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Jay Lake
Date: 2008-04-08 22:01
Subject: [politics] The Crocker-Petraeus hearings
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:grumpy and tired
Music:house noises
Tags:iraq, politics
I was listening to the Petraeus-Crocker hearings at several points today. Such theater. I'm not sure where the substance lies, but it wasn't in those Senate chambers. One my favorite moments was when Senator Biden asked General Petraeus whether reasonable people could have different opinions about how to prosecute the war. Petraeus told him, "I don't know that I would go that far."

Yep, that's the Bush administration in a nutshell. Nobody else has the answers -- basically, "We're right, you're wrong, fuck off."

I also liked the remark — I did not catch the attribution, but I think it was Ambassador Crocker — that if we withdrew we would endanger our goals in Iraq. It was delivered in a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone that definitely put us woolly headed liberals in our place.

Speaking as a WHL, I feel compelled to point out that if we're staying in Iraq until our goals are fulfilled, it might be nice if we had a consistent set of goals in the first place.

Best as I can recall, this war was officially about WMDs and the possibility that Saddam might supply them to terrorists. Saddam's long dead, and there were no WMDs.

The war was semi-officially about the connection between 9/11 and Iraq. Well, al-Qaeda is in Iraq now, thanks to us.

The war was unofficially about securing our oil supply and our strategic position in the Middle East. Oil is over $100 a barrel and our strategic position blows chunks.

In these days of Mission Accomplished and troops being killed daily, the war seems to be about stabilizing Iraq. We're the ones who destabilized it.

Next goalpost, please! Good thing they're so movable, if you're a Republican. But what do I know, I'm just a dirty fucking hippie. Wise conservative patriots will doubtless sort this out eventually. They've done so well this far.
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Chris McKitterick: Bush - Mission Accomplished
User: mckitterick
Date: 2008-04-09 06:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bush - Mission Accomplished
Harumph. But you nailed it.
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Karrin Jackson
User: karjack
Date: 2008-04-09 10:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
But according to McCain's campaign, we don't want to lose. That's why we're in Iraq. To win. It's like a football game only the ball occasionally explodes, killing players, refs, and spectators alike.
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User: kehrli
Date: 2008-04-09 13:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, okay. Well, if it's about WINNING and NOT LOSING, then I'm behind the campaign all the way. Here I was, thinking about silly humanitarian aspects.

Thank you, John McCain!
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User: jens_fire
Date: 2008-04-09 14:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I also listened to a good portion of the 8 hour long hearing (about 2 hours I think). I came away with this:

"Blah dee blah dee blah."
"I see your blah dee blah dee blah, and raise you a yadda, yadda, yadda."

Really, how many ways are there one side to say "If we're gaining we have to stay to keep it, and if we're losing we have to stay to turn it around" and for the other side to say, "That's just not good enough"?

My review: Good questions. Non-answers.
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2008-04-09 14:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Haliburton and the Carlyle group have made a ton of money... mission accomplished.
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User: chessdev
Date: 2008-04-09 15:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I honestly wonder if the Bush Administration continues to proceed as they do because they honestly *believe* they're right....or for the simple joy of "being right", even if they have to pull out an eraser and rewrite the question a few times?
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-04-09 16:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Why do you think getting out of Iraq involve saying "cut and run"? To even phrase the questiob that way puts any attempt to end our engagement in Iraq on a dubious footing.

The current logic is we will stay til our goals are met, but since we continually revise our goals, we keep staying there. Even if one thinks the war was justified in the first place (which I do not, I am unaware of your opinion on the subject), the initial justification has long since disappeared.

McCain's perspective seems to be that we will stay until people stop dying. Specifically, Americans. Except people are dying, American and Iraqi, because we continue to stay.

The original logic made some sense, whether or not I agreed with it. (Ie, we think they have WMDs, and we must stop them!) The current logic is utterly circular. Halting that circular logic, and the endless violence, is hardly a "cut and run" strategy.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-04-09 17:18 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Setting the goalposts for leaving Iraq
Mmm, I think I misstated my case a little bit in the last comment. I am strongly in favor of a rapid and permanent withdrawal from Iraq, to be conducted in a manner which the military deems most appropriate. (Ie, not a 30 day bring them home, but an orderly and planned retreat.) My objection was to using the term "cut and run", which is a rather odious and particularly loaded term favored by conservatives in their talking points.

To answer your questions:

What goals would I set? As stated above, a rapid and permanent withdrawal.

For the record, I was not strongly in opposition to the war from the beginning. I was moderately in opposition. I was very suspicious of the administration's motives and actions, but most of their verifiable lying was not exposed until much later (the yellowcake affair, the aluminum tubes, etc.). (My position on Afghanistan was that I supported that invasion with the limited goals of breaking the Taleban and rooting out the al-Qaeda operating base.)

At the time, I thought the initial goal of dealing with WMDs was specious. Given how thoroughly we'd gamed the UNSCOM program — and that was obvious and public knowledge, largely thanks to Scott Ridder — it was clear to any objective observer that the threat was not nearly as cut-and-dried as the administration claimed it was. The strong rhetorical linkage between Iraq and 9-11 in administration speeches was also specious. If we were after the source of the 9-11 plot, we would have been invading Saudi Arabia.

All of which is a long winded way of saying I was open minded but suspicious about the goals before it started, and the only goals I've supported since were a responsibly planned withdrawal.

I am curious as to how you characterize the original logic. I am working from memory, not research, so am quite possibly getting some things wrong. I know to this day that the majority of people who get their news primarily from FOX believe we found WMDs in Iraq (per polling, as well as dead wrong by any measure), which is a very unsurprising data point in support of the obvious conclusion that views on the war diverge strongly according to political position.

Basically, the liberals were right on this all along, conservatives lied very deliberately to get us in* and have repeatedly moved the goal posts since. I have no reason in the world to trust, or even believe, anything the administration or its supporters and media proxies say about Iraq.

* My theory on this isn't a giant, inimical conspiracy. I think the Bushies honestly believed Saddam had WMDs. From their perspective, as soon as they went into Iraq and found the WMDs, the fact that the initial evidence was fabricated or extremely flimsy would have been irrelevant — a necessary white lie to motivate the American people and the UN. Basically, the administration was kiting a political check which they were never able to cover.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-04-09 17:39 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Setting the goalposts for leaving Iraq
I'd love to see us clean up the mess we made. We've been trying to do that for the last four years or so. At this point there's a functioning (more or less) Iraqi government, an elected parliament which has asked to us leave (Maliki unilaterally overrode this), a UN mandate which has expired, and a population that rather badly wants us to leave. I'm not sure there's much more to clean up, in that we also continue to remake the mess simply by being there. If we were really going to be honest about it, we'd pull the military out and bring in a massive Marshall Plan style reconstruction — that would be a fix.

"Cut and run" is not a military term, it's a political term which received a lot of very negative play in the 2004 election cycle, used widely by conservatives to bash anti-war liberals. The insult isn't implied, it's specific, whether or not you personally intended it as such.

Because if they really believed Saddam had WMD, it wasn't a white lie when they said so.

The lie wasn't in what they believed. The lie was the evidence they presented to support that belief. The aluminum tubes that Powell presented in his UN speech for example. This is consistent with the Administration's much-mocked "make your own reality" stance. They "knew" the intelligence was wrong, so they were going to go in and find the real stuff. Problem was what they "knew" wasn't true.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-04-09 17:56 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Setting the goalposts for leaving Iraq
So you're satisfied with that as a worthy goal that more than justifies immediately beginning an orderly withdrawal?

Yes, I'm good with that.

And nothing to forgive, that was just a hot button phrase for me.

I'd like to see support for that assertion

I'm not sure you'll find evidence. That is my presumption based on my observation of the Administration's behavior. For example, having Feith and the Iraq Study Group cherrypick the hell out of the intelligence community's assessments and data streams. (Remember the British scandal over "sexing up the dossier"?) It makes sense to me in one of two ways:
  • Either they were cynical, lying sacks of shit. (Which I'm willing to believe of both Rove and Cheney, but most people really do think they're doing the right thing most of the time. Even Bush.)
  • Or they really believed what they said, and figured that in time the truth would come out.

That being said, my assertion about the administration is just that — my assertion, because it's the only explanation I can see for the pre-war and early war behavior that doesn't involve explanation 1) above. I've certainly not seen any statements from the Administration admitting to that.
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2008-04-09 20:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Did you catch Gen. William Odom's Congressional testimony a few days ago?

In short, Ronald Reagan's former head of the NSA said "We need to pull out of Iraq now".
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