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Old 06-02-2010   #21
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Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
Yes, but some would argue that it was necessary. When else would Bush have the political capital to launch an invasion of Iraq, if not in early 2003? Support was already slipping fast at that point. See next quote/comment below...
Certainly there was a limited window of opportunity from the political capital perspective, but I don't see how the removal of Saddam was necessary in any event. Justifiable, certainly, but why necessary? What vital American interest was served, beyond gratifying the reflexive post-9/11 urge to whack some Ay-rabs?

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It's long been my view that WMD was a distraction and this was an effort to reshape the Mideast... No way we invaded for WMD. It was a justification given to the masses. You can fool all of the people some of the time.
I don't think there's any doubt about that. WMD were blown into the issue because they were the only casus belli that could be expanded to meet an "imminent threat" standard. Many of those beating the drum for the invasion were quite open about their desire to "drain the swamp in the Middle East", and often expressed the belief that the emergence of a peaceful prosperous democracy in Iraq would generate overwhelming pressure for reform in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc. I personally thought this was pretty much a fantasy at the time, and I still think so.

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Agreed. If there was significant blundering, it was the grossly negligent handling by the military at the operational and tactical levels, in my opinion.
The policy/strategy level was horribly managed as well. It was simply assumed that the Iraqis would welcome their liberators with open arms and that the installation of a new government was a minor technical issue akin to changing a light bulb or tire. As a result there was very little planning for management of the immediate post-Saddam environment. The levels of manpower and other resources deployed were sufficient to defeat Saddam's armed forces, but way below what was necessary to provide security in the aftermath. Overall the challenges of managing Iraq after Saddam's defeat were ridiculously underestimated. That was a huge and costly mistake.

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Highly unlikely that we would have spent significantly less, given the free-spending ways of our politicians from 2001 to 2009. Also highly unlikely that domestic spending would have yielded benefits
Agreed. I have infinite faith in the ability of the US Government to spend $100 billion without accomplishing anything. It's what they do best.
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Old 06-02-2010   #22
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Agreed that it was a startegic blunder.

Why? Somewhere between neo-con revenge, regrets about the limitations in the prior war, and the delusion of oil control or a base for democracy/bulwark against Iraq, etc... Tak any from the menu, it doesn't matter.

Interesting about advance planning, though. Lots of people actually knew lots about it, but what they knew never passed the portal into decision-making, before, during, or after. Amazing how much is known but how little knowledge an organization has.

I was particularly intrigued by the State Department's Crocker study (pre-invasion). They rounded up a bunch of folks to brainstorm Iraq. Trouble is these folks' knowledge and opinions were "political" in nature, and had no real substance as to basics like demographics, organizational structure, infrastructure, etc... It was like an amateur side show.

Again, amazing...

Now, we leave for a while having gained little in the way of structured analysis and understanding, and, after years of occupancy, and all will be shortly forgotten.

Amazing...

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Old 06-02-2010   #23
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This is more personal than the rest. I hope that's OK:

It's hard for me to say that Iraq wasn't worth it. I spent a few years there and lost some good friends. Personally, I wouldn't want to say that it was for nothing.

However, I understand reality. Was Saddam a threat to the United States in March of 2003? Probably not. Was he a threat to neighboring countries? Maybe, but I don't think so. Probably just a toothless tiger at that point in history. Was he a threat to his own people? Certainly; but so are many other unsavory tyrants around the world. It doesn't mean that we overthrow them all. We can’t do that.

So, I get it. We didn't need to invade Iraq. It was a costly war in terms of blood and treasure. It was also costly because of the irreparable damage done to the Army, in terms of individuals killed, wounded and those left the service because of it. They are not easily replaced. Additionally, all of the equipment destroyed and damaged, which can be replaced, but at high cost.

But, Iraq caused the Army to change, for the better, in many ways. We now have COIN doctrine and recent practical application of successful TTPs. We have experienced and knowledgeable counterinsurgents in our ranks. We have more adaptable and flexible leaders. We have fielded some amazing tools to our kit that amplifies our ability to succeed in these types of wars.

I look back and think about if I did more harm than good there. Was I able to help some people improve their quality of life? Yes. That is true across the board for most during this conflict. We all helped some of the people of Iraq. Not all of them, unfortunately. Did many die prematurely because of us? Yes, unfortunately.

I believe that the Civil War that occurred in Iraq during our tenure would have eventually happened (or a similar variant), even if we didn't invade. Saddam would have died at some point and I'm not sure anyone (to include his sons) would have been able to fill the vacuum. Maybe I'm wrong.

I am numb when I think about Iraq. I am glad for the people whose lives have improved. I am sad for the people who died. But I am alive and healthy. It’s a convenient view, I suppose.

Surprisingly, during my darkest days, I was not angry about the invasion of Iraq. I am most upset with HOW we fought that war for the first 3+ years. Many could see what we were doing was absolutely not working, but all I heard commanders, Generals and politicians saying was "it's getting better" and "the situation is improving" when it clearly was not. My rage then (and now) was toward green-suitors and politicians. They could not accept that we were losing and what we were doing was not working.

I am angry we didn't have enough troops. I am angry we didn't anticipate the looting, chaos and subsequent insurgency. I am angry we stupidly dissolved the Iraqi Army without much thought. I am angry we initially denied the violence was an insurgency. I am angry we put entire maneuver brigades on FOBs and asked them to drive around and get blown up. I am angry we asked Soldiers in soft-skin humvees to conduct "route clearance". I am angry that many units did not secure the AOs they were responsible for. I am angry that we prematurely turned battle space over the unready and untrained Iraqi units. I am angry we let so many police forces become death squads. I am angry that we refused to acknowledge it was a civil war. I am angry we let the bloodshed go on FOR SO LONG before we chose to change the way we were doing things. I am angry about so much of it.

It took the removal of the SECDEF and a Mid-Term election to make a change happen. I am glad that it FINALLY happened. Because it appears for now, that it worked.

I will return to Iraq very soon. I am excited to see the security improvement and (mostly) violent-free streets. I am excited to be part of the effort that "turns the light off" for US involvement. I was there at the beginning. I was there in the middle. I will be there at the end. Rather fitting, I guess. But it still doesn’t bring me much closure.

Years from now, I don't know what I will think of it. Probably depends on what ends up happening there. History might remember it as a mistake, or a great victory. I don't know. But I think decades from now, the truth is that I will still be pretty unsure about it all, just like I am today.

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Old 06-02-2010   #24
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jkm:

Interesting, isn't it that, like Viet Nam, some of us have experienced a country that we will all be linked to.

Ditto on the decision-higher ups, and ditto on helping Iraqis.

I did an infrastructure, econ and pop assessment in Jan 2008, and rapidly figured out that, after decades of sanctions and mismanagement, the whole affair could have been pushed over with a few well-placed feathers, but, the pregnant question was always "What happens next?"

That was the question that all of us, and the Iraqis, participated in answering---the hard way. Like Ricks said, the final chapters will be written by the Iraqis, not us, and, despite the appearance of turmoil, I have a sneaking suspicion that, one day, some of us will go as tourists to see the now-restored monuments we saw only as dust-heaps.

My prayers are that the answers for our dead and injured come from that future, which, like a bricklayer for the Empire State Building, will always be "our" building... and even with friends who died building it.

I was very pleased to see that, after all the sturm-unt-drang about the election, it opens with Allawi, the initial winner having the first opportunity to form a new government. Far from over, but small steps for a whole troubled country are, in fact, big steps.
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Old 06-02-2010   #25
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Who are you, you optimist? And what have you done with Steve?
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Old 06-02-2010   #26
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Default The strategic aspect of the invasion of Iraq

had very little to do with WMD or even with remapping the ME. It was all about disruption and that disruption was on a world, to include Europe and Asia, scale. The number of things that were synergistically folded into the effort is huge; there were dozens of reasons, few of themselves very important but together, they created a significant change in a number of then proposed or possible actions by many players around the world. It is too early to tell how successful it was; probably about 2033 that will be fairly -- but not completely -- clear. The strategy was one of those rare long term US efforts that was not predicated on the election cycle -- indeed, it was launched at the time it occurred specifically to preclude an interruption by the vagaries of that cycle; Bush was afraid if he didn't launch, his successor would not and his second term was not a lock at the time. It was also launched to effectively commit the US to a long term course of action and it succeeded in achieving both those goals

I personally believe that, even as early as today it can be counted as a qualified success and I say that acknowledging the quite valid negative points raised by Fuchs and others and admitting that the US Government and the US Army, regrettably, screwed it up badly. Not least because of some 20-40 year old bad domestic political and military decisions that earlier locked the Bush Administration into less than optimum responses to provocations. It took entirely too long to get the course corrections in place (some needed and acknowledged important corrections are still being discussed, for Gawds sake...). That course correction comment applies to both the previous and current US Administrations, to DoD as an entity and to the Army.
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Old 06-02-2010   #27
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had very little to do with WMD or even with remapping the ME. It was all about disruption and that disruption was on a world, to include Europe and Asia, scale. The number of things that were synergistically folded into the effort is huge; there were dozens of reasons, few of themselves very important but together, they created a significant change in a number of then proposed or possible actions by many players around the world. It is too early to tell how successful it was; probably about 2033 that will be fairly -- but not completely -- clear. The strategy was one of those rare long term US efforts that was not predicated on the election cycle -- indeed, it was launched at the time it occurred specifically to preclude an interruption by the vagaries of that cycle; Bush was afraid if he didn't launch, his successor would not and his second term was not a lock at the time. It was also launched to effectively commit the US to a long term course of action and it succeeded in achieving both those goals

I personally believe that, even as early as today it can be counted as a qualified success and I say that acknowledging the quite valid negative points raised by Fuchs and others and admitting that the US Government and the US Army, regrettably, screwed it up badly. Not least because of some 20-40 year old bad domestic political and military decisions that earlier locked the Bush Administration into less than optimum responses to provocations. It took entirely too long to get the course corrections in place (some needed and acknowledged important corrections are still being discussed, for Gawds sake...). That course correction comment applies to both the previous and current US Administrations, to DoD as an entity and to the Army.
I'm trying to think of a war where we didn't screw up....at the start.
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Old 06-03-2010   #28
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I'm trying to think of a war where we didn't screw up....at the start.
Then consider your nation blessed that you can, generally speaking, finish wars well.
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Old 06-03-2010   #29
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I'm trying to think of a war where we didn't screw up....at the start.
ChrisjM has it right. Thus far we've mostly had time to sort it out or we've been lucky and had opponents who were even less competent than we were.

I'm not sure we should rely on that always being the case in the future...
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Old 06-03-2010   #30
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Ken,
I find myself largely in agreement with what you wrote. It is reassuring to see that I am not crazy. Or, at a minimum, that the voices in my head and in yours are eavesdropping on one another.
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Old 06-03-2010   #31
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Schmedlap:

I went to Iraq to help us structure and implement our departure, which (fingers crossed) I hope we succeeded at. Gen. Petreaus proved in that instance, that COIN was a useful tool (however partially or haphazardly applied) for that withdrawal. Much of my time was, in fact, spent re-linking the effectiveness of national government to the provinces.

For all the national fretting, Gen Abdullah, Salah ad Din's Deputy Governor, is plowing ahead with his dream of an international airport in Tikrit to handle the tourists already returning. No US or national funds. I will be proud to land at that airport, which we first discussed, and organized the strategy for, in February 2008.

Several folks were killed trying to restore electricity, roads, etc... especially in and around Bayji in early 2008.

My last visit to Tikrit was for a Safe Water Working Group to, in part, restore and construct regional water systems. My last day on DoS duty, I spent on a hillside at Arlington watching services for a young soldier shot by a sniper while providing security to inspect one of those projects. Now, open.

Private First Class Christopher Lotter, a young soldier from Chester Heights, Pennsylvania, who died at age 20 on December 31, 2008 after being shot by a sniper while on patrol to inspect a water treatment plant outside Tikrit, Iraq.

If I was face-to-face with his parents today, I can honestly state that, while his death may never be explicable, the work he was doing was important, and made a real difference.

It took two months to organize the temporary replacement bridges across the Tigris at Bayji and elsewhere in the North, but the permanent ones have already opened or will soon, and have not been attacked yet. Nor, do I believe the forces that could threaten those bridges have the likely resources to do so. They would profoundly alienate a struggling post-conflict economy, and face a pretty decently organized Iraqi Army.

Last week, one of my senior advisor cohorts in Tikrit helped to organize a very successful trade and investment conference there. Very proud of him.

They have a civilian GIS mapping framework and are pushing ahead with the census. That was one of my principal responsibilities.

KRG issues have not turned into a disaster. I believe my service on the UN's disputed boundary team made a small difference in that regard.

Not every meaningful dream happens right away, and I am absolutely sure that the assurance of a functioning Iraq will come from emerging vibrance in the provinces---the national politics in Iraq, like in the US, is just one dimension of a Country's resilience.

I am very proud of our work, and very aware of all those who died or were seriously injured trying to do it.

From our little band of civilian advisors, perhaps Terry Barniche, blown up in June 2009, was the most widely covered, but there was never a time that we were not aware of the sacrifices of all the young route clearance, and patrolling soldiers that, for the most part, allowed our work to be safely accomplished.

Unlike some, I understand what we did in the surge period as very productive and successful within the limited goal of engineering our successful departure and a reasonable handoff to basically functioning civilian control.

That optimism does not extend to Afghanistan, where I have friends on the ground and am very aware of the civilian reconstruction limitations. Are they going to be able to make the kind of contributions were made in Iraq, despite multiples more hardships? I don't believe so absent substantial changes from our current set and strategy.

Afghanistan, in my opinion, will, regrettably, prove that COIN (ala Iraq) can not serve as a substitute for either quelling the materially different situation in that Country, or standing in lieu of a functional national government.

My Dad was a Royal Marines Commando (before coming to the US during the brain drain in 1960), and, among other things, travelled in the Great White Fleet (on Hood 2) after WWII. He always wanted to go through the Khyber Pass, but was prevented then, and throughout the next fifty years from taking that trip due to conflicts.

My optimism vanishes when you take the Iraq expereince and attempt to improperly apply it to Afghanistan.

I am expecting either a major course correction very soon, or both Petreaus's and McCrystal's place in US military history will not be pretty.

If somebody asks me to go to Afghanistan to get us out, or to actually tackle Afghanistan's real problems (political), I will be happy to undertake that mission as to my little skill set, but the rest is a fool's dream, playing out in an already immutable script. Small pieces of tactical successes cannot substitute for a flawed, and unimplementable strategy.
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Old 06-03-2010   #32
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had very little to do with WMD or even with remapping the ME. It was all about disruption and that disruption was on a world, to include Europe and Asia, scale. The number of things that were synergistically folded into the effort is huge; there were dozens of reasons, few of themselves very important but together, they created a significant change in a number of then proposed or possible actions by many players around the world.
Can't really agree with that, but without more detail it's hard to disagree. Would you care to elaborate?
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Old 06-04-2010   #33
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Default Disagreements cheerfully accepted.

Even if most are wrong...

My opinions and conjectures are based on long experience with the way the government of the US really works as opposed to what most think. I also accept, believe and support the Conrad Black dictum "The US has the most consistent foreign policy in the world. They do not tolerate threats and have not for over 200 years." That does not mean Iraq, per se was a threat -- it does mean that the invasion disrupted other potential threats, some quite long term. It also means we have long done that and will almost certainly continue to do so in the future. We are not as dumb as we often deliberately and accidentally appear...

As for more detail, here's the gist of it:LINK. The Thread that is from contains more from me and others on the topic of this thread. There are more synergies and issues but I'm not going to put many of them on an open forum. I think you can discern some...

This LINK expands on the previous link.

This LINK discusses alternative methods which were not available so Bush IMO had to pursue an undesirable option.

Bush responded to provocations from the ME which four predecessors had caused through improper responses to escalate. He did the best he could with the tools available. He also set about disrupting other long term but then developing, slowly, threats.
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Old 06-04-2010   #34
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@Ken:
You may see a grand strategy with some 'disruption' effect doing magical things in the world.
I see a wasted decade instead.


See; I'm a German (surprise!), and Germany has learned long ago (and then re-learned and again re-learned, hopefully with lasting effect) that it's the economy, stupid!
We had the greatest expansion of our wealth in times of peace with little participation in foreign political conflict (we weren't supplying the refrigerator of the Cold War).

The U.S., UK, France and most of all Russia have not applied this insight very well. Germany didn't either for two generations, with the most spectacular effects of all.

The U.S: economy poisoned itself during the last decade. An energetic national policy could have turned this around, but the nation's attention was in great part captured by foreign affairs and partisan clashes instead.

Just as a reminder; using U.S. statistics (CIA World Factbook, bea.gov trade data) I calculated that the population of the U.S. produced 18.25% less goods in 2008 than it consumed & invested. This already assumes the services balance surplus as goods production (because it's worth the same in trade).
Roughly a fifth of the perceived material wealth was illusion, based on debt. It wasn't always like this. The situation deteriorated in the late 90's and became terrible in the 2000's, merely waiting for the bubble to burst. The "recovery" today is a return to this deficit culture, provoking the next crash.

An energetic U.S. national economic policy could have harnessed the nation's potential for urgent and necessary repairs during the GWB administrations.
Instead, the attention (and fortune) was wasted on great power games.
The Chinese were smarter, much more subtle - and much more successful.
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Old 06-04-2010   #35
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You may see a grand strategy with some 'disruption' effect doing magical things in the world. I see a wasted decade instead.
The two are not incompatible. Strategies fail, as this one did. I see a poorly considered attempt to achieve results through disruption that were never likely to be achieved, and a strategy based on unacceptably fluffy assumptions about the US capacity to manage the aftermath of its military successes.

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The U.S: economy poisoned itself during the last decade. An energetic national policy could have turned this around, but the nation's attention was in great part captured by foreign affairs and partisan clashes instead.
The US economy poisoned itself in the 1990s. The impact of the poison wasn't felt until 2000/2001, and in economic as well as foreign policy the Bush administration was forced into a reactive mode, which in both cases it managed very badly.

What "energetic national policy" do you think could have "turned this around"? I suspect that you overestimate the impact of policy on economic affairs, which is less than many assume it to be.

The US trade deficit has been a growing problem for decades. It's been fueled primarily by the reality that the value of the dollar has been artificially inflated since WW2, largely by factors over which US policy has little control. Of course dependence on imported energy is also a factor, especially given the volatility of prices, but you can't escape the impact of currency value distortions on trade.

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The Chinese were smarter, much more subtle - and much more successful.
China has policy options unavailable in a democracy. Short-term strengths, long-term possible weaknesses. Those who expect China to enjoy an unfettered path to economic dominance may be surprised; likely there will be some bumps and ruts along that road.

I've no shortage oc complaints about both economic and foreign policy under Bush (and under Clinton) but the assumption that focus on foreign policy was a significant cause of ineffective economic policy seems to me speculative and unsupported by data or reasonable argument. I don't think Bush's economic team had their heads in Iraq, I think they had their heads up their sphincters, just as their predecessors did.

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Old 06-04-2010   #36
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Default Too early to tell...

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You may see a grand strategy with some 'disruption' effect doing magical things in the world. I see a wasted decade instead.
Your prerogative. We can disagree on that. I think the relative state of the ME in general to include Saudi Arabia and Iran, and of south asia to include Pakistan and India -- and of the US -- in ten or twenty years or so will be the true measure. Add China into that mix; yes they're smart and have done well -- but at a cost. We'll see what that cost is over the next decade, I think. All those ancillary efforts are low key, below a lot of radars but they are ongoing and were all part of that strategery.
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See; I'm a German (surprise!), and Germany has learned long ago (and then re-learned and again re-learned, hopefully with lasting effect) that it's the economy, stupid!We had the greatest expansion of our wealth in times of peace with little participation in foreign political conflict (we weren't supplying the refrigerator of the Cold War).
True -- but your economy sure did benefit from that refrigeration...
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The U.S., UK, France and most of all Russia have not applied this insight very well...The U.S: economy poisoned itself during the last decade. An energetic national policy could have turned this around, but the nation's attention was in great part captured by foreign affairs and partisan clashes instead.
Agreed. I also agree with the rest of your comment on the economic issues.
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An energetic U.S. national economic policy could have harnessed the nation's potential for urgent and necessary repairs during the GWB administrations. Instead, the attention (and fortune) was wasted on great power games.
The Chinese were smarter, much more subtle - and much more successful.
True to an extent. You along with many non-US commentators (and entirely too many US commentators who should know better) do not understand the dysfunction deliberately built into the US political system that precludes National efforts (other than in time of existential peril). Many also miss the political reality of two not particularly different political parties -- you did not -- who continually jockey for political power to the exclusion of concern for the nation. They really need to be reined in, both of them.

Had Bush's four predecessor's done better handling the probes from the ME from 1979 until 2000, 9/11 might likely not have occurred and things would have been different (but likely not radically different on the economic front due to the aforementioned political problems and intended dysfunction). Instead he believed he had to respond to a provocation and a potential low order threat (Islamist fundamentalism anger direct at the west) to which he believed his fellow western leaders (and his likely replacement) probably would not adequately reply. I believe that was a valid assessment.

I wouldn't have done it the way he did but he did what he believed necessary with the tools he had available in a way that worked. I do believe it or something like it was very necessary and long overdue. Had James Earl Carter not so badly mishandled the Tehran Embassy seizure in 1979, US history would almost certainly have been quite different. Had Carter's successors handled subsequent probes and actions against US interests differently...

None of them did it right and Bush had to pick up the tab.

Due to flawed execution -- not his fault, mostly but not entirely the Army's -- the success was not as great as it potentially might have been. I believe it still to be a qualified success at this point with potential to be a fully accorded success when a number of ongoing efforts come to fruition over the next ten years or so. Many make the mistake of looking at Iraq in isolation. It was only the most visible face of the entire effort -- very deliberately and purposefully distractingly so...

So while I generally agree with your comments on policies and economic aspects, that has little to do with Iraq as -- or not -- a strategic blunder. It was a strategic choice whose total impact is still to be fully determined. That it had an adverse impact on the US economy cannot be denied. As far as social and political impacts -- too early to tell. We'll see.

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Old 06-04-2010   #37
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I think the relative state of the ME in general to include Saudi Arabia and Iran, and of south asia to include Pakistan and India -- and of the US -- in ten or twenty years or so will be the true measure.
Possibly, but it's not a measure we'll be able to use effectively, as we will never know what the outcome of other policy options would have been. Things may go badly or well because of or in spite of our actions: there are too many variables in the picture to clearly say what actions caused what consequences.

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he believed he had to respond to a provocation and a potential low order threat (Islamist fundamentalism anger direct at the west) to which he believed his fellow western leaders (and his likely replacement) probably would not adequately reply. I believe that was a valid assessment.
Possibly so, but I can't see how that particular response was calculated to address that threat, unless our policy was to address the threat by exacerbating it. Since when do we fight our enemies by giving them what they want and need?
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Old 06-04-2010   #38
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Default Define 'effectively.'

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Possibly, but it's not a measure we'll be able to use effectively, as we will never know what the outcome of other policy options would have been. Things may go badly or well because of or in spite of our actions: there are too many variables in the picture to clearly say what actions caused what consequences.
Regrettably (or fortunately, viewpoint dependent), there are few metrics that one can apply to strategic outcomes due to those variables so there is rarely a measurable effect. Was US participation in World War II a strategic blunder? Was the war a strategic success? How about Korea? Viet Nam? Desert Shield/Desert Storm?
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Possibly so, but I can't see how that particular response was calculated to address that threat, unless our policy was to address the threat by exacerbating it. Since when do we fight our enemies by giving them what they want and need?
It was. Exacerbate that is. Give it some thought. It was also calculated to show the collection of nations from which the threat originates that attacks on US interests world wide emanating from the ME would, contrary to previous experience, bring a disproportionate response. As Afghanistan had earlier shown that attacks on US soil would be met with even swifter and possibly more disproportionate response. Afghanistan didn't work for the ME message as it isn't in the ME.

The response notably attacked a nation only peripherally if at all involved. It also was aimed at giving the nominal enemies what they though they wanted but in a quite different place and not with results they anticipated -- so I'm not at all sure they got what they needed...

Recall this also; "It was only the most visible face of the entire effort -- very deliberately and purposefully distractingly so..."
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Old 06-04-2010   #39
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It was. Exacerbate that is. Give it some thought. It was also calculated to show the collection of nations from which the threat originates that attacks on US interests world wide emanating from the ME would, contrary to previous experience, bring a disproportionate response. As Afghanistan had earlier shown that attacks on US soil would be met with even swifter and possibly more disproportionate response. Afghanistan didn't work for the ME message as it isn't in the ME.
This might have worked if the insurgency had not broken out. Instead it gave us five years of jihadist propaganda and videos of American hummvees exploding. It made for very poor intimidation if your target was the wider Middle Eastern populace. With regards to state actors, I doubt it made much of a difference. Iran certainly did not intimidate well - it was not long before they were killing Americans with far greater success and frequency than even the worst years in Lebanon. Syria's ties with Iran are tighter than ever, and Turkey as well. Certainly anti-Americanism in the region is as strong or stronger than ever before.

As for the invisible effects, I suppose it's a bit difficult to ever argue that point. Perhaps great benefits are accruing out of sight. I suppose you could say that about any policy.
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Old 06-04-2010   #40
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Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Give it some thought. It was also calculated to show the collection of nations from which the threat originates that attacks on US interests world wide emanating from the ME would, contrary to previous experience, bring a disproportionate response.

The response notably attacked a nation only peripherally if at all involved. It also was aimed at giving the nominal enemies what they though they wanted but in a quite different place and not with results they anticipated -- so I'm not at all sure they got what they needed...
I don't see that disproportionate response carries much deterrent force if it isn't applied to those who did whatever it is we are responding to. The message we communicate is that you can attack the US and get away with it, and benefit from it, because the response is going to be applied to somebody else, leaving you with a propaganda bonanza.

I think the people who attacked us did get what they needed, and far more of it than they expected. Fortunately for us, they were unable to exploit the opportunity we gave them to the fullest possible extent. It's useful to have incompetent enemies, but it's not something we want to rely on.

Our strategic weakness lies in long-term political will. Our vulnerability is the war of attrition. This is no secret: we know it, our allies know it, our enemies know it. They can't defeat us, but if they can maneuver us into the right position, they might be able to outlast us and achieve the same effect. We know they will try to maneuver us into long-term static occupation of Muslim nations: that's where they want us to be. It is in our interest not to permit them to place us in this position. Seems to me we haven't exactly achieved that.
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