Notes From the First Gulf War

While the debate raged over whether to take on Saddam Hussein in 1990 and early 1991, several prominent politicians were offering serious warnings -- warnings that would have been just as apt 12 years later. Here's a sampling:

In a Washington Post op-ed on Sept. 24, 1990, then-Sen. William S. Cohen predicted, "With the passage of time, American citizens may become increasingly disenchanted with the notion of their sons and daughters remaining at risk in the Persian Gulf. Budget cuts for domestic programs and higher taxes (sorry, I mean enhanced revenues) are likely to generate an animus that will not respect foreign policy boundaries."

Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.) asked in the Jan. 11, 1991 Washington Post, "When we win the war, what happens then? What happens to the balance of power in the Middle East, to the governance of Iraq, to the stability of friendly governments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia? Repeatedly, I have come to the same answer: while the status quo is unacceptable, the alternative of war is even worse." (But, Danforth conceded later, "Without a credible military threat, our alternative is sanctions followed by nothing at all. The key to peace is maintaining a credible military threat, and this is precisely the point our pending votes will address. ...I cannot vote to deprive the president of the credible threat of force.")

"A war -- no matter how successful -- will be 90 percent American and will be viewed as an American crusade by much of the Arab and Islamic world," wrote Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) in the Jan. 10, 1991 Post. "When the war starts and the dying begins, the American people will have every right to ask, 'Where are our allies?'"

Uncanny, isn't it? All those could have just as easily been written in 2002 and early 2003 -- and perhaps they should have been. In an upcoming post, we'll look more closely at what was written by members of Congress in the lead up to this war, and we'll examine why they weren't as bold in their cautionary writings as their counterparts in 1990 and 1991. For now, though, read on for more prescient quotes ...

Here's more from Sam Nunn:

What guarantees do we have that a war will be brief and that American casualties will be light? If we fight, we can and must win. But no one knows whether a war will last five days, five weeks or five months. Our policy and our military planning cannot be based on an expectation that the war will be over quickly and easily. In large measure, the scope and scale of the hostilities, once begun, will be determined by Iraq's willingness to absorb massive punishment and fight on. An Iraqi military collapse is possible but cannot be counted on.
I would also ask, what guarantees do we have as to the aftermath of the war? Here, too, caution is in order. Has anyone in the administration begun thinking about what happens after we win? The president's declared goals include establishing stability in the Persian Gulf and protecting U.S. citizens abroad. Considering the wave of Islamic reaction, anti-Americanism and terrorism that is likely to be unleashed by a highly destructive war with many Arab casualties, it is difficult to conceive of the Middle East as a more stable region where Americans will be safe.
...If war becomes necessary, we should not tell our military commanders to get it over with quickly no matter what. The order should be -- "Accomplish the mission with whatever force is required, but do so in a way that minimizes American casualties, even if it takes more time."

Former Sen. George McGovern (D-N.D.) had this to say in the Aug. 29, 1990 Washington Post:

...our long-term standing in the Middle East will begin to crumble if American firepower is unleashed against a weaker Arab populace. Killing Arabs is not a good way to impress them with American resolve.

One hesitates when not in public office and not fully briefed to make a judgment on an issue as complex as the current crisis in the Persian Gulf. But it appears to me that President Bush is now needlessly risking war without really pursuing the opportunity for a negotiated solution that might embrace not only the Gulf but the entire Middle East.
Saddam is doubtless the brutal strongman he is widely said to be. But ... we cheered his brute strength when he was killing Iranians. Nor did we object strenuously when he killed 8,000 Kurds and thousands of other political dissenters in his own domain. We were right in standing up to him when he invaded Kuwait and seemed to threaten Saudi Arabia. But this does not mean we have no diplomatic, political or psychological opportunities other than military force and economic sanctions. We have the responsibility to our youth and to humanity to pursue all avenues that might honorably avoid bloodshed.

Finally, from an Oct. 16, 1990 piece by former Sen. Charles H. Percy, I offer two quotes that would seem rather out of place were we to read them in a newspaper today:

"The decisiveness of President Bush's actions in the Persian Gulf, the overwhelming international support for them, and his adept use of the United Nations recall many of the leadership qualities Eisenhower exhibited..."

And, "Ike's style wasn't flashy. Though he was sensitive to the power of the then-emerging television media, he was surely not governed by it. His style was quiet, deliberate, collaborative, and, as history has proved, fully informed. In a word, statesmanlike. As he pursues his course in the Middle East, President Bush, in what may be his finest hour, today offers proof that being statesmanlike is not a thing of some long past 'old school.'"

Ah, the good old days.

By Emily Messner |  December 1, 2005; 1:46 PM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
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From Deep Throat to Cohort:
The Devolution of the American media

The last straw has just descended. The continued debasing of "journalism" has hit a nadir; a profession which is an integral part of our constitution, our way of life, the very fabric of the American ideal has finally disintegrated. We are left with a press toothless, courage less, and faithless in the pursuit of truth. Bob Woodward, the iconic reporter, has devolved into a willing accomplice of the ruling elite. This truly is a sad day for journalism; a sadder day yet for America.

What was revealed should send shockwaves throughout the world. We have witnessed the unmasking of the conglomerate behind the so-called free press, whose only desire is chasing profits instead of leads. Bob Woodward, evidently selling his soul to gain "access" to the White House, is an active participant in the continuing lie perpetrated on the American people. A man whose very job is to expose lies, has instead been lying to the very public he is supposed to serve. While most reporters and journalists refuse to name sources to better serve the public, Woodward instead tells us that he did not want to tell the truth about who the original source of this leak is in order to protect himself from having to testify in front of a grand jury--courage indeed. Has it come to this, a reporter lying about a source, not to protect the public's right to know, but, rather, to deny it. What a disgrace! My hero exposed for what he is: a lying sycophant more interested in self preservation and the preservation of his access to power. After two years of lying, he finally owns up to his deception and reveals that someone in the White House did in fact speak to him two years ago about the Valerie Plame. He acknowledges this after going on talk shows dismissing the gravity of the case; erstwhile being a willing co-conspirator. How convenient that this "confession" aids an accused criminal, one Louis Libby--does the word aiding and abetting sink in yet?

The truth is that Woodward's actions are symptomatic of the general state of the press. Reporters have morphed into a tool of power instead of speaking truth to it. In the obsession to "make news", reporters jumped in the bed of the very people they are supposed to be keeping honest. Moreover, companies such as the new york times and the washington post have embedded in their employees the notion that breadth of reporting is more important than depth of reporting. In the mad dash to capture market share, the modern day news media has settled on a vision of capturing the most amount of readers while making sure to coddle the ruling elite. Sure they will report of some senator who cheated on his wife, but will ignore the actions of the very institution that senator works in that cheats their constituents. News has turned into a snapshot of events which can capture the most attention, instead of a continuous effort to educate and cultivate an informed public. Obsessed with gaining access to news makers, the news media has transformed into whores of the powerful, turning tricks to get two minutes of pleasure with the very people they are supposed to keep in check. Sound bites that tell us nothing, rhetoric reported as news, truth forsaken for an intangible balance. On a scale of news, truth has no balance and counterbalance; truth stands on its own. Yet the state of today's news media is that of a meek poodle, yelping at its master for a crumb from the table. And they wonder why subscriptions have fallen off, it's because those you serve are seeing more and more that you are Judas to the public. Unable to bear the cross of truth, you instead sell out for the nearest shekel. Reporters who no longer see the profession as a crusade against tyranny, instead you seek it as a way to get your spot on the stage. Journalists who are more eager to stand in front of the microphone instead of behind it, the silent tool of truth transformed into publicity hounds while you try to land on the new york journal best seller list. Think about that next time you are talking to your agent on a new book deal. For those who might have true passion for journalism, ask yourself if you are really doing today what you came into the business to accomplish when you were in college. For those that have always seen journalism as a means of acclaim, I truly hope that the day will come where you are torn down by your own lack of scruples.

All this leads back to Bob Woodward. From this day on, I urge all readers and subscribers of the washington post to cancel their subscription TODAY. It pains me that a great paper like the washington post has been reduced to enabling an admitted liar and in the end justifying his stance. Until Woodward has been summarily dismissed from the washington post payroll, a full accounting given of what he testified about to the grand jury, and a full page apology given to the readers, I will NEVER pick up another washington post newspaper again. I have already cancelled my subscription and urge all other readers to do the same until the washington post have resolved this situation as described above. I urge all readers to cease and desist visiting the washingtopost.com, and I urge all businesses that stand for honor and intergrity to stop selling the paper forthwith until a full accounting is given. There is one weapon that the consumer, vote with your wallet and starve the washington post of its revenue; it seems that is the only way to get a whore's attention.

Posted by: FireWoodward@hotmail.com | December 1, 2005 06:13 PM

I agree.

Posted by: Bernhard Kaltenboeck | December 1, 2005 06:37 PM

Berhard - Except that the stupic asshole posting as "FireWoodward" has SPAMMED every thread with the same off-topic identical message.

On topic, "But, Danforth conceded later, "Without a credible military threat, our alternative is sanctions followed by nothing at all. The key to peace is maintaining a credible military threat."

Exactly. The moral authority of Belgium and New Zealand and noble declarations from such mean nothing as both are pitiully weak countries without military or economic teeth. What countries really matter really boils down to those in a position to do something militarily or economically if diplomacy fails. After 17 UN Resolutions, blowing off the Res 1441 ultimatum, Saddam stood at the brink of victory in showing the UN and major powers had no will or credibility...

We didn't let that happen.

As for Sam Nunn, his opposition to the Gulf War cost him his Presidential hopes, it kept Kerry off the VP slot in 1992. McGovern was booted out of the Senate as "too liberal" back in 1980.

And we know now that if we hadn't gone in, Saddam would have annexed Kuwait and made a play later for Saudi or Iranian oil fields - leaving him in control of most the ME supply.....and with a huge WMD program that we estimate had him 3 years away from having nuke bombs in 1991...

Those of us who fought in it also take great pleasure in knowing past the victory, that we also ended 25 years of Lefty propaganda that the US military was all about inept, cowardly, racist baby-killing soldiers. The honor stolen from the Vietnam Vets (other than Lefties "honoring" them as hapless victims living lives of failure)was reclaimed after the Gulf War.

Nowdays, while the Left still hates the US military, they no longer dare publicly critize them, but have to say "We support the troops, don't DARE criticize our patriotism" through gritted teeth..

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 1, 2005 07:53 PM

To Chris Ford:

What you call spamming I call breaking through the filter. I am not selling anything, I am not advertising a product, so what is it that makes you think I qualify as a spammer? You are right, I have gone on every blog and posted this message, the washington post has lost the credibilty to inform its readers as long as it does not address the 800 pound elephant in the room--one Bob Woodward. So I will continue to paste this posting with the hope that one day soon, this formerly esteemed instituation will right a wrong and take a corrective action to restore what is left of its tathered reputation. I don't much care of their agenda until this takes place. I am very informed of all the issues that they post on their blogs, I have given up on getting information from the Post until they address the Woodward debacle.

You don't care about this issue because it dovetails into your agenda. Afterall, reading your posting it is evident that you advocate the policy of this administration. Lets clear up one thing, you cannot jumble everyone from the left in the same category. There are some who hate the military, but that applies equally to the left wing extremes as much as the right wing facists living in the backwoods who organize a militia in fear that the federal government is too powerful. Do you really think the redneck junta out in the mountains adores the military? Furthermore, don't mistake Bush's love of the military machine as a love for the military men/women. The same ones who advocate war are mostly the same ones who have never been in the position to man a gun. It's easy for us here in the states to sport a yellow ribbon and say "we support the troops", as we continue to drink lattes at Starbucks getting another round of tax cuts while those shouldering the war have to worry about dying fathers and mothers and paying the mortgage on time. So please don't lecture us about honering soldiers. Your service in the military does not mean you are the representative of all soldiers. There are plenty who resent being used as pawns in an ongoing campaign to resurrect the sagging poll numbers of an irrelevant president. Your fought to preserve my right to speak up, don't go belittling the honor of your service by telling me to shut up because you don't agree with what I say.

Posted by: firewoodward@hotmail.com | December 1, 2005 09:19 PM

The Washington Post is loyal to Bob Woodward for his past exceptional work for them. So, he is indeed treated as an exception to the rules by the Post. They've pretty much already stated that he will not be fired because that would be unfair in lieu of all the good journalism he has done for them.
I agree with your premise that Woodward engages too much in 'mouthpiece journalism' (wherein the reporter acts like a 'straight man' in a comedy act and sets up the reported to put forth their agenda), and that such practices are a little too widespread in today's press. Seriously, these people can still do good journalism without having to get so cozy with their subjects.
I also agree with your right to post this subject everywhere you wish among the blogs of this site. The only part I disagree with is actually firing Bob Woodward. His past excellence needs to be factored in, and when you do that, it leads to the conclusion that this is a first strike offense worthy of chastisement but not termination. I also feel Mr. Woodward will be mending his ways regardless.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 1, 2005 10:24 PM

Erin

I appreciate and agree with most of what you wrote. The only exception is whether or not Woodward needs to be fired. There are certain acts in life that are fireable upon the first strike. If I go to work tomorrow and call my boss a jerkoff, I should get fired--regardless of my past accomplishments. I would argue that what Woodward has done is basically say "jerk off" to the readers of the post and the general public. He took was we entrusted in him, to be the watchdog of our freedom and democracy, and parlayed that into an access driven gravy train. Bob stopped being a journalist a long time ago, he has been a mouthpiece of the powerful, and it took this act to reveal his true face. Don't think this episode took place in a vaccuum. Remember the book he wrote (i will not mention the name on purpose) that led up to the war. I implore you to go skim it again at Borders (DO NOT BUY IT), you can see how he was more of a cheerleader than the adverserial seeker of truth that he was supposed to be. Its a shame that he is still on the payroll of the post, if those entrusted with the stewardship of the post do not take action, we can make force their hands by keeping vigilant and pressuring them until they do. There are good people in the post who see this the way that we do, we just need to encourage them to act on their concience!

Posted by: firewoodward@hotmail.com | December 1, 2005 10:34 PM

Erin

I appreciate and agree with most of what you wrote. The only exception is whether or not Woodward needs to be fired. There are certain acts in life that are fireable upon the first strike. If I go to work tomorrow and call my boss a jerkoff, I should get fired--regardless of my past accomplishments. I would argue that what Woodward has done is basically say "jerk off" to the readers of the post and the general public. He took was we entrusted in him, to be the watchdog of our freedom and democracy, and parlayed that into an access driven gravy train. Bob stopped being a journalist a long time ago, he has been a mouthpiece of the powerful, and it took this act to reveal his true face. Don't think this episode took place in a vaccuum. Remember the book he wrote (i will not mention the name on purpose) that led up to the war. I implore you to go skim it again at Borders (DO NOT BUY IT), you can see how he was more of a cheerleader than the adverserial seeker of truth that he was supposed to be. Its a shame that he is still on the payroll of the post, if those entrusted with the stewardship of the post do not take action, we can make force their hands by keeping vigilant and pressuring them until they do. There are good people in the post who see this the way that we do, we just need to encourage them to act on their concience!

Posted by: firewoodward@hotmail.com | December 1, 2005 10:34 PM

Ho hum,

You could compile the same sort of list and dire predictions from Academica just before this current Iraq war. The administration simply wasn't listening (nor was Congress).

That said, the principle difference is that Bush Sr. was a principled Realist who erred on the side of stability. Democracy and shattered countries are not known, chiefly, for their stable foreign policy choices.

As for Belgium having no teeth, well duh. Having no teeth hasn't stopped them from surviving two World Wars relatively unscathed (something that cannot be said of France, Germany, or Britain). Today, Belgium does as it always has, relies on its diplomacy and its stronger neighbors to enforce its will. U.S. diplomacy could learn a few tricks here.

Posted by: Chris | December 1, 2005 11:04 PM

Emily,

My apologies for overlooking the intent of these series. I posted to your: "The Facts: The Case for War" only today, unsigned, and a bit in a hurry. Perhaps there is a good reason for a debate on The Case for War. This is what I had to say "With Full Right", as I am sure we all speak, and some minor editing.


The Case for War had been for a good many of us, though a minority in the polls, a collection of hastily conceived assertions without any evidence of the imminent threat the administration alluded to by way of innuendo. Simply put, the threat from Iraq was far from imminent.

With the benefit of hindsight, over the past two and a half years, it is now clear that the war has been ill conceived and poorly executed. The facts are there for all to see and the facts go well beyond the regretable loss of life, only to compound it. The war has yet to fully show all its consequences.

So what are we to debate? Whether it was a just war? A necessary war? A well planned war? A worthwile war?

Look no further than the president's speech at Annapolis, November 30, 2005.
Who writes his speeches, for God's sake! The political strategy is still to distort and exaggerate. Here is a quote from the transcript, provided by CNN on line today:

"Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation."

Still the tired claim, that Iraq is a safe haven for terrorists to plot" NEW ATTACKS ON OUR NATION."
And so much for the war strategy. He might as well had said: Ad kalendas Graecas for the timing of those rather broad objectives.

So what are we debating? That the war was started on less than factual truth?
Just look at the continuum of its justification effort: debunked rationale used over again by subliminal repetition.

Posted by: Pleno Jure | Dec 1, 2005 8:24:40PM



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Posted by: Pleno Jure | December 2, 2005 12:21 AM

Understood, Mr. FireWoodward. Only, I also understand the clemency he was granted by the Washington Post for past service. Don't you think exposing Watergate is worth a little something? It was certainly worth A LOT to the Post as far as prestige and selling papers goes. I would say let things run their natural course, and if any more obfuscation comes out of Mr. Woodward because of this, then maybe it will be time to fire him. As it were, the Post has already stated their case on why they have kept Woodward on the payroll; There would have to be a new development for them to switch that position.
Overall, I think you are definitely in the right though calling for some sort of accountability, termination or otherwise. I just feel the Post does indeed have the leeway to stay loyal to their longtime star reporter. Perhaps firing him is apt, but do you understand the loyalty issue that prevents such a firing? It has merit, I feel. Besides, Bob Woodward will get his accountability thanks to the court of public opinion, Post or no Post.
Again, I highly commend you for taking a stance against mouthpiece journalism. Keep up the good work, and keep fighting the good fight! Thanks.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 2, 2005 12:29 AM

Back to the subject at hand...
I wonder back then how they'd look at you if you told them how history would unfold... That Bush1 wouldn't end Saddam's regime, then lose attempt at a second term. Years later, Bush2 would win the Presidency, have a major terrorist disaster under his watch, then use that disaster to invade Iraq and finally end Saddam's regime. I guess reality truly is stranger than fiction. One thing's for sure: It'll be interesting how this second Gulf war ultimately winds up.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 2, 2005 12:49 AM

Emily, it would appear that your column got hijacked today. I won't say that I disagree with the hijacker, but his methods are somewhat dubious and disrespectful to the forum.

With respect to your column and its topic, I would like to see more objectivity. After having read several of your columns on 'The Case For War' it is clear to me that you are making the case against war, with little to no real effort to support a true debate on the subject. Perhaps I am decieved about the purpose of your column, but the title of your column 'The Debate' intimates that there will be given balanced hearing to both sides of an issue.

I would also like to address the quote you have included about George Bush, Sr. That quote was certainly well said of our 41st President and his handling of Saddam up to the point where he stopped. Saddam had serously erred and needed to be tried in the world court for his aggression against Iraq, Israel, and his own people. That being said, given that he didn't have the kind of support he liked to have to continue, he acted within his character: a great diplomat and uniter ... unfortunately for the Iraqis who were later murdered by their tyrant in chief.

Of course the quote does not apply to President Bush 43 (nor would anyone think to apply anything of the sort to President Clinton 42), because our 43 president is a man who has great dignity. President George W. Bush is a man who leads based upon a right ideal, without regard to who agrees with him. That is a leader. He is a man who has admitted when he was wrong and initiated inquiries into why things went poorly because he wants to learn from his mistakes.

After reading your columns this week I was inspired to go back and re-read the articles of the days leading up to the Iraq War. Thank you for that. But I do not believe that it is in our best interest to hang anyone for a decision that we all made. Our nation was amazingly united behind our President then because we all saw the kind of man that Saddam was ... a murderer who would not cooperate, with the UN, nay stood in the way of the UN. Even after learning that there was found no evidence of WMD, and learning that some less-supporting evidence was ignored. I still believe that what WE did as a nation was the right thing to do. Saddam was a userper from the beginning and should never have been in power. We are setting a people free, even as the French helped to set our own country free. Our cause would be just even if that were the only reason. But we still have our war on terror that the Iraq war has at the very least focused: compare terror attacks on US interests during the Clinton administration v. attacks against US interests since 9/11.

Outside of Iraq, where are the brazen attacks against our military (USS Cole)? Where are the cowardly and near-constant attacks against our embassies prior to 9/11? Oh yeah, they are still around to some extent. Perhaps our intelligence has improved and our ability to prevent those attacks as well ... but I cannot ignore the fact that we are now fighting terrorists in a more open fashion on the streets of a Nation fighting for its own freedom. If we abandon them now by doubting our resolve. Iraq will not be strong enough to remain a free nation. I am with the President ... we need to back the Iraqi's until the job is done. Do we need a roadmap showing what that will look like? Absolutely ... in fact we have one. Do we need a timeline for that roadmap to be completed? Perhaps ... but it is none of the terrorists's business. Therefore it should remain confidential.

While I am in fact a Republican (as if anyone couldn't tell by now), I am shocked and amazed that Senator Lieberman agrees with the President on this very thing. Now there is a man with guts. Who is reporting on this lone voice of reason among the Democrats? Do I hear crickets chirping?

Please bring some facts to the table that do not simply support your point of view. Thank you.

Posted by: Ernest Vance | December 2, 2005 01:16 AM

FireWoodward - Just because you aren't making money off it doesn't mean posting the same crappy little note of yours everywhere you can post it isn't SPAMMING. Anymore than someone slapping up a boilerplate screed, from another political position. As Bob Woodward is as likely to be fired as the cast of Desperate Housewives, all you are doing in indulging in a little political masturbation. It makes you feel good. Wait until a new blog opens, then you SPAM the same junk up on the thread. Buddy - few if any subscribers care about your pet cause.

"Your fought to preserve my right to speak up, don't go belittling the honor of your service by telling me to shut up because you don't agree with what I say.."

I don't think anyone fights wars for the right of some asshole to SPAM. The WP has been courteous enough to allow guests to post on blogs for the benefit of writers at the Post as well as guest posters. By posting off topic, encouraging others to damage Post circulation and revenue, you aren't some candidate up for free speech awards - just an asshole abusing the Post's hospitality.

Chris, you seem pretty ill-informed on how Belgium fared in WWI and WWII, sorry to say.

Chris says: "Having no teeth hasn't stopped them from surviving two World Wars relatively unscathed". AND "Today, Belgium does as it always has, relies on its diplomacy and its stronger neighbors to enforce its will. U.S. diplomacy could learn a few tricks here."

WWI - 100,000 homes destroyed. Cities leveled by Germans as reprisal? - 3. Civilians killed by direct or indirect effects of war, 70-80,000. 43,715 soldiers killed.

WWII - 12,000 military dead. 200,000 POWs held by Nazis for 4 years used as laborers. Major cities bombed by both the Allies and the Germans. 95,000 civilian dead. 145,000 homes destroyed.

Out of a population of 8,400,000 in 1940. Comparable WWII casualties for 140 million Americans if we took Belgian levels of damage in WWII - 1,741,860 dead...And in both wars, Belgium spent most of it under the German boot. 4 years in WWI, 5 in WWII.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 2, 2005 01:19 AM

Please bring some facts to the table that do not simply support your point of view. Thank you.
Posted by: Ernest Vance | Dec 2, 2005 1:16:38 AM

After reading your post, I think you could follow some of your own advice, Ernest.
Also, Emily isn't arguing her case for war. Rather, she's shaping 'The Debate' around how Bush made his case for the Iraq war. She does indeed have her own opinion, but she leaves plenty of room for all sides to debate here. This is hardly a partisan blog, but rather on open forum for all views to be argued. Emily just starts the thread, and that's that. She isn't imposing her views, but rather leaving them open to be challenged or agreed with.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 2, 2005 01:57 AM

Leaving the same post ONCE on each blog of this website is hardly spamming. The guy's not at all disrupting things, and isn't inundating us with an excessive amount of posts here.
This is a free country, so quit your bitching, Chris Ford. Just ignore his posts if you don't like them; That's what I do with your wacky posts these days! Nobody's forcing you to read FireWoodward's posts, so mind your own business for once. Or bitch about him, if you really want to. It's a free country after all.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 2, 2005 02:06 AM

I don't give a rat's patootie about Bob Woodward, but I was thinking the other day that what keeps newspapers afloat is access. I can get opinion from ErrinF, Chris Ford, and a million other blogs, but only Bob Woodward has the ear of the inside leakers. The Post should keep him on for this reason.

Bush going into Iraq reminds me of Alexander going over that wall in India. Of course our troops are going to follow him, you don't let your commander charge unaided. Now we've got our foot caught in the bear trap, the only thing to do is chew the foot off and move on. Easy to say when you're not the bear.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 2, 2005 09:41 AM

Should we honor our troops?

1. They were volunteers.

2. Only 2000 have died. Maybe it's the same as being a miner. It's sad that some die, but it comes with the job.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 2, 2005 09:48 AM

I find it amusing that Bush habitually runs off to these military bases when he is being challenged on his Iraq war policies where he is guaranteed an audience that has drilled into it a mandatory requirement for loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief.

A great deal has been made about the support of the troops for Bush's Iraq policy. But, having served in the Air Force and having been an employee of that august institution for over 30 years, one of the enduring lessons I have learned is that the idealistic and impressionable minds of young troops is the very last place any intelligent leader would rely on for solid, objective information about what is really going on at the grass roots level.

Why? Well, for one thing the military culture itself conditions its young troops to not "volunteer" any information to anyone concerning what is happening on the battlefield. This cultural inhibition extends to civilians who work within military cultures who are told to refer all questions of such a nature to their respective "public relations officer".

And, for another thing, the troops on the battlefield in Iraq or anywhere else--notwithstanding all of the lionizing of their bravery and idealism--are not really all that astute when it comes to foreign or military policy. They are drilled in sticking to that task they do know--following orders, respecting their chain of command and regarding the commander-in-chif as the clost thing to God one can get on this earth.

Finally, today's modern military by its nature attracts those whose political orientation--such as it is--most often leads to the political right. A high number of the officer corp are traditionally people who are highly supportive of those who see a military solution to a foreign policy problem as preferable to diplomacy or negotiation. And an equally high number of "grunts", or enlisted personnel, are people who volunteered because it was their only way out of an impoverished situation, and one that afforded them opportunities for education and advancement that they odinarily would not have available to them.

This President and his advisors have been exceptionally skilled at using these young troops as politically advantageous props.And the unmistakable impression that they like to create is that anyone who criticizes the foreign policy of this President is not supporting the valiant efforts of these troops.

That in itself is sufficiently disgraceful for the American people to turn their backs on this administration.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 2, 2005 11:03 AM

Thanks for the insight, Jaxas.

Ten marines dead today, 11 or more wounded.

This morning, I heard Don Imus ask Terry Bradshaw this question about G.W. Bush's Iraq war: "How many kids have to die for this guy?"

Posted by: Bling Bling | December 2, 2005 12:37 PM

10 more dead in Fallujah today

Earnest Vance and Chris Ford, I hope you are using some of your considerable energy to exhort your friends in this administration to find a strategy that actually works, instead of just saying they did or putting it on a sign. Since no modern insurgency has been defeated by military might alone I hope that stragegy also includes things like keeping the light and heat and water pumps on for more hours a day than they were on under Saddam.

The Bush apologists can't rewrite history. Sanctions against Saddam were eroding, that is clear. And people were being bribed to let the erosion happen, that is clear, and there was a certain ennui about the situation - people have short memories. Something had to be done.

Bush did a good job shaming the Security Council into insisting Saddam toe the line, and a good job shaking Saddam up enough to let the inspectors in.

But here's where the revisionist history about the UN starts. The US had possession of documents since October 2002 that demonstrated that Saddam didn't get yellowcake and that a large yellowcake sale wasn't even credible (mine capacity, oversight, etc). We hid the information even from the Brits but finally produced it to the IAEA after the flap over the 16 words. So, while George Bush was invoking mushroom clouds it was clear that there was no imminent nuclear threat. This is a problem because when you want to get people to launch a first strike invasion with you, credibility matters. Once France realized that much yellowcake couldn't have gotten past them they knew there was no imminent nuclear threat. Germany was the one who told us Curveball was lying, so Germany knew the imminent chemical/biological data was crap. Quotes from Putin show the CIA failed to convince him there was an imminent threat. They were at least skeptical, and we didn't help the matter by "exaggerating". At that point we had shown that even if Saddam wasn't credible, neither were we.

So the leaders of the SC knew there was no imminent threat. Further, they could plainly see by that time that the US was, to put it kindly, exaggerating the imminence of Saddam's threat.

Inspectors went back in. And even though Chris Ford would like us to believe Saddam "ignored" the UN resolution, Blix was clear that Saddam was letting the inspectors have free access. What Saddam was slow in doing was finding the papework to prove the 1991 contraband had been destroyed, but he was starting to come around, albeit grudgingly. There is every reason to believe Saddam was going to behave like a surly child who is told to stay in their room and instead sticks one foot through the door into the hall, and that he would drag this out. But we knew the yellowcake sale was BS and Curveball was BS. We had time to do it right.

Blix asked for 6 more months. The SC minutes are quite telling - the rest of the SC thought Blix should have the six months to inspect and that Saddam should have the six months to "find' more proof of contraband destruction. The SC members were boxed in publicly and eventually would have had to poop or get off the pot. And if our integrity had been unblemished they would eventually have had no recourse but to back us in removing Saddam or risk losing their own credibility. But the US had by then lost her credibility thanks to George Bush and company.

The US, even though we knew there was no imminent threat, decided to go it alone with the Brits and a coalition of the bribed. It was a bad decision

Posted by: patriot 1957 | December 2, 2005 12:41 PM

Let me get this straight. You guys actually believe that Saddam should have been left alone? If that's not the case, and you agree that something had to be done, then why would it make sense to leave when the job is only half finished. That's what W's dad did, and he was branded incompetent. Now his son is trying to complete the task and the same is happening to him. You can't have it both ways, there is no middle ground. Either we finish what we started, or we let Iraq become a terrorist state. I for one believe the latter is far more consequential than the MINIMAL amount of losses we are taking now.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 2, 2005 01:05 PM

It is a sad, unavoidable fact that young men (and women) will die in a war. It is amazing to me that all the media reports on Iraq is the death toll.

I don't believe we could perform an operation today like Normandy, where in a single strike death tolls nearly mirrored those of this conflict. In what it widely considered the most successful amphibious assault in the history of war, we have reporters counting bodies and Senators grandstanding and demanding an investigation to determine how such an incompetent attack could have taken place.

Senators of today would make political points by claiming we were "misled" into war with Germany. Hell, that Hitler guy never even attacked us. Why were in France at all, it was Japan not Germany that attacked us...

War is ugly. War is Hell. But Americans have long understood this, and have gritted their teeth and got the job done. I will not vouch for the wisdom of the second Gulf War, but I can, in good faith, maintain that it was a completely legitimate course of action. The international community had reasserted in impotence, and Saddam was in violation of countless U.N. resolutions. He had demonstrated that he was a real and dangerous threat to the stability of an area that was extremely unstable.

The troops are fighting like hell, and are getting the job done. Let them finish the job, and if you don't like it just don't vote for anymore of the war-mongering Republicans.

Posted by: Jon M | December 2, 2005 01:17 PM

It is a sad, unavoidable fact that young men (and women) will die in a war. It is amazing to me that all the media reports on Iraq is the death toll.

I don't believe we could perform an operation today like Normandy, where in a single strike death tolls nearly mirrored those of this conflict. In what is widely considered the most successful amphibious assault in the history of war, we today have reporters counting bodies and Senators grandstanding and demanding an investigation to determine how such an incompetent attack could have taken place.

Senators of today would make political points by claiming we were "misled" into war with Germany. Hell, that Hitler guy never even attacked us. Why were in France at all, it was Japan not Germany that attacked us...

War is ugly. War is Hell. But Americans have long understood this, and have gritted their teeth and got the job done. I will not vouch for the wisdom of the second Gulf War, but I can, in good faith, maintain that it was a completely legitimate course of action. The international community had reasserted in impotence, and Saddam was in violation of countless U.N. resolutions. He had demonstrated that he was a real and dangerous threat to the stability of an area that was extremely unstable.

The troops are fighting like hell, and are getting the job done. Let them finish the job, and if you don't like it just don't vote for anymore of the war-mongering Republicans.

Posted by: Jon M Correction | December 2, 2005 01:20 PM

"This morning, I heard Don Imus ask Terry Bradshaw this question about G.W. Bush's Iraq war: "How many kids have to die for this guy?""

Don Imus + Terry Bradshaw = Intellectual Powerhouse

You know, I'm always curious about this one...men and women in uniform, all over 18 and some as old as 35 or more are constantly labeled by the left as "kids". But a 14 year old girl you wants an abortion but doesn't have to tell her parents about it is a "woman exercising her legal rights".

Don't get it.

Posted by: | December 2, 2005 01:33 PM

Sorry, above post was mine.

Posted by: D. | December 2, 2005 01:34 PM

Calling the troops 'kids' is hardly something unique to the Left! You make Don Imus and Terry Bradshaw look like geniuses. You "don't get it" because you are setting up a straw man argument to act shocked by. Those words were all your own, not the Left's. Too many right wing blowhards like talking to themselves here; So many straw men that it's a fire hazard. GMAFB!

Posted by: ErrinF | December 2, 2005 02:31 PM

"patriot" 1957 writes - "Since no modern insurgency has been defeated by military might alone I hope that stragegy also includes things like keeping the light and heat and water pumps on for more hours a day than they were on under Saddam."

You need to read some history.

Insurgencies are regularly defeated by military might alone. Indonesia did that in 1965 by realizing you did not have to win hearts and minds if you made those 500,000 hearts and minds dead. Assad of Syria ended his Sunni insurgency in 3 days in one city back in 1982. Saddam ended the Shiite and Kurd insurgencies in 1991 in about one month using force of arms only. Civil Wars are usually defeated by military in ugly wars, not by foes getting together and singing Leftist civil liberties songs, hearts and minds made as one. Our own civil war is a fine example of that. Even uglier, but even more effective, is ethnic cleansing to cure an insurgency.

The US cannot use those tactics, though the radical Muslim embraces them, because we are bound by Hague and Geneva. We can take comfort in knowing that "hearts and minds" winning over while killing the holdout hearts CAN be a viable 3rd path for defeating an insurgency...Worked in Greece, Malaysia, El Salvador, S Africa, Algeria, and on the other side, in certain communist takeovers..

Like how you breathlessly lead with "10 more dead". Same with "bling bling" .

Trying to resurrect the meme that any level of American casualties are unacceptable given the "suffering" of the likes of Mother Sheehan, and we should not sacrifice the volunteer men and a few women that the Left loves casting as "naive children". Save their lives and "cut and run".

Sorry, we are in a long war with radical Islam and Iraq is just the main, current battlefield. The war won't be over - no matter who wins in Iraq, it won't be over if the current "Evil Masterminds" are captured, and it won't be over when the Bush-Hitler is no longer in office. This is a 10-20 year long war at the minimum, and is soon to be complicated even more by the Rise of China as a Great military and economic power and by Iran and the move of many countries to the Left in response to the failure of free trade, globalization, and crony capitalism to better their nation's fortunes..

And as much as you wish to take the French and Lefty perspective, the only reason Saddam began coopertaing "grudgingly, slowly" was that we had an invasion force on his border --not because Belgium wrote Saddam a diplomatic note saying they were "most miffed!". Blix orginally said he wanted the invasion force to wait in the desert for two years while he "inspected" given Saddam was not going to just GIVE the info but require the UN to find it, then "recalibrated" and said he'd only need 6 months.

As a decision maker, Bush had UN Resolution 1441 that was an ultimatum that said "immediately disclose" and Saddam was in non-compliance with that ultimatum. He was also aware that the UN inspectors had been in from 1991-94 and were in the process of writing a "clean bill of health" for Iraq being "WMD-free" when Saddams sons in law defected and revealed a vast hidden WMD program the UN inspectors missed --so little confidence in the inspectors existed based on past sleuthing. He also knew that somehow, Saddam's diplomats were becoming more successful in getting more people aligned at the UN to support ending sanctions aimed at thwarting Iraqi WMD programs and military re-arming. Bush and others did not know how corrupt diversions from oil for food had made foreign officials or UN bureaucrats, how all the Lefty NGOs had come to demand ending sactions as "inhumane on chidren" - but he did know that sanctions were collapsing. And he did know that neither the Kuwaitis nor the Saudis would support another 3 months of a massive infidel force in their countries, no matter what Blix wanted 6 months or 2 years.

So did the Democrats in the American Congress, who, current amnesia aside, voted with Republicans to support the invasion and toppling of Hussein.

Now they sing a different tune, given Bush hasn't exactly proven to be a Lincoln or FDR, and has botched many things in the postwar. Bush deserves heat. But not on being "at fault" for the bad call the international intelligence agencies made on WMD. In their defense, both the Israelis and Jordanians spoke for other intelligence agencies in saying that it is hard to disbelieve a program Saddam had in the last 5 years of publicly denying he had stuff, while inside Iraq he was telling his own military commanders he had stuff. Saddam continued his deceit to maintain clout over external and internal opponents. Informants told foreign intel agents, including Russia, that their military unit didn't have nerve gas shells, but were told by someone in Saddam's inner circle that the unit next door did. The word went out to Shia and Kurds that they would face gas again if they rebelled.

Unless someone at the top exposed Saddam's machinations, as the deceased sons in law did, the deceit was likely to be effective. All our military went in combat believing he had WMD. And even more significantly, Saddams generals said in interviews they believed the Iraqi units with WMD would use them on the invading Americans and Brits.

It's actually pretty easy when you consider that the world is conditioned to believe the negative. If Bush planted a rumor that America had covertly invented a Satan Bug that only killed Asians and told a few confidents of his fiction - (to discretely leak it), along with directly telling selected generals and a few Republicans and Democrats in Congress, other spy services would be reporting back in days that America had a Satan Bug - confirmed by informants that heard it right from his lips.

What we have done right so far in this war is:

1. Shown that we are generally better than the radical Islamoid terrorists. Even the Sunni insurgents are feeding back out that there is no future in a town or society ruled by radical Islamoids - that they are evil and barbaric even with devout Sunnis.

2. Shown that we have the will, the power, and the technology that gives us the ability to smash a country we think threatens American lives and interests, and to a lesser extent, shown other non-radical Islamist countries will join us in war against radical Islam.

3. Shown we are not (in the majority) infidel cowards that run whenever we suffer casualties, though spineless elements in the West do give radical Muslims hope that weakness will win out and Jihad can then roll further.

What we have done wrong?

There is plenty of that as well. Unfortunately, a one-time 3,000 civvie dead and 2,000 military dead is an inadequate number to get the American leadership and the people really serious. That's still less than a bad day in the American Civil War, a bad hour in WWI, a bad island in WWII.

But:

1. We have focused too much on military and not enough on diplomatic, cultural, and informational outreach.

2. We have not worked as hard as we could in addressing a few legitimate greivances mainstream Muslims have to show they are being listened to and respected.

3. We have not launched a program to equip America with the number of translators we need nor develop an in depth knowledge of all the societal, tribal interests at work in Muslim communities we have to understand, evaluate threats coming from. And that is from a span starting in Portland Oregon and going eastward through Europe, N Africa, ME, Central Asia, The Subcontinent, all the way to the tip of Indonesia and into the suburbs of Sydney.

In closing, in Iraq - Saddam had played a giant bluff and put his chips all in and got called. Another, perhaps his final one, in a long history of stupid moves.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 2, 2005 03:23 PM

ErrinF - Do you want to change the name "Christmas" to "Holiday Season" because "Christmas" has the word Christ in it? Does the American Flag violate your sensibility? Do you want to remove "In God We Trust" from our currency?

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 2, 2005 03:26 PM

To Alex Ham: I would replace "In God We Trust" with the more accurate "In the Federal Reserve We Trust".

Posted by: Turnabout | December 2, 2005 04:54 PM

To Alex Ham: "I for one believe the latter is far more consequential than the MINIMAL amount of losses we are taking now."

There are other costs besides casualties, namely currency, which might be better spent building levees and Alaskan bridges bach home (God Bless America). Maybe Bush should run a cost benefit analysis? Think of the Iraq adventure as a failed clothing line. If not enough people are buying it, try another style, maybe a Libyan invasion?

Posted by: Turnabout | December 2, 2005 05:01 PM

"Let me get this straight. You guys actually believe that Saddam should have been left alone?"

No Alex Ham, you're confusing us with your RNC talking points. Many of us believe Bush actually did a good job shaming the SC into getting the resolution and scaring Saddam enough to get the inspectors back in. Had it been conducted competently it would have been a brilliant strategery to manipulate the SC into a corner where they had to publicly poop or get off the pot.

The SC asked for a face saving measure of letting the sanctions work for the six months Blix asked for in Feb. Since we knew by then that the yellowcake sale never took place, Curveball was a liar,i.e there was no "imminent" threat, six months was reasonable request.

Had we granted it, one of three things would have happened. Either after six months 1. the SC would have been manipulated into supporting a multinational coalition to remove Saddam, 2. the SC would have been manipulated into renewing the sanctions, or 3. the SC would have told us to go to hell.

If 1, we could have gone to war with a real world coalition, and there is a much higher likelihood it would have been more conducted comptetently and there would be democracy there now.
If 2, the problem would be only postponed until Saddam found a new way to get around sanctions. BUT, during that postponement we would have finished the war in Afghanistan, really taken out the top echelon of the Taliban instead of just saying we did, and not given Zarqawi a foothold. The implications of our "cutting and running" from Afghanistan before securing the country will undo any good that might come from Ifaq. ANd I talk to servicement who've been there, they tell me the roof is slowly caving in over there and the Taliban has taken back most of the country outside of hte major cities.
If 3, we would need to come up with a solution ourselves, but maybe in that six months cooler heads would have prevailed when word got out that Saddam was not an "imminent" threat, but was indeed a very real long range threat like North Korea and Libya and Iran and we needed a real strategy to deal with him....as soon as we finished up in Afghanistan with OBL and the Taliban.

The effect of the WMD lies on our support from the SC was immeasurable. Sure they couldn't trust Saddam, but they figured out he wasn't going to be setting off mushroom clouds anytime soon. They knew we were lying about the WMD. We were asking them to choose where to cast their lots -with the liar Saddam or the liar Bush. It would have been so much better in the long run if we had instead showed ourselves to be the trustworthy good guys would have go a long way toward avoiding a lot of the problems we've got now. (Oh, please don't start the "it wasn't lies it was just cherry picking" crap)

"Saddam ended the Shiite and Kurd insurgencies in 1991 in about one month using force of arms only."

He ended it so well we're fighting it again. Tito ended ethnic hostilities so effectively we had to fight it again too. I stand by my position, you might be able to control insurgiencies under a suppressive government but you don't end them.

"We have focused too much on military and not enough on diplomatic, cultural, and informational outreach. " Oh my gosh, we agree on something. Is the sky falling yet?

"We have not worked as hard as we could in addressing a few legitimate greivances mainstream Muslims have to show they are being listened to and respected."
But I thought it was unpatriotic and weak to consider the extent to which US behavior and policy contributed to our problems?

Posted by: patriot1957 | December 2, 2005 05:13 PM

ErrinF - Do you want to change the name "Christmas" to "Holiday Season" because "Christmas" has the word Christ in it? Does the American Flag violate your sensibility? Do you want to remove "In God We Trust" from our currency?
Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | Dec 2, 2005 3:26:12 PM

I would love to know exactly what the hell you are talking about, Mr. Ham. None of what you are asking me has anything to do with any statement I've made here. I'm at a lost as to how any of this is relevant to our current topic on the debate.
But, I'll answer your straw man questions, even though I know them to be little more than statements in disguise. Here goes:
I'm not religious, but that Jesus Christ was one very intelligent, very loving person. I have no desire to remove his name from Christmas. Never, ever crossed my mind, to be honest.
The American Flag is a symbol of the greatest nation ever to grace this planet, a force for good wherein the citizens value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I value the Constitution more than anything, and the flag is a symbol of our Constitution. I have never in the slightest felt any 'violation of sensibility' because of the American flag; Quite the opposite.
I could care less either way if 'In God We trust' is on our money or not. It's so negligible that it doesn't have any bearing on real life, and I wouldn't object to it's removal because it's printed on money. God and money couldn't be more opposite in my view.
There you go. Don't expect me to be answering too many of your weirdo questions, though. They all seem to imply that you are fighting some sort of 'culture war' that doesn't exist. You are simply a victim of too much right wing propoganda, and probably a willing victim at that. Truth be told, Mr. Ham, you're a bit of a spaz; I humored you this time around, but for the most part, I recognize you as the unintelligent extremist you are. I came here for real debate, not time wasters like you.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 2, 2005 06:38 PM

Ford,

I was speaking more of territorial concessions and repatriations. But I guess you missed that in your sidelong effort to quash all dissenters.

Posted by: Chris | December 2, 2005 08:25 PM

Ford, try to keep em short. I/we don't read the long ones.

Posted by: Chris | December 2, 2005 08:28 PM

"While I am in fact a Republican (as if anyone couldn't tell by now), I am shocked and amazed that Senator Lieberman agrees with the President on this very thing. Now there is a man with guts. Who is reporting on this lone voice of reason among the Democrats? Do I hear crickets chirping?"

Good old Joe (remember Jo'mentum?). I like Joe. At the risk irritating some like "che" does, that commie poster who puts up a lot of unrelated material, after reading some of the stuff about out guys over there, I feel compelled to post this letter composed by a father of a Marine in Iraq:

From a father of a Marine in Iraq:

Hello to all my fellow gunners, military buffs, veterans and interested guys. A couple of weekends ago I got to spend time with my son Jordan, who was on his first leave since returning from Iraq. He is well (a little thin), and already bored. He will be returning to Iraq for a second tour in early 06 and has already re-enlisted early for 4 more years. He loves the Marine Corps and is actually looking forward to returning to Iraq. Jordan spent 7 months at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi. Aka: Fort Apache. He saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here, just a Marine with a birds eye views opinions:

1) The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy
2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because its lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits cant be reliably counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.

2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): 223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of shit. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (that fun in the middle of a firefight).

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!). Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.

6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. Ma deuce is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45s are being re-issued en masse.

8) The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700s. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcocks record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as shit to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullshit about the old body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IEDs was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefires, and the troops love em. Invaluable for night urban operations. Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it. I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology, its the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

Bad guy weapons:
1) Mostly AK47s . The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like shit. Undisciplined spray and pray type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles.(Iran, again) Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Lets just say they know better now.

2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogshit. The enemy responded to our up-armored humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Jordans area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated shape charges (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IEDs are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. Thats why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the
cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets (with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of Jordans NCOs lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage inside the wire. Jordans base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.

5) Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and Google earth for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and
the captured GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured. Who are the bad guys?: Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly foreigners, non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.) , and then travel down the at line which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that weve been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in sacrifice squads. Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.) These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt., the police forces and the Army. The have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80s. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics:
When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing Aks and RPGs directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time. ( see the M2 and M240 above). Jordans base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and thats the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeos (Allahs Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast movers, mostly Marine F-18s, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all. Fun fact: The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why were seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber shit. The new strategy is simple: attrition.

The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to influence people they are trying to influence but cant reach, such as local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.).

The first thing our guys are told is don't get captured. They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet. Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a shit about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.

The Iraqis are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a shit. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawis use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake. Many Iraqis were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqis are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

According to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see shit like 'Are we losing in Iraq' on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just cant stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there). Anyway guys, thats it, hope you found it interesting, I sure did.

Sorry it was so long.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 2, 2005 10:27 PM

Do I detect debate fatigue?

People not taking time to listen...

People resorting more to "pat" answers (or perhaps cutting & pasting from previous blog-posts) and name calling...

Thank goodness we're not in Iraq, where tensions and risks are higher and communication is harder.

We might not like how we got where we are. We can debate (endlessly) about how we got here. I'd like to see some debate on where we would like to see the MidEast situation be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, and debate what should (could) be done, and what types of resources would be needed (and who would pay).

Have a nice week-end. At least most of us can rest some.

Posted by: Dave20640 | December 2, 2005 10:47 PM

I did not cut and paste from a previous blog. Maybe it was posted in one, but it shows a lot of what is not reported in my beloved Post, which I used to deliver to your door.

From what I see, we do need more men and women to finish this task. Ten or twenty years from now I see more and more isolation of the fanatics that hate civilized societies. How ironic that Iraq was the birthplace of civilization (that your Brother Robert!), and here we are, full circle, fighting to defend it there.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 2, 2005 11:06 PM

I meant "thank you" old Brother Robert E., ancient history dictator. May your soul rest in peace. My fingers are freezing from walking the dog!

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 2, 2005 11:10 PM

For all we know, the Bush administration paid johnnyg to post that 'letter' here. They seem to do a lot of that these days.
I doubt the veracity of that letter, as it has an obvious political goal. What's really lame is the sweeping generalizations that get made about all of the troops having exactly the same mindset. Bullshit. That was thinly veiled propoganda with an agenda.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 3, 2005 03:20 AM

Granted, it was published in the November 22, 2005 Wash. Times, a Mooney owned newspaper, but the editer stated it was verified.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 3, 2005 10:14 AM

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 3, 2005 10:17 AM

Not to impugn the motives of whomever wrote that letter Johnnyg, but I am forever suspicious of such letters.

One of the most troubling aspects of modern political debate is the use of letters and emails from those on the ground on a particular question who ostensibly have some knowledge that the rest of us do not. Every political activist group today uses this tactic. They urge and collect letters and emails and forward them to government or media organizations to hopefully persuade them and the public to their particular point of view.

What is missing from this debate is a truly comprehensive, honest and objective survey that probles the underlying views of our troops. Some say that their morale is high. That they are supportive of the Bush policy in huge numbers. Aside from the fact that these are generally young, impressionable people with lower education levels who really have no sophisticated appreciation for policy questions, what do we really know about them?

When I regard Bush's appearances at these military bases, what I see are largely junior officers who are notoriously conservative in their ideology, coupled with young people who volunteered more out of economic necessity than any sense of duty to country. The fact that the military is having such deep recruitment problems is testament to the fact that most of the volunteers who are part of this effort are likely to be young people from more politically conservative districts or from areas so economically distressed that a military job was the onlything they could get.

I point all of this out not out of disrespect for our troops, but rather out of the knowledge that I have accrued over a lifetime of being associated with the military. Most of the young people I have been associated with in my own past military career were pretty much reflective of American culture as a whole. That is simply not true today. If it were, you would see a great deal more unrest at those self serving speeches that George W. Bush likes to make in from of military audiences.

I say again: The least reliable source for what is really going on in Iraq is the reliance on troops on the ground because they are simply too close, too heavily invested, and quite often too expertly drilled on loyalty to the chain of command, including to the commander-in-chief.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 3, 2005 11:12 AM

Jaxas, I am not sure of your point. Is it that the military should have greater representation of all types from the general public? Would that improve moral? I am also not sure of the time reference in which you served. If it was during the Vietnam war? If so, then yes, a draft would draw more from the pool including types from virtually all backgrounds.

I think this worked well in WWII where folks like my pop and uncles served, all of which took full advantage of the GI bill, and later went on to college etc. I believe it is fair to say that a pool of requits generated from a draft does raise the overall brainpower of the force, which is vital in times when improvisation is necessary. It did not appear, however, the same with those eligible during the Vietnam war.

Maybe it is the apathy creep that comes with prolonged conflict, and because the location of conflict was far from American soil, not unlike Iraq.

Many in the ranks and those that avoided service questioned authority in a manner that would only subtract from the cohesion and trust the force must have.

My point is, I would rather have a force with a keen focus on the task at hand. The Marines as a group appear to personify this attitude best. However, if we do require more men and women to finish this, a draft should be initiated only if the probability is high that the need for those serving unvoluntarily is relatively short.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 3, 2005 03:27 PM


These opinion columns in the Washington Post are top of the line. Keep the good work Ms. Messner.

Posted by: Alberto Silvera | December 3, 2005 11:28 PM

Point is, letters like that prove nothing as their agenda is so blatant. But, by all means, post all of the letters you like here.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 4, 2005 01:47 PM

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