler? That would win a lot of converts, right? ;) So there must be situations in which, if the ruler is doing something that is against God’s will, then it is God’s will for us to rebel.
    And what about our Founding Fathers? But remember that Paul was writing Romans 13 when the utterly wicked Nero was the Roman emperor.
    I admit it is not absolutely cut-and-dried, but the key part of your phrase is “against God’s will.” Punsihing evil-doers is clearly not against God’s will. And Genesis 9:6 gives a clear reason why capital punishment is God’s will, a command not fulfilled or superceded by Christ’s life and death.
    It’s the ultimate penalty for the ultimate crime.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Mumon,
    President Bush has not taken me into his confidence on this, so I cannot guarantee that what I am about to say is correct. But I suspect that one reason we invaded Iraq with only about 200,000 of our own troops is because we wanted to avoid repeating an error we made in Vietnam. That error was turning South Vietnam into Fortress U.S.A. by sending too many troops (and support personnel) for too long.
    Our error in Vietnam, while made with the best of intentions, generated several problems for our side. We created a garrison state that inflamed nationalist passions in both the North and the South, we horribly distorted both the economy and the politics of the South, and we provided a bright, huge, tempting target to the Viet Cong guerillas and the North Vietnamese army.
    So while we enjoyed a long string of battlefield victories during that conflict, our strategic oversight helped to create a mess that we eventually chose to deal with by abandoning the South to the communist North.
    Rob,
    Also, the deaths of innocents at our hands, while practically inevitable, cannot be characterized as just.
    We killed a lot more innocent civilians in France during 1944-45 than we killed in Iraq. If those deaths were unjust, then it seems to me you are, with all due respect, just an unreconstructed pacifist who is reluctant to show his true colors.
    I have a question for you: would you characterize the death of enemy soldiers at our hands as just? I don’t see a huge difference between annihilating a platoon of unwilling Iraqi conscripts and accidentally killing some Iraqi civilians with a bomb that has gone astray.
    Joe,
    What if you were living in America during the late 1930

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Chris Lutz:
    I’d like to thank you for the post.
    Anyway, Dunnigan’s book has been through I think serveral editions; I haven’t read a new one since the early 90s. But, as I said, neither the insurgents nor us use past standards for war; they do evolve.
    But IEDs and mines, with greater lethality today, still pose problems.
    I find it funny that the same type of people who complained about the draft in the past, complain now that we don’t have one.
    Actually, I’m quite conflicted about a draft; my point was though that we could prevail over an insurgency, albeit at a political cost the Republicans – and many on the center and left- would be unwilling to bear.
    But if you want to win, you’ve got to have the strength to do it.

  • Enigma

    What specific tasks is the Air Force performing that are “traditionally” the role of the Army?
    Convoy duty. I knew a communications 2Lt who was tasked with taking 2 other airmen out to ride shotgun with an army convoy.
    I’m not jumping into the argument one way or another here, just pointing out that the AF is indeed being tasked with things that have traditionally been army duties due to the traditional ground forces being streatched thin.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Matthew Goggins:
    I think the other “mistake” we made in Vietnam was taking on an enemy righteously peeved at centuries of colonialism who was willing to take casualties at 10X the rate at which we were to achieve their objectives.

  • George

    Boonton:
    You say: “The problem with ‘but I support the troops’ is the assumption that it has to be said.”
    It doesn’t have to be said. It is perfectly possible to not support the war and not support the troops. One can not support the war and think that the “troops” are a bunch of violence-loving jingoistic cretins. You know, the kind of guys who wantonly kill animals in the field and terrorize women and children.
    One can “support” the troops for a variety of reasons, as well. For example, one could think of the troops as a bunch of gullible ninnies that volunteered for the job beacuse they weren’t bright enough to know that joining the military could involve some personal risk or were simply misled by slogans. But that’s really prideful pity in drag, not support.
    Personally, I support the troops because I agree that Saddam Hussein was a radical socialist like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao with the same sadistic disregard for human life. He’s a poster child for capital punishment. The planet, possibly excepting the French and Russian oligarchs, is better off without him.
    But I think it is important for people to be candid about their position on this issue. Stein is simply honest where some of our prominent politicians are lying to avoid losing appeal to the majority of the electorate. I can’t fault him for being candid.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Mumon,
    We made a lot more than two mistakes in Vietnam. Maybe our biggest mistake was aping some of the criminal and savage tactics of our enemy.

  • brandon

    joe:
    The problem is that too often people don’t have the courage to live as they truly believe.
    More like the problem is that too often people don’t have the courage to admit what they truly believe.

  • http://www.jesusinhell.com Jesus in Hell

    I love the troops, but I do not support their mission. Does that mean I do not support the troops?
    I will pray for the troops safety, but I also pray that they never kill or maim a human being. Does that mean I do not support the troops?
    I will gladly lay down my life to save the troops, but I will never lay down my life to kill the enemy. Does that mean I do not support the troops?
    I do not support soldiers. I support men and women. I do not support killing. I support killers, by loving them, by forgiving them, by giving them my entire being.
    Is it impossible to love killers? Is it impossible to love those who bomb babies? It is impossible to love those who fly planes into towers?
    I’ve always heard that we had to love our enemies. And that’s what I’m going to do – no matter what flag or uniform they might be wearing.
    If loving the sinner and hating the sin is evil, then call me evil. I call it divine.

  • Rob Ryan

    “But the fact that you instinctively resorted to such language shows that, at heart, you work under those assumptions and only when you cognitively “turned off” these instincts did you have to go back to “correct” yourself. It’s ever so with moral relativists and other non-objectivists.”
    Your amateur psychology notwithstanding, the reason I corrected myself is that I re-read Joe’s comment, noticed the objectivist slant, and decided to clarify my position. Don’t quit your day job, Tom! ;-)
    “We killed a lot more innocent civilians in France during 1944-45 than we killed in Iraq. If those deaths were unjust, then it seems to me you are, with all due respect, just an unreconstructed pacifist who is reluctant to show his true colors.”
    Of course those deaths were unjust; could they be otherwise? If you define “pacifist” as one strongly and actively opposed to war, maybe I am. I am also opposed to killing in general, but I would kill a thug who imminently threatened my family. I think I made it clear that I approved of the U.S. entry into WWII. I am not reluctant to show my true colors; on the contrary, I’ve laid it out as clearly as I can. If it seems unclear, it is because I am more pragmatic than dogmatic.
    “I have a question for you: would you characterize the death of enemy soldiers at our hands as just? I don’t see a huge difference between annihilating a platoon of unwilling Iraqi conscripts and accidentally killing some Iraqi civilians with a bomb that has gone astray.”
    I see quite a bit of difference, Matthew.

  • ex-preacher

    I have trouble getting too excited about this, since I have never quite understood what it means to “support our troops.” Nearly all of those opposed to this war are paying a good chunk of their taxes to support it. Some of them even fly flags. Does it mean that you pray that none of our troops will get killed? That hasn’t apparently worked. You put a magnetic yellow ribbon on your SUV (filled with gasoline from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela)? Does it mean you send care packages? Or buy Jessica Simpson posters since she went to Iraq?
    Assuming he doesn’t write a nationally syndicated article, how would I tell from his behavior whether or not my neighbor supports the troops?

  • Chris Lutz

    Actually, I’m quite conflicted about a draft; my point was though that we could prevail over an insurgency, albeit at a political cost the Republicans – and many on the center and left- would be unwilling to bear.
    I agree with you there. I agreed with invading Iraq, but I haven’t been real happy with the post invasion strategy. We’ve fought insurgencies before and won, the Phillippines. I think I know where you are heading with the political cost statement, but I don’t think the draft in and of itself would be the problem. I think how you have to prosecute wars against insurgencies would be the problem. If you follow the Phillipines model, you get the following:
    1. Carrot – reward those loyal to you (we seem to reward everyone)
    2. Stick – You oppose us, we squash you regardless of civilian casualties (in Mogadishu, the combatants marched women and children in front of them). We try to avoid them, but if you have a stronghold, we’ll level it. Opposition leaders get a long drop from a short rope and anyone else is going to spend some uncomfortable time in prison.
    3. We hold territory and use mobility to hit trouble spots. You have to hold territory to prevent the bad guys from controlling areas. Search and destroy doesn’t work (“Soldier” by Herbert is an interesting read). Insurgencies really come down to will protect the populace. With our superior mobility and command and control we should be able to control territory with troops and rush support to hotspots.
    Sorry, I rambling here. The point is that insurgencies are messy and to quell them you are going to have to take some actions that go against the normal rules of warfare. I don’t believe the people in this country are willing to go through with those steps.
    One problem with my analysis is that the areas that still were difficult when the Phillipines were finally under control were the Muslim areas. I think that Islam represents unique challenges in this case also.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Rob,
    Of course those deaths were unjust; could they be otherwise?
    The deaths are unjust in the sense that the people didn’t deserve to die. But they are not unjust in the sense that we should not have killed them.
    If the only way, or the best way, to get Hitler out of France was to fight in a way that resulted in those people dying, then their deaths were just in the sense of being justified. To borrow your phrase, how could be it be otherwise?
    I see quite a bit of difference, Matthew.
    There’s a big difference in that the civilian deaths seem more random and senseless, and may lead to greater feelings of loss and tragedy among the survivors.
    But there’s no difference at all in terms of deserving to die. The Iraqi conscripts didn’t deserve to die either.
    If you define “pacifist” as one strongly and actively opposed to war, maybe I am.
    By this definition, I am just as big a pacifist as you are.
    However, the best way (the only way?) to avoid a war is to be prepared to fight one. And sometimes you can’t avoid a war without risking having to fight a much larger and deadlier war down the road.

  • Rob Ryan

    “If the only way, or the best way, to get Hitler out of France was to fight in a way that resulted in those people dying, then their deaths were just in the sense of being justified.”
    I agree with this statement precisely as you stated it.
    “There’s a big difference in that the civilian deaths seem more random and senseless, and may lead to greater feelings of loss and tragedy among the survivors.”
    For me the difference is the threat posed to our troops. The uniformed enemy, regardless of his willingness to serve, is clearly a greater threat than the (most likely) innocent civilian asleep in his home with his family.
    My definition of “pacifist” is borrowed from my Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, which lies open by my keyboard at all times.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Chris Lutz:
    The problem with the stick is that today much of that would be considered war crimes, but obviously, if you’re willing to go after civilians, eventually there will be enough dead that the insurgency won’t go on.
    But to be honest, I think the real problem, the elephant in the living room, is oil. Why is the Middle East of “strategic importance?” Oil.
    That’s not to say simplistically “it was a war for oil;” the war came about because of a confluence of factors (Saddam Hussein really was an unstable monster, albeit neutered by the Gulf War, plus some strange Project for a New American Century ideology, plus likely a general distaste for the “non-fly zone” standoff from the Gulf War plus oil). But oil is the Middle East.
    If we were able to reconstruct our economy in such a way that Americans were at the same level they were in the 60s, but without the need for oil, the Middle East would again be strategically irrelevant to the rest of the world.
    True, there’d still be Israel and the fact that there really are Islamic fascists who hate anything non-Islamic, but if oil was 10 cents per barrel instead of $65 a barrel there’d be a lot less at stake.
    Eventually, if humanity survives, oil will again be politically irrelevant to the world, if only because we’ll learn how to live post-peak oil.
    From where I sit, the sooner the US gets to a prosperous post-peak oil economy, the sooner the Middle East becomes as politically relevant as Mali.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Rob,
    For me the difference is the threat posed to our troops. The uniformed enemy, regardless of his willingness to serve, is clearly a greater threat than the (most likely) innocent civilian asleep in his home with his family.
    As I said above, the uniformed enemy does not deserve to die. (Maybe some of them do, but the vast majority do not. Just like the vast majority of civilians do not deserve to die.)
    The difference, as you point out, between combatant and non-combatant is the difference between threat and not-a-threat. And that distinction is precisely what determines our rules of engagement: we target the threat, and we do everything in our power to avoid hitting the non-threat.
    And in this war, the rules of engagement happen to be a major distinction between our side and the terrorist enemy. Our enemies not only target combatant and non-combatant alike, they actually go out of their way on a regular basis to target the non-combatant, the non-threat. And that is one huge reason why they are evil, and richly deserve to be defeated.
    Rob, I would like to know why you are so reluctant to have the American coalition liberate and reconstruct Iraq. Is it merely prudential considerations (you think we’re biting off too much), or do you think it is unjustified to invade Iraq and depose Saddam, even if we could handle it?
    As always, I strongly appreciate your thoughtful views and I respect your judgement, even when I disagree with you.

  • Ed Darrell

    Stein’s position is morally superior to that of those who support the war, but who refuse to support the troops.
    By the way, did I mention Rumsfeld and the Pentagon have again delayed the deployment of adequate body armor for our troops? Did you know the Pentagon has again delayed the shipping of adequatly armed vehicles? Do you remember when Bush threatened to veto the bill to give adequate body armor to our troops, because it was more than Bush asked for?

  • ucfengr

    Like I said, I don’t want them dead.
    If that’s your standard, I guess you could say you support me, since I assume you don’t want me dead. Heck, I could probably even assume you support President Bush;).
    How can you claim to be pro-life and want them dead?
    I don’t claim to be pro-life, but I don’t see an inconsistency in being against abortion and wanting to see certain people dead. For example, I didn’t shed any tears over that old murderer, Arafat, and I won’t over Castro or Kim Il Jung. I might even throw a party when Castro shuffles off.
    Ummm… you could be able to mobilize enough troops to quell it. But you’d need a D-R-A-F-T.
    Does you vaunted GEN Shinseki(?spelling) even think we need a draft to mobilize more troops? Nobody else in the military wants one. The only people I remember calling for a draft seemed to want to limit it to rich, white kids in the mistaken (and IMO racist) assumption that the military is full of dumb Blacks and Hispanics.

  • ucfengr

    Convoy duty. I knew a communications 2Lt who was tasked with taking 2 other airmen out to ride shotgun with an army convoy.
    I’ve never been in the Air Force, but I assume that Air Force personnel ride shotgun on Air Force convoys (yes, the Air Force does have truck convoys), so I don’t see this as a “traditional Army” task. If you had told me that AF personnel were acting as tankers, artillerymen, or infantry, I would have been suprised, but this appears to be reaching to me. This would be like saying that Air Force cooks are working in Army mess halls.

  • ucfengr

    By the way, did I mention Rumsfeld and the Pentagon have again delayed the deployment of adequate body armor for our troops? Did you know the Pentagon has again delayed the shipping of adequatly armed vehicles? Do you remember when Bush threatened to veto the bill to give adequate body armor to our troops, because it was more than Bush asked for?
    Let’s assume that all this is true, what does it mean? Does it mean that Rumsfeld wants more troops to die? Do we have this “adequate” body armor sitting in a warehouse some where, and Rumsfeld doesn’t feel like shipping it because he needs the trucks to help build a golf course in his backyard? What is meant by “adequately armed vehicles”? Adequately armed for what purpose? What about this bill that Bush supposedly threatened to veto? Why did he threaten to veto it? Was it because he didn’t want the troops to have adequate body armor or was their something else in there that caused him to make this threat? Without any context, this statement is meaningless and designed to inflame passions more than pass on any relevent information.

  • Rob Ryan

    “The only people I remember calling for a draft seemed to want to limit it to rich, white kids in the mistaken (and IMO racist) assumption that the military is full of dumb Blacks and Hispanics.”
    I have never heard of anyone calling for anything other than an across-the-board draft, ucfengr. Perhaps you can support your memory with some evidence.
    “Rob, I would like to know why you are so reluctant to have the American coalition liberate and reconstruct Iraq. Is it merely prudential considerations (you think we’re biting off too much), or do you think it is unjustified to invade Iraq and depose Saddam, even if we could handle it?”
    Too late to be reluctant now, Matthew, as we’re already in up to our eyeballs. I do not advocate immediate total withdrawal, either. We have taken on a responsibility. Sadly, we missed the opportunity to do the smart thing, which was to let the Iraqis deal with their own problems.
    But as for your questions: I think our Iraq project is more costly than it’s worth, both in terms of money and lives. I cannot foresee an outcome so rosy that the enormous expense could be justified. The money would have been better spent on securing our borders, education, or any number of ways. Heck, we could have just let the taxpayers keep it or eliminated our suddenly-bloated deficit. I thought republicans were supposed to be fiscally responsible, but this administration spends like a drunken democrat!
    Nor do I buy the argument that this is part of the war on terrorism. Iraq threatens us now more than under Saddam. I’m glad the bastard is gone, but it is not worth what we paid to do it.
    As for the humanitarian aspect, I am delighted that the Iraqis will get to choose their own government. I fear, however, that they might eventually favor an Iran-style theocracy. Why don’t we liberate North Korea now? Because it would be too expensive in terms of lives, dollars, and international standing. That’s how I feel about this war. I want more bang for my buck, and more real benefit for our country per life lost.
    If we could have deposed Saddam cheaply and with the assurance of a better situation to follow, I would have praised the plan to the skies. Same with all the other brutal dictators in the world.

  • Eric & Lisa

    Rob Ryan writes;
    “Sadly, we missed the opportunity to do the smart thing, which was to let the Iraqis deal with their own problems.”
    12 years was not enough. If we would have just given them one more year!

  • Eric & Lisa

    Rob Ryan writes;
    “Sadly, we missed the opportunity to do the smart thing, which was to let the Iraqis deal with their own problems.”
    12 years was not enough. If we would have just given them one more year!

  • Chris Lutz

    Mumon:
    The problem with the stick is that today much of that would be considered war crimes, but obviously, if you’re willing to go after civilians, eventually there will be enough dead that the insurgency won’t go on.
    I know I sounded harsh earlier, but I’m not saying “go after civilians.” I’m saying that by nature insurgencies hide amongst the civilian population and you have to be willing to accept civilian casualties to stop an insurgency that you wouldn’t accept in a normal conflict between normal armies. I’m not advocating targeting civilians.
    I agree that oil makes the area critical and we need to find ways to make ourselves less dependent.

  • ucfengr

    I have never heard of anyone calling for anything other than an across-the-board draft, ucfengr. Perhaps you can support your memory with some evidence.
    Rob–The only recent bill calling for a reinstatement of the draft was put forth by Charles Rangel (D-NY). His purpose in putting forth the bill was not so much to reinstate the draft as to highlight the “class disparity” between soldiers and their civilian leadership (i.e. poor Black/Hispanic soldiers fighting and dying, rich white civilians, like Bush and Rumsfeld in charge). We also saw lots of comments about if Bush is so hot for war, why doesn’t he send his daughters (draft?) to fight in it (surely you remember those). In short, the purpose for the draft by many advocates was not to strengthen our military, but to weaken our resolve for the war using the (IMO) mistaken assumption that rich, white Republicans (is there another kind?) will support the war as long as only poor, dumb minorities are doing most of the fighting and dying, but wouldn’t be willing to risk the lives of their precious little angels to help a bunch of (insert offensive name for Arabs here). Hence the implication that those favoring a draft where more concerned with drafting rich, white kids.

  • http://http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Rob,
    Thank you, I feel I understand your position better now.
    If you’re curious to know what I think, I’m happy to respond to any questions you might have. For now, though, I’m also happy to let you have the last word on this.
    Peace, amigo.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Personally, I support the troops because I agree that Saddam Hussein was a radical socialist like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao with the same sadistic disregard for human life. He’s a poster child for capital punishment. The planet, possibly excepting the French and Russian oligarchs, is better off without him.
    So your support of the troops is contingent on Hussein’s sadism? If Saddam was a bit nicer you’d what? Hope the troops get killed?

  • Rob Ryan

    “12 years was not enough. If we would have just given them one more year!”
    Well, that’s up to the Iraqis, isn’t it, E&L? I said let the Iraqis deal with their problems; I didn’t say we had to like their results or lack thereof. If you think it is our responsibility to remove dictators, why don’t you promote Korea for our next liberation project?

  • ucfengr

    why don’t you promote Korea for our next liberation project?
    Iran or Syria would be better choices.

  • Ebonmuse

    ucfengr:
    “Now if mumon had ever actually met a infantryman he would know that soldiers volunteer to be in the infantry, they don’t land in it. He would also know that the infantry training course requires soldiers that are highly intelligent as well as highly motivated and the course itself is actually pretty difficult and requires a very high score on the ASVAB test to qualify to even attempt the school. The Army doesn’t put their dummies in the infantry.”
    Perhaps you are not aware that the Army has had so much trouble recruiting that it is now drastically lowering its standards. The number of applicants who score in the lowest third of the armed forces aptitude test – the so-called Category IV recruits – made up as little as 0.6 percent of the Army as recently as 2004. In September 2005, the Defense Department raised that limit, allowing up to 4% of each year’s applicants to be Category IV. That still wasn’t enough. In October 2005, there was so much difficulty recruiting that 12% of all recruits that month were Category IV. They won’t even say how many Category IVs there were in November.
    http://www.slate.com/id/2133908/nav/tap1/
    What more evidence could you need that this disastrous and ill-conceived war is wrecking our military?

  • Scott Renner

    In baseball, I support the Chicago Cubs. (Insert your own joke here.)
    When the Cubs play, I want them to win. I want the other team to lose.
    People who want the Cubs to lose don’t support the Cubs. They support the other team.
    Some people think that playing baseball is a mistaken waste of time. They don’t support the Cubs, either.
    It is just that simple.

  • http://thomasgalvin.blogspot.com/2006/01/joel-stein-im-too-smart-to-support.html THE GALVIN OPINION

    JOEL STEIN: I’M TOO SMART TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS

    Stein, a joke, was a talking head on VH1′s “I love the 80s”. He claims he did well in school. So, only dumb people join the military? And this is what he wrote in the New Yorker in August 2005…

  • http://thomasgalvin.blogspot.com/2006/01/joel-stein-im-too-smart-to-support.html THE GALVIN OPINION

    JOEL STEIN: I’M TOO SMART TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS

    Stein, a joke, was a talking head on VH1′s “I love the 80s”. He claims he did well in school. So, only dumb people join the military? And this is what he wrote in the New Yorker in August 2005…

  • The Raven

    When it comes to Iraq, at this point I’m willing to step forward and say no, I most emphatically do not support the troops.
    Because “support the troops” is, for the vast majority of Americans, a phrase nearly empty of meaning. I don’t think putting a yellow magnet on my car would qualify as support. Inasmuch as I believe that our troops are in Iraq for mistaken reasons – or reasons that have never been adequately explained – it is fitting and proper to follow Murtha’s suggestion that they be removed from the immediate vicinity of Iraq and redeployed “over the horizon” as soon as is practical.
    To my way of thinking, that would support the troops in several ways. It would spare many of them from disfigurement, injury and death, PTSD, and allow them to recuperate. It would potentially slow down or halt the breeding and training of an entire generation of terrorists.
    But no, I don’t support the massive toll our troops are inflicting on Iraqi civilians, I don’t support their hooding and beating and stripping and humiliating their captives, and I don’t support our troops firing bullets into people whose principle crime is that they would prefer we weren’t occupying their country.
    Afghanistan? Catching Osama? I support any troops involved there. I support our troops eliminating nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, I support our troops pacifying the Sudan and Darfur. I would very much support our troops sealing off our border with Mexico from the waves of illegal immigrants streaming across daily. Lots of things I would support our troops for doing – but not for their activities in Iraq, no. Joel is spot on in his remarks and bravo to him for having the courage to state them publicly.

  • ucfengr

    What more evidence could you need that this disastrous and ill-conceived war is wrecking our military?
    I work for “the military”. So I guess I would respond by asking “who should I trust, some Slate reporter, or my own lying eyes.” The folks I work with don’t seem to think that the War in Iraq was either disatrous or ill-conceived and certainly wouldn’t agree that it is wrecking the military, but I’m sure they will appreciate you new found concern for their well-being.

  • ucfengr

    Some people think that playing baseball is a mistaken waste of time. They don’t support the Cubs, either.
    Heh, heh.

  • Rob

    For all the Hugh Hewitt types out there, who believe it is impossible to support the US military as a general matter, and also dissent vehemently from the Iraq War, let me pose you a question: is it ever possible for someone who supports the US military to disagree with the prudence of a military intervention?
    Of course, you’d have to say yes. It may take you a minute or two, since it appears many of you have never even thought about that, but it beggars belief to imagine a negative answer to my question. So…what is the big deal? I think this happens all the time. If a US president–Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter–decided to drop a nuclear bomb on, say, Toronto, because Canada allows illegals across the border, wouldn’t everyone say “I don’t support that”? [God, I hope so.] And if so, would it then be impossible for those persons to say “I support our military though”??? Of course not. This whole discussion is beyond weird Way beyond weird….

  • Rob Ryan

    “Iran or Syria would be better choices.”
    Wasn’t Iran’s leader elected?

  • ucfengr

    For all the Hugh Hewitt types out there, who believe it is impossible to support the US military as a general matter, and also dissent vehemently from the Iraq War, let me pose you a question: is it ever possible for someone who supports the US military to disagree with the prudence of a military intervention?
    Of course it’s possible, but given the history of much of the anti-war left I am skeptical that they fall into that category. Especially in light of the fact that they are unwilling to acknowledge the good things that the US Forces are doing in Iraq, prefering instead to focus on Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and waiting with baited breath for the 1000th US death and then the 2000th to use as a blugeon to attack US policy.

  • ucfengr

    Wasn’t Iran’s leader elected?
    If you say so, but so what? I am sure Kim Il Jung has “elections” every year that he wins handily. I seem to remember Saddam used to consistently win nearly 100% of the vote in each “Iraqi election.”

  • tommythecat

    kill 4 jesus
    kill 4 jesus
    kill kill kill

  • tom

    “Of course it’s possible, but given the history of much of the anti-war left I am skeptical that they fall into that category. Especially in light of the fact that they are unwilling to acknowledge the good things that the US Forces are doing in Iraq, prefering instead to focus on Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and waiting with baited breath for the 1000th US death and then the 2000th to use as a blugeon to attack US policy.”
    —————————————-
    I’ve always thought that the right’s claim the left is unpatriotic or doesn’t support the troops because it has tended to focus on the problems with the invasion and occupation of Iraq is nothing more than a rhetorical tool to put the Left on the defensive.
    The fact is, there is very little evidence to suggest that the Left is anything other than a HUGE supporter of the troops. It’s the left calling for more body armor, for example.
    But more to the point, the foucs on AG and the mounting death toll in Iraq is a message that reflects not on the troops, but on the Military and civilian leadership that many of us believe has fundementally undermined out abiltiy to defend ourselves as well as our allies. Iran is a perfect example. Here is where the REAL danger lies. Yet, use of troops in Iran is out of the question as long as we are trapped in Iraq tryng to quell a revolution, rebuild a country and direct a political reconstitution of that country.

  • tom

    “The whole “support the troops, but not the war” mantra of the left reminds me of another seeming contradiction: those who “personally” oppose abortion but support a woman’s right to choose.”
    ————————
    You don’t buy the “personally oppose abortion, support a woman’s right” mantra. OK. Would you support this mantra:
    “I personally oppose christianity, but I support a person’s right to believe.”

  • The Raven

    “Especially in light of the fact that they are unwilling to acknowledge the good things that the US Forces are doing in Iraq…”
    Well, one doesn’t assume that the sole activity of our soldiers is raping innocent civilians, does one. We can take it more or less on faith that here and there we pass out candy to children, but just today in the Washington Post there’s a story about how reconstruction is crawling at a snail’s pace and stymied in many cases by conflicts between Halliburton and the Corps of Engineers, who are locked in battles over turf. Cheney’s people just want the money.
    Perhaps we’ve rebuilt a few of the schools we bombed into rubble, same with a few hospitals. So yeah, probably a good thing or two, but more realistically by “doing good” you really meant “undoing the damage inflicted by our Shock and Awe campaign.”
    See, Bush himself is recorded as saying (and I watched the live press conference myself) that we estimate “30,000″ Iraqi dead, a huge number of which are non-combatants, i.e., civilian casualties. Yep – war is messy, which is why you make DAMNED SURE you have to go in BEFORE you go in.
    The one thing you really don’t want to do is put Colin Powell up in front of the UN with a bunch of bogus photographs and some half-assed cockamamie story about “mobile weapons labs” and “aluminum cannisters” that all turns out to be total BS. Because then all that killing and collateral damage and blood and rage and killing and terror and torture and grief-crazed fathers and brothers and daughters and killing and rape and destruction turns out to be a big “whoopsie!”
    And that, to me, is a lot more important to focus on than a Reader’s Digest moment involving Pfc Smith handing out lollypops on a streetcorner.

  • tom

    First off, there’s a new “tom” posting who is not me, lest some of you think I’m suddenly schizoid for posting things the opposite of what I would normally.
    we estimate “30,000″ Iraqi dead
    And this assumes they were all killed by Americans. No, in fact the vast majority of civlian casualties are inflicted by the terrorists. I know a Marine who served in Fallujah and Ramadi who will tell you about insurgents hiding behind women and children, herding them in front of them as they attack, and the Marines don’t shoot back. And of course we’ve all read about the numerous car bombings and suicide bombings of restaurants, markets etc. by the terrorists.
    And the Raven doesn’t seem the slightest bit concerned about the hundreds of thousands of dead in Saddam’s mass graves that are no longer being filled.
    And that, to me, is a lot more important to focus on than a Reader’s Digest moment involving Pfc Smith handing out lollypops on a streetcorner.
    And that comment shows the utter ignorance of the Raven’s sentiments, if that’s all he believes we’re doing there. And, no, we didn’t bomb schools and hospitals into rubble. We went to extraordinary lengths to hit only military targets. Proof? Just look at footage from the war and the number of cars still driving around Baghdad at the height of the campaign. The Iraqis themselves were so confident of our intentions and ability to hit only military targets that most of them went about their business.

  • Tom2

    “And the Raven doesn’t seem the slightest bit concerned about the hundreds of thousands of dead in Saddam’s mass graves that are no longer being filled.”
    —————————————–
    See, the problem with this, Tom1, is that if Bush had been talking about these dead Iraqis in `1999, 2000 and 2001 it would have had some meaning. But the presidential candidate Bush and the President Bush didnt’ see to care about them…certainly not enough to talk much about, let alone take us to war over it. So, if you want to get all bothered about people not taking into accout the dead that Saddam created, you might start with President Bush.

  • giddyyup

    Re: “The whole “support the troops, but not the war” mantra of the left reminds me of another seeming contradiction: those who “personally” oppose abortion but support a woman’s right to choose.”
    I thought of another one: those who oppose abortion but support the death penalty.
    This post and discussion remind me again of a quote I’ve posted here at least once before:
    “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
    Accordingly, Stein is a peanut-brain.
    I’m sure many people posting here have used the phrase: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
    Well, apply it to all these inane “inconsistencies”.

  • Ebonmuse

    I work for “the military”. So I guess I would respond by asking “who should I trust, some Slate reporter, or my own lying eyes.”
    How about trusting facts, which I presented, over vague anecdotal assertions, which seem to be all you have to offer?
    The folks I work with don’t seem to think that the War in Iraq was either disatrous or ill-conceived and certainly wouldn’t agree that it is wrecking the military, but I’m sure they will appreciate you new found concern for their well-being.
    Excuse me – “newfound”? How dare you, sir? Attack my position all you like; question the facts it is based upon; I can take it. But do not dare question my patriotism or imply that my concern for the lives of our soldiers is anything less than total. I have always been concerned for our soldiers’ well-being and safety and I have always opposed this war; the two are one and the same. I will not sit by and see my love of my country or my fellow Americans impugned by right-wing fanatics whose knee-jerk response is to slander anyone that will not give blind allegiance to their destructive, short-sighted belligerence. A great many Democrats in office may cower and retreat when anyone questions their patriotism, but I will not.
    The way in which I support the troops is that I advocate bringing them home so that no more have to be wounded, crippled, or killed in an endless war that has no clear objective or plan for victory, that has not made the USA any safer, that has not improved living conditions for the Iraqi people, and that continues to put our servicemen and -women in danger needlessly because this administration still refuses to supply them with adequate armor. All that this war has accomplished in the long run is to turn Iraq into an Islamic theocracy and a breeding ground for terrorism, where before it was neither.
    And if we want to talk about all the good our invasion has done, why don’t we start by discussing basic utilities, which still have not been repaired almost three years after this war. Even in Baghdad, the heart of American presence in Iraq, Iraqi families are limited to a few hours of electricity per day, if that; water is often shut off for days at a time; and in one of the world’s largest oil-producing countries, the price of gasoline has skyrocketed and lines to refill a car’s gas tank are up to ten hours long. (Thank you, Halliburton, and thank you, Bush, for all the no-bid contracts you awarded them.) You want to talk about progress? Let’s get the Iraqis back up to an ordinary standard of civilized living, like the one they had before the war, and then we’ll talk.

  • terence Moeller

    The following is a recent interview of law prof and blogger Hew Hewit and Stein . . .
    HH: Let me ask you a tough question, Joel, because this is the toughest one. J.P. Blecksmith was a young Marine lieutenant, graduated from Annapolis, killed in Fallujah on November 11th, 2004. Just a tremendous human being and man. If you meet his parents on the street, what do you say to them?
    JS: That I’m so, so sorry.
    HH: Do you honor the service that their son did?
    JS: To honor the service their son…now this is a dumb question, but what do you mean by honor? That’s a word you keep using. I’m not entirely…maybe that’s my problem. But I’m not entirely sure what you’re…
    HH: Honor usually means gratitude and esteem. Are you grateful for and esteem what he did? Honestly?
    JS: Honestly? I admire the bravery. I don’t…you know, I feel like he did something I could never do, so I’m kind of in awe on some level. Am I grateful, that I feel like he protected me? Um, no I don’t.
    HH: And so, do you think he died in vain?
    JS: Yeah. I do. And that’s why I’m so horrified by all this, and why I don’t want empty sentiments prolonging the war.
    HH: And the people who’ve died in Afghanistan. Have they died in vain?
    JS: Well, if they haven’t, what have they accomplished?
    HH: I’m asking you, Joel. You wrote the column. You tell me. Have they accomplished nothing?
    JS: Well, um, do I think that I, as an American, are safer because of what they did?
    HH: That wasn’t what I asked. I askd did they accomplish anything in going to Afghanistan.
    JS: If I were an Afghani, I would probably…if I lived in Kabul, I probably would think that they accomplished something, sure.
    HH: All right. Now have you read any books on the military? I mean, do you read this stuff at all, like Robert Kaplan’s Imperial Grunts?
    JS: No. No, I’m not an expert at this at all. I mean, I think you certainly can tell.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Participating in this discussion has inspired me to put up a new post on my blog.
    My post reports on a big lie that Senator Hillary Clinton has been trying to peddle recently. I also talk about a modest war hero who witnessed an honest-to-goodness war crime and acted bravely and decisively to put an end to it.
    The can read the post by clicking here: “Hillary Clinton and the late Hugh Thompson”.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Oops — “The” should read “You”. Sorry!

  • Ulysses

    Maybe people would understand Joel Stein

  • The Raven

    “Stein is saying that if you’re morally opposed to the war in Iraq…”
    Actually, Joel Stein is a comedian. A comedian. You know, one of those people who tells jokes for a living. Keep that in mind.
    But I want to comment on the use of the word “moral” as you employ it here, Odysseus. It’s one thing to say that you’re morally opposed to war. That’s a fairly consistent position – means that you don’t approve of war stuff in general.
    Yet the Iraq war is… How does one put this… It’s a mistake. Our leaders have told us that it was a mistake, based on incorrect premises. It was a colossal blunder. We should not be there, and so everything we do there is the compounding of an act of historic stupidity. Really, you need an imbecile of the caliber of a George Bush to get you into trouble this bad.
    So, when an incompetent stumblebum, through his own inept jackassery, puts us in a position where everything we do is a mistake, then you don’t have to be morally opposed to it to be reasonably opposed to it. You can be opposed to it the same way you can be opposed to drunk driving, or graffiti, or shopping carts that have squeaky wheels. You can oppose the Iraq war on simple grounds of logic and reasonableness that have nothing to do with morality.
    And then, when you bring morality into the picture, you get a really good argument as to why we shouldn’t be there.

  • ucfengr

    Well, one doesn’t assume that the sole activity of our soldiers is raping innocent civilians, does one. We can take it more or less on faith that here and there we pass out candy to children
    Well good on yah. That wasn’t so hard was it? I am sure the troops will be relieved to know that you are aware that in addition to raping innocent civilians, they also have the trying task of passing out candy to little Iraqi ragamuffins, no doubt orphaned the predations of our rapists in uniform. Bravo.
    How about trusting facts, which I presented, over vague anecdotal assertions, which seem to be all you have to offer?
    I don’t recall any facts, just an article from Slate magazine. I don’t know why I should trust the veracity of the article any more than I trust my own “vague anecdotal assertions”, which were acquired on a visit to Al Jabar Airbase in Kuwait, as I said, I do work for “the military.” I hesitate to be more specific due to a desire to remain personally and professionally anonymous.
    Excuse me – “newfound”? How dare you, sir? Attack my position all you like; question the facts it is based upon; I can take it. But do not dare question my patriotism or imply that my concern for the lives of our soldiers is anything less than total.
    Yes, yes, yes, I am sure your patriotism is long held and total. Yawn…
    The way in which I support the troops is that I advocate bringing them home so that no more have to be wounded, crippled, or killed in an endless war that has no clear objective or plan for victory
    Is that the way your support your local police and fire departments as well? I know of no clear plan to eliminate violent crime or fires, yet we send our firefighters and police officers to be maimed and killed in defense of the innocent. What should we do, pull them back? Restrict of police officers to taking reports and writing parking tickets and our firefighters to washing and waxing the trucks and maintaining the firehouse?
    that has not made the USA any safer, that has not improved living conditions for the Iraqi people
    Well, we haven’t had any terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11 and the Iraqi people seem to disagree with you judging from recent polls taken over there.
    and that continues to put our servicemen and -women in danger needlessly because this administration still refuses to supply them with adequate armor.
    This armor issue is so 2003. What is adequate armor? There is no shortage of advanced body armor or armored vehicles, you need some new talking points.
    All that this war has accomplished in the long run is to turn Iraq into an Islamic theocracy and a breeding ground for terrorism, where before it was neither.
    I am sure the folks who voted in the recent Iraqi election would dispute this “fact”, but whatever gets you by.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Ucfengr,
    Bravo!

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    OK so I’ve yet to hear one person here argue in a sensible way that there is a contradiction between ‘supporting the military’ and not supporting a war the military has been ordered to fight….that includes (as it usually does) Joe who started this thread!

  • mcg

    Moreover, if we are going to adhere to the Mosaic laws, then should we not use the death penalty for adultery and not keeping holy the Sabbath?

    I should point out that God instituted the death penalty for murder with Noah, not with Moses. Hence the argument that if we’re going to keep the death penalty, we must keep other Mosaic laws, doesn’t fly.

  • Ebonmuse

    I don’t recall any facts, just an article from Slate magazine.
    You actually have to read the article to get the facts. Here are some of them:
    “In response to the tightening trends, on Sept. 20, 2005, the Defense Department released DoD Instruction 1145.01, which allows 4 percent of each year’s recruits to be Category IV applicants — up from the 2 percent limit that had been in place since the mid-1980s. Even so, in October, the Army had such a hard time filling its slots that the floodgates had to be opened; 12 percent of that month’s active-duty recruits were Category IV. November was another disastrous month; Army officials won’t even say how many Cat IV applicants they took in, except to acknowledge that the percentage was in ‘double digits.’”
    Category IV applicants are, let us not forget, the ones who score in the bottom third of the aptitude test. Also (http://www.ngb.army.mil/news/story.asp?id=2091), the Army has recently raised its maximum age of eligibility by five years and doubled the cash bonuses for enlistment. And despite all this, they still fell 7,000 short of their goal of 80,000 recruits last year. But no, recruitment isn’t in any trouble at all, is it? You still have not presented any facts to dispute any of this, merely your conveniently vague and undefined “personal experience”.
    Yes, yes, yes, I am sure your patriotism is long held and total. Yawn…
    So you yawn at patriotism? That’s a shame, but I can’t say it’s a surprise.
    Is that the way your support your local police and fire departments as well? I know of no clear plan to eliminate violent crime or fires, yet we send our firefighters and police officers to be maimed and killed in defense of the innocent.
    This comparison is so nonsensical it’s ridiculous. I support sending police and firefighters out to do the job they volunteered to do, just as I support sending the military out in support of specific wars that actually make America safer and that have a clearly defined plan for victory. The Iraq war is neither of those.
    Well, we haven’t had any terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11…
    That certainly has nothing to do with how much Bush has strengthened our borders, considering that the ten members of the 9/11 commission – five Republicans and five Democrats – gave the government a “failing grade” last month in our response to terrorism (http://www.byui.edu/scroll/20051206/news3.html).
    …and the Iraqi people seem to disagree with you judging from recent polls taken over there.
    Recent polls taken by whom? The US military, let us not forget, has admitted that they have been paying Iraqis to write positive opinion pieces about America in an attempt to improve their perception of us (which seems to be the administration’s strategy at home as well). You don’t suppose they might have commissioned a few opinion polls as well, do you? Who took these polls and who’s distributing them?
    I am sure the folks who voted in the recent Iraqi election would dispute this “fact”, but whatever gets you by.
    They would dispute which fact? That Iraq is now a breeding ground for terrorists? I don’t see how even you could deny that. Did you mean they were disputing that the country is now an Islamic theocracy? Perhaps you should read the constitution they actually voted for. Here it is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/12/AR2005101201450.html
    “First: Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation. No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.”
    This armor issue is so 2003.
    There could be no better evidence of which one of us actually cares more for our soldiers’ well-being than that statement.
    There is no shortage of advanced body armor or armored vehicles, you need some new talking points.
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1480697
    “Better body armor could have prevented or limited about 80 percent of fatal torso wounds suffered by Marines killed in Iraq, a report by U.S. military medical experts obtained on Friday said.”
    But I suppose those 8 out of 10 American deaths that could have been prevented if the Bush administration had sent them into combat with adequate armor are “so 2003″ as far as you’re concerned. Again: which one of us actually supports the troops, and which one of us is dismissive of unnecessary deaths on the grounds that they happened last summer and are therefore irrelevant? Should we instruct the Army’s casualty notification officers to tell these soldiers’ parents and families that their deaths were “so 2003″? You are aware that American soldiers – and Iraqi civilians – are still dying every week, are you not?

  • Terence Moeller

    Those of you that have taken the party line on the Iraq war, ask yourself a few questions:
    1. If you had absolute power, an ally bordering your country, one year, and 100 billion dollars at your disposal, do you think that you could have managed to dispose of WMDs before the US invasion?
    2. If Bush intentionally lied about WMDs,
    how did he know he was lying — wouldn’t he have to know more than his political foes (Clinton, Gore, Kerry), who publically stated the same postion?
    2. What is potentially more damaging to the safty and moral of the troops — Stein’s statement of not supporting them, or the Democratic Congress’ postion of “supporting the troops” while at the same time undermining their efforts to accomplish their mission?
    Iraq’s WMD Secreted in Syria, Sada Says
    By IRA STOLL – Staff Reporter of the Sun
    January 26, 2006
    The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein’s air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.
    The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, “Saddam’s Secrets,” released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.
    “There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands,” Mr. Sada said. “I am confident they were taken over.”
    Mr. Sada’s comments come just more than a month after Israel’s top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam “transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria.”
    Democrats have made the absence of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a theme in their criticism of the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in 2003. And President Bush himself has conceded much of the point; in a televised prime-time address to Americans last month, he said, “It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.”
    Said Mr. Bush, “We did not find those weapons.

  • windbag

    Thank you, Ebonmuse, for so effectively laying waste to the idiotic, recurring arguments – most of them nothing more than rhetorical tactics spawned from oft-repeated misrepresentations – which tirelessly appear in this forum about the Iraq war.
    But, also realize, you won’t be the first voice of reason to have your clear arguments either selectively mined for attack and/or summarily ignored. That is, don’t get your hopes up for something resembling sincere dialogue, much less any acknowledgement of the veracity of your points. It doesn’t happen here. From what I’ve read on this list, you’d just as soon be talking to Ken Mehlman. If you get any action at all, just watch how it spins.
    But thanks for your efforts anyway, well done.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, “Saddam’s Secrets,” released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.
    Wow, really cool. The general just happens to have generated news as he is publishing a book! For someone who has played games with the truth on this list numerous times you’d think that Terry would be wise to the ways of public relations.
    Anyway, this is hardly the first time the “Iraq moved tons of WMD’s to Syria” line has surfaced. It suffers from several problems:
    1. How do you move a significant amount of material in a short amount of time when the world’s largest super power is training all of its intelligence and military power on you in preparation for an invasion.
    2. Why, if you were in charge of Iraq, give your only serious weapons to a country whose relationship with you is somewhat frosty?
    3. Why would a country accept such a shipment when the world’s largest superpower is sending in their armed forces on a hunt for them?
    4. Finally, if you had a serious WMD wouldn’t the most sensible thing be to use it or threaten to use it if invaded? Not give it away.
    The truth of Iraq’s WMD is that what little they had left was probably destroyed or handicapped during the last raids during the Clinton administration. In an organization like Saddam’s dictatorship good news travels up, never bad news. I wouldn’t be surprised if Saddam thought he had plenty of WMD’s even though he didn’t. Why? What general would tell Saddam that the stockpiles of WMD were either useless or destroyed? What R&D scientist would tell the general the efforts to find a way to mass produce WMD’s failed?
    2. If Bush intentionally lied about WMDs,
    how did he know he was lying — wouldn’t he have to know more than his political foes (Clinton, Gore, Kerry), who publically stated the same postion?

    Difficult to tell. On a similar but less violent scale to Saddam’s organization it has become very clear that the US inteligence system and policy analysis was centered more on coming up with evidence to support a pre-determined strategy rather than determining strategy from the evidence. Evidence that meet the party line flowed up to the top while evidence that casted doubt on the WMD theory was ignored or consigned to the lower ranks.
    2. What is potentially more damaging to the safty and moral of the troops — Stein’s statement of not supporting them, or the Democratic Congress’ postion of “supporting the troops” while at the same time undermining their efforts to accomplish their mission?
    I think troops in Iraq are put in danger by explosives, snipers and insurgents. I doubt Stein’s statement poses any danger to them at all but it makes yahoos like Terry feel better to think they are ‘fighting with the troops’ to sit in his basement typing nonsense onto web pages.
    I’m not sure what Democratic Congress Terry is talking about. Last time I checked the Congress had a Republican majority in both houses so any ‘undermining’ done by Congress could not happen without the Republicans. If he is talking about particular Democrats perhaps he can be a bit more specific. Last I heard Democrats were all over the lack of armour issue.

  • rdsmith3 (Bob)

    I wrote:
    [quote]Moreover, if we are going to adhere to the Mosaic laws, then should we not use the death penalty for adultery and not keeping holy the Sabbath?[/quote]
    to which MCG wrote:
    [quote]I should point out that God instituted the death penalty for murder with Noah, not with Moses. Hence the argument that if we’re going to keep the death penalty, we must keep other Mosaic laws, doesn’t fly.[/quote]
    God made his covenant with Noah after smelling the pleasing aroma of the burnt offerings that Noah was making. The covenant with Noah preceded the one with Moses. Are you saying that the New Covenant replaces the Mosaic one but NOT the earlier one with Noah? I am inferring from your comment that we should adhere to the covenant with Noah but not the one with Moses? Does that mean that burnt offerings and rainbows are still the signs that signify our covenant with God? Please clarify.

  • ucfengr

    Boonton
    OK so I’ve yet to hear one person here argue in a sensible way that there is a contradiction between ‘supporting the military’ and not supporting a war the military has been ordered to fight….that includes (as it usually does) Joe who started this thread!
    There is not an inherent contradiction in supporting the troops while not supporting a specific war. It is a fine line to walk,
    though. That said, given the history of the moveon.org types and Cindy Sheehan supporters, this new found support smacks more of a political tactic than a deeply felt conviction.
    Ebonmuse:
    You actually have to read the article to get the facts.
    I prefer to trust my own lying eyes.
    So you yawn at patriotism? That’s a shame, but I can’t say it’s a surprise.
    Not patriotism in general, just yours.
    This comparison is so nonsensical it’s ridiculous. I support sending police and firefighters out to do the job they volunteered to do, just as I support sending the military out in support of specific wars that actually make America safer and that have a clearly defined plan for victory. The Iraq war is neither of those.
    How do you know which wars will “make America safer?” Do you have some sort of crystal ball that tells you or do you get messages from space aliens? And what is a “clearly defined plan for victory?” Have you ever commanded troops in battle? Do you really think you can plan a war as easily as you can plan your typical day as a McDonald’s french fry manager? Let’s look at some the US’s past wars. Do you think the Battle of the Bulge was in Ike’s plan? How about the fall of the Philipines, was that part of MacArthur’s grand plan to beat the Japanese? What about Operation Market Garden, was it part of Monty’s plan not to take that final bridge in Arnhem and lose most of the British 1st Airborne Division? What about Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Manassas? Was losing those battles part of Lincoln’s “clearly defined plan for victory?” What about Gettysburg? Did Lee purposely lose that battle as part of a master plan to win the South’s independence? Obviously Lee’s “clearly defined plan” didn’t work.
    That certainly has nothing to do with how much Bush has strengthened our borders, considering that the ten members of the 9/11 commission – five Republicans and five Democrats – gave the government a “failing grade” last month in our response to terrorism
    Which means exactly what? That 10 out of office politicians agree with you? Whoopity doo!! I’m glad they were able to validate your existence. As an aside, I always chuckle at the folks who want to lay 100% of the blame on Bush for a lack of body armor (which no longer exists), but will give him zero credit for the fact that there have been no successful terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11.
    They would dispute which fact? That Iraq is now a breeding ground for terrorists? I don’t see how even you could deny that. Did you mean they were disputing that the country is now an Islamic theocracy?
    I don’t dispute that there are terrorists in Iraq, but “breeding ground?” The US has their own home grown terror movements (some Islamic, some not, ALF and ELF for example), does that mean the US is a “breeding ground for terrorists?” It’s certainly not clear how many of the “insurgents” are Iraqi and how many are from other countries. Certainly much of the funding and planning comes from sources outside of Iraq. As to the impending Iraqi theocracy, give me a call when Iraqis start beheading gays and stoning adulterers (women only) and I might concede the point.
    There could be no better evidence of which one of us actually cares more for our soldiers’ well-being than that statement.
    Actually it is better evidence of which of us has at least a basic grasp of military tactics and strategy. Bush could have waited until every soldier/sailor/Marine/airmen had every piece of equipment they could conceivably need before going to war, but the problem is that you seem to assume that Saddam would have done nothing to prepare for the invasion during this time. As Rumsfeld famously said, “you go to war the military you have, not the one you want.” Waiting may have saved some lives or it may have cost even more, we have no way of knowing, but for you to sit back and carp as if you did know smacks of the arrogance held by the incredibly ignorant. Suppose in the time it took to provide every soldier advanced body armor, Saddam had been able to jury-rig a couple of nukes or some sort of bio weapon? Not beyond the realm of possibility. We could have been looking at a lot more than 2000 deaths. The folks that have to make the decisions have to look at this calculus. Based on what do you assume that you could have done better? Your extensive combat record?
    Matthew Goggins:
    Bravo!
    High praise indeed, thanks.

  • ucfengr

    Thank you, Ebonmuse, for so effectively laying waste to the idiotic, recurring arguments – most of them nothing more than rhetorical tactics spawned from oft-repeated misrepresentations – which tirelessly appear in this forum about the Iraq war.
    One of the most effective uses of sarcasm I have ever seen. Bravo!! Encore!!

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    There is not an inherent contradiction in supporting the troops while not supporting a specific war. It is a fine line to walk, though. That said, given the history of the moveon.org types and Cindy Sheehan supporters, this new found support smacks more of a political tactic than a deeply felt conviction.
    Ok, let me ratchet up the bar a bit higher (for me, for you I’m lowering it)… I’ve yet to see one sensible argument that shows how it is a ‘fine line’! It’s pretty obvious that if the military does not set policy then disagreeing with the policy is fundamentally divorced with whether or not you ‘support the military’. To use another example for aggressively brain dead on this list, if you think Social Security should pay benefits to gay partners as they do to married couples then advocating that policy change has nothing to do with whether you “suppose the clerical workers” who cut the Social Security checks.
    As for ‘moveon.org and Cindy Sheehan’ types, I think they do feel deeply the Iraqi war was a mistake. Are there some who argue against the war as a political tactic? I’m sure there are but guess what, I think you’ll find a lot more on the opposite side who supported either the war or the administration as a purely political tactic.
    How do you know which wars will “make America safer?” Do you have some sort of crystal ball that tells you or do you get messages from space aliens? And what is a “clearly defined plan for victory?” …
    I doubt anyone knows this so let’s all agree it is an issue upon which reasonable people can disagree. Nevertheless, since decisions like that must be made it’s the perogrative of us good citizens to voice our opinion on the matter.
    Which means exactly what? That 10 out of office politicians agree with you? Whoopity doo!! I’m glad they were able to validate your existence. As an aside, I always chuckle at the folks who want to lay 100% of the blame on Bush for a lack of body armor (which no longer exists), but will give him zero credit for the fact that there have been no successful terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11.
    Perhaps the reason some are inclined to give Bush 0% credit is because people like you seem inclined to give him 100% credit when you write things like “Well, we haven’t had any terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11″. Sure it’s a valid point but a pretty marginal one. How do we know that the reason there hasn’t been another attack is just because no group happens to have the resources or inclination to pull one off?
    As for the 9/11 commission, it was a serious attempt to study the issue in a rigerous manner…not tossing out simplistic inanities like “well no 9/11 since 9/11 so we must be right!”. Do you have any serious disagreements with their conclusions or do you think “whoopity doo” is some sort of magical incantation that can make uncomfortable facts disappear for yourself?
    Actually it is better evidence of which of us has at least a basic grasp of military tactics and strategy. Bush could have waited until every soldier/sailor/Marine/airmen had every piece of equipment they could conceivably need before going to war, but the problem is that you seem to assume that Saddam would have done nothing to prepare for the invasion during this time.
    Well if we listen to Terry Saddam ‘prepared’ for this war by giving away his best weapons! But that’s a valid point. I do think that it is an equally valid point that occupation was not well thought out and the body armour issue is indicates that very clearly.

  • ucfengr

    Ok, let me ratchet up the bar a bit higher (for me, for you I’m lowering it)… I’ve yet to see one sensible argument that shows how it is a ‘fine line’!
    Okay, give me example of someone who you think supports the troops, but opposes the war. I’m having a hard time thinking of anyone. Murtha might fit the bill, I seem to recall he has a history of supporting the military legislatively, but I could be wrong.
    As for ‘moveon.org and Cindy Sheehan’ types, I think they do feel deeply the Iraqi war was a mistake.
    I am sure they do. If there was any evidence that they had supported the military in the past, I might be tempted to buy this “support the troops, oppose the war” line, but I am not aware of any.
    Perhaps the reason some are inclined to give Bush 0% credit is because people like you seem inclined to give him 100% credit when you write things like “Well, we haven’t had any terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11″.
    Never said I give Bush 100% of the credit, and I don’t. Just like I don’t give him 100% of the blame for the “lack of body armor.” Bush did some things that probably helped folks stop terrorists, just like probably made some mistakes in the war. On the whole I think he’s done more good than bad (probably a lot more) and that’s probably all we can expect.
    As for the 9/11 commission, it was a serious attempt to study the issue in a rigerous manner…not tossing out simplistic inanities like “well no 9/11 since 9/11 so we must be right!”. Do you have any serious disagreements with their conclusions or do you think “whoopity doo” is some sort of magical incantation that can make uncomfortable facts disappear for yourself?
    Whoopity do, as well as Alacazam work fairly well. As far as the 9/11 commission goes, it was a much CYA as rigorous study. Jamie Gorelick and John Kerry (the MOH winner, not the Senator) were in high ranking governement officials when a lot of the policies that helped to make 9/11 possible were enacted, Gorelick especially. A lot of the folks on that commission should probably have been witnesses instead. That doesn’t mean that all their conclusions were invalid, but it does call into question their objectivity.
    I do think that it is an equally valid point that occupation was not well thought out and the body armour issue is indicates that very clearly.
    Actually it doesn’t indicate that the occupation was not well thought out, it only indicates that they may have made an incorrect decision. Decisions can be well though out and incorrect. But, again we don’t know what went into the decision making process, perhaps a lot of weight was given to the thought that soldiers might be reluctant to wear heavy body armor in a desert environment (just as an example), so they prioritized another piece of equipment (night vision gear, for example or more sand filters for their vehicles). May have been a mistake, may not have been.

  • ucfengr

    Of course John Kerry the MOH winner was a Senator, but is not now, unlike the other John Kerry.

  • ucfengr

    Well if we listen to Terry Saddam ‘prepared’ for this war by giving away his best weapons!
    Just as an aside, were Saddam’s chemical weapons (assuming he had them) his best weapons? Given the difference in the quality of training between the US and Iraqi troops, any use of chemical weapons might have had the effect of killing a lot more Iraqi soldiers and civilians than US troops. I wonder if that thought entered into Saddam’s war plan. Just a thought.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Okay, give me example of someone who you think supports the troops, but opposes the war. I’m having a hard time thinking of anyone. Murtha might fit the bill, I seem to recall he has a history of supporting the military legislatively, but I could be wrong.
    Just about anyone whose been harping on the administration to correct the body armour issue would be a good example. Like I said, “supporting the troops” is and should be a default presumption. Just as if I was campaigning to increase speed limits it should be presumed that I “support the cops” & do not want (for example) for them to get hurt in accidents casing after speeders.
    I am sure they do. If there was any evidence that they had supported the military in the past, I might be tempted to buy this “support the troops, oppose the war” line, but I am not aware of any.
    Again “support the troops” should be the default assumption. As for Sheehan she did send her son into the armed forces. Granted this was his decision as an adult but one presumes if she despised the military she would have raised him in a manner to make this unlikely.
    Actually it doesn’t indicate that the occupation was not well thought out, it only indicates that they may have made an incorrect decision. Decisions can be well though out and incorrect. But, again we don’t know what went into the decision making process, perhaps a lot of weight was given to the thought that soldiers might be reluctant to wear heavy body armor in a desert environment (just as an example), so they prioritized another piece of equipment (night vision gear, for example or more sand filters for their vehicles). May have been a mistake, may not have been.
    Well we don’t know some things that went into the process but we do know some as well. More than a few people have commented on the decision to ‘go light’ with manpower on the ground which resulted in too few people trying to manage too big a country. Just as we would evaluate the decisions of a CEO whose company suddenly becomes unprofitable we must evaluate the decisions of our leaders even though we will never have all the relevant information about either.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Just as an aside, were Saddam’s chemical weapons (assuming he had them) his best weapons? Given the difference in the quality of training between the US and Iraqi troops, any use of chemical weapons might have had the effect of killing a lot more Iraqi soldiers and civilians than US troops. I wonder if that thought entered into Saddam’s war plan. Just a thought.
    So the goal was to get Saddam’s second best weapons?

  • ucfengr

    I doubt anyone knows this so let’s all agree it is an issue upon which reasonable people can disagree. Nevertheless, since decisions like that must be made it’s the perogrative of us good citizens to voice our opinion on the matter.
    No problem, but shouldn’t a person have at least something on which to base their opinion (other than I hate Bush)? For example, if you think the Bush war plan was stupid, shouldn’t you at least be able to articulate a basic understanding of what goes into war planning before anybody is obligated to take your opinion seriously?
    As for Sheehan she did send her son into the armed forces. Granted this was his decision as an adult but one presumes if she despised the military she would have raised him in a manner to make this unlikely.
    You are right to say that it was his decision, but why contradict yourself by saying she sent him? How do you know she didn’t do her best to make him unlikely to enlist in the military? Kids go against their parents will all the time, even good parents.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Of course John Kerry the MOH winner was a Senator, but is not now, unlike the other John Kerry.
    This reminds me of an example of how someone can support a war but not the military. How about Cleland whose war injuries were mocked as being due to “only an accident” by people who supported the war? This is an example of how people can support a war without showing much support for those who actually fight the wars.

  • ucfengr

    So the goal was to get Saddam’s second best weapons?
    Chemical weapons are more dangerous as terror weapons against civilians than as battlefield weapons against well-trained soldiers.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    No problem, but shouldn’t a person have at least something on which to base their opinion (other than I hate Bush)? For example, if you think the Bush war plan was stupid, shouldn’t you at least be able to articulate a basic understanding of what goes into war planning before anybody is obligated to take your opinion seriously?
    True but then this is all part of the discussion. One person says the war plan was stupid. Another person says “what was stupid about it”. If the response is “I just hate Bush” consider it an argument you won. I haven’t seen that happen here.
    You are right to say that it was his decision, but why contradict yourself by saying she sent him? How do you know she didn’t do her best to make him unlikely to enlist in the military? Kids go against their parents will all the time, even good parents.
    All very true but I stand by my statement that support should be the default position. Yes she might have indeed hated the military from the get go and enlisting was his way of rebelling against her. But unless you have some actual facts to show why that is the case it is nothing more than a fiction we invented out of thin air. Likewise unless you show me why a specific person has demonstrated he or she does not support the military you should presume that they do.
    Be warned, I’m very skeptical of the psychological theory offered by the right that disagreeing with Bush somehow ‘demoralizes’ the troops therefore disagreeing with him is ‘helping the terrorists’. But feel free to offer it if that’s the best you got!

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Chemical weapons are more dangerous as terror weapons against civilians than as battlefield weapons against well-trained soldiers.
    This leads to a logical dead end.
    If the weapons were the cause for the war and if they were moved to Syria before the war then:
    1. If Syria can be trusted to behave with those weapons then there was no reason to invade Iraq since Saddam basically had moved them to an acceptable custodian.
    2. If Syria was not an acceptable custodian then Bush was and is remiss for not redirecting the war to Syria.
    From a military POV, though, a terror weapon is still a weapon. If that was the best that Saddam had the most logical course would have been to use them as a weapon to ‘hold the world hostage’ and demand immunity from invasion as the ransom. Not to have given them to someone else.

  • The Raven

    “How do you know which wars will “make America safer?”
    Excellent question!
    Generally speaking, wars do not make people safer. War-making nations conceive of an “enemy,” usually the entire population of a country, and then attempt to bomb, kill and terrorize the enemy until the enemy either capitulates and sues for peace or expires in sufficient numbers to render the continuation of the conflict unnecessary.
    All wars are bad. Because war is the result of the failure of diplomacy. It is always preferable to avoid military conflict when doing so is a viable option. Which brings us to the important and time-honored American principle that we are a “sleeping giant.” Slow to awaken, but terrible in our might. We should never go to war unless every other route has been logically tested and taken, every alternative to war explored and found wanting.
    Then, and only then, when our very survival is at stake, do we send our sons and daughters out to face the bullets and bombs of the enemy.
    No matter how you shake the Iraq story, it doesn’t add up like this. From day one, we all saw that it was an elective war. We decided to wage it – nobody forced us. Now, there is an exception to all this, which we know as “realpolitik.” Grenada and Vietnam come to mind as good examples of cases where we might wish to wage war in order to maintain geopolitical balance.
    But that wasn’t the situation with Iraq. Far from it – we’ve destabilized an already precarious situation and made it a whole lot worse. Whole lot worse. Instead of a secular state we get one more Islamic theocracy, we get thousands of new committed and trained terrorists, we get a pan-Islamic jihadist mentality solidifying against us, we get a tired and spent military machine, a huge deficit that only underscores the degree to which Mid-East money funds our T-bills and exacerbates the process, and all that stuff about pissed off allies and loss of global respect.
    You know a bad war when you see one. This is such a one.

  • ucfengr

    Boonton:
    True but then this is all part of the discussion. One person says the war plan was stupid. Another person says “what was stupid about it”. If the response is “I just hate Bush” consider it an argument you won. I haven’t seen that happen here.
    You are being more than a little generous here. Most (if not all) of the arguments boil down to “I oppose Bush, therefore I oppose the war.” Oh, there may be some vague generality about how there was no plan, the plan sucked, we should have invaded Iran/North Korea/Saudi Arabia (a little like a shell game isn’t it, “find the right country under the shell and we’ll support the invasion”) or the infamous “there weren’t enough troops”, but come on.
    Raven:
    Generally speaking, wars do not make people safer.
    There are too many examples of wars that did make people safer to treat this statement seriously.
    All wars are bad. Because war is the result of the failure of diplomacy.
    All wars are bad because they are inherently destructive to people and property, not because they are the “failure of diplomacy.” Of course this implies that you can make a deal with everybody. What deal could the Spartans at Thermopylae have made with the Persians? What deal could the Israelis have made with the Arabs? The Israeli opening offer is we want a sliver of land the size of Rhode Island in a barren place in the desert, the Arab opening position is we want to kill all the Jews. Where do they meet?
    We should never go to war unless every other route has been logically tested and taken, every alternative to war explored and found wanting.
    At what point do we know this has happened? Seems like a recipe for doing nothing while our enemies grow stronger. Take Iraq for example, we talk and talk while Saddam develops a nuke.
    Then, and only then, when our very survival is at stake, do we send our sons and daughters out to face the bullets and bombs of the enemy.
    When in the past 150 years has “our very survival” been at stake? Even in WW2, we were never in danger of being invaded by Germany or Japan. Should we have waited until they had conquered Europe and Asia and built up there forces strong enough before acting?
    But that wasn’t the situation with Iraq. Far from it – we’ve destabilized an already precarious situation and made it a whole lot worse. Whole lot worse. Instead of a secular state we get one more Islamic theocracy, we get thousands of new committed and trained terrorists, we get a pan-Islamic jihadist mentality solidifying against us, we get a tired and spent military machine
    You make this statement as if it is self-evident. Seems to me we have removed a major source of terrorist funding and training in Iraq, removed a potential nuclear threat in Libya, and put the rest of the world on notice that we are willing and able to defend our interests, something that was lacking throughout most of the 1990s.
    a huge deficit that only underscores the degree to which Mid-East money funds our T-bills and exacerbates the process, and all that stuff about pissed off allies and loss of global respect.
    People overseas invest in the US because it is a safe investment that pays a better return than they can get in their own squalid hell-holes, not because of any altruistic desire to prop up “the Great Satan.”

  • tom

    A few points:
    WMD: Israeli intelligence also supports the idea that Saddam moved some of his WMD to Syria by truck. (And relations between Iraq and Syria were never “frosty,” as someone said. They’re both Baathist states.) The new book by the Iraqi general says other portions were moved by air under cover of aid already being rendered to Syria for a dam failure.
    There is also no doubt that a lot of Iraqis thought Saddam had WMD. There are many accounts of Iraqi units surrendering to US forces saying they were sure the next unit over had the WMD. (One account of this is in the book Generation Kill by Evan Wright of Rolling Stone, hardly a freind of Bush.)
    But I think Boonton is right. For the most part, Saddam’s generals and scientists were scamming him, taking the money to produce WMD and lining their own pockets.
    As for body armor, this is a false scandal ginned up by the moonbat left to try to show the alleged callousness of Rumsfeld and company. The issue comes down to what you mean by “better” body armor? In theory you can create armor that will protect you from every possible threat, but you then are nearly immobilised. (Read about the account of the lightly armored English vs. the heavily armored French at the battle of Agincourt.) The key is to find a balance between effectiveness against ballastic dangers (bullets and shrapnel) and mobility. The Marines value speed and agility. (I was a Marine grunt; I know whereof I speak.) They went for lighter body armor. They may have chosen incorrectly, but that is an error of judgment, not a venal error of morality.
    And there’s nothing unique about the snafus and other shortcomings in this war that some try to use to allege stupidity/venality to Bush and Rumsfeld. In WWII our Sherman tanks had too-thin armor and were powered by gasoline (instead of the less-explosive diesel like the German tanks). A lot of good American tankers died horrible deaths because of this idiocy. The Battle of Midway was the closest thing you’ll ever read about and very nearly became a military disaster for the U.S. because of stupidity, cowardice and just plain bad judgment by some. Fortunately, quick thinking, courage and battle smarts on the parts of others overcame this.
    In short, every battle plan last until first contact. You then have to improvise and change with conditions. Our forces have done this very well in Iraq.

  • Terence Moeller

    ufcengr:
    “Whoopity do, as well as Alacazam work fairly well. As far as the 9/11 commission goes, it was a much CYA as rigorous study. Jamie Gorelick and John Kerry (the MOH winner, not the Senator) were in high ranking governement officials when a lot of the policies that helped to make 9/11 possible were enacted, Gorelick especially. A lot of the folks on that commission should probably have been witnesses instead. That doesn’t mean that all their conclusions were invalid, but it does call into question their objectivity.”
    Allow me to fill in a few facts concerning Jamie Gorlick that the MSM forgot to mention. During the Clinton administration, Gorlick was the architect of the “wall of separation” between the CIA and other law inforcement agencies, which prohibited the sharing of information. If this “wall” was not in place at the time, it is reasonable to assume that the connection between the
    9-11 operatives who had taken flight training, and Al Qaida, would have been exposed. Apparently the CIA had enough information from confisgated computers, that even a 7 year old could have connected the dots. Rather than Gorlick recusing herself as a member of the 9-11 commission, she played a crucial role in their final “findings of fact,” which didn’t include her role in this colossal error.
    Do you agree with this assessment, ufcenger?

  • Joel Thomas

    Many Republicans opposed our troops being in Kosovo and Somalia, not just ahead of time, but while they were there. I never considered those Republicans as “not supporting our troops” however. Instead, I just took it that they considered the operations ill-advised.

  • Ebonmuse

    Thank you, windbag, and others. I know I’m not the only sane person in the world, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. It is, regrettably, all too obvious that most of what I say is falling on deaf ears, but there are times when I can’t help but speak my peace. I probably will not make any further posts to this thread, so ucfengr and his ilk will have free rein to slander my character and ignore my facts from now on; but I do greatly appreciate the support of those who have supported me.
    I prefer to trust my own lying eyes.
    As this thread has more than adequately shown, that is right-wing code for “I have no evidence to support my views”. When you can actually dispute the facts I presented, rather than resorting to empty cliches, come back and we’ll talk.
    How do you know which wars will “make America safer?” Do you have some sort of crystal ball that tells you or do you get messages from space aliens?
    No, I get no messages from aliens (or burning bushes or angels, for that matter). I determine which wars will make America safer based on the best evaluation I can make of the evidence, which is the same way we make decisions about anything, and the evidence shows clearly that it has failed to do so. Even before this war, there were grave concerns over whether it would contribute to our safety in any meaningful way, and these concerns have been more than borne out by time and painful experience. Or, as you would put it, I prefer to trust my own lying eyes.
    And what is a “clearly defined plan for victory?”
    Do I need to spell this out? A clearly defined plan for victory consists of a definite statement of who our enemy is, under what circumstances he will be defeated, and a plan of action for bringing that about. The Civil War had a plan for victory. World War II had a plan for victory. The closest thing we have to a plan in Iraq is “stay the course and hope things get better”.
    As an aside, I always chuckle at the folks who want to lay 100% of the blame on Bush for a lack of body armor (which no longer exists), but will give him zero credit for the fact that there have been no successful terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11.
    I will give Bush credit for that when someone actually explains how any actions he has taken make America safer. I cited the 9/11 commission’s own bipartisan statement that it has not, which, as usual, you flippantly dismissed without a reason but with plenty of ad hominem attacks on their credibility. I explained how the Iraq war has made the region a breeding ground for terrorists. I could have, but won’t, go into Bush’s failure to track down loose nuclear material, or his utter lack of interest in capturing Osama bin Laden (remember him?), or the way his arrogance has so tarnished our image that leaders are now being elected around the world based on their promise to oppose us, something which bodes very poorly for the web of international cooperation that is a vital element in any fight against terrorism. I won’t even discuss the terrorist attacks that have occurred in England and Spain – clearly the Iraq war has not made them any safer. But can I assume that deaths of non-Americans don’t count in your grand foreign policy vision?
    I don’t dispute that there are terrorists in Iraq, but “breeding ground?” The US has their own home grown terror movements (some Islamic, some not, ALF and ELF for example), does that mean the US is a “breeding ground for terrorists?”
    Yes, Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists. No, the US is not, because the US is a nation of law and order. If our citizens lived in a state of semi-chaos, with basic utilities sporadic or absent, with a government that could only be propped up by massive foreign occupation, with sectarian and religious militias forming throughout the country, with known terrorist leaders (like al-Zarqawi) still loose within the country delivering messages of jihad, and with car bombs, shootings and kidnappings occurring every week, then in those circumstances, the US could indeed be considered a breeding ground for terror.
    Actually it is better evidence of which of us has at least a basic grasp of military tactics and strategy.
    No, it is evidence of you flippantly and disrespectfully dismissing the deaths of American soldiers as irrelevant (“so 2003″). Coming from someone who misses no chance to slander the character and impugn the patriotism of all who disagree with him, the hypocrisy is staggering. (I shudder to think what sort of posts Joe Carter would be writing now if it had been a liberal who had made that statement.) I happen to regard every innocent human being as valuable, and so when one dies, I tend to ask if that death was preventable. You seem to be unconcerned with that question.
    Bush could have waited until every soldier/sailor/Marine/airmen had every piece of equipment they could conceivably need before going to war, but the problem is that you seem to assume that Saddam would have done nothing to prepare for the invasion during this time.
    I can’t believe my eyes. You’re saying you were afraid of Saddam! Are you seriously contending that he could have done anything to make his army anything like a match for ours? That his preparations could have outstripped ours so that he could have done more than we could to prepare for war given the same amount of time?
    Since you seem to need reminding, let me remind you that America’s military is (or at least was, at the start of this war; I make no claims about its current readiness) the most highly trained, technologically advanced fighting force in the history of the planet. The army of some tinpot Third World dictator with delusions of grandeur is not a match for us and never would have been, regardless of how much time he had to prepare. The question was never whether we would win the war; it was whether we were prepared for what would follow afterwards. As history has regrettably shown, we were not prepared for it at all. Bush and the rest of the neoconservative circle blithely assumed we would be hailed as liberators, and made no preparations for any less rosy scenario. The result was this nightmarish, futile war of attrition we have been fighting ever since, and will probably continue to be fighting for a long time, since no one in charge has come up with anything like an exit strategy.
    And, for the record, this is not merely an issue about what preparation could have been made before the war. The study I cited covers combat deaths through June 2005. Even if we accept your argument that Saddam Hussein was such a menacingly powerful foe that we had to rush headlong into war without making additional preparations, that does not explain why our soldiers were still lacking adequate armor two years into the insurgency, and probably still today, because for all your carping about “outdated talking points”, you’ve yet to present any evidence that this is a problem that has been solved. This issue was still in the news as recently as last week, when the Army bureaucrats were reportedly threatening soldiers who bought their own armor with loss of death benefits (and to drive that knife home, here’s my source: http://independentchristianvoice.com/2006/01/17/army-buy-your-own-armor-lose-your-death-benefits/).
    Take Iraq for example, we talk and talk while Saddam develops a nuke.
    It really is remarkable how right-wingers just continue to make statements like this as if the past three years hadn’t happened. The strength of their conviction almost – almost – makes me wonder if they’re somehow posting from some alternate reality where history really did turn out the way they seem to believe it did.
    Now we’re hearing neocon talk about how the magically elusive WMDs were moved to Syria. These are falsehoods so blatant that even the Bush administration can’t bring itself to endorse them. And as far as all the high-ranking Iraqi generals giving support to these risible claims, I have two words for you, and then one more word: Ahmad Chalabi, and Curveball. It has been proven time and again that America’s supposed allies in Iraq have been and are perfectly willing to lie to us if that’s what they think we want to hear, especially if the neocons currently running Washington are willing to pay them for it. (Chalabi’s group was paid millions of dollars by the US government for its so-called “intelligence”. Biased conclusions much?) And it has been proven time and again and that the Bush administration is willing, if not quite to consciously lie, then to deliberately exclude from its view the evidence that does not fit with the conclusion it had already decided to reach.

  • Ebonmuse

    Before I go, I have one more point to make in postscript:
    As to the impending Iraqi theocracy, give me a call when Iraqis start beheading gays and stoning adulterers (women only) and I might concede the point.
    I admit I know of no instances of either of those things. How about, instead, the imposition on the entire nation of the medieval, repressive, anti-woman fundamentalist Islamic law called sharia? Will that satisfy you?
    http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=4774
    That article, now a bit outdated, points out that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, an explicit supporter of sharia, was demanding at this time last year that Islam must be the primary source of legislation in Iraq – exactly what he got in the last constitutional vote. And Sistani is a moderate compared to some of the other influential Iraqi mullahs, such as Muqtada al-Sadr, who are demanding that Islam be not just a source of legislation in Iraq, but the only source. Are you still quite sure freedom is on the march?

  • ucfengr

    Do you agree with this assessment, ufcenger?
    Most of these commissions are ways to either “play CYA” or allow lawmakers to avoid responsibility for making decisions. An example of the latter might be Bush’s Social Security Commission. It would not surprise me if your assessment was accurate.
    I admit I know of no instances of either of those things. How about, instead, the imposition on the entire nation of the medieval, repressive, anti-woman fundamentalist Islamic law called sharia? Will that satisfy you?
    Perhaps in indication that this was in any way imminent might. Right now it is only an overblown assertion.

  • ucfengr

    Would love to stay and play some more, but I have to do my taxes.

  • Cheesehead

    Mumon: Joe wrote:”Why don’t you go peddle your anti-Americanism somewhere else? I’m getting rather bored with it.”
    Yes, why don’t you go peddle your anti-Americanism over on the 10,714th highest-rated site in the TTLB ecosystem?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    All wars are bad. Because war is the result of the failure of diplomacy.
    I agree this statement has some serious problems. Was the fact that the US invaded Iraq a failure of diplomacy on the US’s part or Saddam’s or both? If you answer both (or just Saddam) the above statement becomes problematic. By definition diplomacy must work with two partners, not just one. Looking at it from up in the sky we can say yea diplomacy failed but here on the ground we are living in just one country and we can impact only one country’s policies at a time. In other words, if the other guy fails at diplomacy we don’t have much choice.
    Now:
    As for body armor, this is a false scandal ginned up by the moonbat left to try to show the alleged callousness of Rumsfeld and company. The issue comes down to what you mean by “better” body armor? In theory you can create armor that will protect you from every possible threat, but you then are nearly immobilised.
    I remember stories about communities that were trying to raise money for soldiers being deployed to Iraq. They had to come up with several thousand dollars (around $5K I think) to buy their own body armor with the hopes of being reimbursed within a year. A soldier cannot show up for duty wearing non-issued armor or with his own customized weapons unless he has permission from superiors and they aren’t going to grant permission if the personal equipment is going to immobilize him. Likewise the study that showed many of the fatal wounds could have been reduced or prevented with better armor was not considering some hypothetical impervious suite that would leave the soldier a cacoon of immobile metal.
    (Read about the account of the lightly armored English vs. the heavily armored French at the battle of Agincourt.)
    Errr, yes well I’m not as keen on military tech as many but I do believe armor has advanced a bit since 1415.

  • The Raven

    Wherefor “problematic,” boonton? The assertion that war represents a failure of the mechanism we’ve devised to avert it would seem to be the most logical, defensible position imaginable.
    OK, let’s agree that 2,000 troops are expendable. We lose more than that on our freeways every day. They’re a trivial statistic. But the cost of war! What are we looking at now – some 2 trillion dollars? There’s nothing in Iraq that’s going to repay that; it’s just money flushed into the thirsty sands of the middle east. So no, war is generally an economic non-starter unless you’re acquiring land and slaves and whatnot. And we aren’t getting dick out of Iraq.
    Diplomacy, on the other hand, is pretty damned cheap. Talk, basically. And we formed the UN precisely to allow us to resolve disputes before they turn into all-out war. We use high-level negotiations and we rattle sabers and we levy sanctions and we bluster and shout and wave and enlist other countries to put on pressure (viz China and N. Korea) and everything else we can think of. And when all that fails, then maybe we say “well, we tried our best,” and then we go to war.
    Was Iraq a case of this nature? No. Yes, Saddam was flouting sanctions and playing the old shell game with the inspectors and acting coy about WMD – for reasons we didn’t fully grasp until later – but there was nothing urgent there. No reason at all we couldn’t have increased sanctions, let the inspectors look more, used more SIGINT and ELINT and HUMINT, or just bought the damned fool off with a few billion in cash.
    No, our rush to war – and it was a rush – appeared to be based on internal political machinations based in Washington D.C., not in Iraq. This was a precipitous act fueled by intel that was being “fixed” around the policy. And those are terrible reasons for waging war. The worst imaginable.

  • tom

    I saidRead about the account of the lightly armored English vs. the heavily armored French at the battle of Agincourt.)
    Boonton saidErrr, yes well I’m not as keen on military tech as many but I do believe armor has advanced a bit since 1415.
    My point was that the French went so far for the heavy, impervious armor that they effectively immobilised themselves. Once they fell off their horses (it had rained the night before, so the ground was muddy), they were unable to get up or move. The English simply went around at their leisure and killed the immobilised French knights by sticking daggers through their face masks.
    The US military had to balance strength and weight of armor vs. mobility.
    The RavenDiplomacy, on the other hand, is pretty damned cheap. Talk, basically.
    The utterly fatuous UN had been talking for 12 years and had passed 18 resolutions ordering Saddam to cooperate. What more would talking have accomplished?
    Remember, the end of the first Gulf War was not an armistice; it was a cease-fire contingent on Saddam’s cooperation with the UN. He then proceeded to defy the UN for 12 years. He was simply waiting for the UN to lose its will for the sanctions and no-fly zones, and then he would reconstitute his military and nuclear program. The French and Russians in particular were eager to trade with him, and we now know the UN was complicit in the utterly corrupt oil-for-food program that allowed Saddam to skim billions intended for his own people to build palaces for himself (while greasing the palms of various UN officials at the same time).
    Finally, we’re learning more about Saddam’s ties to both al Qaeda and the training of terrorists as we translate more captured documents. (Incidentally, we’re now learning that France’s objections to invading Iraq had nothing to do with morality and everything to do with us capturing proof that French companies were violating the UN sanctions.) We have translated barely 2% of the captured documents and already we’re seeing much greater evidence that Saddam indeed might have been behind 9/11. The great mystery is why the Bush adminstration is not trumpeting these finds louder.
    By the way, John Kerry (note spelling) is the extremely fatuous senator from Mass. Bob Kerrey (note spelling) is the former senator from Nebraska, former Navy SEAL and MOH winner.

  • ucfengr

    By the way, John Kerry (note spelling) is the extremely fatuous senator from Mass. Bob Kerrey (note spelling) is the former senator from Nebraska, former Navy SEAL and MOH winner.
    And I knew that too. Doh!!!

  • ucfengr

    I remember stories about communities that were trying to raise money for soldiers being deployed to Iraq.
    I remember some stories involving the post-Katrina Superdome that turned out to be widely overblown. Doesn’t mean the stories you remember are false, but sometimes the media (left and right) does, shall we say embellish, some facts to paint a picture that they want painted.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Needless to say, the armor problem was real and many who did not support the war supported the troops by demanding the gov’t properly equip them.

  • The Raven

    Remember that our boys in the field have to wear Second Chance body armor. That’s like a fishing vest with lots of pockets, and these hard, plate-like inserts that go in there and the things are bulky and not real comfortable. Given the choice, every soldier would prefer Dragon Skin armor, which is more like chain mail, offering superior protection with less weight, and much more mobility.
    The Pentagon won’t allow our troops to have it, though, so even if your relatives pony up the 4 – 6K pricetag for a full vest setup, you’re outta luck – can’t wear it. But wait, here’s the fun part:
    When Rummy and other bigshots visit the Iraq theatre, guess what they wear? Yes! You in the back who called out, “Dragon Skin,” you get a cigar.
    Well, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense does it? No, it only gets clear when you discover that the owner of Second Chance is a major contributor to the RNC. Ultimately, our troops’ lives are of far less importance than the need to deliver no-bid contracts to well-placed donors and cronies. And that’s how this White House does bid’ness. Makes me sick.

  • tom

    No, it only gets clear when you discover that the owner of Second Chance is a major contributor to the RNC.
    Except that this has been in the inventory since the Clinton administration. So much for that theory.
    When Rummy and other bigshots visit the Iraq theatre, guess what they wear? … “Dragon Skin,”
    And they don’t have to jump in and out of tactical vehicles while under fire, kick down doors or hold a weapon to their shoulder.
    By the way, what is the relative cost of Second Chance vs. Dragon Skin?

  • tom

    Standard moonbat ranting, Raven. You accuse Rumsfeld, etc., of sending money to a manufacturer of body armor because the company gives money to the RNC (for which you supply no evidence, by the way). It’s pointed out that the armor has been in the inventory since the Clinton administration, but you ignore that evidence; it apparently means nothing to someone determined to believe the worst. You just repeat the rant as if repetition will make it true.
    Halliburton doesn’t manufacture MREs. In fact, MREs (as were C-rations before them) are manufactured by a number of companies, depending on their specialty.
    VA benefits are not being cut back. The VA hospital system is being consolidated under a plan first put forth by the Clinton administration–a good plan, by the way.
    Ford doesn’t manufacture Humvees or any other military vehicles as far as I know. What would that have to do with armoring Humvees, then? But maybe if you’re a shareholder in Ford you could suggest that in the next shareholders’ meeting. But I doubt you would; there’s more catharsis in ranting and slandering than in actually proposing something concrete.
    And the evidence is mounting that Iraq was up to its eyeballs in terrorism. (We already know Saddam was paying Palestinian famililes $25,000 to have their sons and daughter blow up women and children in Israeli pizza parlors.) History will judge Bush correct once all the evidence is known.
    In short: Saddam was an incipient Hitler who had twice invaded his neighors, had manufactured and used WMD against his enemies both foreign and domestic and was just waiting for the impotent UN to finally give in and give him free rein again.
    Eveyone says that if only the British and French had stood up to Hitler when he moved into the Rhineland we would have never had WWII. They’re probably right. Bush stood up to Saddam even when the rest of the world was willing to appease him.

  • windbag

    Standard right-wing dissembling, Tom. Bush “stood up” to Saddam because it was all part of the script penned in 2000 (and thought about much earlier) by Cheney et al’s homeboys at Project For A New American century. After 9/11, any evidence, or lack thereof, which stood in the way of an Iraq invasion – the support for which was only ginned up by America’s fear over terrorism – was aggressively disdained, disregarded, or suppressed.
    (insert standard discrediting line to distract from this fact HERE)
    But hey, we’re talking to people here who are convinced their god designed the bacterial flagellum, so what’s the point in reasoning?
    If “history” will judge Bush “correct” in invading Iraq, it will be because you’ll be reading, perhaps writing, the treatises which selectively cull evidence to create such an imaginary reality.
    The guy is a sick, incompetent joke for a president, it’s on display for all to see, day after day after day. What is truly frightening is the level of delusion to which so many people lower themselves in order to try to make it appear otherwise.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Quite an interesting post and thread of comments. Perhaps a few points from a history buff might help:
    1] Just/Unjust wars and the soldier’s duty
    –> While there was indeed, overall, a good case that Hitler’s war from 1939 on was plainly unjust, say Gen Heinz Guderian [creator of the panzerwaffe] had a very different perspecitve: he actually diverted one of his units to over-run the estate on which he had been born, in the Sept 1939 Poland campaign. (And, in 1938/9, Poland had helped itself to a slice of Czechoslovakia when Hitler seized it. The Poles, in short, had been not exactly pure and sinless in the situation. Nor were the British and the French or the Soviets.)
    –> In short, there is a difference between the overall issue and where an individual soldier will come out based on specific factors. On this, perhaps we need to heed the message of the white rose protest movement in Germany: some of the key individuals were soldiewrs serving on the east front, but stood up on issues of conscience. Hitler of course had them beheaded, one the source of the broadsheets that exposed the genocide of Jews etc was discovered.)
    ==> If soldiers are educated in just war theory and are empowered to resist illegal orders [BTW: that is part of Israeli military law], then that makes a difference. Note too, that Alvin York started out pacifist, was persuaded to fight the Kaiser by doing Bible study with an officer, and went on to become a hero. Joe has a point.
    2] The Iraq Campaign, II
    –> In fact, since 1979, the world has faced the renewal of the C7 – C17 geostrategic advance of militant Islam, and so the issue of resisting what is now termed Islamofascist expansionism is on the table: this is not simply a continuation of colonial and post-colonial wars of resistance.
    –> We should note that the initial phase of Islamist expansionism started in one city in 622, Yathrib/Medina; within 10 years, Arabia was under Islamist control. Thereafter, despite some initial internal wranglings, within 100 years, the empire spread from the Indus valley in the E to Spain in the W. War marked the course of history for the next 900 years, until in 1683 the last Ottoman seige of Vienna was lifted, presaging the era of waning power that culminated in the [relatively brief and incomplete] colonialisation of the ME.
    –> But, in the post colonial era, Islamist expansionism has again become an issue. This time around, as well, WMDs are in play — the Pakistani bomb, the Khan network, the Iraq, Iranian, Libyan [and probably other] efforts are material in light of that long-term history and ideology of global subjugation. THe potential for bioweapons is also not to be ignored [the 2001 Anthrax epidemic in the US looks VERY suspicious to me).
    --> In this context, Mr Hussein's regime has a track record of developing and using WMDs, and of expansionism and support for islamist terrorist networks. So, when hostilities were renewed on persistent and material breach of armistice terms across the boad -- including suspicions of WMD involvements that persuaded the German, French, British, Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies, not just the US and Israeli ones -- the burden of blame is not hard to place. In light of the known fact that he had and used such weapons, the trucking and flying of the weapons across the border into Syria [its sister Baathist state] makes a lot of sense. So does the case that the Intelligence Agencies were involved with terrorist networks. I also think that a lot of the “insecticide” discovered in proximity to military sites also makes suspicious sense in the context that Tabun and Sarin were first developed as insecticides. In short, I am not so sure that the “no WMDs were found” claim is right.
    –> In all this, oil is indeed an issue, not least as: it is oil revenues and related technologies and technical capacity associated with that that gives credibility to the rising islamofascist WMD muscle. [BTW, long ago, one of the physicists that used to run the Iran nuke physics research programme under the Shah fled to Jamaica where he taught me theoretical topics in physics. Under the Shah, there was no sense of threat, because there was not an expansionist islamofascist ideological agenda at work. That has now dramatically changed with the rise of the Mullahs.]
    –> In this regard, strategically, Afghanistan and Iraq are two stages to the isolation of Iran, the centre of gravity of the new era of Islamist expansionism. Thus, we would be wise to monitor the issues over Iran’s nuclear programme very carefully. [And BTW, the new president was not just "elected"; he became president after the Islamist Council of Guardians vetoed the more moderate and popular candidates. THAT is what a theocracy looks like. And, in light of popular sentiment in Iran, that is also its fundamental weakness: truly democratic governance would overturn the islamist agenda and shift the focus of the oil revenues from military power to industrial development and general prosperity.]
    –> So, on the global scale, I am not at all convinced that the Coalition is fundamentally unjustified in its policy of fighting Islamist expansionism and associated states in its early stages [given the example of the 1930s], especially in an era in which proliferation of WMDs is about to make the world a far more potentially dangerous place than in the cold war era. In short, “peace in our time” might be at the price of worse war under serious strategic disadvantages later.
    –> Also, hasn’t Mr Bush backed a long term initiative to move the US energy base to Hydrogen and other onward technologies? A fusion-solar-hydrogen -etc world economy looks a whole lot better than an oil one, but the transition is going to take decades. [In otice here that Iceland is looking at a 50 year transition, it seems -- and that is a country with vast geothermal resources that make a shift much more easy to do, and a smaller population and industrial infrastructure to address.]
    –> NB: In my work with alternative and renewable technologies and systems, I have found that consistently, the high capital costs and questions about the pieces of the technology that don’t grab headlines often make for a very different overall picture than what one gets from the popular press and pundits. For instance, solar power costs $5/watt for raw capacity and maybe another $5/watt for balance of system, then forces the use of storage batteries, which not only have a short life but are based on truly nasty technologies and materials [e.g. lead]. Similarly, many of the technologies are non-dispatchable which means they can’t take up more than say 29 – 30% of the Grid without big problems. My modest thoughts are that integrated resource planning, energy efficiency and a gradual shift to onward technologies over the next 40 + years are what we are looking at.
    –> So, over the next 40 years, we — and here, the Caribbean is a likely theatre of operations, as we are located physically and culturally in the underbelly of the USA — have to face the implications of the oil economy, and of the ME oil patch in light of the rising tide of Islamism. [Here, kindly note how I distinguish between ordinary muslims, who are trying to serve God best as they know how, and those who are going back tot he ideological and aggressive strains in the history and the Quran, Hadiths and Sharia for inspiration in the window of opportunity for Islamist expansion of the next 40 years.]
    3] Iraq Campaigns: 2003 – 2006
    –> Rule no 1 in war is that no plan survives contact with the ememy, as Moltke the elder said. Napoleon’s version is that if you confine your enemy to one of two options, each equally bad for him, he will always pick the third one — i.e. the option you never thought of. So, every campaign will have its nasty surprises and failures, the issue is to bring to bear sufficient force and resources to be able to handle reasonable contingencies.
    –> Nor, are reasonable forces to be measured relative to an ideal: for instance, Guderian’s panzerwaffe was NEVER able to be equipped to the ideal levels in the development plans, nor was the Luftwaffe. (THis is a part of why they lost int he end, though the problems of strategic decision-making were a bigger factor.)
    –> Indeed, in the 1940 French campaign, the allies had MORE tanks and aircraft than the Germans, and many of them were better, e.g. the British Matilda and French Souma, the Spitfire and the Dewitoine [Sp?] 520. Not to mention the vulnerbility of the key German ground attack aitrcraft, the Ju87 Stuka. But a superior operational level battle approach brought to bear decisive concentrations and distractions, so the sweep of the sicle cut off the L wing of the allied armies and in one week decided the campaign.
    –> Across the duration of the war, the Allied forces opposing were at first caught badly off guard, and much of their equipment was a matter of modifying, incrementally improving and making do. For instance, the Sherman tank c. 1944 was a notoriously thin-skinned and flammable weapon that could only take on Panthers and Tigers at odds of 4 – 5:1. It was far better matched to 1942 era PZKW IIs, IIIs and IVs. But, just as in the Libyan desert in 1941 – 2, the key was combined weapons: tank destroyers, ground attack aircraft etc, and the implications of a dislocated logistical train for the Germans. By the time the M26 and Centurion were fielded [which matched the Tiger and Panther and birthed the era of Main Battle Tanks], the war had been to all intents and purposes, won. SImilarly, the war winning Mustang of 1944 – 45 was an up-engined version of a failed fighter previously confined to ground attack: such was the impact of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine.
    –> So, Rumsfeld is precisely correct that one goes to war with the army one has not that which one wishes one had, especially in hindsight. In particular, on the issue of armour, it is plain that one balances: protection, mobility and firepower. In that, there are no perfect or permanent balances, cf. the current 70 ton M1A1s and the rise of a new generation of antitank missiles capable of penetrating Chobham armour. Ceramic or Kevlar body armour vs chain-mail armour for soldiers and for thin-skinned vehicles like the Humvee seem to be cases in point. It seems to me that there is a responsiveness tot he need and that there have been modifications, but of course that cannot be done instantly or by going back and changing history.
    –> Likewise, the issue of ratios of troops to suppress guerilla wars is dated. The real issue is intelligence and the battle for hearts and minds, coupled to the classic strategic offensive, tactical defensive: using firepower and targetting technologies to force the opponent to attack at disadvantage [e.g. to protect his logistical train -- Kessellschlact [sp?] was based on envelopments and artillery used to crush desperate breakout attempts, in light of the classic victory at Cannae]. If the Coalition is able to use democratic governance to win the war for hearts and minds, support a new Iraq army [along the lines of the new army in denazified Germany which was a key component of NATO strategy], then force the Baathists and Islamists to fight at a disadvantage in the teeth of “if you are seen, you are toast targetting technologies” to get through their supplies and replacements, they will win in the long haul. )it is failure to do that that was decisive in the Indochina war . . . the diplomatic agreements to confine operations by and large to Vietnam were disastrouus inte long run, once especially the will of American public oipinion had been eroded. I think Giap agrees on this point.]
    –> Similarly, there have been plain cases of war crimes by Americans, and there are legitimate questions as to whether the sources of some of these crimes go into the command structure. But, in the run-up to WWII, when Roosevelt asked Hitler to more or less promise to guarantewe that he would not be undertaking expansionism inthe aftermath of Munich’s betrayal of Czechoslovakia, he was batted for six with the response that Hitler asked his neighbours whether they felt threatened by Germany [to which the answers were of course: no], and by his ability to point to the COlonial empires and adventures of the British and French as proof positive of who were the real aggressors on the world stage. Six years and nearly sixty millions dead later, we knew better. Similarly, Harris’ and Le May’s bombing campaigns and the parallel between the German unrestricted submarine warfare int he Atlantic and the American unrestricted submarine warfare in the Pacific [Doenitz' and Raeder's defence!] should give us a bit of context to assess today’s war crimes issues.
    –> In short, one may always find points to attack and question, but the issue is: where does the situation sit, on balance. For that, it is plain that a major threat based in the Arab state with he most advanced technical capacity and a dangerous and destructive dictatorship has been neutralised. This has also given a base from which threats in Iran and Syria can be addressed if necessary. Yes, the onward terror-based campaign is nasty [and notice what deliberate targetting of civilians as a main target looks like], and has cost some significant and painful blood, but what would the alternative 2006 world with a successful, sanction-busting Iraq, with a nuke threshold Iran, and a destabilised Pakistan probably about to fall to Al Qaeda look like? Recall: the declared intent of Ahmadinajab is a world in which the USA is wiped out, not just Israel, and the UK is regarded by the Islamists as the moter of all troubles for Islam [i.e. USA, Israel, and modern emocracy etc derive from Britain in the post reformation era]. Further tothis, they view Spain as an illegitimate state, as it pushed out the Islamic forces in an 800-year long campaign of resistance and reconquest tha tculminated in the victory over Granada and expulsion of the muslim population [and Jews too!] in 1491-2. That is why in 1492 CC sailed the ocean blue.
    –> In short, the lesson of Machiavelli is very relevant: political/strategic disorders are like wasting diseases: at first, relatively easy to cure but hard to diagnose. When, at length, the course of the disease is obvious to all, it is then far too late to cure.
    ++++++++++
    Okay, trust these thoughts are helpful in balancing out ideas.
    Grace to all
    Gordon

  • The Raven

    “Also, hasn’t Mr Bush backed a long term initiative to move the US energy base to Hydrogen and other onward technologies?”
    Y’know, Gordon, I’d forgotten all about that. W: The Alternative Energy President. The Environmental Executive.

  • ucfengr

    windbag–Has Karl Rove called you about running for office. What better way for a permanent Republican majority? I personally hate the thought of this, one party states frighten me.
    But hey, we’re talking to people here who are convinced their god designed the bacterial flagellum, so what’s the point in reasoning?
    Because, of course you can’t reason with people who believe in God. Actually, it’s much worse than you imagine. Some of these rubes actually believe that their “god” created the whole universe and everything in it. Folks like that should be locked away where they can’t do honest folks like you any harm. It’s a shame they outnumber you by a lot and also believe that the 2nd ammendment confers some sort of “individual” right to bear arms (bunch of weirdos if you ask me). But hey if you keep calling them stupid, maybe they’ll finally begin agree with you and voluntarily march off to the re-education camps so they can be disabused of such foolish notions. One can hope, can’t one?

  • Ebonmuse

    “When Rummy and other bigshots visit the Iraq theatre, guess what they wear? … Dragon Skin.”
    And they don’t have to jump in and out of tactical vehicles while under fire, kick down doors or hold a weapon to their shoulder.
    Tom, you are ignoring the fact – pointed out multiple times in this very thread – that the soldiers themselves want the Dragon Skin armor. They are the ones who are buying it, because they feel it will make them safer than what they have now, and then are being told by their commanders that they cannot wear it. Do you agree with that policy?

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    A couple of follow-up points, if you don’t mind:
    1] Raven
    –> The key point is not whether or not Bush is this or that (evidently sarcastic) label, but the trend that — through investments like he and others have made into H and fuel cells etc [the CREDIBLE alternative technologies; do the math on solar photovoltaics and on the dispatchability issue on wind-on-the-grid, etc] — in the next 40 or so years, oil will likely be passe.
    –> That is a context in which the islamists know they have one generation in which to act decisively. Further to this, the rise of what can be called the Southern Christian Reformation across Latin America, Africa and Asia implies that global demographics are against them. That is they know they have a window of opportunity and time is not on their side in the long term.
    –> So, we can expect a geostrategically busy next 40 years or so, like it or lump it. And, to respond to it, there will have to be strong action by some very sinful and sometimes mistaken or even foolish western powers. In that context, wisdom is to think through which of the evils in front of us is lesser, and act in that light – even as the Western Allies seventy years ago were not exactly either pure or fountains of wisdom.
    2] EM:
    –> What do the cost-benefit and opportunity cost studies show on Dragon Skin? [I am here asking about what is the opportunity to be foregone by switching to it. A rational decision can only be made in light of the credible alternatives and their comparative costs and benefits, not to mention risks and uncertainties. If DS was free and easily available in the quantity required, it would be in use, so what is the rest of the story? THEN, we can make a rational conclusion about the decisions being made.]
    –> When has this technology come available? What is its OVEERALL performance level across the range of threats compared to kevlar etc and ceramics? [Last time I looked a bit at this issue a couple of years back, the issue seemed to be over moving to Ceramics from Kevlar and gel-spun polyester.]
    –> Is this a case where the testing and procurement process is taking time — and reasonably so?
    My initial data suggests an emergent technology based on hard to source materials [esp Ti]:

    Looking for the future of armor? . . . . The Pinnacle SOV-1000 titanium composite and SOV-2000 ceramic composite flexible hard armor system ballistic vests feature DRAGON SKIN

  • Gordon Mullings

    PS Found a price point:

    what will the future cost you? Well, again, it ain’t gonna be cheap. A Pinnacle Armor Inc. SOV-2000 Level III ballistic vest with a full torso wrap (that’s full Level III torso coverage, including the shoulder straps) will run you about $4,600 US, as this article goes to print. That includes everything — carrier, molle webbing, etc. The SOV-2000 Level III+ or “enhanced Level III” ballistic vest with full-torso wrap weighs 17.5 lbs, only 1.2 lbs more than the U.S. military’s current USMC Interceptor Multi-Threat Body Armor System Outer Tactical Vest (OTV).
    Understand that the SOV-2000 Level III ballistic vest with full-torso wrap used to weigh 19.5 lbs, but Pinnacle was able to advance the technology again and reduce the weight of their individual hard armor Dragon Skin discs by 26%, tranlating into a full 2-pound weight reduction for this particular SOV-2000 version. That’s pretty significant. Again, if you need a lighter-weight vest than 17.5 lbs, Pinnacle Armor Inc. can custom-configure the armor to your required specs. You just won’t have quite as complete torso coverage. However, you’ll still have much greater coverage than the industry-standard 10″x12″ SAPI plates/inserts (ceramic hard armor plates/inserts) that pretty much everyone else is using.

    –> In short this is an expensive, heavy, emerging tech with promise. It’s the future, not the present for most people.
    GEM

  • ucfengr

    Re: Dragonskin armor
    It looks like your recurring costs for 150,000 units (Vest plus spares for 130k troops. I assume 10% spares which is probably conservative. Most equipment like this is considered BRE (beyond economic repair) after one use, i.e. stopping a bullet, so sparing could be 30-50% or higher) would be something approaching $700M. Your non-recurring testing and engineering costs could easily push total procurement costs to $1B and that assumes sparing at just 10%. Just to put that into perspective, $1B would purchase 1 Arleigh Burke class destroyer, 20 F/A-18 E/F fighters, 315 M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, or 70,000 JDAM kits (turns a 500lb dumb bomb into a “smart” bomb). It could also pay for a lot of maintencance and/or upgrades to existing equipment. The military doesn’t have unlimited resources. Military planners have to take the money that they have for procuring equipment and determine how to get the most for their dollars. In FY2006, total the total DoD procurement budget is roughly $80B. Sounds like a lot but when you divide it by the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marine Corps, it gets eaten up pretty quickly. Maintaining 20+ year old aircraft, tanks, and ships requires a lot of parts.

  • ucfengr

    Re: Dragonskin armor
    It looks like your recurring costs for 150,000 units (Vest plus spares for 130k troops. I assume 10% spares which is probably conservative. Most equipment like this is considered BRE (beyond economic repair) after one use, i.e. stopping a bullet, so sparing could be 30-50% or higher) would be something approaching $700M. Your non-recurring testing and engineering costs could easily push total procurement costs to $1B and that assumes sparing at just 10%. Just to put that into perspective, $1B would purchase 1 Arleigh Burke class destroyer, 20 F/A-18 E/F fighters, 315 M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, or 70,000 JDAM kits (turns a 500lb dumb bomb into a “smart” bomb). It could also pay for a lot of maintencance and/or upgrades to existing equipment. The military doesn’t have unlimited resources. Military planners have to take the money that they have for procuring equipment and determine how to get the most for their dollars. In FY2006, total the total DoD procurement budget is roughly $80B. Sounds like a lot but when you divide it by the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marine Corps, it gets eaten up pretty quickly. Maintaining 20+ year old aircraft, tanks, and ships requires a lot of parts.

  • ucfengr

    Apologies for the double post.

  • The Raven

    Why are you guys asking about the cost of DS? I already posted those numbers, correctly. The point was never the cost of the armor – military families around the country know about this stuff and have made attempts to purchase it.
    Again, it’s what Rumsfeld, and other “valuable assets” wear.
    But the Pentagon decided that our troops can’t wear it and they aren’t allowed to wear DS even if their families send it to them. That’s what’s so sad. Apropos to this discussion, of course, if one thinks that “supporting the troops” involves things more salient than yellow magnetic stickers on the family SUV.

  • ucfengr

    But the Pentagon decided that our troops can’t wear it and they aren’t allowed to wear DS even if their families send it to them.
    I am not sure this is really relevent. If a troop’s family sent him a AK-74 or a better pattern of desert camo, he would not be able to carry it on duty either. There are numerous reasons to keep military gear uniform, 2 that pop into mind are for ease of identification (to avoid blue on blue casualties) and ease of maintenance and support.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Regarding cost-benefit analysis, a while ago Slate.com had a very interesting article on casualities in US military actions before and after the draft ended with Vietnam. Long story short, military casualities dropped dramatically after the draft ended. This holds even if you adjust for the ‘intensity’ of wars that have happened post-Vietnam and before. Why?
    When a country has a draft men are relatively cheap and equipment is expensive. Without a draft it is the reverse, it takes a lot of effort to get people to volunteer and if your military strategy involves the use of a lot of ‘cannon fodder’ don’t expect many volunteers no matter how many college credits you’re willing to pay for.
    The loss of the draft spurred a lot of capital investment towards keeping troops out of direct combat and when they were in combat to keep them as well protected as possible. Hence today we get upset if a battle costs us a dozen lives but in wars past it would be common to lose hundreds in a battle.
    Anyway before we drift any more let me just sum up what I think has been established here:
    1. There’s a difference between supporting a war and supporting the troops and one can support one but not the other with no contradiction.
    2. Joe & Stein are quite frankly wrong to assert that there is a contradiction. Stein is wrong because he has been fooled by people like Joe. People like Joe would like to cut off debate about military actions by asserting that to question the wisdom of an action is to ‘not support our boys on the ground’. It’s a sleezy political trick that was old when it was used against Abe Lincoln.
    3. In response to the issues Joe raised regarding immoral wars.
    A. The US gov’t is civilian run and the military is subordinate to it.
    B. AS a result the military cannot be blamed if we are in a ‘bad war’. This is why there is no contradiction, troops do not set policy hence they should be supported because they do not take on the responsibility for deciding when to go to war. Those that do set policy, however, do have the responsibility and there is no duty for a person to support an elected official’s decision to send troops into combat.
    C. Troops should not be supported if they are ordered to carry out illegal and immoral orders (such as “shoot the babies”). However to assert that they should freely deploy a veto over policy makers is to challenge the concept of a military that is subordinate to civilian rule. In other words, you are challenging a fundamental feature of the US system…. Therefore troops only have a responsibility/right to reject immoral orders when they are extreme. This does not mean that all orders troops have to follow are automatically based on a moral or wise policy.

  • tom

    Arrggh! I posted a very long response that seems to have vanished into the ether. (Joe, a software glitch?) So here it is in shorter form.
    Others have amply discussed the cost issues involved. The larger issue is one of uniformity and fairness. Where do we stop if we allow families to supply body armor to soldiers? That Ruger pump-action 12 gauge shotgun is a lot better for urban operations than that pidly M-16. Those camo trousers from Cabelas are way better than the military-issue trousers.
    But militaries wear uniforms for a variety of reasons, among them ease of maintenance and supply. But it’s also a matter of morale and fairness. What if Private Smith’s friends and family are able to supply him with a super-duper version of everything? What does that say to others in his unit?
    It’s a variation on the Coast Guard’s policy to not accept payment for rescuing someone. When Richard Branson (of Virgin Records and Virgin Airlines) crashed his balloon off the coast of Hawaii, the Coast Guard rescued him, and out of gratitude Branson offered to pay all the costs involved in the operation.
    The Coast Guard refused, explaining that they didn’t want to give the impression that rescues were dependent on ability to pay. The military should not have unequal/different provision of equipment based on ability to pay.

  • Ebonmuse

    What if Private Smith’s friends and family are able to supply him with a super-duper version of everything? What does that say to others in his unit?
    Which is why we have been arguing that the government should supply this better armor to every soldier. Is it that difficult to keep sight of this point?

  • tom

    Which is why we have been arguing that the government should supply this better armor to every soldier. Is it that difficult to keep sight of this point?
    Because as others have pointed out, the cost-benefit analysis does not yet support it. As I’ve said many times, we can theoretically protect our soldiers against all threats, but at what cost in both dollars and in mobility?

  • Gordon Mullings

    Okay
    Time for another B fact-check:
    Slate.com had a very interesting article on casualities in US military actions before and after the draft ended with Vietnam. Long story short, military casualities dropped dramatically after the draft ended. This holds even if you adjust for the ‘intensity’ of wars that have happened post-Vietnam and before. Why?
    –> First, a check at Wikipedia confirms my recall that the US Draft ended at about the time of the end of the US involvement in Vietnam:

    The United States has employed conscription (mandatory military service, also called “the draft”) several times, usually during war but also during the nominal peace of the Cold War. The U.S. discontinued the draft in 1973. Today, the Selective Service System remains in place as a contingency; young men are required to register so that a draft can be more readily resumed.

    –> In short, the end of the draft is AFTER the end of the Vietnam war. Since that time, the US has not been engaged in any infantry-intensive battles of attrition that grind down the combat power of a major opponent, so we cannot sensibly compare VN on a draft/post draft basis. [Indeed, in that context, it is a little unfair to contrast Western Front WWI and WWII, as in the latter, it was the Soviets who fought out the battles of attrition that chewed up men by the hundreds of thousands. Against a major power in an infantry-intense conflict, that sort of grinding down is evidently inevitable, at least since Napoleon's wars that mobilised the population mass of a great power. But, 2nd time around with Germany the Soviets did the hard slogging, costing them upwards of 20 millions, and probably at 5 - 10:1 with the technically and often tactically superior Germans. In VN, I gather the North and their VC proxies/allies [and probably more civilians than we want to think about] suffered up to 2MN dead. Measured vs 58 k, that is of the order of 20:1, not the 2:1 on classic attrition battles like Verdun, where the German army bled France white and triggered the conditions that whent he French comeback on the Aisne under Nivelle failed next year, led to mutiny; and, in 1940 led to half-hearted fighting and defeat.]]
    –> Since that time, there has been no american high-intensity, high-commitment prolonged conflict that slogs it out in high-intensity battles of attrition — unlike what would have happened if, say, the Soviets had ever come charging through the Fulda Gap a la Red Storm Rising. That has to do more with the Reagan strategy of defeating the soviets economically and technologically and ideologically than anything else. Here, we can contrast the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, where the Iranians took the harder pounding but due to commitment won back their territory in the end.
    –> When the US last had to stand against such an onslaught, in Korea in 1950, most of the 50,000 dead for the Korean War for 4 years were incurred in about 6 months, if memory serves. That was because, against odds, a defensive line had to be established, then thereafter an invasion at Inchon. The pursuit phase had far fewer casualties, and thereafter, there was a spike with the Chinese invasion. Thereafter the US was able to play the defender and extract huge losses from the Chinese.
    –> But, since 1973, the major US engagements have been: Mayaguez incident, 1975/6, Grenada 1983, Lebanon 1982, Panama 1989, Somalia 1993, Gulf phases I and II. In each case, the balance of forces was such that relatively low US casualties were more or less predictable for these limited wars. To some degree, the general post VN political climate has led to a policy of avoiding peripheral conflicts save on massively favourable terms, and where losses have begun to mount up, so has pressure to pull out. But, I don’t think that is a simple function of the suddenly enhanced value of the soldier in a post draft era. For . . .
    –> I think the VN era and its aftermath may well have so sapped US will that the US as a whole may well be becoming the sort of hollow power the French were after Verdun, 1916. It is hard to believe that in 1940, the French and their allies [with far smaller contributions] disposed of more troops, more armour and more aircraft than the Germans.
    –> And, BTW, the French DID have a 3-year draft [to make up for the "hollow" year classes lost from the children the men who died at Verdun etc never had]. That is, it is not just a matter of how many troops and their “value’ but commitment. Falkenhayn defeated the French forever when he decided to force them into a meat grinder in Feb 1916. In short, given the pattern with the French, I think a sample size of one is a boit small to conclude that it is the end of the draft that is the cause of the pattern in conflicts post VN.
    –> And guess what: that is exactly what Bin Laden is counting on — exhaustion and dismay leading to withdrawal and collapse of the geostrategic position in the ME, then far wider than the ME. Already, it seems there are fellers out to CHavez and co to build up a presence in the Caribbean, and El Shukrijumah has US$25 mn on his head for good reason: we could be looking at nuke terrorism using ex Sov arsenal suitcase or satchel charges anytime now. If the US is talking withdrawal from a strategically vital theatre after 2,000 casualties, what would they do if they say lost Denver to a nuke [with no return address]?
    ++++++++++
    I sure hate to have to discuss this sort of stuff, deaths by the 100′s of K or millions; but it is necessary.
    GEM

  • The Raven

    This discussion is all wrapped up, we can see. But this last remark really deserves comment:
    “Others have amply discussed the cost issues involved. The larger issue is one of uniformity and fairness. Where do we stop if we allow families to supply body armor to soldiers?”
    I would love to print this out and mail it to all the troops serving overseas. It would make them feel so good, and so supported by the American people, to know that passionate fighting keyboarders like Tom are arguing passionately that they not be allowed better armor because it would be “unfair.”
    Betcha they’d all grin and high five each other.
    Or maybe they’d just wad Tom’s letter up into a little ball, throw it on the ground and spit on it.
    I know which of the two options are most likely, because I have three friends – close friends – serving in Baghdad right now.

  • ucfengr

    The larger issue is one of uniformity and fairness. Where do we stop if we allow families to supply body armor to soldiers?
    I don’t know how much fairness comes into it though uniformity is without a doubt the most important issue. Probably the second most important lesson of the Civil War (the first being that Napoleonic tactics don’t work well against rifled weapons) was the importance of being able to identify your friends and foes. Several major battles where effected (1st Bull Run being prominent among them) because a unit opened fire on a unit they thought were foes, but weren’t, or just as held fire on foes they thought friends.
    Which is why we have been arguing that the government should supply this better armor to every soldier. Is it that difficult to keep sight of this point?
    What you fail to acknowledge is that the military has a limited budget and has to prioritize spending. The military has a big long list of things they need to develop, buy, and/or fix, and sometimes they have to accept a good enough fix vs. the ideal fix. They already have a large supply of the current armor, they also have the logistical infrastructure to repair and maintain it. We don’t know how much it would cost or how long it would take to do the same for the “Dragonskin” armor, but it can be assumed that it will be expensive and won’t happen overnight. BTW–Why are you only interested in body armor? There are a lot better weapons available than the venerable M-16. Equipping the military with a better weapon (especially one with more stopping power than the 5.56mm NATO round) could also save US lives.

  • ucfengr

    The larger issue is one of uniformity and fairness. Where do we stop if we allow families to supply body armor to soldiers?
    I don’t know how much fairness comes into it though uniformity is without a doubt the most important issue. Probably the second most important lesson of the Civil War (the first being that Napoleonic tactics don’t work well against rifled weapons) was the importance of being able to identify your friends and foes. Several major battles where effected (1st Bull Run being prominent among them) because a unit opened fire on a unit they thought were foes, but weren’t, or just as held fire on foes they thought friends.
    Which is why we have been arguing that the government should supply this better armor to every soldier. Is it that difficult to keep sight of this point?
    What you fail to acknowledge is that the military has a limited budget and has to prioritize spending. The military has a big long list of things they need to develop, buy, and/or fix, and sometimes they have to accept a good enough fix vs. the ideal fix. They already have a large supply of the current armor, they also have the logistical infrastructure to repair and maintain it. We don’t know how much it would cost or how long it would take to do the same for the “Dragonskin” armor, but it can be assumed that it will be expensive and won’t happen overnight. BTW–Why are you only interested in body armor? There are a lot better weapons available than the venerable M-16. Equipping the military with a better weapon (especially one with more stopping power than the 5.56mm NATO round) could also save US lives.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    http://www.slate.com/id/2135103/?nav=tap3 Has an item on what types of equipment you can and can’t buy for yourself and bring with you to duty. Long story short, less important things like socks, gloves even boots you can usually bring along your own stash. Special body armor or non-gov’t issued equipment needs permission from your CO and even then you might be ordered to take it off over there. Your own personal weapons (aside from maybe a small knife I suppose) are almost always no.
    http://www.picayuneitem.com/articles/2006/01/28/news/25armor.txt has a piece on how the military is reimbursing soldiers for body armor they purchased themselves up until now. Note the lines about how home towns were raising money to buy armor for their troops & suppliers were reporting 10-15 orders a week for use in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • The Raven

    Right, Boonton.
    And we can toss these spurious “troop identification” issues out the window. A soldier wearing DS or standard issue SC would appear virtually identical. This argument is a non-starter.
    Yet again, one has to wonder what kind of insane, sadistic, brainwashed mindset it is that fuels these unfeeling animals who would sit in front of their computers scratching their heads in an effort to justify policies that put our troops at risk, policies enacted for no other reason than to protect the profits of a Bush “pioneer.”
    And one of these nimrods yammers like a god-damned country yokel about “Ford doesn’t make armored humvees” when we all know that during WWII the government was able to request (i.e., demand) our heavy industries to crank out whatever the hell we needed. This isn’t rocket science, folks. It’s sacrifice to the aid of our country.
    Real leadership would ask for that. But then, you’d need a real war, not a business decision.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Well, well . . . sadly, back to the usual ad hominems when issues canot be resolved on merits I see.
    Plainly, there is a need to address the procurement process and the balance of costs and benefits in a context where infinite resources and unanticipated short or long-term consequences (such as arguably happened with depleted uranium ammunition and Agent Orange defoliant) are in play.
    However, B has moved the ball forward by pointing us to an article, though he left off some interesting parts that give a wider picture than would be picked up from the above:

    WASHINGTON (AP) – Just 29 Army soldiers have sought reimbursement so far for body armor and other equipment they bought to protect themselves on the front lines.
    The scant number of requests are largely for updated ceramic body armor and total just $21,000, The Associated Press has learned. That is in contrast to Defense Department officials’ predictions last year that the program could impose a financial burden on the military if people pressed for reimbursement for large amounts of protective gear.
    Prodded by a new law and congressional pressure, Defense officials began the repayment program last October. Troops and their families had gained growing attention for complaints that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t getting vital pieces of body armor from the Pentagon. Hometown groups had begun raising money and sending armor to the troops.
    Army Maj. Paul Cucuzzella, who runs the reimbursement program from his office at Fort Meade, Md., said interest is starting to pick up. He said inquiries have grown from one a day to up to a half dozen.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    –> In this context, too, we should note the numbers: $ 21k/29 soldiers is $ 724.14/soldier. The proposed scalar armour weighs in at both a higher weight and $ 4,600/copy for the “standard” version — side and full back protection seem to be a custom order. If one can get a comparable degree of protection at US$ 1,000, though with less comfort etc, I am not sure you can really make a case that DS is cost-effective on a cost-benefits basis. Especially when you do the math on the sort of real world logistics UCF pointed out above:
    Several issues:
    1. Most likely the cost of DS or something like it would fall due to mass production and the entry of competiting firms if the market were to suddenly expand with the addition of the US armed forces making it standard.
    2. Even at $4,600 it isn’t clear that it is too expensive. Recall my previous post on the economics of the draft? During the draft days men were cheap so military planners used men to protect the assets. Today the men are expensive so military planners use equipment to protect the real asset (the people). As a result we see a fraction of the combat deaths today than we did even in Vietnam which was closer to WWII than today. A typical on the field soldier probably has tens of thousands worth of equipment on him or directly supporting him.
    3. This is probably getting too technical. There might be drawbacks to DS other than cost and one has to look at the deaths that have happened so far. Would better armor have prevented the deaths that happened or was the real problem no armor at all? Does the DS armor have any drawbacks say in mobility or ease of use that might increase some deaths if it had hypothetically been issued to everyone in the field?

  • Gordon Mullings

    B:
    Yes, the cost per unit would fall, though the “full protection” format seems to be up from the $4,600 level, judging by the remarks on customisation for side protection etc.
    DS is also being envisioned for vehicles, so the overall cost on a sky is the limit approach would climb steeply — that is, the issue is what is adequate protection. [And here, notice that thie is torso protection, not knight in shining armour/ imperial stormtrooper style full body and head . . . itself a sign that there is an implicit threshold of "acceptable risk" in all of this!]
    On that, I suspect strongly that the present payback programme is being used to get the cost-benefit numbers to feed into the usual models.
    As you know as an economist [and to give an idea to others], similar calcs are used to decide, e.g., how much additional expenditure on highway safety is warranted by seeing the cost implications of our rush hour behaviour and comparing the incremental accident rate and associated losses, vs the value of time saved at work. From that an implicit value on a lost life or a major accident’s lost time can be inferred, and used to set a threshold: pay no more thant he value of the saved lives and time.
    So, if your country as a whole values the soldiers enough, the way to show that is to swamp the system with DS armour repayment requests. (It seems the Pentagon feared that something like that would happen.) It turns out that the small number of cases and the average cost of $ 700 – 800 per case looks like there is an implied value of lives saved there, once we look at the reduced casualty rates for those wearing the enhanced armour.
    In short, it looks like the rationing point is the present technology, at least for now. When DS comes down in price — i.e. as it climbs the adoption curve and as competition emerges leading towards market saturation and shakeout — that will doubtless shift. But for now, we are looking at bleeding edge technology and very early adoption by those with the income and the inclination to go for pioneering technologies. Indeed, notice that the $ 4,600 price point is very similar to high end technologies that are equally not in widespread use.
    Using hi tech as a model, $ 1,000 – 1,500 is a sort of threshold for that I think. (Perhaps, you have some numbers on car safety features and the point where they move into the wider market?)
    Grace to all
    Gordon

  • Gordon Mullings

    H’mm: Forgot to follow up on a couple of points:
    1] Bush’s remarks in the SOU speech on “Addiction” to oil to be broken through technology. That looks a lot like the thinking is that new tech is a strategic issue; as discussed above. But,t he window is decades long I think.
    2] Value on draftees: B should look on the other model for what is going on — France, post Verdun, 1916. THe issue is not the economic one of whether volunteers are inherently ore valuable than draftees [Let's just say that the BRitish army at the opening of the Somme offensive, was based on volunteers: July 1916, 60,000 casualties in one day, 20,000 dead. 60 lb packs walking through churned up earth and mud into the teeth of machine guns. The official history -- I looked it up on this! -- speaks about the infantry manuals' instructions on "rushing the trenches" as its justification.]
    GEM

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Using hi tech as a model, $ 1,000 – 1,500 is a sort of threshold for that I think. (Perhaps, you have some numbers on car safety features and the point where they move into the wider market?)
    Unfortunately I don’t but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone who did told me a typical new car has $1,500-$2,000 of net ‘safety investment’ incorporated into its price either as direct safety features and R&D. I’m not even sure $4,500 would be unexpected considering cars are easily starting at $15K and are often in the mid to high 20′s these days.
    These calculations are indeed complicated and the doctrine of scarcity tells us that there is always an opportunity cost. While $4,500 per troop might lower fatalities the same amount spent on intelligence, robotics, or even better in the field medical equipment/tec might lower fatalities even more. This reqlly requires tapping the knowledge of someone whose an expert in the field. I do think it is very clear, though, that we did send many troops to Iraq without the proper body armor. If upgrading everyone to DS can be done for $1B I have no objection but getting bogged down in the cost-benefits of DS (something no one here has indicated themselves to be an expert in) the more important issue was sending troops in without the proper standard armor.
    1] Bush’s remarks in the SOU speech on “Addiction” to oil to be broken through technology. That looks a lot like the thinking is that new tech is a strategic issue; as discussed above. But,t he window is decades long I think.
    The problem with this is that it is quite frankly the same old crap. Conservatives who are drawing comparisons between this and Carter’s old speeches have a good point. ‘Energy independence’ or as I perfer to call it ‘energy autarky’ (see http://www.economist.com/research/Economics/alphabetic.cfm?LETTER=A#AUTARKY if you don’t know that that is) is both an impossible goal and an economic diaster if taken seriously.
    The only policies that would really accelerate the adoption of alternative energies & quicken the development of new energies have costs associated with them. Since it’s questionable whether the gov’t can do good R&D outside of basic sciences that require large scale investments the only good policies are taxes on ‘bad energies’. In any case the US economy has been getting more and more efficient on its own. The GDP generated per dollar or barrel of oil is much higher today than it was in the 70′s.
    2] Value on draftees: B should look on the other model for what is going on — France, post Verdun, 1916. THe issue is not the economic one of whether volunteers are inherently ore valuable than draftees [Let's just say that the BRitish army at the opening of the Somme offensive, was based on volunteers: July 1916, 60,000 casualties in one day, 20,000 dead. 60 lb packs walking through churned up earth and mud into the teeth of machine guns. The official history -- I looked it up on this! -- speaks about the infantry manuals' instructions on "rushing the trenches" as its justification.]
    I can think of several possible explanations that would fit with the model of volunteers being more expensive to the commander yet explain what appears to be a very wasteful use of volunteers:
    1. The volunteers were rally cheap. Since drafts were standard for centuries before military commanders fully expected the gov’t to institute a draft once the needs of the war exceeded the willing volunteers. Today military commanders and more importantly planners know that asking politicians for a draft is much worse than any cost overrun or blown schedule.
    2. The military tactics were developed from the experiences of draft based armies. So the ‘best practices’ of the time would have been to use the knowledge and experiences that were developed using the draft as the primary means of obtaining manpower.
    3. The impact takes time to be felt. If, in the early 1900′s, oil became very expensive then the navies would look at coal based designs. But it isn’t going to be an instantaneous transformation. The decision to keep the draft off the table has to be seen as not easily subject to change before planners have an incentive to shift investment towards protecting men rather than machines.
    4. A missing element in the model might be a decision to maintain a serious standing army in peacetime. Before WWII the common practice was for countries to drastically downsize the military after a war was over and peace was seen to be real. The Cold War, however, left the need in place to maintain a standing army large enough to handle a major war even in times of extended peace. When the draft was gone planners could not solve the problem of expensive manpower by just downsizing the military force. So they had to make it worthwhile for people to join. Expensive manpower means you have to protect the men more than the equipment.

  • Gordon Mullings

    B;
    Several notes.
    1] Energy Autarky
    –> The basic problem is that the technologies are decades out. I once had the job to develop an estimate for going solar PV for an environmental centre, and it was the numbers that got us: the capital costs of renewables and their bulkiness and vulnerabilities are a serious deterrent. Not to mention, the environmental unfriendliness of batteries and the manufacturing processes for say PV.
    –> I came down in the end on the side that we should look at energy efficiency, cogeneration [harvesting the waste heat from power gen for cooling or heating], while developing and demonstrating the next generation of energy technologies.
    2] Armour
    –> THe point was that from the empirics in hand, the sweet spot is evidently below $1,500 . . . and for partial protection. [Back in WW I, the protection sweetspot was the steel helmet.]
    3] Draftees:
    –> I think there is a lot of history to be factored into the models being advanced, that to me sound “off” preciely because I have some familiarity.
    –> E.G. most european nations from late C19 for generations maintained a draft system. Similarly, the situation with France going into 1940 was not lack of a draft but a broken national spirit so unlike the Poles they simply did not fight as hard — and paid the price.
    –> In 1916, it was patriotic ardour that filled the British ranks [that generation was hte last generation of such ardour, for good reason]. THe generals did not have a solution to the machine gun [though Churchill was well on the way, with the invention of the tank] and thought it an over-rated threat. VERRRRY wrongly.
    –> But overall the lesson of WWI and II is that great and determined powers have to be broken the hard way: ground down. [Nukes accelerate the process, potentially.] But, it is that determination that is the real question about post Vietnam America, as it was for post Verdun France.
    –> So it is not a simple economics issue.
    GEM