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Thread: The Andrew Bacevich collection

  1. #41
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    such as the entire intel community, White House, Congress, et al believed that Iraq needed to be invaded.
    Sorry mate,

    That fact as stated above is more opinion. The intel community was hardly in consensus; even Tenet's waste of trees says that. I agree that much of what has been released from either view point has been slaved to an agenda. But in terms of fact, the justification for the invasion and the use of intelligence to support the justification has been shifted and respun repeatedly.

    This I will state as my opinion. John Q. Public is not as stupid as some (and that includes pundits) might assume; the loss of credibility with John Q is a self-inflicted wound. Yes the media plays a role, perhaps helping point the gun. Spin masters pulled the trigger. Once that credibility is lost it is lost. GEN McCaffrey essentially said that on his last situation report.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Sorry mate,

    That fact as stated above is more opinion. The intel community was hardly in consensus; even Tenet's waste of trees says that. I agree that much of what has been released from either view point has been slaved to an agenda. But in terms of fact, the justification for the invasion and the use of intelligence to support the justification has been shifted and respun repeatedly.

    This I will state as my opinion. John Q. Public is not as stupid as some (and that includes pundits) might assume; the loss of credibility with John Q is a self-inflicted wound. Yes the media plays a role, perhaps helping point the gun. Spin masters pulled the trigger. Once that credibility is lost it is lost. GEN McCaffrey essentially said that on his last situation report.

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    Tom
    Thanks for the clarification on the intel issue, I was using my rather bad memory from before we invaded Iraq.

    I also don't believe that John Q. Public is stupid (I hope not, as I am John Q. Public!), but easily swayed maybe? I don't want to fall into the trap that democracies are mobs and victims of emotion and all that, but after conversations I've had with people rational discussion is not the term I'd use to describe it. I've come to the conclusion that people, in general, aren't interested in coming to a joint conclusion during an argument, but forcing their idea on you and refusing to grant anything you say. This, to me, is more hurtful than anti-war protests.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jugurtha View Post
    I've come to the conclusion that people, in general, aren't interested in coming to a joint conclusion during an argument, but forcing their idea on you and refusing to grant anything you say.
    But what if the idea or opinion is correct? I'm not purposely going off topic, I'm just going to use this as an an example to make my point:
    How's the economy doing?

    Now if you ask that to your average, blue collar, Joe Q public guy, who get's his "news" from Katie Couric and the local newspaper only (because he doesn't have the time or interest), most will say it sucks. All the while his 401k is skyrocketing, he's paying less taxes, and he's been steadily working full time and, in many cases, OT for the past 6 years.
    I'm sorry, perhaps I was incorrect placing all the blame on the media in my previous comment, but they are still guilty for a LOT of the problems when it comes to public support. In the case of economics, the Bush administration did come out and counter the misinformation...many times. But guess what happened? The media ignored or buried it.

    The MSM hardly ever reports on how many schools are being built by our Soldiers and the locals in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I can almost guarantee it will be on the front page or be the lead story when one gets blown up. I don't see how anyone can blame the administration for that.
    Last edited by skiguy; 06-07-2007 at 09:50 PM. Reason: punctuation

  4. #44
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Thanks for the clarification on the intel issue, I was using my rather bad memory from before we invaded Iraq.

    I also don't believe that John Q. Public is stupid (I hope not, as I am John Q. Public!), but easily swayed maybe? I don't want to fall into the trap that democracies are mobs and victims of emotion and all that, but after conversations I've had with people rational discussion is not the term I'd use to describe it. I've come to the conclusion that people, in general, aren't interested in coming to a joint conclusion during an argument, but forcing their idea on you and refusing to grant anything you say. This, to me, is more hurtful than anti-war protests.
    That is all too true on the issues avoidance and it has become the style of US debate (or non-debate). It is easy to start the name calling etc and then you don't have to think. John Q will go along with that mode for so long and then start looking for new faces and voices.

    Best

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    But what if the idea or opinion is correct? I'm not purposely going off topic, I'm just going to use this as an an example to make my point:
    How's the economy doing?
    In a rational discussion/argument between two people that are cooperating with each other (trying to come to the "right" answer) then they will end up at the correct opinion/idea, regardless of whose it is or if it directly opposed one's original viewpoint. My point is that most discussions/arguments are not of this nature. There is a lot more give and take in the discussions/arguments as stated above that doesn't happen today. Watch any "Crossfire" type show and you'll see what I mean. These are debates that are trying to achieve nothing but entertainment. This closed and non-cooperative argument/discussion is more hurtful to our efforts than anti-war protests.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    John Q will go along with that mode for so long and then start looking for new faces and voices.
    I sincerely hope so. I know I'm tired of it.

  7. #47
    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
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    Greetings Gentlemen,

    I’ve been lurking for a while, this is a great website. This thread has driven me to register and post. Zenpundit, thank you for intelligently clarifying ahead of me that there are very different people opposing this Iraq War for widely different reasons.

    I believe there are very few actual ideological or religious pacifists in this country. I’ll enlarge this group a bit to include those who believe this Iraq war does not meet the conditions set forth in Just War Doctrine. Without going into detail, let’s just say that in my own conscience, I do not believe it has ever met that threshold, and I have had doubts from the beginning.

    I believe there are more cultural marxists modeled on the Frankfurt School than true pacifists, but this is still a pretty small number, say less than 5% of the population, at least where I am down South.

    Supporters of the Administration and the Iraq war often seem to want to label anyone who opposes the war, such as myself, unpatriotic, and accuse them of being in this group. Declining public support is an important development in this war. Regaining support will be difficult, if not impossible. I don’t think questioning my patriotism or my motives are a particularly useful tactic in leading me to change my mind on this war.

    I note that this tactic of the Administration has boomeranged on its own supporters with the Immigration Bill. I oppose that Bill, and have been labeled a bigot, a know-nothing, and a racist who doesn’t want to do what’s right for America by the public rhetoric of this Administration. Not true, but I’ve grown accustomed to having my character questioned already through opposing this war, so what else is new?

    Most opponents of this war think this whole effort was ill-conceived from the beginning (building a democratic Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, an ally in the global war on terror and a friend of Israel, which will lead other states in the area to follow the example) and/or it has been so mismanaged that they have lost confidence in the ability of the military or Administration to bring it to an end in something that would look like a success worth the price that has already been paid.

    Fellas, I’m just an old-school Conservative with Libertarian leanings. I think there is a growing number of people like me who are looking for some kind of change in how to deal with a stateless terrorist group. I was watching an old Western movie the other night called “The Wild Bunch”, with William Holden. At one point, he says “Men, we’ve gotta learn to start thinking beyond our guns.” We’re not gonna shoot our way to victory in Iraq, either.
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  8. #48
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    Default Prof. Bacevich on U.S. Grand Strategy

    Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Oversight and Investigations Tuesday. I'm inclined to agree with him.

    Yet there is a second way to approach questions of grand strategy. This alternative approach – which I will employ in my very brief prepared remarks – is one that emphasizes internal conditions as much as external threats.
    Here is my bottom line: the strategic imperative that we confront in our time demands first of all that we put our own house in order. Fixing our own problems should take precedence over fixing the world’s problems.
    ....
    Since the 1970s, Americans have talked endlessly of the need to address this problem. Talk has not produced effective action.

    Instead, by tolerating this growing dependence on foreign oil we have allowed ourselves to be drawn ever more deeply into the Persian Gulf, a tendency that culminated in the ongoing Iraq War. That war, now in its sixth year, is costing us an estimated $3 billion per week – a figure that is effectively a surtax added to the oil bill.

    Surely, this is a matter that future historians will find baffling: how a great power could recognize the danger posed by energy dependence and then do so little to avert that danger.

    Example number two of our domestic dysfunction is fiscal. Again, you are familiar with the essential problem, namely our persistent refusal to live within our means.

    When President Bush took office in 2001, the national debt stood at less than $6 trillion. Since then it has increased by more than 50% to $9.5 trillion. When Ronald Reagan became president back in 1981, total debt equaled 31% of GDP. Today, the debt is closing in on 70% of GDP.
    ....
    In fact, the Long War represents an impediment to sound grand strategy. To persist in the Long War will be to exacerbate the existing trends toward ever greater debt and dependency and it will do so while placing at risk America’s overstretched armed forces.

    To imagine that a reliance on military power can reverse these trends toward ever increasing debt and dependency would be the height of folly. This is the central lesson that we should take away from period since September 11, 2001.
    ....
    In the end, how we manage – or mismanage – our affairs here at home will prove to be far more decisive than our efforts to manage events beyond our shores, whether in the Persian Gulf or East Asia or elsewhere.
    http://www.amconmag.com/blog/2008/07...tegy/#more-758

  9. #49
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    He still missed a lot.

    My list about necessary grand strategic corrections has eight points, one of these is a necessary rapid re-industrialization.

  10. #50
    Council Member Graycap's Avatar
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    Bacevich's examples seem quite correct to me.

    I'm not american and I don't want to write about grand-strategy of another country. God knows how much we, western euorpeans citizens, need a grand strategy...

    Anyway, about reindustrialization: not that simple in the context of globalized market. USA, and Europe for that matter, has no chance to be competitive in many mass production ----> the need of commercial fences ---> many markets (China and India in primis) would be unreachble. But before this China could begin an economic maneuver about american debt sinking the economy at the start of this shift.

    In my opinion the risk could be much more important: the problem for the western emisphere could be cultural. Are we still able to work, study, manage our life in a better way than others? I don't mean in absoulte but in the medium sense.

    I've recently read about americans reciving tips about energy saving: please turn the knob of air conditioning from 18 to 23 degrees... I started laughing. Is this in any way symptomatic? I would rather start thinking about living without air conditioning or without SUV...

    The logic is ever the same: we have the right to be addicted to anything, from energy to drugs. Isn't it the first grand strategy error, the cultural one?

    Graycap

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    Bacevich isn't the only one who presented testimony the 15th on A New US Grand Strategy:

    James Dobbins, RAND
    ....Having served under eight presidents through seven changes of administration, I have come to view these transitions as periods of considerable danger, as new and generally less experienced people assume positions of power with mandates for change and a predisposition to denigrate the experience and ignore the advice of their predecessors. America needs a grand strategy that helps it bridge these troubled waters, one that enjoys bipartisan support and is likely to endure. One key criteria for judging any newly announced grand strategy, therefore, is whether it is likely to be embraced by successor Administrations. In this respect, Napoleon’s advice with respect to constitutions may prove apt: that they be short and vague.
    Barry R. Posen, MIT
    The United States is a powerful country. Nevertheless, it is not as powerful as the foreign policy establishment believes. Political, military, and economic costs are mounting from U.S. actions abroad. At the same time, the U.S. has paid too little attention to problems at home. Over the last decade Americans became accustomed to a standard of living that could only be financed on borrowed money. U.S. foreign policy elites have become accustomed to an activist grand strategy that they have increasingly funded on borrowed money as well. The days of easy money are over. During these years, the U.S. failed to make critical investments in infrastructure and human capital. The U.S. is destined for a period of belt tightening; it must raise taxes and cut spending. The quantities involved seem so massive that it is difficult to see how DOD can escape being at least one of the bill payers. We should seize this opportunity to re-conceptualize U.S. grand strategy from top to bottom.
    Mitchell B. Reiss, William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law
    As a first step, I strongly urge the Committee to hold hearings on developing a strategy for sustaining and enhancing America’s economic power. Such a strategy would include the following issues:

    - Reducing the national debt, which now stands at record levels, and has placed great stress on the middle and working classes;

    - Tackling the coming crisis in entitlement payments (especially health care); driven by the “bow wave” of the boomer generation, U.S. citizens 65 and over will increase by a projected 147% between now and 2050;

    - Reforming immigration laws to ensure that highly skilled and motivated people can come to the United States to work, create jobs and receive an education;

    - Revitalizing our industrial infrastructure; and

    - Developing a new national energy strategy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, including greater investment in alternative energy sources.

    These are just a few of the hurdles that we will have to surmount in the coming years if we wish to keep America strong. Undoubtedly, there are others. None of them will be easy to accomplish. But it is important to remember that small countries do not attempt such things. Only great ones do.

  12. #52
    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default Went to war for oil meme ...

    I will not criticize or speak against a man who has lost a son in the war. I hope that that is a feeling I never experience. Bacevich has a right to hold any position he wants. But the one proferred here is the tired "we went to war for oil" meme, so incorrect that it doesn't warrant the time spent to refute it. Discussion threads at the SWC have graduated beyond that meme.

    I'm all in favor a national energy policy, something we have never had as a country. But assuming that we have the grandest policy imaginable in the future (drill for oil off our own shores, start up another hundred nuclear reactors, electric cars, etc., etc.), it will have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with battling militant, Islamic extremism where it exists.

    As for whether we do this overseas or within the homeland, well, take your pick. Don't be surprised if you choose to wage counterinsurgency on the homeland soil and that's actually what happens. In other words, be careful what you ask for. The "evils" of imperialism have kept the battle off of the homeland soil thus far. We have enjoyed peace and stability, including Bacevich who believes it's all about oil.

    I understand the dangers of imperialism. There are consequences - and unintended consequences - to both isolationism and imperialism. But the long war - as Abizaid called it - will go on until one side or the other capitulates, one way or the other, one place or the other.

  13. #53
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    Default The interesting thing about all those testifying and

    cited here is that they were testifying truth to power in every sense.

    Most of their testimony is essentially correct; one could quibble about war for oil and reindustrialization plus a few others but those cited are basically correct in their assertions. We need to fix a lot of things.

    Every thing we need to fix that we can indeed actually fix can be laid directly at the feet of Congress. This or that President may have facilitated what Congress wanted but those guys only serve for four or eight years -- as all the testimony above shows, we've been headed downhill since the '60s. Only the Congress has been around that long. So congress can do the fixing. Somehow, I doubt Congress will fix itself...

    Thus, we need to fix Congress.

  14. #54
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    Default If Iraq was rich in carrots, isntead of oil...

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    But the one proferred here is the tired "we went to war for oil" meme, so incorrect that it doesn't warrant the time spent to refute it. Discussion threads at the SWC have graduated beyond that meme.
    Well, I guess we went to war in Afghanistan because of the attacks on 9/11.

    As to why we are at war in Iraq, it seems pretty persuasive to me that petroleum has something to do with it. If Iraq's principal economic resource was that it was rich in say, carrots, I doubt we'd be that interested in the goings on in Mesopotamia.
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  15. #55
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    Default The primary thing concerning Oil in Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Tacitus View Post
    ...As to why we are at war in Iraq, it seems pretty persuasive to me that petroleum has something to do with it. If Iraq's principal economic resource was that it was rich in say, carrots, I doubt we'd be that interested in the goings on in Mesopotamia.
    was that it could be invaded with minimal disturbance to world oil supply -- and we really want China and India, two large users of ME Oil, to have all the Oil they need with no interruptions. There were some other synergistic effect involving oil but they were minor and paled into insignificance alongside the no-disruption factor and Iraq's geographical centrality in the ME and its pariah status at the time.

    Thus the oil issue is not Iraq's oil but that in the greater ME.

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tacitus View Post
    Well, I guess we went to war in Afghanistan because of the attacks on 9/11.

    As to why we are at war in Iraq, it seems pretty persuasive to me that petroleum has something to do with it. If Iraq's principal economic resource was that it was rich in say, carrots, I doubt we'd be that interested in the goings on in Mesopotamia.
    I think it may be tied more to forward basing for American troops than to oil for American automobiles. However, I suspect that Ken White's point about oil for China and India is an important piece of the whole decision. We wouldn't want either of those countries pulling a "1930's and 40's Japan plan" to get access to petroleum resources, would we?

    So, if I'm right, how does the latest from Iraq on troop withdrawal timetables fit into the way ahead? Where else do we go to replace all those kasernes and POMCUS sites in Germany?
    Diego Garcia isn't big enough; Romania is too far from the -stans; Afghanistan is too inaccessible. Do we retrench back into Kuwait or try to work a deal in
    Oman?
    Maybe the Iranians wouldn't mind if we just took up a small enclave around Bandar-e Abbas. After all, China had no problems with such efforts by European powers in places like Hong Kong and Tsingtao in the latter 1800s, right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    So, if I'm right, how does the latest from Iraq on troop withdrawal timetables fit into the way ahead? Where else do we go to replace all those kasernes and POMCUS sites in Germany?
    Diego Garcia isn't big enough; Romania is too far from the -stans; Afghanistan is too inaccessible. Do we retrench back into Kuwait or try to work a deal in
    Oman?
    Turkey is ideal.

    Ukraine and Georgia, two countries that are still in between NATO and Russia, are in range.
    Iran, Syria, Iraq are very close as well.
    The Suez channel is in strike range.

    Turkey is getting alienated by Europeans because we don't want them to join the EU (actually, our politicians want it much more than the population).
    They have no history of being colonialised, so they might not object bases as fiercely as many other nations.

    Turkey would be the crown jewel of all forward deployments. There's no other country in the world that can offer so much for forward deployed forces.
    Two shipping lane bottleneck, proximity to buffer region with Russia, proximity to Near East, immensely large and still capable indigenous forces that ensure the safety of the bases, easily accessible by sea, close to many other important allies.

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    I would question the necessity for forward based troops in the Middle East if oil were not a consideration. Oil is a strategic commodity because we need it, and it benefits them because they don't really have much else to offer.

    In fact, oil has been an incessant source of conflict, and where it is not the source it seems to provide a disproportionate amount of funding.

    Or as James Woolsey pointed out in a video I posted in another thread, this is the first war (I would point out the Barbary Wars) in which the United States has funded both sides.

  19. #59
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default Turkey is a nice idea but . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Turkey is ideal.
    . . . there's that little sticking point known as Cyprus, which is also a problem for EU admission. The Turks' official positions wrt Kurds and Armenians are also concerns. And, we've already had trouble getting cooperation from Turkey--remember the 4ID debacle in 2003?
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    . . . there's that little sticking point known as Cyprus, which is also a problem for EU admission. The Turks' official positions wrt Kurds and Armenians are also concerns. And, we've already had trouble getting cooperation from Turkey--remember the 4ID debacle in 2003?
    If Kuwait only had made as much trouble as well in 2003...it would have been a great friend.

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