Rundown on (pro-war) Stupidity

A conservative blog commented on a post on firedoglake and I found a few of the claims worth commenting on.

"I would ask her to 'acknowledge' the outstanding work of the troops, instead of using our soldiers and the deaths she 'uses' to make her politcial (sic) points."

Considering that the "outstanding work of the troops" includes essentially losing Anbar Province and of achieving nothing in "Operation Together Forward," I have no words of condemnation for the troops as they were placed into a crappy situation, but neither is their work particularly praiseworthy. No matter how many schools they paint or bicycles they fix, they're losing territory and influence. The numbers and figures offered afterwards are interesting, but as I explained in an earlier piece, it's not the total numbers of troops either involved or that die that count, it's the purpose for which our troops are fighting and the troops in Iraq see increasingly less purpose in the fighting there.

The interview with a soldier "using the soldiers (sic) ACTUAL words" is interesting, but as the blogger doesn't provide a link or even the name and rank of the soldier or the college or even the geographical vicinity of the college where the interview was supposedly conducted, it's completely unverifiable. Allegedly, the soldier escorted SecDef Rumsfeld around while the troops treated him like a rock star and heaped praise upon him. Real tough work there. Yup, our SecDef su-u-ure enough is a he-e-ero. Boooy, it sure must be tough to wander around getting praised everywhere you go. Whatta hero [/snark].

"What about the fact that our reenlistment rates , are at an all time high, is that not the military talking with their boots on the ground?"

There's no reason to doubt this statement. Soldiers today are kept in their units from start to finish. Unlike the situation in Vietnam, they don't arrive and depart as individuals. When a soldier's enlistment is up, he or she goes back home, but feels guilty to leave friends and comrades behind in a dangerous situation. It's quite natural in such circumstances for soldiers to re-up.

"Regular enlistments are also above the goals set, these are people that KNOW they will be going to Iraq."

Now this statement I have problems with. According to a study by the Marine Corps (PDF), reenlistment rates are actually falling. "For first-term enlisted Marines making reenlistment decisions in FY04, there is a strong negative relationship" and the Stanford Progressive argued in January 2006 that:

"The U.S. Army's recruitment rates have been falling, and the Army is clinging to very high retention and reenlistment rates to make up for it, avoiding a shortage crisis that way. If those numbers begin falling in the near future, however, we are headed for trouble."

The Army chaplain quoted at length seems to be very enthusiastic about the war, but he's clearly speaking for just himself. The following is a highly amusing quote:

"Let me offer a different way of thinking about this: We won the war in Iraq. Yes, past tense: we won. You see, militarily, we invaded Iraq, defeated their Army, and captured their leadership. On this point, we had a crushing and overwhelming victory. No questions about it. We did what we said we were going to do: invaded the country and deposed Saddam (remember, right before the war started, we gave Saddam 48 hours to leave office), and we inforced (sic) the weapons inspections. That was the 'war.' We won that.

"What is happening now is the reconstruction and reconstitution of Iraq. In other words: putting it back together. We helped the Iraqis democratically elect a government. Check. We have trained and Army and Police Force. Check. The problem is that the government and military of Iraq are not doing a good job. That is the point on which things are failing. We have to stop thinking about this phase as winning or losing a war."

Where to begin? .The "war" was not won. The war has not been won. It's still ongoing. The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad simply marked a new phase in the war, where the struggle changed from a battalion vs battalion, stand-up, mechanized war to a guerrilla war. Saddam Hussein's army simply reconstituted itself as a guerrilla force and kept fighting. The American troops were the same in the second phase, the opponents were the same.
It's ridiculous to blame the government of Iraq for anything as the guerrilla war was going poorly for the US long before the US "helped the Iraqis democratically elect a government."

"Over the past two years, we had one political party (the Democrats) pretending that nothing was going right over there, and we had the other political party (the Republicans) pretending that everything was going right over there. (In other words, BOTH are to blame) In the meantime, the Iraqis get hurt by our own self-obsession."

This is an accurate statement, but suffers from excessive even-handedness. Sure the Democrats may have genuinely felt that "nothing was going right over there," but it wasn't until Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's Democratic primary that Democrats really felt free to come out against the war. Even then, Democrats weren't in power and haven't been in control of Congress since 1994. It won't be until Democrats actually take office that they can have a real and serious effect on events on the ground. No, it is grossly inappropriate to evenhandedly blame both sides.

"What I find interesting about the Iraq Study Group report- which works under the assumption that we're 'losing'- is that the people who seem to object to the report the most are the Iraqis."

First off, the ISG did not begin with the thesis that "we're 'losing' ", it concluded "we're 'losing' ". Big difference. Second, in an January survey:

"A new poll found that nearly half of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and most favor setting a timetable for American troops to leave."

This doesn't sound to me like a population that's crying out for the Americans to save them nor does it sound like a population that's helplessly awaiting American action. Riverbend, a secular, educated Sunni Arab, makes it quite clear that she is not waiting for the Americans to rescue her or anybody else.

Another quote from another anonymous soldier:

"He said that those that say they support the troops but not the war and say they are 'losing' in Iraq, obviously do not have confidence in us. (he swept his hand around to all his fellow soldiers standing there in Iraq)"

No, it means we've looked at the strategic situation and have concluded that to get enough troops to truly win in Iraq, we'd need as many as 500,000 more. Victory with less is very unlikely ever to occur. Will there ever be a draft? Very highly unlikely, as Republicans appear convinced that a draft is a one-way ticket to losing political power for a very long time to come. Democrats have no mandate to institute a draft as they have no mandate to continue the war in the first place.

"It IS a pity that the war in Iraq has become so political, but it HAS. Clearly the lines on Iraq are drawn between political entities. It is what it is. I do NOT see [the blog] Crooks and Liars asking the AP, or NYT to stop politicizing the war and start giving both sides"

The Iraq War was politicized by the Bush Administration from the very beginning.

This statement by Kenneth Adelman (“Cakewalk In Iraq,” the Washington Post, February 13, 2002), made in the immediate aftermath of President Bush’s Axis of Evil speech, epitomized the mindset of the ruling political establishment in Washington in the months leading up to the current war.
Summary: During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, writes the intelligence community's former senior analyst for the Middle East, the Bush administration disregarded the community's expertise, politicized the intelligence process, and selected unrepresentative raw intelligence to make its public case.
You've probably read Rajiv Chandrasekaran's account in the Washington Post today of how the Iraq occupation became, in part, an employment agency for the children or relatives of well-connected Republican party operatives or ideologically correct hacks, with much less expertise than others turned down.
The Iraqi Most Wanted deck employs game metaphors as a strategic means of describing attacks conducted on Iraq. Politicized use of ‘fun’ game metaphors communicates positive, can-do thinking and masks the real casualties of war.

And so on and so forth. At absolutely NO time during the entire Iraq conflict has the subject NOT been relentlessly politicized by the Bush Administration. It is cynical and one-sided in the extreme to complain that liberals are all of the sudden politicizing this very highly politicized war.

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