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Thread: The Andrew Bacevich collection

  1. #21
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    Default The confusion

    Does opposing the war actually aid the enemy? Unfortunately it does aid the enemy for the following reasons.

    1. The enemy cannot defeat us militarily, so he aims to defeat us by influencing the American homefront to pressure its politicians to pull the military out.

    2. A vocal public dissent provides motivation for the enemy to stay in the fight. One of the key factors for maintaining an insurgency is maintaining the belief that victory is possible. It is difficult to convince the enemy to put his weapons down and join the political process while he still thinks he has a chance of winning.

    The bottom line is a vocal opposition to the war tells the enemy his strategy is on track, yet as painful and confusing as it may be it is still isn't an act of treason.

    We all swore or affirmed to protect our constitution, and in so doing the implied task is to protect the freedom of our citizens, to include the freedom to protest the conflict. I would rather live in a nation where the people have the moral courage to stand up to the government "if" they believe the government is wrong. Of course the sad and confusing truth is that now much of the protest isn't based on strong moral convictions, but rather crowd mentality that blindly follows the far left so called Hollywood elites, and a few idiotic professors in our academic communities. The last thing I want to see in the U.S. is a mindless mass movement like Hilter started with the Nazi Party, but if we ever have it one it will come from the political correct far left.

    Regardless of whether you support or protest the war, we have to deal with the reality of loyal dissent. Our strategy and actions in OIF can still influence the majority of the population to support the effort, but first we have to get our strategic communications game on track, stop politicizing the war, and stop blaming the press and protesters for our woes.

  2. #22
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    Actually I disagree with this position. It may seem minor.

    "He" has the right to oppose the war.

    "You" have the right to support the war.

    If you oppose his opposition you add nothing to the debate and define your argument by his opposition. This fails to provide discourse and into the vacuum of errant ideas only fallacious logic will fall. The debate will quickly turn to an attack of the person rather than a discussion of the ideas.
    That is too simplistic to include "my" viewpoint. I oppose the war. But I oppose losing the war, more than I oppose the war. I think that vocal opposition of the war is counterproductive in this case. Therefore I oppose Bacevich's point of view. Bacevich attacks my point of view as illegitimate.

    Frankly, I think my argument is the better one, though it runs counter to what many believe.

  3. #23
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Our strategy and actions in OIF can still influence the majority of the population to support the effort, but first we have to get our strategic communications game on track, stop politicizing the war, and stop blaming the press and protesters for our woes.
    I think the worm has turned pretty decisively on this. Historical evidence indicates that generally it will not turn back.

    Acknowledgement of this reality is a must. As GEN Barry McCaffrey said, "US domestic support for the war in Iraq has evaporated and will not return." We have, at most, perhaps 12-18 months before a significant American drawdown is forced on whatever American president is elected in 2008. Pretty much any realistic scenarios for American actions in Iraq have to take this into account.
    Last edited by tequila; 05-28-2007 at 10:01 AM. Reason: added link

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    stop politicizing the war, and stop blaming the press and protesters for our woes.
    The only ones politicizing this war, IMO, is the Left. They are still stuck on "the reasons for going" and, unfortunately, that is what has led the way and continues to lead the opposition.

    There's dissent...and dissent is Patriotic blah blah blah, but then there's just plain wrong. I don't know how many political forums you guys read, but there's still discussion on a daily basis about Joe Wilson, Plame, WMD's, Saddam had no ties to AlQ, etc. Will they ever move on? (pun intended). There is virtually no discussion about victory, the only discussion is "get out of Iraq now" or "Bush lied"

    I disagree that the press and protesters are blameless. Yes, they all have the freedom and liberty to protest or speak out. But they have to take responsibilty for the consequences of their actions. They are the reason public support has wained.

  5. #25
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    But they have to take responsibilty for the consequences of their actions. They are the reason public support has wained.
    I find this very unpersuasive. A far more likely reason, I think, is the chart on page 39 of this GAO report.

  6. #26
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Skiguy,

    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    The only ones politicizing this war, IMO, is the Left. They are still stuck on "the reasons for going" and, unfortunately, that is what has led the way and continues to lead the opposition.
    I would have to disagree with that. The Iraq war was first politicized by the Administration, who are now in a reactive mode against the Left. To say that the Left are "politicizing" this war is just plain silly. What they are doing, however, is shifting the rhetorical basis of the discourse from what the Administration established at the start, and is now pretty much invalidated. The newer rhetoric is wrapped in a type of "moral rectitude" (and we all know where that comes from) that is designed to allow them to win votes.

    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    I disagree that the press and protesters are blameless. Yes, they all have the freedom and liberty to protest or speak out. But they have to take responsibilty for the consequences of their actions. They are the reason public support has wained.
    Don't you think that there are other reasons for why support has eroded? Just off the top of my head, I would say that one of the main reasons it has faltered is that the entire case for going to war in the first place has been disproven. When that is coupled with not having a UN mandate in the first place (i.e. no international legitimacy regardless of what anyone may think about the UN) and with all of the problems surrounding Phase IV, I would have to say that there are definite reasons for public support waining other than the "press and protesters".

    My own position is very close to 120's - I didn't really think here was much of a case for it in the first place and, after the fiasco in the UN (i.e. not waiting for a final resolution), I was pretty jaundiced about it. However that doesn't matter now and hasn't for a number of years. You are quite correct that the Left is rehashing history and doesn't really consider future effects given current conditions. A rapid pull out or timetable will just encourage a loss so we have to deal with what is now.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  7. #27
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    I'm also very close to 120mm's position, because I see too many possible repeats of history coming...not on the ground but in the halls of Congress and offices of policy makers. They spend so much time looking backward (selectively, of course) and so little time actually understanding what they see that they're rocketing toward a replay of 1972-1975 in Vietnam. But what disturbs me even more is that many of them don't seem to care. So many are so busy jockeying for some sort of political position or gain that they appear mentally incapable of thinking more than six months ahead (or the next election or polling cycle).

    The claim that protesting occupies a higher moral ground than support (or disagreeing with protesters) is absurd, of course. Both sides have equal standing and worth within our system. I do fear, though, that there is little value in the positions of some of the protesters and supporters, since they have long ago wandered into personal attack land and contribute little of value to any meaningful discussion of policy or strategy.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  8. #28
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    Smile Clausewitz 101

    Hi Marc--

    and everybody else. Clausewitz got it right on the one thing he was totally consistent about in all 8 books: "War is and extension of politics/policy (POLITIKA - German) by other means." This war, like all wars, is political.

    Marc, I must disagree that the rationale for the war was discredited. There were some 20+ reasons given in the congressional resolution, only one of which was discredited and it was one that Democrats from Bill Clinton to John Edwards as well as all Republicans and nearly every intel service believed to be correct. Where the media and others bear significant responsibility for the loss of public support is in their continued repetition of partisan mantras that fly in the face of facts. In their worst form, they come out as "Bush lied." But deemphasizing the fact that WMD was the common belief is almost as bad.

    This is not to say that the Administration does not bear the brunt of the blame for the loss of public support. It does. But it is hardly alone.

    Cheers

    JohnT (I guess this is my new moniker)

  9. #29
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    Default back peddle and see what happens

    Just as a question, not a serious proposition, I wonder what the reaction of the American people would be if the President came out in the next couple of days, and told America that we cannot stablize Iraq, so we will begin a rapid phased withdrawal of our troops within the next few weeks?

    Of course no ones knows what would really happen in Iraq if we did this, I still think the Al Qaeda would be destroyed by the Iraqis, once they loose their reason for being there, which is primarily to fight us. None the less the talking heads would rapidly start shaping U.S. opinion, and explain how Saudi and Iran may wage a proxy war, which could cause the price of oil to sky rocket if Iraq's southern oil fields are threatened, and the Kurds and Turkey wouldn't have the U.S. in the middle to mitigate their disputes, not to mention the perception that U.S. lost and the power that will give our foes worldwide. Once people seriously start talking about the consequences of simply quitting I think the rhetoric will change, and it will become more sober.

  10. #30
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    But empirical evidence does not need to be quantitative. There is plenty of evidence that the French lost Algeria when the French public lost faith in both Algerie Francaise and the French Army. There is also a lot of evidence that opposition to the Vietnam War aided the VC/NVA in their cause by influencing US policy and actual support to the RVN. The survey data do correlate with policy.

    Finally, this issue is all part of the war for legitimacy which is fought in the country where the war takes place, the countries that support the "host government," and the "court of world opinion." (Sorry about the shorthand.)
    To frame my question a bit differently, is opposition to a war necessarily bad? Furthermore, can opposition and dissent be in fact patriotic? There's a book out there about the liberal left reclaiming the patriotic high ground, and I believe that there are folks who have responsible and mature viewpoints about our global power and its repercussions.

    And I do firmly believe that the road to war matters even more as we move along the timeline, because the venture of war will always take a toll in "precious treasure". We need to focus on moving to an endstate, for sure, but it doesn't mean we stop dissecting how we took that path in the first place.

  11. #31
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    Once again, I am with John T fishel (or is it John T.). He brings up the exact reasons that there are issues., and the media has plenty of blame on it.


    I remember sitting in the Kuwiaiti desert for 6 months in 1998, and listending to a bunch of speeches on AFN by a different President say the same things. I also heard the same lines out people who have ran for President in the recent past. I also seem to recal that almost every 18 months were sending the heavy DRB over to Kuwait as a show of force for some shannigans that Saddam was pulling.

    The media's culpability lies in that they as an organization have taken to using the lowest common denominator partisan laangauge to make a story. And when they do this, some people come out ahead, and it isn't anybody sitting in this country. Last weekend the Washington Post ran a story on the funding bill, and US doemstic politics. Buried in the story was a line from Zwahiri talking about how they were all going to be able to pressure President Bush to leave Iraq. No I am not a political stategist or party chair, but I think if my oarty's rhetoric was getting a thumbs up from Al Qaeda's number 2 guy, then there is a problem. The problem isn't the democrats, the problem is how the media covers them and their stances on this issue. What is televised are arguements, not debates. the arguments are heavy emotion and very light on facts. The media appears to be doing a good job of presenting these emotions as facts. This totally kills any strategic level IO we are trying to do, and hurts us at the lower levels as well. That is my $.02

  12. #32
    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default Dissent and patriotism

    Historically, the great majority of our nation's wars from the Revolutionary War forward were marked by vigorous and shrill dissent. WWII is the great exception but one that colors the public mind, particularly when it is mentally bookended with the Vietnam War protests led by the New Left radicals ( a tiny but influential minority that were taken out of the political driver's seat by Nixon's ending of the draft. Most Boomer protestors were really anti-draft, not anti-war).

    I think we can divide anti-war opinion into three groups:

    a) Ideological and religious pacifists

    b) Ideological leftists and academics who accept to some degree the New Left critique of America as a perpetually unjust, racist, imperialist society.

    c) People who think the war was ill-conceived from the start or are unhappy with the way the war has been prosecuted ( too harsh, too soft, incompetent etc.) ranging from disappointed hawks to angry doves who are not anti-war or anti-American per se.

    In my view the first and third groups may make a fair claim to the mantle of "dissenting patriot"; right or wrong on the merits of their arguments, they have the nation's best interests at heart.

    The second group however, cannot make such a claim. A fundamental opposition to the United States and the values of the American creed and a celebration of alien values that lead this group to consistently sympathize with whomever the enemy of the moment might be is intrinsically incompatible with patriotism.

    Serially supporting the Soviets, Castro, Hanoi, Pol Pot, the Sandinistas, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Islamist terrorists, Saddam (a second time), Hugo Chavez and Iraqi insurgents can only be explained by a deep loathing of America and a desire to see it irrevocably changed into something else. There is no shortage of people like this and they tend to be well-educated, comfortably sheltered, upper middle class and influential in small ways.

    But their anti-war views have little to do with patriotism.

  13. #33
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    Jimbo, those are good points, but I'm curious. Is it purely the media's fault, or the fault of the consumer (Joe and Mary six-pack)?

    Media works in a supply and demand cycle, right? Is it the responsibility of the media to find the debate amidst the arguments?

  14. #34
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Bravo, Zenpundit. That was extremely well-said. And hits right to the crux of the issue. Unfortunately, the first and third groups tend to get painted into the corner of the second group, just by proximity.

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    Default Re Re Re...

    Jimbo, thanks, and call me what you want... John, JohnT, etc. No, it's not all the media's fault, jc. But, as I said in the original post, they do bear a part of the blame. Mostly, it is due to incompetence rather than anything else, I think. Consider the diminished quality of journalistic writing and research over the last 30 years. (If one goes back far enough, however, the writing gets even more partisan than it is today)

    Zenpundit, you are dead on. I would just add that dissent and self criticism is a hallmark of the Western way of war - and one of its greatest strengths - as Victor Davis Hanson points out in his numerous books (see Carnage and Culture for example). This still doesn't change the fact that the enemy draws comfort from that dissent and seeks to use it to his advantage a la Zawahiri. Again, the issue is whether a greater good is served. But the answer is not to suppress the dissent but rather to, as John S. Mill would have us do, counter the arguments with fact and logic. That, I submit, is much of what takes place in this forum

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    It's 4 years and holding with troops still on the ground, a government in place, some economic growth and infrastructure development, the Iraqi military is slowly developing and the police are engaging . Actions speak louder than words and in that respect, so maybe the words of Bacevich, Cindy Sheehan and the Dixie Chicks have much strenghtened the resolve of the jihadists. No doubt the strategists and financiers are encouraged by the anti-war forces. The jihadists were already convinced that we are weak, corrupt and Godless and if anything, I suspect a true jihadist would regard Bacevich as weak and afraid more than anything. He has chosen to aire his son's death and politicize it and to me, he is feeling alot of guilt but is not dealing with it.

  17. #37
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRUZ_LEE View Post
    That is indeed very tragic news, as all the other sad news of this huge waste of life in IRAQ.

    We have to face it: No matter how much we will achieve in the next 1-3 years in IRAQ, in the end it will not be worth having toppled Saddam AT THIS PRICE! (And I don't refer to the billions of dollars that we buried there... And if we don't achieve significantly more than within the last 4 years, we transformed IRAQ into something worse than before...)

    And I can't get the point of the Marcus Flavinius Quote in this respect.
    In my opinion it refers to a Imperial Non-democratic Power that suppressed other people and reflects a military that doesn't obey the will of the population. All that doesn't apply to what the US is standing/should stand for.

    BRUZ
    Show a little class and respect the right of the professor to oppose the war as well as his son's right to fight in the same war for which he paid the ultimate sacrifice. Perhaps you will be better served on Democratic Underground where they would more than happy to enjoy your sadistic flash card talking points. This Council is hallowed ground when it comes to the quick and the dead in uniform as well as for their families. A thread devoted to the death, pain, and suffering of an individual and family members is not your opportunity to get on a soap box. You weren't born in a tent on some commune in Southern California so stop acting like one.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRUZ_LEE View Post
    That is indeed very tragic news, as all the other sad news of this huge waste of life in IRAQ.

    We have to face it: No matter how much we will achieve in the next 1-3 years in IRAQ, in the end it will not be worth having toppled Saddam AT THIS PRICE! (And I don't refer to the billions of dollars that we buried there... And if we don't achieve significantly more than within the last 4 years, we transformed IRAQ into something worse than before...)

    And I can't get the point of the Marcus Flavinius Quote in this respect.
    In my opinion it refers to a Imperial Non-democratic Power that suppressed other people and reflects a military that doesn't obey the will of the population. All that doesn't apply to what the US is standing/should stand for.

    BRUZ

    To avoid direct and indirect fire, how about introducing yourself in the introduction thread like you were supposed to in the first place...
    Example is better than precept.

  19. #39
    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Bacevich was a professor of mine, back when we were both at SAIS. He is probably the best teachers (or least the first among very few equals) I have ever had -- challenging, and willing to be challenged, and utterly engaging in the classroom. Really, phenomenal -- when I think of myself as teaching some day in the future, I imagine that I will channel much of what I learned from him. We've stayed in contact over the last ten or so years since I left.

    I recall exchanging emails with him in the fall, telling him my husband was about to deploy -- he replied that his son was about to as well. We commiserated. I was very curious how he would approach this end of war and deployment, that it would have to be a very strange place for him to be. Just after the SMH conference, I emailed him, all full of piss and vinegar -- I happen to love the annual meeting of the geeks, always have a great time! In the midst of that exchange, however, my husband's unit (a small MTT) took some casualties, a Lt. KIA, the Doc seriously wounded, and a LCpl wounded. It was rather devastating, because the first two were part of the original team of 11. So, at the end of this very upbeat message I had started I had to include this paragraph about what had happened -- it would have been very strange to send the message as originally written. It's always been my academic/scholarly desire to know and understand as much about war and combatants as possible, but after getting caught up in all that attends the reality of such an event, I wrote: "Oh boy, I didn't actually want to know _this_ much." I mention all of this, because his consoling message came back to me the Thursday before his son was killed. Truly surreal.

    I had the chance to travel to Mass. for the wake. It was quite difficult to do the same terrible thing for the second time in three weeks, to stand beside another casket holding so much wasted promise, but it's also the sort of thing you can't _not_ do either. After the first one, I learned how important it is to the grieving family for people to show up. It's truly humbling when such a small gesture as that is met with such gratitude. And, because I had not had a chance to do so at the previous funeral, but had been amazed at their turnout, I took a moment to thank the police officers, who take such care to come out for their "cousins in arms" at these times.

    I'd like to get off the casualty circuit, but I won't get my hopes up.

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Again, the issue is whether a greater good is served. But the answer is not to suppress the dissent but rather to, as John S. Mill would have us do, counter the arguments with fact and logic. That, I submit, is much of what takes place in this forum

    Cheers

    JohnT
    What takes place in this forum is radically different from Joe D. Citizen regurgitating the latest quip that he heard from the latest pundit (of either side of the aisle) which happens on a far more regular basis than rational discussion/argument.

    As has been seen, once the "public" has accepted an idea wholesale (Bush lied, etc.), there's not really much you can do to change it, regardless of historical fact such as the entire intel community, White House, Congress, et al believed that Iraq needed to be invaded. If everybody was having rational discussions there wouldn't be any problem.

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