The disaster in Iraq: who should pay the political price?

The Bush administration, the McCain campaign, and their Republican and neoconservative supporters want credit for the success of the surge in Iraq. But as Barack Obama truly said in his first debate with John McCain, McCain wants us to imagine that the war began in 2007, instead of in 2003.

So let’s get some perspective on this.

The United States initiated military operations against Iraq on March 20, 2003. We then occupied the country incompletely and incompetently, allowing chaos to reign, allowing the horrible insurgency to blossom, allowing our soldiers (who were not fighting and defeating any enemy, because the war was already “won,” but were just driving along roads) to be continually killed and maimed by roadside bombs, month after month, year after year, allowing demonic terrorism to control the country, resulting in four million Iraqis being forced to flee their homes, with two million of them, including several hundred thousand Christians, fleeing the country altogether; and it kept getting steadily worse, reaching the point of almost complete catastrophe, until Gen. Petraeus took command in Iraq on January 2007 and instituted the surge.

During those three years and ten months, as I stated over and over at this one-man website, the U.S. had no strategy in place by which it could even theoretically prevail in Iraq. Yet during those same three years and ten months, the President kept telling us that he was giving his commanders in Iraq the forces they said were needed—those same commanders, such as George Casey, who, we now know from Bob Woodward’s new book, had no thought of actually prevailing in Iraq. Yet Bush let such commanders call the shots for three years and ten months. During that same period, the administration and its neocon promoters insisted over and over again that we were “winning.” With each new Iraqi election or adoption of a constitution (a constitution that makes sharia the ruling principle of the country), they said that we had “succeeded,” and that Iraq was now a “democracy,” even as the actual situation kept deteriorating. It was only when they were faced with the prospect of the literal collapse of the country and total U.S. defeat and humiliation that the Bush team finally adopted a new strategy aimed at suppressing rather than just managing the insurgency, a strategy that should been in place from the beginning.

From March 20, 2003, the day the Iraq war commenced, to January 26, 2007, the day Gen. Petraeus took command, 1,408 days elapsed.

America’s involvement in World War II lasted from December 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, to August 14, 1945, the day Japan announced its intention to surrender. That was 1,346 days.

Thus the period of the incompetent, irresponsible, dishonest Bush-Republican-neocon leadership in Iraq prior to the surge lasted 62 days longer—two months longer—than America’s engagement in the greatest war in history.

And now these same Republicans and neocons want credit for the “success” of their leadership in Iraq!

If ever there was a leadership, a party, and an intellectual elite that deserved to be rejected at the polls, it is the Republicans and the neocons.

—end of initial entry—

Peter H. writes:

Although it appears that the surge has “worked,” meaning, I suppose, that violence against our troops and between Iraqis has been decreased through force, I wonder how much has really changed. How does a people that has enshrined sharia law in its constitution, continues to carry all of the usual Sunni-Shia baggage, is bound to the spread of Islam (sharia) worldwide, and has Mohammed as its model of leadership ever become a functioning “democracy” or a friend of the United States. I would like to hear Sen. McCain (or better yet, Gov. Palin) answer that question. To hear Republican boosters tell it, it’s as though everything’s great in Iraq now, that we’ve won, in effect, and we’re just waiting for the Iraqis to be able to take over security and policing duties. But if everything’s great, can’t we just leave now? Or is the reality that there will be a bloodbath whenever we leave, the temporary success of the “surge” notwithstanding?

LA replies:

This entry is not a consideration of Iraq war policy and whether and why we have “succeeded” in any true and lasting sense, but just of the one aspect I address, the responsibility of the Republicans and neoconservatives for the four years of disaster. It is very far from being determined that we have actually “won” in Iraq. According to Freedom House, Iraq is an Unfree country. Remember that every time you hear a Republican say that Iraq is now free. It’s still undetermined when or ever our troops will be able to leave.

Yes, the surge combined with the totally unexpected Sunni turn against Al Qaeda has resulted in a vast improvement in Iraq. That is obviously better than having pulled out of the country and leaving it in chaos and leaving us demoralized in the face of Islamic extremism, as the Democrats would have had it. I have never supported the Bush policy (democratizing the Muslim world while allowing Muslims to colonize us) nor the Democratic policy (surrender to Muslim extremists while allowing Muslims to colonize us), but a radically different policy of recognizing that Islam itself is our adversary and defending ourselves from Islam as a whole.

Terry Morris writes:

You wrote:

If ever there was a leadership, a party, and an intellectual elite that deserved to be rejected at the polls, it is the Republicans and the neocons.

Who do you propose that the people replace them with, Democrats and leftists?

LA replies:

The fact that the Republicans deserve to lose, does not mean that the Democrats deserve to win. The issue is, which party would be better/worse for the country, and that is something each voter must decide for himself. What I am arguing in this entry is that the Republicans do not deserve to win.

In 1992, after the New York Post had dropped clear hints it was leaning toward endorsing Clinton, I published a letter in the Post entitled, “12 reasons why, as bad as Bush is, Clinton would be far worse.” In the letter I said that Bush did not deserve to be re-elected, but I nevertheless urged his re-election on the basis that Clinton would be so damaging to the country. (I felt at the time that the letter had an impact, because the Post subsequently backed away from its pro-Clinton suggestions and endorsed Bush.)

I am not saying the same thing now about the Republicans. My repeatedly stated preference (as much as I dread an Obama victory) is that the Republicans lose, as the only way to get the country past the present horrendous Bush-McCain-neocon dominance to the possibility of a better conservative politics. (Thus Obama may be “change we can count on,” in a way he himself does not imagine.) However, I continue to present arguments on both sides of the issue.

As I said in another entry posted today:

There is a further argument that professes to transcend the above [anti-McCain] considerations: that Obama will be so damaging to the country that his election simply must be stopped, regardless of how bad McCain is and how much he will damage conservatism.

As I have explained previously, I state my preference that McCain be defeated as a personal preference, rather than as something I am positively arguing for, because, while I believe that a McCain loss will be overall better for the country in the long run, I do not know that to be true.

Terry Morris replies:

Yes, I read your other entry. I do agree with you to some extent, the Republicans and neocons deserve to lose, and saying so isn’t the same thing as saying that the Democrats deserve to win, notwithstanding the fact that Republican losses equals Democrat victories. I’m personally on the edge of believing that an Obama victory coupled with significant losses to the Republicans in the House and Senate (which seems to be what you’re outlining in your article, but if not I stand corrected) spells doom for America.

LA replies:

I did not mean to be speaking of the Congress specifically. I was speaking of the presidential level of the GOP, of the top level of the GOP supporting that leadership, and of the neoconservatives and pro-Bush “conservatives” generally. Republicans in the House stopped amnesty in 2006. Republicans in the Senate stopped amnesty in 2007. The congressional Republicans would be the only bulwark against the left in the event of an Obama victory, and would continue to be the only bulwark against amnesty in the event of a McCain victory.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 07, 2008 01:55 PM | Send

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