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Tim Gratz and the Iraq War


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Where's William Kristol when you need him? evidently nowhere.....

Its not Kristol but....

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=07...cle=1&cat=0

US lawmaker defends Mecca bombing comments

Fiery Republican presidential long-shot Tom Tancredo Sunday defended his suggestion that America should threaten to bomb Muslim holy sites in order to deter a nuclear attack on US soil.

Tancredo first mooted his controversial position last week, prompting the State Department to describe it as "absolutely crazy."

"Yes, the State Department -- boy, when they start complaining about things I say, I feel a lot better about the things I say," Colorado representative Tancredo said in a presidential debate in Iowa televised on ABC.

"My task as president of the United States is primarily to do one thing -- by the way, not to make sure everybody has health care or everybody's child is educated -- my task is to do one thing: to protect and defend this country.

"And that means to deter -- and I want to underline "deter" -- any kind of aggression, especially the type we are threatened with by Al-Qaeda, which is nuclear attack.

"I'm telling you right now that anybody that would suggest that we should take anything like this off the table in order to deter that kind of event in the United States isn't fit to be president of the United States."

The State Department on Friday reacted angrily to Tancredo's initial comments.

"Let me just say that it is absolutely outrageous and reprehensible for anyone to suggest attacks on holy sites -- whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish or those of any other religion," departmental spokesman Tom Casey said.

Tancredo was quoted by the Iowapolitics.com website last week as saying the best way he could think of to deter a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States was to threaten to retaliate by bombing Islamic holy sites.

"If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina."

Edited by Craig Lamson
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Interesting piece by respected commentator Michael Barone:

Defeating Defeatism

Perceptions are starting to shift.

It’s not often that an opinion article shakes up Washington and changes the way a major issue is viewed. But that happened last week, when the New York Times printed an opinion article by Brookings Institution analysts Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack on the progress of the surge strategy in Iraq.

Yes, progress. O’Hanlon and Pollack supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — Pollack even wrote a book urging the overthrow of Saddam Hussein — but they have sharply criticized military operations there in the ensuing years.

“As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq,” they wrote, “we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory,’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.”

Their bottom line: “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.”

That’s not what almost all their fellow Democrats in Congress want to hear. Freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas, who unseated Republican Jim Ryun last fall, bolted from a hearing room when retired Gen. Jack Keane described positive developments in Iraq. When she came back, she explained: “But let me first just say that the description of Iraq as in some way or another that it’s a place that I might take the family for a vacation — things are going so well — those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country, instead of saying, here’s the reality of the problem. And people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.”

But reality can change — and in war it often does. For George W. Bush and his leading advisers, the reality of Iraq in June 2003 was that we had won a major military victory and that any postwar messiness was not a big problem. We’d put a proconsul in for a year, set up elections and install an Iraqi government, train Iraqi soldiers and police, and restrict our troops to a light footprint. But that reality changed, into full-fledged sectarian warfare, after al Qaeda bombed the Shiite mosque in Samarra in February 2006.

Bush and his military commanders acted as if that reality hadn’t changed, until the voters weighed in last November. Then, Bush made changes, installing new commanders and ordering a surge — an increase in troops, and a more forward strategy of confronting and cleaning out al Qaeda terrorists. And the reality apparently has once again changed.

It can be argued that the surge will prove insufficient to produce the “sustainable stability” that O’Hanlon and Pollack see as a possible result. Serious military experts have argued that we still don’t have enough troops or that we won’t be able to keep enough troops in place long enough — current force rotations indicate a net drawdown of troops next spring. And certainly there is room to make the argument that Bush should have acted sooner, as the results of the Samarra bombing became apparent months before the voters’ wakeup call.

But it is also reasonably clear that Boyda’s “reality of this issue” — that our effort in Iraq has definitively and finally failed so clearly that there should be no further discussion — may no longer be operative. That, instead of accepting defeat and inviting chaos, we may be able to achieve a significant measure of success.

Wars don’t stand still. In June 1942, the House of Commons debated a resolution of no confidence in Winston Churchill’s government. Four months later came the war-changing victory at El Alamein.

Gen. David Petraeus, the author of the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual and the commander in Iraq, is scheduled to report on the surge in mid-September. The prospect of an even partially positive report has sent chills up the spines of Democratic leaders in Congress. That, says House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, would be “a real big problem for us.”

The Democratic base has been furious that Democrats in Congress haven’t pulled the plug on the war already, and Democratic strategists have been anticipating big electoral gains from military defeat. But if the course of the war can change, so can public opinion. A couple of recent polls showed increased support for the decision to go to war and belief that the surge is working. If opinion continues to shift that way, if others come to see things as O’Hanlon and Pollack have, Democrats could find themselves trapped between a base that wants retreat and defeat, and a majority that wants victory.

© 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

* * *

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I've been away from the computer all this weekend (enjoying a bit of peace and sunshine out in the Swedish forest).

My point originally was that the US response to 9/11 was all emotional - based on the shock and horror that terrorism could even happen to "the shining city on the hill". What was actually required was a more rational response - along the lines of the policies advocated by Evan and David H.

As has been pointed out by others, Europe is no stranger to mass destruction close at hand, whilst the United States is. Sweden, however, is one of the countries that's been most spared and least affected by this. This wasn't for want of trying, though - the principal struggle during WW2 was to stop the Swedish right intervening … on Hitler's side.

It's difficult to say what Sweden's response to a 9/11 would be - probably a parliamentary investigation! The Swedish State, however, has shown a great propensity to the type of rational response I was talking about earlier, from de facto alliances with NATO to spy on the Soviets to a reasoned case for building a Swedish nuclear weapon (the programme was cancelled more or less at the last minute). For all its liberalism, Sweden still maintains a very high degree of mobilisation against Islamic terrorism - it's just that you can never demonstrate the success of such a programme, since the only time you see it is when the programme fails! Lack of an attack, though, is no proof that such an attack isn't being planned.

In other words, don't assume that the European response is all cowardliness. The intervention in Bosnia was a case in point - the most aggressive (and therefore least attacked) unit was NORDBAT, made up of units from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The Serbs knew that if you fired on NORDBAT you got deadly response immediately, whereas firing on US units was fairly risk-free, since the American forces would have to consult Washington before responding (by which time the Serbs were miles away)!

In my opinion, the major reason for a lack of European support for US post-9/11 policy is because we think that US policies are bound for failure, principally because of their emotional nature. When the US government went after the Taleban in Afghanistan, there was widespread European support … though this ebbed away firstly when the US didn't finish the job (diverting to Iraq for no obvious reason), and secondly when the US policy in Afghanistan concentrated on keeping the support of the drug lords the European powers had been trying to combat (since most of the heroin produced in Afghanistan ends up in Europe).

Edited by David Richardson
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I've been away from the computer all this weekend (enjoying a bit of peace and sunshine out in the Swedish forest).

My point originally was that the US response to 9/11 was all emotional - based on the shock and horror that terrorism could even happen to "the shining city on the hill". What was actually required was a more rational response - along the lines of the policies advocated by Evan and David H.

As has been pointed out by others, Europe is no stranger to mass destruction close at hand, whilst the United States is. Sweden, however, is one of the countries that's been most spared and least affected by this. This wasn't for want of trying, though - the principal struggle during WW2 was to stop the Swedish right intervening … on Hitler's side.

It's difficult to say what Sweden's response to a 9/11 would be - probably a parliamentary investigation! The Swedish State, however, has shown a great propensity to the type of rational response I was talking about earlier, from de facto alliances with NATO to spy on the Soviets to a reasoned case for building a Swedish nuclear weapon (the programme was cancelled more or less at the last minute). For all its liberalism, Sweden still maintains a very high degree of mobilisation against Islamic terrorism - it's just that you can never demonstrate the success of such a programme, since the only time you see it is when the programme fails! Lack of an attack, though, is no proof that such an attack isn't being planned.

In other words, don't assume that the European response is all cowardliness. The intervention in Bosnia was a case in point - the most aggressive (and therefore least attacked) unit was NORDBAT, made up of units from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The Serbs knew that if you fired on NORDBAT you got deadly response immediately, whereas firing on US units was fairly risk-free, since the American forces would have to consult Washington before responding (by which time the Serbs were miles away)!

In my opinion, the major reason for a lack of European support for US post-9/11 policy is because we think that US policies are bound for failure, principally because of their emotional nature. When the US government went after the Taleban in Afghanistan, there was widespread European support … though this ebbed away firstly when the US didn't finish the job (diverting to Iraq for no obvious reason), and secondly when the US policy in Afghanistan concentrated on keeping the support of the drug lords the European powers had been trying to combat (since most of the heroin produced in Afghanistan ends up in Europe).

The US has not experienced mass destruction first hand? WE did a pretty good job tearing the crap out ot the USA during our civil war, not to mention the Revolutionary War. We know.

Oh please Dave, lets cut to the chase. Forget all the blah blah blah about how rough and tough current Europe really is, ponit of fact is that you are not. The military in the EU is mostly worthless, your ( and NATO) actions in Bosnia are STILL ongoing what...10 years later? Whats the problem? The US did suck in Bosnia. WHY? BILL CLINTON, the darling of the left.

As for Afghanistan, what was it the WORLD was harping about in regards to the US wars in and both Afghanistan and Iraq? Oh yea. We we going it alone WITHOUT the support and the help of the rest of the world. Cowboys I think you called us. Afganistan is WORLD operation. The US has he BULK of the troops. If you have a problem with the way the war in Afghanistanis going, why not take it up with the Canadians, if they can borrow a helicopter to come to the meeting, or Denmark, Germany, France, Italy and so on. The war in Afganistan is a model war after all, world support and everything. What the heck is the complaint. It's Bosnia all over again and you seem very proud of the that one. The US has about 27,000 troops in Afghaninstan, just how many does the EU have in theater? 5000? Sheesh. You want to complain, take it to Brussels. The wonders of EU military might on display!

All of this is the perfect example of why your "reasoned response" is such a joke. Its a PROVEN failure. The EU is weak, you have lost your will AND your military might. You no longer have anything to offer.

Edited by Craig Lamson
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'Tim Gratz' quoted

Defeating Defeatism

Perceptions are starting to shift.

It’s not often that an opinion article shakes up Washington and changes the way a major issue is viewed. But that happened last week, when the New York Times printed an opinion article by Brookings Institution analysts Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack on the progress of the surge strategy in Iraq.

Yes, progress. O’Hanlon and Pollack supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — Pollack even wrote a book urging the overthrow of Saddam Hussein — but they have sharply criticized military operations there in the ensuing years.

“As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq,” they wrote, “we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory,’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.”

Their bottom line: “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.”

That’s not what almost all their fellow Democrats in Congress want to hear. Freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas, who unseated Republican Jim Ryun last fall, bolted from a hearing room when retired Gen. Jack Keane described positive developments in Iraq. When she came back, she explained: “But let me first just say that the description of Iraq as in some way or another that it’s a place that I might take the family for a vacation — things are going so well — those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country, instead of saying, here’s the reality of the problem. And people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.”

But reality can change — and in war it often does. For George W. Bush and his leading advisers, the reality of Iraq in June 2003 was that we had won a major military victory and that any postwar messiness was not a big problem. We’d put a proconsul in for a year, set up elections and install an Iraqi government, train Iraqi soldiers and police, and restrict our troops to a light footprint. But that reality changed, into full-fledged sectarian warfare, after al Qaeda bombed the Shiite mosque in Samarra in February 2006.

Bush and his military commanders acted as if that reality hadn’t changed, until the voters weighed in last November. Then, Bush made changes, installing new commanders and ordering a surge — an increase in troops, and a more forward strategy of confronting and cleaning out al Qaeda terrorists. And the reality apparently has once again changed.

It can be argued that the surge will prove insufficient to produce the “sustainable stability” that O’Hanlon and Pollack see as a possible result. Serious military experts have argued that we still don’t have enough troops or that we won’t be able to keep enough troops in place long enough — current force rotations indicate a net drawdown of troops next spring. And certainly there is room to make the argument that Bush should have acted sooner, as the results of the Samarra bombing became apparent months before the voters’ wakeup call.

But it is also reasonably clear that Boyda’s “reality of this issue” — that our effort in Iraq has definitively and finally failed so clearly that there should be no further discussion — may no longer be operative. That, instead of accepting defeat and inviting chaos, we may be able to achieve a significant measure of success.

Wars don’t stand still. In June 1942, the House of Commons debated a resolution of no confidence in Winston Churchill’s government. Four months later came the war-changing victory at El Alamein.

Gen. David Petraeus, the author of the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual and the commander in Iraq, is scheduled to report on the surge in mid-September. The prospect of an even partially positive report has sent chills up the spines of Democratic leaders in Congress. That, says House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, would be “a real big problem for us.”

The Democratic base has been furious that Democrats in Congress haven’t pulled the plug on the war already, and Democratic strategists have been anticipating big electoral gains from military defeat. But if the course of the war can change, so can public opinion. A couple of recent polls showed increased support for the decision to go to war and belief that the surge is working. If opinion continues to shift that way, if others come to see things as O’Hanlon and Pollack have, Democrats could find themselves trapped between a base that wants retreat and defeat, and a majority that wants victory.

© 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

Gott'a love right-wing logic when it comes to IRAQ and a conflict the Neo-cons HAD to wage: if the conflict is lost, its the Democrats fault. If the war is won, Repub-lo-crats are the heroes and big OIL won the day! This for a war that need not waging?

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Craig,

I would submit that Bill Clinton is the darling of the center/ center right, as there is nothing leftist about him.

John

John,

Respectfully, Clinton wasn't moderate or right wing with respect to foreign policy. IMO a great deal of the melee subsequent to Bosnia-Serbia (and the gencoide which took place then) occurred under Clinton's (also somewhat under George SR.'s) watch. Clinton had the liberal disease of having NO foreign policy, and when situations demanded the ad hoc policy assertion to prevent atrocities (such as those preseided over by Milosovic), Clinton did nothing. That was an earmark of the liberal pol. The moderate republican for all their gaffs typically do have and exercise foreign policy (however misguided that can be). I think that may be what Craig meant.

Domestically, no doubt Clinton played the moderate to moderate right cards.

Edited by Peter McKenna
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Craig, I understand the frustration you seem to be feeling. Here you (Americans) are, spending more on armaments than the rest of the world put together, able to defeat any army or armies in the world that play by the rules, and you can't even keep control of a couple of tinpot countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

If it's any consolation, I can only think of one situation in recent times where a conventional army has prevailed in a non-conventional war, and that was the British in Malaya in the 1950s. However, that's not a very useful example, since the civilian population eventually came to share the same values as the conventional army … and the conventional army stopped behaving conventionally (even special forces, targetted assassinations, etc are actually conventional ways occupying armies behave). There were also far more British troops in Malaya per head of the civilian population than the Americans have got in either Iraq or Afghanistan. None of these conditions obtain, or are likely to obtain, in the current wars.

What the US armed forces seem to be superb at is logistics, conventional warfare and high-level bombing (notice that the low-level stuff was largely tasked to the Royal Air Force during the last Gulf War in 1991). What they're not so good at is the boots on the ground stuff, in situations where they depend on the goodwill (or at least the lack of active bad will) of the local population for any kind of success. I've worked with the technical services of the Swedish Army for about 10 years now, and spoken with lots of Swedish soldiers who've been on peace enforcement and peace keeping missions in a number of countries. Their overall experience of the Americans is a bunch of people with lots of equipment, but a lack of flexibility and basic physical fitness (which is why even units like the US Rangers can't keep up with Swedish conscripts on joint Arctic warfare exercises). It's a bit of an unfair comparison in a way, since all professional Swedish soldiers are officers - they only take the ranks of NCOs and privates temporarily whilst on overseas assignments.

Two cases in point: there's a Swedish tracked vehicle called the SUSVEE in the US army (Pv206 in its Swedish version), used extensively by the Swedes, but occasionally by the Americans. A Swedish SUSVEE unit will have all the basic skills needed to keep the vehicle in operation on the battlefield, calling in the technical officers only when major workshop repairs have to be carried out. A US SUSVEE unit, on the other hand, has drivers who drive, mechanics who use wrenches, officers who give all the orders - you get the picture. Great organisation for conventional operations, but fairly useless in unconventional warfare.

The other embarrassing example was when the US forces first deployed in Bosnia. It took them a week to build the kind of temporary bridge that is built in 3-6 hours by European forces.

The demise of the Europeans is somewhat exaggerated, by the way. I don't know if you've been following recent events in the Congo, but an EU force managed to do a good job of fighting guerrillas in the jungle there last year and early this year.

It's not surprising that the US is busy losing both wars it's fighting right now (don't believe the propaganda you're being fed). Take this account from Sunday's Observer:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story...2141934,00.html

Now, sure, the 4-5,000 men of the Royal Anglian Regiment are doing a fine job in very difficult circumstances in Helmand. An average of 4,000 rounds per man per day is tough fighting by anyone's reckoning. Look what their commanders say, though:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story...2141901,00.html

Do you really think that the US can keep its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for 40 years, being shot at all the time? You know what's going to happen, because the Soviets were there just a few years ago. Sooner or later, you'll be lucky to get your equipment out, the drug lords will take over temporarily and the Taleban will come back. They're playing the long game - it's their country, after all, and they've got nowhere else to go. Now, of course, if you asked the civilian population what they'd ideally like, if they had their druthers, it wouldn't be the Taleban. But if you ask them to choose between what they've got now and the Taleban … I'm afraid they'd probably choose the Taleban.

I was in Angola in 1985 (teaching marine biologists … but that's another story), and received all the adulation ordinary Angolans felt for the Cubans (I'm short, had dark hair and a mustache at the time and I was working with a guy from Uruguay called Raul Pereira - they just wouldn't believe that I was a Brit, even after reading my passport upside down!). Everywhere we went, people would rush up to touch our hands, shouting 'Primo, Primo'. That's apparently Cuban military slang for buddy, and it's what the Angolans and Cubans called each other on the battlefield. The reason the Cubans were superstars for the Angolans was that they lived like them, fought alongside them and died with them. The Angolans hated the Soviets because they didn't do any of these things. The Angolan War was a military success for the MPLA (i.e. they ended up with no armed enemies, and in possession of the ground), but the kind of 'tough' action would have been totally useless. When I was there, these guys had been fighting an unconventional war against heavy odds (Portuguese colonialists and South Africans) for 25 years. The infrastructure was in ruins, so there wasn't anything you could usefully bomb from a great height. The 'tough' action from the outside had already been tried - but it was boots on the ground that ultimately made the difference between success and failure … which is why you're failing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Edited by David Richardson
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August 10, 2007

12:54am EDT

Interesting story re Gen. Petraeus (from Peggy Noonan in the "Wall Street Journal":

Gen. Petraeus graduated from West Point in 1974, 10th in his class, and his career has been the very model of the new Army: a master's in public administration, Ph.D. in the lessons of Vietnam, a fellowship in foreign affairs at Georgetown. Wrote the book, literally, on counterterrorism. Ten months in Bosnia. Time in Kuwait. Fought in Iraq, in Karbala, Hilla and Najaf, and became known and admired for rebuilding and administrating Mosul. Academically credentialed, bureaucratically knowing, historically well read. Also highly quotable. Of his use of discretionary funds for public works in Mosul, he said, "Money is ammunition." He is said to have asked embedded reporters after Baghdad fell, "Tell me where this ends." That was the right question.

He is decisive. Which gets us to the interesting story.

It happened on Sept. 21, 1991, when Gen. Petraeus was commanding the Third Battalion of the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Ky. He was at a live-fire training exercise. A soldier tripped on his M-16, and it discharged. The bullet hit Gen. Petraeus in the chest.

He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. A local surgeon got beeped and called in. He was told there was a Life Flight helicopter coming in with a guy with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was hemorrhaging.

The surgeon rushed to Vanderbilt and arrived before the helicopter. It landed, the elevator doors opened, and the surgeon saw a soldier on a gurney with a tube in his chest. A uniformed man was next to the patient, along with a nurse carrying bottles of blood draining from the wound.

Doctors at busy Vanderbilt hospital were used to treating gunshot wounds, and the fact that the patient was military was "a nonissue," as the surgeon said the other day in a telephone interview.

What was an issue was that the patient had lost a lot of blood, was pale, and was losing more.

The surgeon had to decide whether to open Gen. Petraeus up right away or stabilize him. The general was conscious, so the surgeon said, "Listen, I gotta make a decision about whether to take you straight to surgery or stabilize you first, give you blood."

Gen. Petraeus looked up at the surgeon and said, "Don't waste any time. Get it done. Let's get on with it."

"That's unusual", the surgeon told me. "Usually patients want to stabilize, wait." This one wanted to move.

At this point I'll note that the surgeon that day 16 years ago was Dr. Bill Frist, who later became Sen. Frist, and then Majority Leader Frist. He had never met Gen. Petraeus before.

Dr. Frist got Gen. Petraeus to the third-floor operating room, opened his chest, removed a flattened bullet that had torn through the top of a lung, stopped the hemorrhaging, took out part of a lung.

The operation was successful, and within 24 hours Gen. Petraeus asked Dr. Frist if he could be transferred back to the base hospital so his soldiers wouldn't be too concerned. "As soon as he was stable, we got him over there. His soldiers were first and foremost in his mind. That's why they like him so much."

Gen. Petraeus, says Dr. Frist, now describes his wound to troops as damage done by a round "that went right through my right chest--happily over the 'A' in Petraeus rather than over the 'A' in U.S. Army, as the latter is over my heart."

Over the years, Dr. Frist and Gen. Petraeus became friends. They found they'd both done graduate work at the Woodrow Wilson school at Princeton, where Dr. Frist is about to return as a teacher. They ran the Army 10-miler in Washington together--"He left me in the dust!" exclaims the doctor--and the Frists spent time with Holly Petraeus when her husband was fighting in Baghdad.

The majority leader also visited Gen. Petraeus in Iraq, and wound up, three years ago, standing with him "on a hot, dusty compound" where the general was leading exercises training young Iraqi soldiers.

Mr. Frist says that after observing the young recruits carry out their exercises, Petraeus gathered them around and told them what happened on that fateful day in 1991. He introduced the senator and told them of the role he'd played. "He didn't say we got the majority leader of the Senate here, he said, 'This was my doctor.'" Why was he telling them the story? "The point was to tell them, 'Listen, if you're not perfect right now you can grow, you can make mistakes, people are forgiving, you'll grow.'" The point was also to thank the soldiers at Fort Campbell who cared for them in the minutes after he was shot.

What does it all mean? Life is interesting, mysterious, and has an unseen circularity. You never know in any given day what's going to happen or who's going to have a big impact on you and on others. A future military commander got shot, and a future leader of the Senate stopped the bleeding.

What Mr. Frist, a supporter of more time for and renewed commitment to Iraq, gets from the story is this: What he saw and heard that day 16 years ago, is what he's seen from Gen. Petraeus in the years since: "straightforward decisiveness" and a "call for action with results."

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Dick Cheney explains to the American Enterprise Institute in 1994 why Bush 41 didn't roll into Baghdad. "It's a quagmire if you . . . try to take over Iraq."

Here is the transcript. YouTube link below.

Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.

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Dick Cheney explains to the American Enterprise Institute in 1994 why Bush 41 didn't roll into Baghdad. "It's a quagmire if you . . . try to take over Iraq."

Here is the transcript. YouTube link below.

Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.

This was the same advice that the CIA gave to Clinton when he considered the possibility of invading Iraq.

The question is - what changed? The big difference was that Bush persuaded other nations to follow him into the "quagmire" of Iraq (UK, Italy, Spain). The populations of Italy and Spain got a change in government and a change in policy whereas the UK still remains although it was Iraq that forced Blair into retirement.

As the above quote from Dick Cheney shows that he knew what would happen, even if George Bush and Tim Gratz were too politically illiterate to understand the situation.

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The question is - what changed? The big difference was that Bush persuaded other nations to follow him into the "quagmire" of Iraq (UK, Italy, Spain).

9/11.

The moral outrage following 9/11 provided the justification for a full invasion of Iraq which the neocons had been looking for and allowed the US and its allies to disregard the the more rational voices within the media--like Scott Ritter--who correctly claimed there were no WMD's in Iraq.

History might well regard 9/11 as a lethal double blow for America, with the loss of life and all the horrific imagery of that day on one hand, and the foreign policy disaster which resulted on the other.

Only the hardline holdouts continue to support the war in Iraq. The morality of this position cannot be justified, imo, and the fact that many who still support the war also proudly boast Christian ethics makes it even more perplexing.

p.s. I saw on the news tonight that Karl Rove intends to resign at the end of this month. The fattest and ugliest rats are now deserting this sinking ship.

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Mom, I had another friend die today from a massive ied [improvised explosive device] and many more wounded with shattered bones and scrapes. We used to be in the same platoon. 1st platoon and the same squad when I first arrived at fort hood for a good 7 months or so. He was 17 then and barely a day over 19 now that he has passed away.

It's tearing me up so badly inside. I just can't stand it. I can't get rid of the feeling that I probably won't make it home from this war. I have this horrible feeling that his fate will soon become my own. I don't want to die here Mom. Don't tell Erin bc I know it will devastate her. But if somehow I don't make it, I want you Mom and Dad and all the family and especially Erin to know I love you all so so much and appreciate everything you all have done for me in the thick and thin.

The most important thing I want you all to do, is to use all of your connections to do everything in your will to use my death as a tool with the media to end this pointless war. Contact Michael Moore or whomever it may be to get the word out about how disgusted with our government I am about forcing us to come here to wait for death to claim us. I want it to end. How many more friends, sons, daughters, mothers, and dads must die here before they say it's enough? And if you don't die, the worst part you have to live with is the guilt of surviving. Surviving this war and not dying like your buddies to your left and to your right in combat.

I love you all so so much.

love,

Zach

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Colum...2147624,00.html

Article by Gary Younge:

'Death," said Donald Rumsfeld, the former United States defence secretary, "has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."

Zach Flory, 23, didn't start his military career depressed. He enlisted full of idealism about the potential of American power. Raised in Clinton, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi, he came home on September 11 and asked his parents for permission to join the military. They refused. They wanted him to finish high school first. "He was a young man with a conscience," said his mother, Marcia, who has always been opposed to the war. "He wanted to make things right." They hoped he would change his mind. He didn't. In February 2004 he enlisted in the first cavalry infantry division and signed a three-year contract. He did his time, serving in South Korea and Texas, and should have been discharged in June. Instead, the army forced him to extend his service by a year in what is known as the stop-loss programme - a form of indentured servitude that can keep soldiers working beyond the expiration of their contract for several years - and sent him to Iraq. Shortly before he left he married Erin, whom he has known since childhood. "Zach's greatest fear is to have to shoot innocent civilians," said Marcia shortly after he left. "What is this war doing to our fine young men and women?"

Even as Iraq has dominated America's political stage it has occupied a parallel universe in mainstream society. Military families may listen intently to every news report and live in constant fear of a visit from two uniformed officers in the wee hours. But the rest of the nation is shopping. This is the only war in modern American history that has coincided with a tax cut. "People seem to think war is OK as long as it is someone else's kid doing the fighting," says Zach's dad, Don.

Serving in it falls on the shoulders of the poor and the dark, who are over-represented in the military. And the casualties fall disproportionately on white men from small towns - like Donald Young, Zach's recently departed teenage friend. Iraq remains the number one issue of political concern, but it is rarely the central topic of conversation.

Needless to say, Iraqi deaths barely feature at all. The US military, which ostensibly came to liberate Iraqis, does not even count their corpses. So their death toll is approximate - rounded up or down by the thousand rather than counted individually. We'll never know what tender words an insurgent might send to a family member following the death of a fellow combatant, let alone the final farewell of an unsuspecting civilian slain by American troops or a car bombing. Perhaps if we did, it would help those with a limited imagination and compassion humanise the horrors of this war more easily.

Fortunately, this is not a competition. Unfortunately, there is enough misery to go around.

This is an American story. A tale of imperial overreach, military fatigue and political hubris as it affects a midwestern boy in a far away land who wants to get home. "You can tell a true war story if it embarrasses you," wrote Tim O'Brien in his Vietnam war novel, The Things They Carried. "If you don't care for obscenity, you don't care for the truth; if you don't care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty."

The army is "about broken", said retired general Colin Powell last year - before Bush announced an escalation in troop numbers. British military standards dictate that a soldier should have two years at home for every six months deployed and that anything less than this 4:1 ratio could "break the army". American troops currently serve 15 months followed by less than a year's rest - a ratio of 4:5.

US military leaders deny the army is strained. But in recent years they have lowered standards and changed entry requirements in order to bolster flagging recruitment, including a push to attract non-citizens and to lift the upper age limit for new recruits. Since 2001 it has raised by half the rate at which it grants "moral waivers" to potential recruits who have committed misdemeanours and lowered the educational level required. Steven Green, the former soldier who now faces the death penalty on charges of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her family in Mahmoudiya, entered the military on one such waiver.

On Friday the president's new war adviser, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, said it was time to think about restoring the draft.

"I think it makes sense to certainly consider it," he said, suggesting that some soldiers' families could soon reach breaking point themselves. "And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table."

There is gruesome irony in the fact that such a possibility should come from an administration headed by a president who dodged the draft and a vice-president who "had other priorities" than serving in Vietnam. But American conservatives have a curious inability to put their children where their mouth is when it comes to the war. All of the main Republican contenders back it; none of their children are in it.

On the day that Zach sent his email home, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney addressed a town hall meeting 50 miles from his home town. Romney was asked why none of his children are serving in the military. "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president," he said.

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