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Losing Iraq

Are we failing or have we failed? Also: Classless Webb. Political pills. "Hitler is no Hitler." Plus much more.

12.4.06

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AVOIDING FAILURE
Re: Jed Babbin's Eager for Defeat:

I have one question for Jed:

Why do you, and why did Donald Rumsfeld in his memo, make such scant mention of the fact that former regime elements -- the Baathist former Iraqi nomenklatura operating largely out of Syria with the cooperation of Syrian intelligence -- are, according to a report from the U.S. military about two weeks ago, responsible for roughly 80% of the violent bombings in Iraq?

The Baathist strategy, from the very beginning, has been to foment Sunni-Shia conflict in order to put themselves back in the Sunni leadership role they lost during the Saddam regime, and then to regain control of Iraq.

So why are we not being heavy-handed with Syria: 1) threatening massive infrastructure bombing, 2) demanding the arrest and handing-over of those former regime elements, and their billions of looted dollars, who operate from the safe haven of Syria.

If the U.S. could end 80% of the bombings, most of the other problems in Iraq (and in the press and in American politics) would take care of themselves.
-- Jameson Campaigne
Ottawa, Illinois

It is interesting to observe those who advocated Secretary Rumsfeld's approach to the structure and use of military force as that approach is discredited. We are losing in Iraq (please note I do not say we have lost) because Mr. Rumsfeld and his supporters like Mr. Babbin sought to apply their "modern" concept of warfare and replace soldiers with technology. General Shinseki USA Ret. tried desperately, prior to the invasion of Iraq, to inject a note of realism into the Secretary's war plans to no avail. Mr. Rumsfeld was determined to prove that we no longer needed "grunts" just smart bombs and Special Forces.

Well, you may observe the results of this misapplication of force, failure, and yet Mr. Babbin continues to advocate a variation of the same concept that got us into this mess to start with. The only thing I can say in his favor is that he does realize that we must win this fight or suffer dire consequences. Mr. Babbin just does not have any idea of how this might be accomplished.

The solution, if we choose to take it, will be neither cheap nor popular. We must deploy sufficient force to destroy the insurgents and convince the Iraqi people that we not the terrorists will control the future. Had we done this to begin with we would not be in the position we are in today. Of course had we realized in 1988, as some of did, that America cannot execute an 18 Division mission with 10 under-strength Divisions we would have had the assets necessary to protect our world-wide interests. As it is we now must play catch up, again.

Merry Christmas, Jed.
-- Hilary H. Evers
Lieutenant Colonel USA (Ret.)

No Democrat ever suggested redeploying troops to Okinawa or any similar place. What a hateful and sinister thing to say - which is the EXACT problem in this country today and the exact reason your Republican cronies got thrown out on their asses. Democrats from Biden to Clark to Kerry to Murtha have been SCREAMING about troops on the Iranian and Syrian borders since this war began. How does it serve the interests of our country to LIE about our leaders??

And Rumsfeld shouldn't be blamed?? I don't care what Zogby polls say, anybody who has been paying attention knows Rumsfeld and his band of neocons are a key part of the problem in Iraq and foreign policy in general. They also know money isn't going to solve the problems in Iraq or Afghanistan because our arrogant belief that money solves everything - IS THE PROBLEM. That in itself proves Rumsfeld should be blamed.

Seriously, just shut up shut up shut up and let the Party that always WINS the wars, win this one. You and your neocon nightmare are OVER.
-- Sandra Todd
Florence, Oregon

I read the article rather quickly by Jed Babbin. I failed to see any mention that Newt Gingrich thinks we should focus on the threat posed by Iran's nuclear capabilities rather than Iraq.
-- James Beaty

You may want to spend some time finding out what Gingrich actually said rather than writing an article based on one out of context quote.
-- Nicole Kitchin

I haven't heard Newt say that Iraq is a failure. He has said that our initial battle was a success but that we have failed in the second phase. Thus we should come up with a plan for success in the third phase. At least that is what he has been saying on the news and at the politics & egg breakfast in New England. He also said we have no other choice than to succeed in Iraq.

Just curious as to when and what he said about failing in Iraq besides these times and places.
-- Mark

Mr. Babbin: Rumsfeld '08. I have hated Kerry and the stinking spineless Americans for cutting and running from South Vietnam since it happened. I was right then, and I am right now. Rumsfeld is the only man I see with enough integrity to pick up the reins from President Bush. I have told you this before and more than likely, I will be telling you again. I was right about Kerry, Fonda and the cut and runners over 35 years ago. Wanna make book on Rumsfeld and the next 5 years?
Martin Tirrell
'Nam 67-68
Lisbon, New Hampshire

Just saw Mr. Babbin on Kudlow, you sir have my vote for President of this once Great Country.
-- Perry Behrendt

Jed Babbin replies:
Mr. Gingrich, saying that we'd passed through two stages in Iraq (the military stage throwing out Saddam and the democracy-building stage), declaimed that we could not proceed to a third stage until the Bush administration declared the second stage a failure: "If the military, the White House and State Department continue to avoid the word 'failure,' how can you bring about a third stage?" he asked. The Boston Globe reported that Gingrich believed that this presidential statement was a precondition to "develop[ing] a strategy to leave the country successfully."

The problems with Mr. Gingrich's statement are many and varied. How, for starters, would anyone who wants to win the war against Islamofascism formulate the desired end state as to "leave the country successfully"? In order to leave Iraq "successfully" we'd have to give up on the idea of (a) creating democracy there; and (b) more importantly, destroying the threat of Islamofascism by destroying the Syrian and Iranian regimes. Second, would he believe that the president could gather support among voters and Congressional Democrats for anything other than withdrawal by making that admission? No one in Congress, and too few voters, are willing to devote the many years it would take, in the best of circumstances (which don't exist, of course), to build Iraq to the point it could defend and govern itself.

More importantly, how does the former speaker believe that this presidential statement could be made without: (1) totally disheartening Iraqis and destroying support there for our efforts; (2) providing Iran and Syria with a convincing claim of victory over us; (3) providing a tremendous victory for Islamofascism worldwide? I'd like to know.

Syria, as Jameson Campaigne writes correctly, is the source of much of our problem. I didn't mention it here because I've written about it long, hard and almost continuously since mid-2002.

To my pal Hilary Evers, a Merry Christmas and a Happy Shinseki to you. Hil, you of all people, must know that the problem in Iraq has never been the number of troops there, but what we've asked them to do. There has been no misapplication of force other than the principal one: immersing ourselves in the self-created quagmire of nation building. By demanding "success" in Iraq before doing anything about Syria and Iran, we've let the enemy control the pace and direction of the war. If we'd done with Saddam and then removed the regimes of Syria and Iran, we'd be ready to come home carrying our shields, not lying across them or whining about how much or little we've left undone. Or worrying about how long the Potemkin democracy of Iraq will last once we're gone.

To Martin Tirrell, I'd only say that I'd never presume to speak for Mr. Rumsfeld. But I think I've a good enough read of him to know that he'd rather commit ritual sepukku than run for president. (He would be damned good at the job, though. And it would make Hillary and Kerry carpet-chewing mad to have to talk to him from the Oval, rather than across another media stunt hearing table.)

To Mr. Behrendt, let me just say that if nominated I will not run. If elected, well, Don Rumsfeld may just have to come out of retirement. There's a lot left to do.

HARD TO SWALLOW
Re: David Hogberg's Bitter Medicine:

Bitter medicine, indeed. For those of us old enough to have observed the birth of Medicare, I predicted then that it was sowing the seeds for the unhealthy healthcare system we have today. Those who bought the idea of this "entitlement" dictated by age alone, was a solution, are now setting parameters for all health care. The bureaucracy handling the paperwork is staggering and affects every facet of care. The "paper" has become far more important than the patient. Doctors are not "allowed" to treat without that precious paper with the right code number.

For the past two years I've been involved with the care and treatment of my 42-year-old daughter who suffers a very serious illness. The minefield of "allowed" prescriptions has been a personal eye opener. There are times when a Dr. insists on certain branded drugs which best serve her needs. Generics don't always work and if the patient has an advocate, the drug is paid for completely out of pocket. Fine. My concern is that eventually these drugs will not be available in a free market setting for her or anyone else.

Can government-mandated euthanasia be that far behind?
-- Edda Gahm
Diamond Bar, California

And the hits -- as in: the physical, societal and other consequences we're all going to suffer because of the Republicans getting themselves tossed out of Congress' majority -- just keep rolling in!

What is it about Pelosi and the Democrats and liberals that causes them to possess the misconception that they must take something, broken or not, and tinker with us, usually making it even worse? What fracture compels them to believe that bureaucracy and others actually know what's best for us? Why do they keep wanting to stick their fingers in private citizens' lives? Is this all payback to the deep pockets and voting blocks that got them elected? But specifically on healthcare, have they experienced the decision-by-faceless-health-care-providers? If so, why the Dems' and liberals' amnesia?

Whatever the reason(s), they'd be wise to stop. Now, while they still have their short-term majority. But even if they do, this whole notion of Pelosi's attempt to reprise Hillary R. Clinton's damage to the supply and pricing of pharmaceuticals -- and add further agita to Americans' -- should be sufficient impetus for every conservative and Republican to begin today what's needed to displace the new Congressional majority.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

NO CLASS
Re: Reader Mail's (including Carla Ward's letter in) Boorish Pride:

I was disappointed by the support given Senator-elect Webb regarding his behavior during his meeting with the president. One writer actually claimed that Mr. Webb had a right to be offended because President Bush asked him how his "boy" was doing, instead of using the word "son." I cannot imagine that any clear-thinking person could take that word for anything but a term of warmth and affection. Similarly another writer showed a lack of understanding of the term "honor" by repeatedly and incorrectly throwing it in the face of James Bowman. He claimed Mr. Bush should not have said "that's not what I asked you." No sir, in fact Mr. Bush was fully justified in confronting Mr. Webb's poor behavior as a guest when he asked a second time for an answer to his question. If the question was too "personal" a simple, "Fine, thank you," would have sufficed.

Other supporters resorted to the moral equivalency issue, e.g. the Cheney-Leahy encounter, as if the past bad behavior of others somehow excuses Mr. Webb's. This is the standard cop-out of those without a real argument.

Perhaps some of Mr. Webb's indignant supporters should search the Wall Street Journal archives for a here -- ed.] Showing absolutely no imagination (startling for a writer of fiction) he managed in a short column to play the race card, the immigrant card and the class card, yet had the gumption to call Karl Rove a divider! He also took the customary Democrat cheap shot at Wal-Mart. That's just politics, I suppose. But he managed to sink even deeper. In a loathsome display of ingratitude and spitefulness he bashed Ronald Reagan, who did so much for him, with his gratuitous use of the derisive term "trickle down economics" (which, by the way, worked pretty darn well by virtually every measure of economic activity.) He showed a complete lack of class.

Another writer held up Mr. Webb as a graduate of the Naval Academy. That's fine, but I can tell you that one of the very first things you learn as a basic trainee at my alma mater, the Air Force Academy, is the honor code, which states among other things that you will not lie. Along with this is instruction in tact. I know that Annapolis does the same. You don't tell your dinner hosts that the unappealing food they served was barely edible. You tell them it was excellent. Mr. Webb apparently has forgotten this. I guess his liberal supporters would consider such concepts old-fashioned. In their unthinking zeal to "speak truth to power" and mindless need for "authenticity" no amount of rudeness is beyond the pale.

Once in the Senate the thin legislative majorities and presidential veto make it unlikely that many of Mr. Webb's ideas will become law, and he should prepare himself for disappointment. One could have hoped that he had matured in the intervening years since 1988 when he quit in a huff as Secretary of the Navy after serving only nine months because he didn't get his way. Unfortunately, given his recent unmanly behavior that doesn't appear to be the case.
-- Paul M. DeSisto, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

Carla F. Ward' s turgid dissection of every moment of the White House evening leads one to believe she possesses some clairvoyance that enables her to see into the souls of men -- except for that evil George Bush, whom we know, has no soul. Carla knows what motivated all present. Carla, like Santa, knows who's naughty and who's nice.

Is it possible to get the guest list for that function? I'd like to know if Carla was in attendance, either hanging on Webb's arm or lurking behind potted palms with one of those devises that lets you hear conversations the length of a football field away.... or if she is just some rattle-brained campaign worker who can't even enjoy victory, however narrowly won.

There is one other thing I need to know to complete my impression of Jim Webb. I've already got my descriptive term -- it's "that little puissant." Like it? I know he is boorish, a defensive thin-skinned pop-off, but could he be height-challenged, too? He has that banty (we say banty, not bantam in Texas)-rooster smart-ass short-guy look about him. Maybe those were elevator combat boots. Short people have so much going against them -- it's no wonder they are grumpy. Take, when it rains: they are the last to feel it and the first to drown in it.

My apologies to the good short people. My son is one -- one that elected not to wear a chip on his shoulder over the 1-1/2 " he lacked that would have made him the 5'11" that all short men claim to be.

Jim Webb brings out the very worst in everyone -- but not on the scale of Carla, Righter of Wrongs, Defining honor for us. Illuminating ad nauseam. Oh, I gotta read it again just to make sure I understand the true meaning and the real character of that tiny man.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

I was interested in some attribution for the quotes attributed to President Bush and Senator-elect Webb in the letter by Carla Ward. Are we to believe that Ms. Ward was in attendance at the White House affair? In what capacity -- I don't recall her name in the election returns? Did she hear these comments directly? If not, what is the source for her quotations -- is it the senator-elect's staff, or some media outlet, or perhaps a website? An opinion is like a nose -- everyone has one. Without attribution or demonstrated expertise, Ms. Ward gives no real reason for accepting her opinion in lieu of the columnists she derogates.

It is also interesting that she includes "the rest of the country" as supporting her opposition to George Will, James Bowman and R. Emmett Tyrrell. It may interest her to know that some of the people in the rest of the country believe that Virginia voters made a decision that they may live to regret!

Electronically yours,
-- Todd Christian

I admit to not having read Mr. Webb's books, but understand the Senator-elect considers himself a serious writer who researches his subject matter. I presume that before running for Senator of Virginia, he researched which party best fit his style. To his credit, Webb had the good sense to realize that the Democrat party was where he belonged, and ran as one -- even after serving in previous Republican administrations.

unwarranted ugliness towards the President suggests he chose the correct party. This is a man who knows his own mind. And his own feelings, which for the fairer Party are always more important than mere civility. My condolences to the good people of Virginia.
-- GnuCarSmell
Jacksonville, Texas

TOO LATE
Re: Michael Fumento's COPS and Criminals in Ramadi:

Great article, Michael. It's nice to hear a voice with some positive news. The American public should have heard encouraging words all through this war. If there were folks out there with a positive message, basically nothing of substance ever reached the American people. Unfortunately, I think it's too little, too late. The media have thrown in the towel on this war, as have the bulk of our politicians. I feel our president made the correct decision to go to war, but once there we did not give our folks strategizing the war, the power to "get r done" ... and he did not properly fight the war in the public forum. So, thanks for the news, but it's probably too little, too late. However, for the sake of the lives of our troops and Iraqi civilians, I hope they continue on with the COPS.
-- RR
Wisconsin

AHEAD OF HITLER
Re: Gavin Valle's letter (under "Requirements of Vigilance") in Reader Mail's On-Site Experience:

Gavin Valle wrote:

"The fact that Iran possesses a military that is minuscule compared to that of Nazi Germany, as discussed by Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek is also absurd, and utterly irrelevant."

It's not only absurd and irrelevant, it is also incorrect. By every measure, the Iranian military is far larger and more powerful than that of Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933. Limited by the Treaty of Versailles, the German Reichsheer had only 100,000 men in 1933, lacked tanks and had few heavy artillery pieces. The Luftwaffe did not exist. The Kriegsmarine had a handful of obsolete pre- Dreadnaught battleships and light cruisers; it had no U-boats. The situation was little better in 1936, when Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland. In fact, it was well into 1938 before Germany could be considered a sizable military power, and by then it was far too late.

In contrast, the Iranian military today has 400,000 regular troops and 120,000 Revolutionary Guards, 200 high performance military aircraft, over 1200 main battle tanks (including late model T-72s from Russia), hundreds of armored personnel carriers, thousands of heavy artillery pieces, more than 100 tactical ballistic missiles, hundreds more anti-ship cruise missiles, modern long-range air defense systems, and of course, a nascent nuclear and chemical weapons program.

In short, Iran is much more dangerous at this point in our confrontation with it than Germany was at the beginning of France and Britain's with Hitler. It is common among the isolationist set to pooh-pooh comparisons with the Nazis. Three years ago, it was "Saddam is no Hitler." Today, it's "Ahmadinejad is no Hitler." These people fail to realize that in 1933, "Hitler was no Hitler." Better to act too soon than too late.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

ALOOF IN
Re: The Washington Prowler's "Bayh Now" in Earmarking Kansas:

I quote: "Bayh is known to be aloof and less of a team player than some of his colleagues." I thought those were prerequisites to be in the Senate. That, and in order to be a member in good standing, each had to make an unsuccessful run for the Presidency.

I know. I have a really low opinion of Senators, but I am improving; I used to think much worse of them!
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

WHAT'S FOR DESSERT?
Re: Lawrence Henry's Holiday Dinner Reconsidered:

..and thanks again, Larry , for not inviting us to dinner.
-- W. Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

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