July 29, 2007

Undermining American Credibility

David Ignatius makes a few mistakes in his column today on the history of American warfare, but he gets his overall point correct. The loud and strident calls for an American withdrawal from Iraq continue to undermine our ability to limit the damage resulting from that retreat when it happens. In fact, the critics have made it much more likely that a full-blown, genocidal civil war will erupt in its wake:

Try to imagine what was running through the mind of Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran's ambassador to Baghdad, as he sat across the negotiating table from his American counterpart, Ryan Crocker, last week. While the U.S. diplomat delivered his stern warning against Iranian meddling in Iraq, Qomi must have wondered: Why should I listen to this guy? Congress is going to start pulling U.S. troops out soon, no matter what he says.

That's the difficulty for Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus as they try to manage a stable transition in Iraq while Congress chants ever more loudly: "Troops out! Troops out!" It's hard for anyone to take American power seriously when prominent members of Congress are declaring the war already lost. ...

Try for a moment to put yourself in the place of the Iraqi Shiite warlord Moqtada al-Sadr. The American representatives in Baghdad, Crocker and Petraeus, keep calling on him to disarm his Mahdi Army militia and defuse Iraq's sectarian war. But Sadr can read the stories coming out of Washington. He sees the daily clamor for American troops to come home, and he knows that in the brutal reality of Iraq, this is the time to stockpile weapons for his militia, not disband it.

Even the good news that people have been touting in Iraq -- the new willingness of Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province to ally with the United States against al-Qaeda -- is in part a warm-up for the civil war that's coming. The Sunni leaders are working with the Americans so that they, too, can stockpile arms for the coming conflict. We are, in effect, arming both sides for this sectarian battle. And not for the first time, either -- recall U.S. military support to both Iraq and Iran during their brutal war in the 1980s.

It's a real conundrum, because the reductio ad absurdum argument that dissent hurts America should be rejected by everyone who believes in democracy and free speech. Even the somewhat less reduced argument that dissent during wartime should be actively discouraged is objectionable on the same grounds; are we to assume that every war in which we engage will be a good idea? And how would we push back against those wars if we demand no criticism during wartime?

Yet we cannot shade our eyes and pretend that this strident and hysterical debate has not had an effect on our ability to prevail in Iraq and to shape the outcome through negotiations. In a conference call with the commander in Ninewah on Friday, we heard that the calls from Congress for immediate withdrawal has "absolutely" damaged the Army's HUMINT efforts and made the populace more fearful of abandonment by the US to the Shi'ite militias and the terrorists. Frightened populations look for those who will protect them -- and Arab cultures in particular are known for this, which is why they produce so many strongmen and no democrats.

The protests of MoveOn, International ANSWER, and Code Pink make little difference to the Iraqis in the street. It's the irresponsible rhetoric coming from Congress that creates the problems in American credibility in Iraq, and it's pushing the Iraqis away from the central government that we helped nurture into existence. Congressional leaders need to act more responsibly and stop pandering to the excesses of these fringe protest groups.

America can prevail in Iraq, if we stop trying to rush to declare defeat, as Harry Reid did. Despite the asinine idea that by losing 3500 troops in four years of war amounts to the worst defeat in American history, we actually have done a good job with the limited deployment we have in both keeping a real civil war from breaking out and winning a hearts-and-minds battle, especially since the beginning of this year. We're only losing it because the American public has decided we're losing it, and it's killing our credibility.

And this is where Ignatius gets it wrong, at least historically. He quotes retired Air Force General Chuck Boyd as saying that we have never won a war that lasted longer than four years, with the exception of the Revolutionary War, when we were the insurgents. That's simply not true. In fact, we won the first war we fought in the Middle East, in the so-called Barbary Pirates war. It took us eighteen years to force submission from the radical Islamists in North Africa. It took us several years of Reconstruction (overly brutal years) to subdue the South after four years of civil war, which in large part was a counterinsurgency campaign. We prevailed in both Korea and Vietnam, although in the latter a Democratic Congress betrayed an agreement to support the South Vietnamese after we agreed to defend them if Hanoi violated the peace accord in 1973.

And we won the Cold War, which lasted 45 years, and we did that just 17 years ago.

Americans can show fortitude when needed. We need to do so now, or the result of our withdrawal will be a disgrace that will make Rwanda and Srebrenica look like schoolyard fistfights, in a region where we have critical national interests.


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Comments (31)

Posted by Chris | July 29, 2007 8:31 AM

It is not dissent that is causing the problem, it is the unwillingness of the opposition political party to subsume their partisan goals to those of the country at large. As you say, the protests of the left serve no purpose other than to provide people who are against the war to dissent. It is visual theater designed to influence politicians. Those politicians, however, are representative of both their constituents and the entire American polity. Their job is to balance the wishes of their constituents with the needs of the nation. The inability or unwillingness to do so on the part of the Democrat party is what is hurting the country.

Not to mention a great number of politicians of both political stripes unable to balance their need for re-election with the needs of the country.

Posted by Ray | July 29, 2007 9:00 AM

Some people (ok, a lot people) are forgetting that we won the war against Saddam and his government. Now that Iraq is a democracy, we are defending a democratic ally.

We are fighting a war to protect democracy yet some insist that this war can not be won, the costs are to high, and we should leave. The message they are sending is that democracies are indefeasible and it is useless to even try. That's not a very good message, especially coming from members of our own government.

To all who think that this war can not be won and that we should leave Iraq: Do you REALLY believe that it is useless to defend a democracy? Because that IS what your are telling everyone.

Posted by Ray | July 29, 2007 9:06 AM

That should read indefenceable and not indefeasible.

Posted by SDN | July 29, 2007 9:12 AM

Captain, the difference is that the Cold War was fought by the WWII generation. the one that had seen attacks on America, that still knew love of country, the meaning of honor, and had seen first-hand the results of dictatorship.

Note that as the Baby Boomers grew up, and began to move into positions of influence, that fight grew harder and harder. Indeed, if Communist Russia had survived another decade, the Cold War would still be going on, because they would have outlasted the WWII generation, and the Baby Boomers, with their moral relativism, would never have been able to persevere... asn they are proving now in Iraq.

Posted by Papa Ray | July 29, 2007 9:17 AM

Don't forget that the Vietnam Conflict was in the main, a counterinsurgency war up until Tet.

Tet involved both the VC and the NVA, and we kicked their ass, defeated them by any measure, but because of internal American politics and ignorance, it was turned into a 'victory' for the North Vietnamese.

The VC might have fought on with some sucess for years, if they had not pardnered with the NVA ,in the disaster for them, that was Tet.

Once the general Vietnamese population saw that the VC had been defeated and made impotent, they shifted support to the South Vietnamese government and the Americans. Then of course we pulled out support for the Viet government.

I talked with an ex-Vietnamese soldier (he was a Major) who was involved in the fight to stop the NVA in the final invasion. He said that if they could have had American Air support, they could have turned the NVA back.

As a side note, he was one of the "boat people" and finally made it to America. He got his piece of the American Dream, and his family is all American now. He has one son and one grandson in the Marines and one son that is a deputy sheriff in Dallas.

Great Americans all.

I can't recall his exact words, but as I remember them, it was something like; We just couldn't stop them, there were just too many of them and too many tanks, and their arty. was too much.

But of course they didn't have that support (that we had promised) and the millions that were killed, tortured and imprisioned after we broke our promises, were in fact, a direct result of the same kind of Americans that now want to surrender Iraq.

History does repeat itself, and it looks like there is nothing we can do about it.

Or can we?? Maybe there is a way!

Papa Ray
West Texas

Posted by Nikolay | July 29, 2007 9:22 AM

I wonder how the claims that withdrawing from Iraq is totally unacceptable made by Bush help the eventual withdrawal. If you paint yourself into a corner of "we'll succeed unless we quit", you set up the scene for unpreventable disaster.

We need to do so now, or the result of our withdrawal will be a disgrace that will make Rwanda and Srebrenica look like schoolyard fistfights, in a region where we have critical national interests.
If there will be genocide in Iraq, it won't be the work of Al-Qaeda, it simply doesn't have such capabilities. It would be the work of Sunni insurgents (that are now fighting Al-Qaeda together with US) and Shia government & militia, which is actually the same thing. How in the world arming and training both of the sides of this conflict helps prevent the disaster, I can't understand.

Posted by Nikolay | July 29, 2007 9:38 AM

Actually, American credibility is mainly undermined by the people who talk about pie-in-the-sky goals of "democratic Iraq that can defend itself, sustain itself and be an ally in the war on terror". How can anybody take seriously a delusional country that insists on getting the impossible?

Posted by NahnCee | July 29, 2007 10:00 AM

Why is it wrong to inform the Iraqi's that America does have a limited amount of patience, that they do need to assume control of their own destiny, and that we will not always be around to blame everything on?

We said going in that we weren't going to be there forever. In today's NYTimes, there's a story about an Iraqi "fixer" who's now in the U.S. studying journalism. One comment in the story that leaped out is that when we went into Baghdad and toppled Saddam, Iraqi's thought they were going to become America's 51st state, with all the benefits deriving from that.

No wonder they've been sitting stolidly and watching with bird-like intensity for four years now. They're waiting to become Americans, to be able to vote in our elections, and to go on American welfare.

Well, no. They *must* understand that they're going to be on their own, probably sooner than later. They *must* understand that whatever they accomplish will be up to them. And they *must* understand -- along with every other two-bit thugocracy pining for relief -- that America really is not looking to add to the size of our country by overthrowing stupid vicious people and then pulling their little shithole of a country under our wing to bring them up to Springfield USA standards.

I see no problem with this sort of tough love ... and for this taxpayer, I'm much more interested in building a fence along the Rio Grande than I am in "staying the course" in Iraq just to ease the angst of a bunch of Arabs who've never done nothing before but blow stuff up.

Posted by amr | July 29, 2007 10:00 AM

Papa Ra: One of the copperhead Democrats who was heavily involved in the cutting off of support for South Vietnam is still in the senate and doing a repeat performance -Senator Kennedy. Seems the media has forgotten his role.

Yesterday a report on a raid that captured and killed al Qaeda cell members revealed, with-in the mundane listing of materials found, US newspapers. Gee, I wonder why they read our papers. We need to find the subscription addresses of those in Iraq who receive the NYT and WaPo and raid their homes (sarcasm). I was infuriated during the Vietnam War at the media’s reporting and have not recovered from that disgust since they have continued to twist facts, directly lie and lie by omission. But times are a’changing. Now we have a history of this in the Internet to compare what is and has been reported and many good and fair bloggers such as Captain Ed, Instapundit and Powerline, to name a few, are rubbing the MSM’s collective noses in it. Now if we can just get the vast majority of Americans to go beyond the MSM headlines and demand the unvarnished truth.

Posted by Continuum | July 29, 2007 10:19 AM


What retreat?

Prez Bush has said that victory is just within the next six months. (At least he's said this for the last 4 years.)

Posted by Dan | July 29, 2007 10:35 AM

American credibility? After Donald "we know where the weapons are" Rumsfeld, Dick "we'll be greeted as liberators" Cheney, Condi "mushroom cloud" Rice, etc., you have to be joking.

Posted by Ned | July 29, 2007 10:35 AM

"are we to assume that every war in which we engage will be a good idea?"

Once we commit with blood it doesn't matter what we think. We should unite and fight to win. Once we win everybody can piss and moan all they want.

Posted by Counterfactual | July 29, 2007 10:56 AM

Ed, I am afraid your list of longer than 4 year wars that America has won is fatally flawed.

First, the Korean war was only 3 years, and seems rather clearly a draw rather than a win.

Second, I don't know how anyone can count Vietnam as a victory given the way it came out. Now you seem to be saying the only reason we lost was because of Congress betraying an agreement; which is like saying the only reason we lost is because of the thing we did that caused us to lose. This may be true (in fact, it pretty much has to be true for every war ever fought), but in what universe is does listing the reason or reasons a country lost somehow mean they won.

Third, the example of reconstruction after the Civil War is very badly chosen. The southerners did, in general, accept Lee's surrender as settling the war. They agreed they were back in the country, reconstruction was all about under what terms were they back in the country? Did they now have to grant basic rights to blacks or could they put blacks back down into their 'place'. The end result was the national government got tired of fighting about it and left the the southerners free to interpret the Consitutional rights of blacks in their own way, and you know how that turned out. I don't see how reconstruction can be understood as anything other than an almost complete victory for southerners.

I don't know enought about the Barbary Pirate wars to intellegently comment, but since your other 3 examples are, well, to put it bluntly, wrong; I have to say I am skeptical that that one would back up your story either.

I generally consider it a rule that the side in an argument which has to most aggressively mis-state facts to make its case is probably the wrong side. In this case, that rule works against you.

Posted by Captain Ed | July 29, 2007 11:10 AM


The Korean War has never ended. We're still in possession of what the North tried to take from the South. All that has occurred is a 54-year truce, but techically we remain at war with the North, which is why Kim Jong-Il has wanted a formal end to hostilities. There have been several military actions over the years around the DMZ, although nothing significant since the mid-60s.

When we signed the peace agreement with North Vietnam in 1973, we secured South Vietnam as part of that process, and then we left. Congress refused to meet our obligations to defend the Saigon government in 1974-5, leading to its collapse. We won the war and lost the peace.

I'll grant you the Reconstruction argument, but consider this: it established federal control over actions by Southern states. While we stopped using that control to protect blacks in the South and elsewhere, the South never seriously challenged that federal control again, except in silly protests at schoolhouse doors in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Barbary Pirates wars began in 1776 -- when our trading vessels understandably ceased being protected by the British Navy -- and started in earnest in 1785. It actually took 30 years to resolve, not stopping until 1815, when the Second Barbary War put a finis to the actions of the North African Islamists.

Posted by arch | July 29, 2007 11:26 AM

Papa Ray:

You said "a direct result of the same kind of Americans that now want to surrender Iraq." Some are the SAME people!

Jane Fonda
Ramsey Clark
Ted Kennedy
Jack Murtha
John Obey
and the list goes on.


Posted by Papa Ray | July 29, 2007 11:32 AM

Nikolay said: "I wonder how the claims that withdrawing from Iraq is totally unacceptable made by Bush help the eventual withdrawal"

I assume that was a question.

The answer is (pissing off what the House,did, by just introduced and passed a bill that says there will be no permanent American bases in Iraq), is that of course there will American bases in Iraq for decades to come.

Anyone who thinks different can bet me (under a thousand dollars, cause I'm just a poor ol' man) different.

'Why is it wrong to inform the Iraqi's that America does have a limited amount of patience, that they do need to assume control of their own destiny, and that we will not always be around to blame everything on?"

I don't think its wrong to do that, and in fact that is what Bush and others in his administration have been doing. But what they don't do is saying that the alternative is us running out on them.

Of course that is what the democrats (the surrender party) is for.

That is the difference.

Besides, how is it fair to ask Iraq to do something in six years it took us over twice as long to do?

Especially since we are the ones who helped screw up the process in the first five years.

" Iraqi's thought they were going to become America's 51st state, with all the benefits deriving from that."

That is an uninformed thing to state. I'm sure a few Iraqis wished and wanted that, but not many. Iraqis only want to be able to live without fear, take care of their families and have a good life. They really don't care what kind of government can give them that, as long as it is given. Now you may be right that they do not take enough personal responsibilty for that, but seeing as how, taking responsibilty for one's actions in the past got you killed or tortured...

Well, they kinda are reluctant to do that right now, and I kinda think you would be too.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Posted by Counterfactual | July 29, 2007 11:51 AM

Ed, thanks for taking the time to make a personal reply. If I may respond:

1) For all practical purposes, the Korean War ended with the armistice agreement of 1953, even if no permanent peace treaty was signed. How many militarly attacks have we made against Korea since 1954?

2) Yes, the reason we lost the Vietnam war is because after 8 years of fighting and heavy casualties, we decided it wasn't worth the cost and got out. It is the same way that France lost the Algeria war and that the English lost the American Revolution. I don't understand the idea that if you fight until the other side decides it is not worth the cost and gets out that, that somehow you have not really won. That is how most wars in history have been won and lost.

3) Since you have graciously granted the essential correctness of my reconstruction analysis, I will give you the Barbary Pirates War :)

I think the question of how 'good' America is at long wars can not be answered in a vacuum, but requires some context. I am sure we would fight long and hard if attacked.

On the other hand, imagine this hypothetical scenario. America is not attacked by country A, but the President assured us we have to attack them because they are building WMDs. Taking his word for it we do, then find out they are not building weapons after all. We are also assured that we will be treated as liberators, but instead an insurgency breaks out. Despite statements by the Vice-President that the insurgency is on its last legs and assurances every month for 3 years by the President that progress is being made, the long-term trend is things get progressively worse. What would you expect to happen to public support for this hypothetical war in this situation?

Posted by GarandFan | July 29, 2007 11:58 AM

"We're only losing it because the American public has decided we're losing it, and it's killing our credibility."

The American public is bombarded daily by the MSM and Congress telling them that we are losing.

Guess what, if you don't have the will to win, you're gonna lose!

Posted by dude | July 29, 2007 12:40 PM

The problem with both wars are our unwillingness to escalate it to win. Americans can abide almost any sacrifice imo if they know that the goal is to win.

When we pulled back after the elections this year and take a "maintenance" role with 120K troops in theatre, it was about the end of it.

Why hasn't the syrian (for sure) and Iranian borders been sealed?

Of course part of it is understandable as we didn't know HOW to do this, maybe only now do we have a plan.

But americans cannot sit by and watch a slow-bleed, we expect in our politicians and in our everday lives to be moving forward, not treading water.

Posted by Okonkolo | July 29, 2007 12:56 PM

The historical arguments are interesting, but of limited application. Once a critical mass of the American public decides this war is over, politicians will oppose them at their own peril. For all the comments about political machinations or the dreaded MSM, the main reason Americans are turning on the war is because they have reached consensus that it was a misguided mistake, that the occupation was badly run, and that the victory the president promised will not be achieved. The NIE description of AQ outside of Iraq as the greatest threat and at full strength again makes Iraq further seem like a misguided focus. The American public has tired of this war in part because so much that they were told about it was wrong, and the people who have been proven wrong in their judgment repeatedly have lost credibility. The only thing w/o consensus now is how to get out, but how do you discuss that w/o making things worse. I don't think you can. But it isn't as if everything was really going well and talking about leaving has ruined everything (surely to be the excuse used in an effort to deflect blame for mistakes), in fact little is going well: political benchmarks missed, govt in shambles, Iraqi military infiltrated and still (still!) unable to stand on its own, Iraqis still dying in great numbers, etc. Given the performance of the WH on this war, the American public, which showed great support for a long time, has a right to demand a change, even if that makes things worse.

Posted by jpe | July 29, 2007 1:34 PM

It's the irresponsible rhetoric coming from Congress that creates the problems in American credibility in Iraq

No one said democracy was easy. If the American people don't want us out, the dems calling for withdrawal will get beaten at the polls, and you have nothing to worry about.

Posted by Ray | July 29, 2007 1:48 PM

"For all practical purposes, the Korean War ended with the armistice agreement of 1953, even if no permanent peace treaty was signed. How many militarly attacks have we made against Korea since 1954?

None, because we STILL have around 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea that patrol and monitor the DMZ 24/7. These troops are keep at a high alert status. This is to prevent North Korea from violating the armistice in the same manner that North Vietnam violated the Paris Peace Accords and invaded South Vietnam in 1975. Had we maintained a military presents in South Vietnam, it is doubtful that the North would have violated those accords and invaded.

Posted by Rearadmir0l | July 29, 2007 4:30 PM

Dont forget the war against the Seminoles!

Posted by Ray | July 29, 2007 6:13 PM

"Yes, the reason we lost the Vietnam war is because after 8 years of fighting and heavy casualties, we decided it wasn't worth the cost and got out."

We did not lose the Vietnam war. The Vietnam war ended when the Paris Peace Accords were signed and hostilities between the North and the South ceased. That occurred in 1973 during the Nixon administration. Due to the requirement which stipulated the removal of all US Troops within 60 days, troop withdrawals followed shortly after. Those troops were not withdrawn in defeat, they were withdrawn in victory.

After a long and bloody conflict which inflicted mass casualties on both side, American troops successfully helped to defended the South Vietnamese government and it's citizens from invasion by the North. The North withdrew all forces from the South and all hostilities between the two countries ended. I would call that a victory, wouldn't you?

The North violated the accords in 1975 during the Ford administration when they invaded South Vietnam and overthrew that government by force. That was nearly two years after all American troops were withdrawn, except for those guarding our embassy, and after a democratically controlled Congress cut off all military aid to South Vietnam and overrode a presidential veto to enact legislation denying the president the authority to deploy of any additional military forces in South East Asia without direct congressional approval.

North Vietnam overran South Vietnam very quickly because America cut off ALL military support to South Vietnam, including funds and equipment, between 1973 and 1975 and AFTER hostilities ended. Had Congress not cut off military aid or restricted the President's ability to send troops to support South Vietnam against an invasion by the North, an invasion that would have been a clear violation of the peace agreement, South Vietnam could very well have been able to counter any aggressive actions by the communist government of North Vietnam and South Vietnam would have remained a democracy.

This is just the scenario we need to avoid in Iraq. We should learn form th past and not repeat the mistakes that were made during the Vietnam war and it's aftermath and allow another allied democratic government to fail because we withdraw military support.

If we do, we will only prove that, once again, we have no intention to support our allies if that means the loss of American lives.

In other words, we would send that message that no democracy is worth defending if it costs American lives. If that is the message we send, how can we ever expect to receive support for any democratic ally if we ever find ourselves in the position to need it?

Posted by Mike | July 29, 2007 6:34 PM

Historical comparisons are hardly of limited use in the current debate. By any standard, our losses in this war are extraordinarily small. More Americans were killed in single battles lasting only a day or two during the Civil War than have been killed in four years of war in Iraq. And while we did win the Cold War, keep in mind that our Democrat friends, with able assistance from the media, fought tooth and nail for us to lose that war as well. However, because there was no specific hot war component to focus their attention and wrath, they could not acheive the success they've thus far managed to acheive in this conflict. Perhaps the most significant lesson we can learn from history is that war cannot be fought on a timetable, not if the goal is victory.

Of course we should not stifle dissent, but that's hardly our problem. Leftists scream that they're being threatened and their dissent stifled and their patriotism questioned whenever anyone has the temerity to call their latest defeat scheme the pasture dwelling matter that it is. And of course, they commonly complain about the chilling effect on their vital speech on TV beamed around the world or in the pages of the New York Times and see no irony at all in that.

The problem is that we have lost the will to prosecute genuine treason and violations of law. Nancy Pelosi, Jim McDermott, and a variety of others have clearly violated federal laws in their attempts to prop up dictators and smear America, but while we'll appoint special prosecutors to spend millions and years chasing phantoms, we don't have the courage to prosecute those who genuinely are providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

You notice that I haven't suggested that our politicians and media figures exercise restraint in their commentary to the extent that it harms America or our war effort. They are not capable of doing that, and in their warped view of reality seem to believe that the more genuine harm they can do to our intelligence gathering efforts, our military and our president, the truer they are to American ideals.

Prosecute those who break the law. Execute some of them, after a complete and fair trial, for treason. Restore some balance.

Posted by patrick neid | July 29, 2007 7:17 PM

in all conflicts in our history, and really for most countries, there is a large minority firmly against the hostilities no matter the stakes.

on the rare occasions when the vast middle votes for an end it is usually because the war is not being fought to win. such is the case on the war on terror. early on the president clearly defined the mission, we are at war with the terrorists and the states that sponsor them. very clear and very precise.

now look at us. after removing the taliban and saddam--all terrorists--we are now bogged down in iraq fighting the good fight. however two main terror states and several terror organizations remain unfettered as they plan on how to kill us daily. one in fact pledges to annihilate another country all the while planning on nuclear weapons. known terror states send and fund terrorists in iraq and afghanistan.

this does not go unnoticed. slowly but ever so surely the american people come to realize that the war on terror, as it is currently being fought, is being bungled. why do syria, iran, sudan, hamas, hezbollah and al sadr still function? why do we engage iran to help us in iraq while it continues to murder us in the field?

i like many americans are simply fed up. when i commit to war and all that it means, i want sherman's march to the sea or nothing. their has to be value for the fallen and wounded. this war by a 1000 paper cuts drains a country of its fortitude, shames the dead and allows the terrorist their victory. a victory predicted by bin laden for the reasons stated above. he predicted it would happen as it has so far.

Posted by SteveJ | July 29, 2007 11:12 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how neocon liberals do not recognize what constituational democracy is -- and how we have delayed, not helped, Iraq from achieving it.

Everybody wants liberty and freedom for us and others. Now let us review basic knowledge.

Elections DO NOT create liberty and freedom.

Constitutional democracy creates liberty and freedom.

Elections DO NOT create constitutional democracy.

Constitutional orders create constitutional democracy.

Constitutional orders lead to elections in a constitutional framework.

Constitutional orders are ingrained societal values and institutions that form over SEVERAL decades.

They are NOT CREATED by a piece a paper.

The piece of paper on which our Bill of Rights is written DID NOT create constitutional orders. Rather, constitutional orders developed in our society, and are described on a piece of paper called the Bill of Rights.

Thus, just because a country says it has a piece of paper on which is written a constitution, such as Venezuela or Iraq, they are hardly constitutional democracies for purposes of any sensible discussion of the topic.

When elections are held outside of a constitutional orders framework, one of two things happens. You create an authoritarian regime, such as the one in Indonesia or Venezuela, or you create chaos, which is what we did to Iraq.

Elections in this environment PREVENT the development of constitutional democracy.

Elections in this environment PREVENT liberty and freedom.

I’m sure this is quite clear to ANYONE who is NOT a liberal, neocon or otherwise.

Sadly, when you explain this to a neocon liberal, it just goes in one ear and out the other.

You see neocon liberals, like all liberals, are concerned about their own egos and the retention of power.

They are not ethical. They are not moral. And they don’t care if other people get killed.

Posted by unclesmrgol | July 29, 2007 11:16 PM


The US paid danegeld to the Barbary Pirates for decades before finally going to war against them. As did the British, who never were able to adequately protect their own shipping from predation by the Pirates.

The interesting thing here is that the Democrats now want to pay danegeld to Al Qaeda even as we occupy a position of strength.

Posted by Sisyphus | July 30, 2007 2:49 PM

Don't forget about the Philippines War. The U.S. fought to put down a guerrilla insurgency there for about 17 years before we successfully created a military and political solution.

Posted by SteveJ | July 30, 2007 8:45 PM

The Philippines? We purchased them from Spain in 1898, intending to make them an American territory.

Then in 1916, we promised them eventual independence which they got in 1946. And it eventually became a dictatorship in 1965 under Marcos.

In other words, the war was a waste of American lives, time and money.

At least the U.S. President at the time did not label the granting of independence and our withdrawal a “defeat”, which is what the Bush regime would have done.

Labeling withdrawals “defeats” when they are nothing of the sort is irresponsible.

But then that’s Bush to a tee with regard to Iraq.

Posted by mags | July 31, 2007 3:45 AM

In the U.S are you defining victory in Iraq as a multi-religious united democracy (with any candadite able to stand and serve-al sadr say, self funded, able to defend its self, obviously following american only values of freedom and liberty as no other country in the world understands that and an obvious partner and life long friend in the war on terror, say like Pakistan has been.
Hmm by 'the fall' you say. I don't recall these being the reasons that a superpower with out the support of the world attacked pre-emptically.
For freedom? Are the Saudi women having their heads cut off because they were raped more free then women under the taliban.
Is this your template then .'American democracy' in Iran, Syria, then you will move on to saudi ?
i believe ,as said bringing democracy isn't easy, use saudi as a template.I am sure you could do that by christmas.
American morality!
This is a different war at a different time in
the world. It is an ideology.
U.S guns and bombs cannot destroy the threat through these means.
Sorting out double standards and hypocrisy would be a beginning in re-engaging with us in the majority of the world who well understand the threat but don't agree with Bush. (Bush, not all Americans).