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December 23, 2004

Gregory Djerejian Twists Slowly in the Wind

He writes:

THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH: I supported Bush because I thought, as between his team and Kerry's, Dubya would be the better bet to continue seeing a major 5-10 year effort through. But Rumsfeld's policies, that the President and Dick Cheney don't appear to be forcefully re-appraising, are now beginning to imperil the war effort. Pas serieux. This is not panicky carping from the sidelines. Elections are not a panacea leading to stability. Ethnic tensions will mount and the post-election millieu will prove a period of great flux and danger. Talk of an exit strategy with trained Iraqi forces taking over by '06 is claptrap and farcical. Those forces, btw, will often be infiltrated by Iranian agents, Baathists restorationists, and other enemy groupings. Hell, such infiltrators might have had a hand in the Mosul attack. The quicker the rush to Iraqify--the more half-assed the effort will be. A real training and equipping effort will take place over years, with the insurgency pacified, and with post-electoral inter-communal relations set on a stable (as much as possible) course (this measured in years not months). American forces, and in large enough number to be credible, will have to act as guarantors of security during this exceedingly complex and lengthy transition period. Do enough people in the Administration get this? Not yet, I fear.

It's easy to beat up on me, as Brad DeLong does, for not stating that the buck stops with POTUS. Except that Kerry would have been even worse--all but guaranteeing that Iraqi democratization would not have been seriously pursued ("wrong war, wrong place, wrong time"; troops out w/in 4 years, interim authority head but a "puppet", the better to play into the insurgent's propaganda and handbook). Between arguably underwhelming options in elections, sometimes, hard decisions have to be made. But what's clear now is that it is in all of our interests that the Iraq project not flounder. This would prove the biggest American foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, perhaps worse even. It would allow radical jihadists to renew their momentum, render risible talk of Middle Eastern democratization, and make America appear a paper tiger again (as during the abdication-of-global-leadership-ridden Clinton years). These are critical times. Rumsfeld, if we're stuck with him, needs to be persuaded to rotate more troops into theater. It's not only Chuck Hagel and John McCain who need to raise the pressure. Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh, on the other side of the aisle, should consider doing so to. Better safe than sorry. Force matters. The Powell Doctrine is not dead. Rumsfeld must snap out of denial and get back to basics. Quickly.

But Bush administration policy in Iraq is driven by three "nots":

Instead, Bush and his White House appear to be telling Rumsfeld and Cheney: You told us this would be quick and easy--no call-up, no higher taxes, lots of good press. You were wrong. Now fix it--but with the resources you have: no call-up, no higher taxes.

Posted by DeLong at December 23, 2004 08:38 AM


This is crazed stuff.

Posted by: sm at December 23, 2004 08:49 AM

Djerejian is a classic case of someone who considers policy only and ignores ability to implement. Could a Kerry administration have implemented policy better than Bush's? Well, we have no data on Kerry as an administrator of a large bureaucracy, but almost any administration, including Enron's, would be better than the leadership team Bush has assembled.

Posted by: Observer at December 23, 2004 09:00 AM

Jim Quinlivan at Rand has shown that a troop-to-population ratio of at least 20:1000 correlates with successful stability operations. But force density is a crude indicator without specification. The timing and nature of the deployment are equally important.

In Iraq, we need something like 500,000 troops to achieve a workable ratio. Had we gone in with a that number we may have been able to provide security. The problem today is that insecurity is entrenched; random chaos has been replaced by organized crime and a well organized insurgency. Our window of opportunity for sending in a large force was short. Now that it has closed, increasing the number of boots on the ground will do little to improve things.

Adding troops will turn out to be counterproductive. It will sink additional costs into an operation that is basically unwinnable on our terms. The best hope is to make sure that a reasonably legitimate government emerges in Iraq, and that it asks us to leave.

Posted by: JR at December 23, 2004 09:06 AM

As JR says, 500,000 troops wouldn't be enough. No Iraqi government devolving from our occupation would ever be considered legitimate by most Iraqis. Our occupation was defeated before it began.

We think we have a legitimate project in Iraq. We don't. The Iraqis don't want our political guidance or our military "security".

Posted by: No Preference at December 23, 2004 09:26 AM

> Instead, Bush and his White House appear to be
> telling Rumsfeld and Cheney: You told us this
> would be quick and easy--no call-up, no higher
> taxes, lots of good press. You were wrong. Now
> fix it--but with the resources you have: no
> call-up, no higher taxes.

If in fact Bush is saying that, I would be a bit relieved: it would be the smartest thing he has done since November 4th 2000. Wouldn't work, but at least it would be smarter than what he is doing now.

Can you point to any references that Bush is in fact doing this? All I can see is that he has told Rumsfeld to "get it done", and like any good golf-course-CEO he is going to "support" his man right up to the end - but not care much about what he (Rumsfeld) is doing.


Posted by: Cranky Observer at December 23, 2004 09:37 AM

"Except that Kerry would have been even worse"

That is so pathetic. How weak can your argument be if you feel compelled to say that?

Posted by: a different chris at December 23, 2004 09:40 AM

"Except that Kerry would have been even worse."

Every time I see this presented as argument, I have to wonder just how badly Bush has to fuck up before the person making this statement realizes that it is not physically possible for any other sentient human to do worse than Bush. At this point, we only control the very ground upon which American soldiers stand--and even that control is tenuous at times. Otherwise, the insurgents control the whole of Iraq, as evidenced by their ability to strike at will anywhere and any time they choose.

So tell me, Bush defenders: Just how bad to things have to get before it's obvious even to you that Bush and his team are wildly, dangerously incompetent?

Posted by: Derelict at December 23, 2004 10:02 AM

I like the scene in the movie "Ghandi" when Ghandi is in a conference with the British, and a general says, "You can't expect us to just WALK AWAY." And Ghandhi answers, "Yes, in the end, you will just walk away."

And they did, but unfortunately not after so many years of their standard tactic of fomenting ethnic divisons and violence to "divide and rule" that they created a war of ethnic cleansing. The longer they stayed, the worse the aftermath was.

This war is lost. It was lost more than a year ago. America's reign as a superpower is over. We owe hundreds of billions to China which also controls the production of most of our basic implements of life. China, India, south asia is churning out the young people educated in math and science while ours watch Nelly and play X-Box games.

Its over. Its been over since the 1980's. We've sold off the inheritance and have been living off credit for years. Soon the bank will realize we don't have any money.

"Things and actions being what they are, and their consequences being what they will be, why should we then desire to be decieved" - Bishop Joseph Butler

Posted by: pragmatic_realist at December 23, 2004 10:10 AM

I appreciate that Djeregian leaves himself open to criticism by putting his opinions out where all the world can see, but that's his choice. Feeling sorry for himself because Brad finds a weakness in his thinking is not much of a response.

The real problem is that he's letting his emotions lead his analysis. He's got a crush on Bush and can't get around it. He pulls out a few carefully selected sound bites to back the assertion that Kerry would have been worse. That is unprovable, but it's his blog, so he gets away with asserting the unprovable in a bald-faced way. So again, he likes Bush better, so Kerry has to be worse than Bush. That's what he wants his argument to be.

The problem here is that Bush misled the nation into a war of choice, on the basis of his own highly questionable, untested foreign policy doctine, ignoring the advise of his most experience military leader (Powell) as well as much of the professional leadership at the Pentagon, and outside analysts. If Bush is too ignorant of military operations to ask the appropriate questions of his cabinet, if he chose the wrong team at the outset, in what way does that make him better than Kerry? And now that Kerry is not going to be President, why are we giving him a modified Clinton treatment? With Clinton, everything that was wrong was Clinton's fault. With Kerry, are we going to have to put up with "Yes, Bush screwed up, but Kerry would have been worse, as is clear from the single quote I've managed to find in a speech he made in 1987..."?

Djeregian has crush. He's a partisan who can't admit he's a partisan, so it's Rummy's fault. Maybe next it will be Rice's fault (and whoever Kerry would have picked would have certainly been worse than Rice). Horse hockey.

Posted by: kharris at December 23, 2004 10:15 AM

Does no one ever make the connection of these events?

1. US forces, empowered by their civilian bosses, go in and start torturing Iraqis. Some of these US forces are civilian contractors.

2. Fallujans attack civilian contractors

3. US collectively punishes Fallujah, at about the same time the whole world finds out about the torture.

4. Wheels definitively fall off the US occupation, with numerous terrorist attacks at least in Sunni areas, against those seen as collaborating with the torturers.

It happened more or less in that order, unless I'm remembering it wrong. Historians of this war may put the torture and the first attack on Fallujah in the absolute center of the US failure in Iraq.

Posted by: sm at December 23, 2004 10:22 AM

"They will not hand over enough of a share of control over Iraq policy to entice our allies to contribute the troops and the Arabic-speaking military police that we need. "

*Poof*. An alternate universe forms today, forking off from our own history upon one critical decision. We peer thru the mirror into
that other-when and see what happens when Shrub picks up the Oval Office phone, and starts groveling and begging for "allies" to help.

The Japanese are constitutionally barred from sending troops.

The Germans just (in our own and in the alternative histories both) downsized their military -- which was largely made up of very-short-term conscripts who don't even want to stay on the local Kasernes -- much less deploy into a war zone.

The French are -- in both timelines -- busy in the Ivory Coast. And based on their "success" there, is THAT the help we want?

Canada ... ah well. It'd be nice to have avoided the friendly fire incident in Afghanistan a few years back. Maybe sufficiently groveling would bring the northern allies back into partnership. Maybe. Current Canadian troop strength is what, about 50,000, total for all branches. If Harper of the Canadian "red provinces" wins election next year he promises to increase that to -- wow! -- almost 90,000. But if Martin continues that sort of increase isn't likely. Meanwhile, in the short-term branch of this alternate history it's difficult to see where the Canucks can make a significant contribution.

Let's see. NATO! Yeah, that's the ticket -- NATO. Belgium, Luxumborg, the Netherlands ... not Spain, though. Uhm. Let's see. Oh yeah, if we just guarentee the NATO allies more of a say in Iraqi reconstruction policy we'd get at LEAST a dozen troops, easy.

I guess.

Who else?

You'd think for all the billions of dollars we've contributed to Mubarak of Egypt that they'd be allies. And Arabic speaking to boot. But, y'know, as a trainer for modern justice systems, police restraint, fair elections, and all that -- hmmm.... maybe NOT so helpful.

Ditto Jordan. Now, if we were just trying to set up an Iraqi KING the Jordanian example might be useful.

Honestly now, what kind of help do you want from our "allies" that (a) we don't already have and (b) is actually for sale at (c) a price we can afford to pay?

Posted by: Pouncer at December 23, 2004 10:22 AM

It's just my imagination, but the upcoming Iraqi election could result in a three-step:

Assembly unseats Allawi: 1. US requested to leave.

2. Saddam brought back. (I hear rumors the guy captured is a close cousin. If so, will the real Saddam please stand up?)

3. Iraqis bring war crimes charges to The Hague.

Posted by: Dave of Maryland at December 23, 2004 10:51 AM

It is amazing, but the conservative blogs are
still complaining about the lack of positive
coverage by our side. We take little comfort
in being able to say we told them so about
Iraq. It is a certifiable quagmire; as others
have said, a lost cause. It is deja-vu all over
again, pace Viet Nam. With a faster news cycle,
we can only hope that this time it ends sooner, with fewer of our young soldiers being sacrificed to a mistake.

Posted by: Self-Negotiator at December 23, 2004 11:01 AM

If something twists slowly in the wind, it means you are supposed to look at it, and when it stops, get a good look at it so you know what it means.

Posted by: cloquet at December 23, 2004 11:03 AM

Waay too many Republicans like Djerejian have made a fetish out of loyalty to the Bush regime. There's a price to pay for that loyalty, as a certain Secretary of the Treasury could tell you. Like seeing Vietnam as a 'foreign policy disaster' because we didn't win, rather than a disaster because of the immense suffering that war inflicted.

Posted by: David W. at December 23, 2004 11:08 AM

Pouncer's alternative universe against Brad's alternative universe. How interesting! In Pouncer's world, there are only about a dozen countries. In Pouncer's world, there are no benefits from a broader coalition, even if some members of the coalition are represented by very few troops (somebody please cue up the debate tapes where Bush calls Kerry bad names for suggesting such allies don't count). In Pouncer's world, there is no addition. We can't take 10,000 soldiers from here and 700 soldiers from there and so on and get enough soldiers to matter. In Pouncer's world, things Japan can do that don't involve combat troops don't make any difference, even if those things are now being done by US troops who could go home to see the families they didn't realize they'd hardly ever see again. In Pouncer's world, NATO doesn't matter and heavens, the UN certainly doesn't. The UN couldn't provide training for police or teachers or water engineers outside of Iraq, where some reasonable level of security exists. No, no, not in Pouncer's world.

Come, now. This isn't a world of absolutes. It's a world of increments. One day, we may just make things good enough that recruitment of bad guys slows down enough to let Iraqi society off its knees. Having more countries involved could make a difference. Just maybe. Those of us who haven't spent time in Iraq have little chance of guessing which incremental changes will do the most good. We certainly aren't in a position to declare such changes unimportant and so not worth pursuing. And the hyperbolic "goveling and begging" doesn't change the reality that we have a long and spotty history of working with allies, and that doing so requires give and take. If one finds give and take distasteful, well, you too could be a bad president some day. As far as I'm concerned, Bush should be willing to get on his knees to save just one life. Grovel with gusto.

Posted by: kharris at December 23, 2004 11:15 AM

"But Rumsfeld's policies, that the President and Dick Cheney don't appear to be forcefully re-appraising, are now beginning to imperil the war effort."

Gregory Djerejian
December, 2004

"Despite the best that has been done by everyone -- the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the State and the devoted service of our people, the war situation has developed not necessarily to our advantage."

The Emperor Hirohito
August, 1945

Posted by: Billmon at December 23, 2004 11:35 AM

"Kerry would have been worse". Statistically that is not a very credible assertion, when your basis about four or five standard deviations down in the negative part of the bell curve.

But hey, it's either continue to pull unproveable assertions out of your arse, or admit your entire intellectual belief system is a fraud.

Posted by: Kaus Hackula at December 23, 2004 11:36 AM

Actually, what's really funny about Djerejian's pathetic kvetching is his assumption - in the finest tradition of big goverment liberalism - that simply pouring more troops/money/firepower into Iraq is the key to turning everything around. Nation building, it seems, is just a variation on Great Society "social engineering" - i.e. forget about getting the incentives right, just keep pumping up those grant budgets, and all KINDS of good things will happen.

Posted by: Billmon at December 23, 2004 11:42 AM

It has always been a question of priorities.

Bush has never been willing to provide the resources neededto win the war because it would mean he would have to give up his tax cuts, and the tax cuts were more important than the war.

Posted by: spencer at December 23, 2004 11:47 AM

The Iraq War, a cock-up and folly to begin with, is already effectively lost and FUBAR! The U.S. administration and military have no credibility in Iraq whatsoever. The humiliation is not that the U.S. is headed toward a military/political defeat, but that U.S. military behavior in Iraq makes Ariel Sharon look like a paragon of civilized moderation. One does not control whole cities by smashing them with 500 lbs. bombs. No Iraqi in their right mind, unless a shameless opportunist or a Kurd, accords American intentions the slightest credence. They are simply caught in the ebb and flow, the "balance" of terror, instituted by the American "War on Terror". The really disturbing thing is that the Iraqi insurgency has apparently no cohesive and organized military command, nor political structure, such that there is no one to negotiate with, nor to take charge in the event of an American withdrawal. (Retrospectively, at least, with Vietnam, there was an organized force to take over, without even the much prophesized "bloodbaths": they even put a halt to the worst of the genocide in Cambodia.) The best that can now be hoped for is an internationalization of the conflict contingent upon American withdrawal- (and, yes, reparations for all the damage done)- and the provision of an Arab/Muslim peacekeeping force to assist in the reconstruction of the Iraqi army. But that seems far-fetched amidst all the chaos and again, who exactly is there to negotiate with?

P.S. If your looking at possible scenarios as to what might trigger that dollar run, a final insurgent offensive, in which the U.S. suffers a thousand causualties in a single day and in which the complete futility of the enterprise is fully brought home, could perhaps do the trick. The insurgency, by all reports, though lacking any unified command, has been growing in sophistication and tactical adeptness, and, given the scope of international communications and the precedent of Tet, do not think that there are not those in the insurgency who are considering that strategic angle. Cut off the oil, isolate American forces from the Iraqi population and exhaust their resources, isolate the U.S. administration diplomatically by provoking brutal retaliation and count on the growing dollar squeeze.

Posted by: john c. halasz at December 23, 2004 12:38 PM

Iraq is a POLITICAL PROBLEM. N Ireland was a political problem. Eritrea was a political problem. The Balkans were a political problem. Yes the military can be called in to backstop policy, but ultimately, it is the policy not the military that wins an insurgent war.

Primarily Sunnis and Baath Party members.

Because Bush policy was and still is to disenfranchise all ex-Baath. Since everyone in the Saddams government from dogcatcher on up had to join the Baath, Bush policy has disenfranchised over 1/4 of the country.

They want a return to political control.

Because Bush sees good and evil. In his book the insurgents are evil terrorists and Bush will not negotiate with terrorists.

Because they cannot win and we can make life miserable for them. Most people want peace and electricity 24/7. If their leaders can get an acceptable deal, they will take it.

Maybe. The Iraqi majority wants the US out. If the Shia take control and recognize that they can unite with the insurgents to throw the Americans out and end the insurgency they will do so.

You bet. Sistani forced the Americans out of Najaf the same way the Iranians forced the Shah out of Iran. My money is on the Sistani list winning the election. The new government tells America to find another sand box.

NOTE!! Nothing in this scenario involves a military victory or defeat. Victory will be political, not military.

Posted by: bakho at December 23, 2004 12:43 PM

"Rumsfeld, if we're stuck with him, needs to be persuaded to rotate more troops into theater."

I'm so past tired of this nonsense. Rotate more troops from where, exactly? The fact of the matter is that unless you're willing to reinstate the draft, which of course this administration is not, these hypothetical troops that Djerejian and Sullivan and all the rest of them keep wetting themselves over simply don't exist. The Iraq war may already be lost, and the country may well descend into further chaos and civil war, but who's fault is that? Given the lack of appetite for a draft, this was the only politically possible Iraq war, and Mr Bush decided to go through with it, despite reams of analysis suggesting the necessity of perhaps as many as 500,000 boots on the ground. Add to this calculation that even half a million troops might not have been enough to prevent or put down a vigorous, rejectionist Sunni insurgency, and quell Kurdish separatist ambitions. The only things one can be certain of in war is death, destruction, and misery. This president has certainly accomplished all of those things in spades.

[Ah. But Djerejien believes that George W. Bush would call for a draft--if only he weren't so badly advised...]

Posted by: Robert at December 23, 2004 02:14 PM

PS I'm not sure which is more offensive, the administration's denial about the scale of the historical tragedy unfolding in Iraq, or the neocon cum liberal hawk insistence that it was a "good" war simply impoverished of the necessary resources. At some point the likes of Djerejian and Sullivan and Kristol and Beinart and all their fellow travellers will have to come to terms with the fact that they too are complicit in this disaster.

Posted by: Robert at December 23, 2004 02:28 PM

More deluded fuel for the false fix of throwing the Rumster to the wolves. Perfume their smelly arses! ...Clearly the mainline strategy.

As Billmon said in another way, Djerejian's first mistake is in his first sentence, where he supposes that a "major 5-10 year effort" would do it. Here is the psychological unrealism and historical ignorance of the Bush conservatives! Can these people put two clauses together! His second mistake is in supposing that the results of free and fair elections (if such a thing really occurs anywhere, these days) is something the U.S. would live with. It is an interesting fact that not negotiating with the Sunnis, i.e keeping the enmity going, will also serve to postpone the election, as violence continues. I think Bakho has it right: Sistani wants the elections as planned (if you will remember, he actually wanted them even earlier) ...because the Shia will win. If the elections are postponed, watch them rise up again too, al-Sadr and the other firebrands remounting a second insurgency to join the first. Making the quagmire completely evident. Then Bush can bitch to his public about trying to help these ungrateful wretches. "Well, we tried." Then Bush can explain that he is retracting U.S. forces onto permanent garrisons in hostile territory, much like Guantanamo, maybe way out in the desert, in order to keep watch over this dangerous area, until further notice. Anybody who walks out near us, we kill them. Geostrategy accomplished.

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold at December 23, 2004 02:34 PM

In sm's chronology, he left out US troops shooting at a mob in Fallujah in April 2003, when the war was overall perceived to be going well i.e. a time when Djerejian and his ilk would have mocked any criticism of the war or foretelling of problems ahead.

Posted by: P O'Neill at December 23, 2004 02:38 PM

What is most interesting to me is that Djerejian is getting *pretty close* to admitting that it is actually possible for the US to LOSE the war- not simply screw it up. A sign of increasing realism that now such skepticism is beginning to surface amongst Bushie stalwarts?

Up 'til now we've seen speculation along these lines primarily from folk overseas, those who opposed the war in the first place, and military historians (1954, Dien Ben Phu, anyone? Mosul, where the "mess tent massacre" occurred [a deliberate provocation to draw us in?], *coincidentally* is geographically and ethnographically an ideal place to set a major ambush against US forces). The reality-based community may be getting larger as we speak...

Posted by: JohnDL at December 23, 2004 03:24 PM

bakho, how does the US control Iraqi oil if the troops just pick up and leave?

Posted by: idook at December 23, 2004 03:31 PM

Thank you, Robert. Let me repeat:


There are many things to criticise Rumsfeld for, but it is simply not true that he has a secret stash of troops hidden away somewhere that he refuses to send to Iraq.

Some of this may be due to Eric Shinseki. When he said that the occupation would take 500,000 troops, many people seem to have understood him to mean that 500,000 troops could be made available. In fact, his statement should be understood to have been code that the US should not go to war: to be successful, it would take 500,000 troops that we don't have. Which is why the administration got so mad at him.

Posted by: jam at December 23, 2004 05:28 PM

I second all those who said: Get Out Now. Why are we even having this debate? The answer is well documented.
Viet Nam, Lebanon, Algeria, USSR, India. A lot of countries pulled out of bad situations because they were forced out or decided the cost was not worth any advantage gained. The world did not end. Most were better off after they pulled out. The civil wars sometimes have to be fought. A lot of blood has to be spilled but maybe that is the only way humankind operates.
I well remember the "we can't cut and run in Viet Nam because we would loose our credability" and the commies would come raging over the Bering Straits or up thru Mexico from Nicaraga.
It was crap then and it is crap now.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert at December 23, 2004 05:56 PM

jam - I'm under the impression that we *could* have fielded 500K troops for a few months in the spring and summer of 2003, but would then have had to draw troop levels down pretty quickly. So the Powell Doctrine strategy would have been a gamble that overwhelming force upfront would have sufficed to establish the peace and keep it for long enough to convince most Iraqis that their interests lay in supporting our reconstruction. For that gamble to have a chance to pay off, our reconstruction would have had to have been exceedingly quick and effective, instead of the ideologically driven, crony-capitalistic disaster it was under Bremer. (Can you believe Bush gave the guy a medal?! Common sense has abandoned the playing field.)

But most of all, our combination of superior force and inspired rebuilding efforts would have had to overwhelm both the internal divisions in Iraq, and the country's natural dislike of an invader. And do it during the very short timeframe when we could have kept 500K troops over there.

Even if we'd done everything right, the odds against us were very long indeed. But instead, we did everything wrong, and the closest thing to a face-saving way out is for the assembly the Iraqis elect next month to tell us to leave.

Posted by: RT at December 23, 2004 06:10 PM

Stay on track. Our military achieved their objective in ousting Saddam in 2003. Now, the only objectives left in Iraq are political. OUr military is stuck in a no win situation backing political failure. What are the political solutions to Iraq? What are the political solutions to Iraq? What are the political solutions to Iraq? Do not lose this mantra. We must obsess because Bush is still stuck on good v evil and having the cavalry save the day. What are the political solutions to Iraq?

Posted by: bakho at December 23, 2004 09:06 PM

Djerejian: "I supported Bush because I thought, as between his team and Kerry's, Dubya would be the better bet to continue seeing a major 5-10 year effort through."

Translation: Kerry is a pussy.

Djerejian: "Except that Kerry would have been even worse -- all but guaranteeing that Iraqi democratization would not have been seriously pursued... "

Translation: Kerry is a pussy.

Djerejian: "("wrong war, wrong place, wrong time"; troops out w/in 4 years, interim authority head but a "puppet", the better to play into the insurgent's propaganda and handbook)"

Translation: Blah blah blah blah blah ... what does Kerry know about wars and insurgencies?

Djerejian: "sometimes, hard decisions have to be made."

Translation: Real men take Viagra and vote Republican.

Djerejian: "This would prove the biggest American foreign policy disaster since Vietnam..."

Translation: Who the fuck cares about the Iraqis we killed and tortured? Oops, I didn't say that.

Djerejian: "Better safe than sorry. Force matters. The Powell Doctrine is not dead."

Translation: A stitch in time saves nine. Birds of a feather flock together. Early to save and early to rise keeps a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Djerejian: "It's easy to beat up on me, as Brad DeLong does, for not stating that the buck stops with POTUS."

Translation: I'm not a partisan, although I would never dream of supporting a Democrat because I have doubts that I never dare voice about my sexuality and sexual potency. Republicans are hard, virile men with lovely hairy chests, while Democrats are floppy-dicked mama's boys. Democrats remind me of when I was a boy and I was constantly bullied by muscular, sweaty, more masculine boys. To this day, whenever I'm around bullies and Republicans, my knees get weak and my anal sphincter relaxes just a smidgen, and I feel all warm inside and I just want to be taken away ... stop! stop! Must ... not ... yield ... to ... these ... feelings!

Posted by: Holden Lewis at December 24, 2004 08:39 AM

Bakha, in the short run we have no influence on the war. Rumsfeld will ignore you. Bush will ignore you. Either your senators and representative will ignore you, or pretty much everybody will ignore them.

So paying attention to the war is like watching the proverbial slow-motion train wreck. There's nothing much you can do except send cookies to the troops. And if you say it looks bad then some of the other kibitzers will accuse you of being on the enemy side. "If you were on our side you wouldn't say things that might hurt our morale. You'd only look at *good* news. You're saying mean things because you want us to lose!" But it doesn't make any difference to the war whether you want us to lose or not. The election is over.

So maybe Bush will stay the course. That would be a good thing. Every day Bush stays the course and we get 4 or 5 soldiers dead and 50 or 60 wounded, Bush's prestige goes down a little bit more. Give it 2 years and there might be enough republicans who dare to go against him that an ironclad case he was involved in the vote-rigging could get him impeached. I don't consider that likely but the point is, once he gets unpopular enough it's *possible*. Lots of things are possible then.

Or maybe Bush will decide to cut our losses. Elections at the end of january. A new prime minister chosen by april. Then they ask us to go. Bush puts on his earnest constipated look and says we tried to do the right thing and we did the right thing. Mission Accomplished. Or even worse he says he made a mistake and asks us to forgive him, and people forgive him so his approval rating goes back up to 70%.

We don't have much influence over our government just now. Whatever we have needs to be focussed on election reform. Without that we won't ever get much influence. Napoleon said "Never interrupt your enemy while he's making a mistake." If we can actually do anything it shouldn't be trying to get Bush unstuck from his tarbaby against his will.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 24, 2004 09:47 AM

Maybe the war was about the tax cuts. The only purpose of the tax cuts was to give money to rich people. They didn't create jobs, they didn't spur growth, they just made rich people richer (and please spare me the "the recession would have been so much worse without them" nonsense.

As voters began to focus on the fact that the only thing the various Bush tax cuts have done is make rich people richer and everyone else poorer, 9/11 and presto, bingo, WMD and war in Iraq (as opposed to intelligent and coherent behavior in Afghanistan and the war on terror in general). Can't change the commander in chief while we're at war, presto, bingo Bush wins by a whisker.

Now Bush doesn't have to worry about getting reelected - what makes anyone think he gives the hair on a rat's anal orifice what happens in Iraq? - He's not going to pay any price for the catastrophe, therefore it couldn't have been his fault. My only question is when they're going to using the catastrophe in Iraq to justify gutting Social Security.

Posted by: Pudentilla at December 24, 2004 08:58 PM