Another Iraq column

Bush_honor_guard_1Support for U.S. Iraq effort and
support for Bush not the same

By BRAD WARTHEN
Editorial Page Editor
IT’S OK TO WANT the United States to succeed in Iraq, and still disapprove of President Bush. Really. It’s allowed.
    You don’t have to feel guilty if the president’s energy, tax and spending policies make you go “nookeelar,” but you understand that what matters in public policy is what you do with the situation you’re in — not the situation you would be in if you could rewrite history.
There’s nothing wrong with you.
    In fact, you owe it to your country to separate your feelings about Mr. Bush from your knowledge that failure in Iraq is not an option. It also helps if you have a clear grasp of the cold fact that he will be the president until 2009.
The single most important challenge, foreign or domestic, facing this country is to succeed in helping the Iraqi people build a free, safe and stable place to live. At the same time, the country needs another president — one just as committed to the mission, but with a clearer idea of how to accomplish it — to take over.
    But that can’t happen for almost three years. Given recent defeatist poll results, holding out that long is a tall order. But opinion that shifts one way can shift the other. That’s why every word I write about Iraq is aimed at persuading anyone I can reach that we must remain committed.
That’s what I tried to do in that super-long column we ran Sunday — to summarize all the reasons why, and how they connect.
    The response was mostly encouraging. Blog respondents who slap me around on a regular basis said complimentary things — even some who disagree.
    “Brad, this is a very thoughtful and well-organized argument for your viewpoint on Iraq,” wrote Phillip. “Of course, as you know, I disagree with most of it, but won’t rehash all of that here, just wanted to give you props for the good column.” Thanks, Phillip.
    Of course, we still had “Mary Rosh” out there to say, “Once again Warthen proves what a lazy, cowardly, hypocritical piece of garbage he is.” Mary’s not reachable.
    What worried me more was LeRoy, whom I seem to have reached, and yet not: “Sorry Brad but your sentiments are misplaced. True we are now in Iraq and unfortunately stuck there for several decades…. However to stay there with the same team that ‘had the best intentions in the world’ is misplaced loyalty.”
    How can he agree that we can’t leave, but interpret such commitment as support for the “team” that led us there? And what does he propose as an alternative to riding out the next three years with this team?
    “BLSAiken” wrote: “The President as much as admitted the other day that it will take another president to close out the mess he’s made. Brad makes some substantively good points, but it’s moot until the present band of nincompoops, including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc., are out of office.”
    I’m anxious for another crew to take over, too. I don’t think those guys (and I’ll get to Ms. Rice in a moment) are “nincompoops,” but I think they have made far too many mistakes after the invasion. And Mr. Rumsfeld should have been replaced long ago. I made that clear in my Sunday column.
    But I didn’t go on and on about it.
Why? There’s no point. In late 2003, I begged for a candidate
to step forward and offer a credible alternative to the incumbent. I wrote out a long litany of what was wrong with the president.
But that was then, when there was a chance to replace him. That chance is gone.
    Bush-haters have fantasies of impeachment, or censure. This is idiotic. If he were impeached, Dick Cheney would be his replacement. (No, Virginia, they wouldn’t go out together.) And you couldn’t impeach both before their terms end. All you would accomplish is to weaken the United States in a time of war. Ditto with censure.
    We are already badly weakened. War/Bush opponents may have succeeded in infecting a majority with despair and defeatism, despite the relative success on the ground in Iraq. Even the Bush administration occasionally exhibits this battle-weariness; it was disturbing to hear Ms. Rice saying we might draw down in the near future.
    All of this plays into the hands of those who mean us nothing but ill — and want nothing but oppression for the Mideast.
    A Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday described the thinking of a leading foreign policy strategist in Iran’s radical Islamist government:

    “To hear (Hassan) Abbasi tell it the entire recent history of the U.S. could be narrated with the help of the image of ‘the last helicopter.’ It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter had five helicopters fleeing from the Iranian desert…. Under Ronald Reagan the helicopters carried the bodies of 241 Marines murdered in their sleep…. Under the first President Bush, the helicopter flew from Safwan, in southern Iraq, with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf aboard, leaving behind Saddam Hussein’s generals, who could not believe… they had been allowed (to) live to fight their domestic foes, and America, another day. Bill Clinton’s helicopter was a Black Hawk, downed in Mogadishu….

    “According to this theory, President George W. Bush is an ‘aberration,’ a leader out of sync with his nation’s character and no more than a brief nightmare…”

    Mr. Abbasi is anxiously waiting for that “last helicopter” to leave Iraq, so that he and his ilk can fill the vacuum. I’m hoping and praying Mr. Bush will keep sticking it out, and that his successor will exhibit equal resolve, but greater effectiveness.
    This nation’s great tragedy is that far too many Americans agree so strongly with Mr. Abbasi that the president is a “nightmare” that they, too, long to see that “last helicopter” take off, because they badly want to see Mr. Bush fail.
    Hate the president if you insist. I wouldn’t recommend it — since he’s the only president we’ve got, you’re much more likely to influence policy by constituting a rational, loyal opposition than by foaming at the mouth. But that’s between you and him.
    I beg you, though: However you feel about the president, please love your country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq. For all the reasons I wrote about Sunday, there simply is no good alternative. Don’t just “support the troops”; that’s a cop-out. Support what they’re doing, the goals they give their blood, sweat and tears for. They deserve that much. So do the rest of us.

22 thoughts on “Another Iraq column

  1. Dave

    Brad, You are identifying the main underlying problem of the Bush haters who are using the Iraq war as a political fulcrum to attack the president. I would say that any person out there in reader land that needs to be begged to love this country has a much bigger problem than hating Bush and his policies. Not in all cases, but in many cases the young people in America have no remembrance or connection to the US military and the pride and honor our flag carries. So we see Mexican illegals and likely Mexican-Americans burning the US flag in the middle of Los Angeles. On a more subtle basis, we see high schoolers sit instead of stand during the national anthem at sporting events while leaving their hats on in a derisive and hateful display against their own nation and heritage. No one knows completely why we have so many anti-Americans living within America but my hunch is it is a combined result of the media where the country’s business and military are commonly portrayed as villainous, public schools where efforts continue to demonize the “white racist” ethnic European founders, the secular humanist attacks on the core Christianity of this nation via the ACLU and others. Finally, in an indirect way, the cheapening of life overall with over 1 million abortions permitted each year has taken its toll.

    Hopefully your appeals will hit home with a few of the readers. But from what I read from the Bush bashers they consider him to be the true terrorist of the world and these minds wont be changed in any short time span. Recently I read the post from Captain Yanity who is home now. Her comments are insightful about the disrespect for her honored service to this nation and the lack of American public appreciation for US efforts to help the world so unselfishly. That is really telling.

    Reply
  2. Doug

    Brad,
    The issue I have with today’s column is that your basic premise seems to be that for the good of the country, Americans should disregard everything that has happened so far in the “War on Terror” and instead focus on the objective of defeating terrorism. You’re asking Americans to:
    Ignore Colin Powell’s detailed presentation to the U.N., complete with satellite photos, charts, maps, documents, etc. which apparently had no basis in truth…
    Ignore “Mission Accomplished” and Bush’s “Maverick” impersonation…
    Ignore the calculated propaganda surrounding the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman stories…
    Ignore Dick Cheney’s constant “last throes” hype…
    Ignore Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo…
    Ignore the fact that this “war” has cost an order of magnitude more than anyone in the current administration estimated…
    Ignore the fact that Saddam and Osama are
    still alive while thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead…
    Ignore the fact that a single Muslim who chose to convert to Christianity in a supposedly free Afghanistan caused an international incident… do we really think their version of democracy is going to be like ours?
    This is George Bush’s war. You can’t separate the objective from the person who is ultimately responsible for achieving the objective. In my view, the track record so far has been less than stellar. What makes you think it’s going to be different over the next two plus years?
    For all war supporters, take a moment and reflect on what your level of support will be for this war if Hillary is President in 2008. I am assuming you will all rally round the President in that situation, too, right?
    Asking George Bush to lead us in the war on terror is like asking Andre Bauer to drive a school bus.

    Reply
  3. Ready to Hurl

    Brad your column today confirms that you’re a useful idiot for the right wing. Certainly you’re more subtle than, say, Malkin or Coulter, who portray anti-Iraq folks as traitors, but, really, you’re just singing the same song in minor note.
    You smear the opposition, including such Pentagon stalwarts as John Murtha, as “infecting the majority with despair and defeatism.” In your world, we can’t even censure Bush for lying to us and leading the nation to war on fraudulent grounds. Why? Because we’d be “weakening” the nation “in a time of war.” You don’t even miss repeating the administration talking point about “relative success on the ground.”
    In reality, you and the rabid blind followers of this administration weaken the nation. The President isn’t above the law– even when we have soldiers fighting overseas. (Let me know when any administration decides to follow the U.S. Constitution and formally declare war.) If lying to the American people in order to invade another country isn’t an impeachable offense (committed by both Bush and Cheney, btw, so simultaneous trials would be appropriate) then I suppose that this republic has run it’s course.
    I don’t say the above because I “hate” Bush , Cheney, Republicans, or the right wing. I don’t advocate withdrawal because I “hate” America. I don’t oppose this administration’s bungling in Iraq because it’s incompetent or for partisan goals, as you allege.
    I support Murtha’s plan because it’s the best realistic option that Bush’s diasterous adventure has left for America.
    Realism is the key, here, Brad. Despite your delusions, keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is part of the problem– not part of the solution.
    Here’s the root problem: the neo-cons and a few liberal hawks never drew the correct conclusions from Vietnam. First, we can’t impose democracy by force within any realistic time frame. Second, when we must use force to remedy a situation it must be the last option; we should enlist serious allies; and, we should have clearly defined goals, including an exit strategy.
    The neo-cons reject all the lessons so painfully learned in Vietnam. You and the cons just think that Americans have “lost their will” and that “traitors” in our midst sabotage our adventures in international aggression. Too bad that you can’t recognize reality but instead sling insults.
    Finally, here’ a quote from a most surprising source that sums up reality (and illustrates the level of Machiavellian deceit that neo-cons were willing to sink to).
    “We cannot ignore the uncomfortable fact that economic and social cirucumstances may better prepare some countries for democracy than others. […] Oddly, we seem to have forgotten what Vietnam should have taught us about the limitations of ‘nation building.’ Promoting democracy requires attention to specific circumstances and to the limitations of U.S. leverage. Both because of what the United States is , and because of what is possible, we cannot engage either in promoting democracy or in nationbuilding as an exercise in will. We must proceed by interaction, indirection, not imposition. In this respect, post-World War II experiences with Germany and Japan offer misleading guides to what is possible now, even in a period of American primacy.”
    We should give the current Iraqi government two months to decide the nation’s future. We shouldn’t eliminate any options, even Muslim theocracy or regional seccesion. Our troops should be out in 12 months.
    Sadly, the lives sacrificed in the neo-cons’ misguided war probably won’t buy what was promised: American security and Jeffersonian democracy for Iraq. But those goals were never possible. They were delusions of blind ideological fanatics who were willing to commit fraud to implement their ideology. What we need now is stability in the region so that international terrorists can’t take over another disfunctional state.
    BTW, that quote is from Paul Wolfowitz, circa 2000. That’s when he thought that Bush was opposed to “nation-building.”

    Reply
  4. kc

    This nation’s great tragedy is that far too many Americans agree so strongly with Mr. Abbasi that the president is a “nightmare” that they, too, long to see that “last helicopter” take off, because they badly want to see Mr. Bush fail.
    Do they teach mind-reading in J-school?

    Reply
  5. Ready to Hurl

    Brad your column today confirms that you’re a useful idiot for the right wing. Certainly you’re more subtle than, say, Malkin or Coulter, who portray anti-Iraq folks as traitors, but, really, you’re just singing the same song in minor note.
    You smear the opposition, including such Pentagon stalwarts as John Murtha, as “infecting the majority with despair and defeatism.” In your world, we can’t even censure Bush for lying to us and leading the nation to war on fraudulent grounds. Why? Because we’d be “weakening” the nation “in a time of war.” You don’t even miss repeating the administration talking point about “relative success on the ground.”
    In reality, you and the rabid blind followers of this administration weaken the nation. The President isn’t above the law– even when we have soldiers fighting overseas. (Let me know when any administration decides to follow the U.S. Constitution and formally declare war.) If lying to the American people in order to invade another country isn’t an impeachable offense (committed by both Bush and Cheney, btw, so simultaneous trials would be appropriate) then I suppose that this republic has run it’s course.
    I don’t say the above because I “hate” Bush , Cheney, Republicans, or the right wing. I don’t advocate withdrawal because I “hate” America. I don’t oppose this administration’s bungling in Iraq because it’s incompetent or for partisan goals, as you allege.
    I support Murtha’s plan because it’s the best realistic option that Bush’s diasterous adventure has left for America.
    Realism is the key, here, Brad. Despite your delusions, keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is part of the problem– not part of the solution.
    Here’s the root problem: the neo-cons and a few liberal hawks never drew the correct conclusions from Vietnam. First, we can’t impose democracy by force within any realistic time frame. Second, when we must use force to remedy a situation it must be the last option; we should enlist serious allies; and, we should have clearly defined goals, including an exit strategy.
    The neo-cons reject all the lessons so painfully learned in Vietnam. You and the cons just think that Americans have “lost their will” and that “traitors” in our midst sabotage our adventures in international aggression. Too bad that you can’t recognize reality but instead sling insults.
    Finally, here’ a quote from a most surprising source that sums up reality (and illustrates the level of Machiavellian deceit that neo-cons were willing to sink to).
    “We cannot ignore the uncomfortable fact that economic and social cirucumstances may better prepare some countries for democracy than others. […] Oddly, we seem to have forgotten what Vietnam should have taught us about the limitations of ‘nation building.’ Promoting democracy requires attention to specific circumstances and to the limitations of U.S. leverage. Both because of what the United States is , and because of what is possible, we cannot engage either in promoting democracy or in nationbuilding as an exercise in will. We must proceed by interaction, indirection, not imposition. In this respect, post-World War II experiences with Germany and Japan offer misleading guides to what is possible now, even in a period of American primacy.”
    We should give the current Iraqi government two months to decide the nation’s future. We shouldn’t eliminate any options, even Muslim theocracy or regional seccesion. Our troops should be out in 12 months.
    Sadly, the lives sacrificed in the neo-cons’ misguided war probably won’t buy what was promised: American security and Jeffersonian democracy for Iraq. But those goals were never possible. They were delusions of blind ideological fanatics who were willing to commit fraud to implement their ideology. What we need now is stability in the region so that international terrorists can’t take over another disfunctional state.
    BTW, that quote is from Paul Wolfowitz, circa 2000. That’s when he thought that Bush was opposed to “nation-building.”

    Reply
  6. kc

    That’s why every word I write about Iraq is aimed at persuading anyone I can reach that we must remain committed.
    Yes, repeating “failure is not an option” is very persuasive. As is your patronizing tone.

    Reply
  7. Mary Rosh

    In referring to Warthen as a “lazy, cowardly, hypocritical piece of garbage,” I omitted his most salient characteristic. Warthen is a lazy, cowardly, hypocritical, DISHONEST piece of garbage. I followed my introduction with considerable, closely reasoned analysis, giving considerable support for the idea that the war in Iraq is bad for the country, as well as support for the proposition that Warthen supports the war only because he doesn’t bear any of the costs. Warthen dishonestly pretends that this analysis wasn’t there, because he has no counterargument to present. Warthen pretends that I’m “not reachable,” when the fact he ignores is that I’m not reachable by the arguments he is making – primarily, assumptions without evidence that the Iraq war is good for the United States and that opposing the Iraq war is the same as opposing the interests of the United States. Of course I’m not reachable by such arguments. No loyal American is reachable by any such arguments. I’m reachable only by honest arguments. Warthen has none to make, so to him, I’m “not reachable.”
    This remark of Warthen’s:
    “I beg you, though: However you feel about the president, please love your country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq.”
    tells us everything about him that we need to know. He can’t present any sound or honest argument in favor of his viewpoint, so he pretends that support of his view and love of America are the same thing. They’re not, of course, just the opposite.
    Warthen does not bear any of the costs of the Iraq war. He is not willing to fight in it, nor has he ever been willing to fight in any of the numerous military engagements he has advocated while sitting on his sofa and watching television. He does not bear any of the financial costs of the war, or make any other financial contribution to America. He is a hanger-on and a freeloader, but has the temerity to accuse people like me, whose taxes support both him personally, and the war he advocates from the safety of his sofa, of not loving America.
    All the costs of the course of action Warthen advocates are borne by others; none are borne by him. Those costs are seriously damaging to America, and they have severely compromised our ability to respond to real threats. The best course for America is to figure out the least damaging way to leave Iraq and undertake to accomplish it.
    Wathen would have you believe that someone who advocates such a course doesn’t “love America enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq.” He’s too cowardly to admit that all his explanations about why the mission is “crucial” are dishonest and therefore fail, so he conflates love of America and support of the ” crucial” mission.
    And of course, Warthen would not be Warthen if he didn’t dishonestly use our solders to protect his viewpoint from criticism.
    “Don’t just “support the troops”; that’s a cop-out. Support what they’re doing, the goals they give their blood, sweat and tears for. They deserve that much. So do the rest of us.”
    No, supporting the troops is not a cop-out. Supporting the troops is supporting their willingness to carry out the orders they are given without, in their capacity as soldiers, judging those orders. If we do not support what they’re doing, if we think it is wrong, counterproductive, or excessively costly, it is our obligation to oppose it, not to support it.
    If a policy is harmful to the United States, it’s harmful to the United States, even if our troops are being ordered to carry it out. By attempting to use our soldiers to abort the analysis of whether a policy is harmful to the United States, Warthen once again shows his disloyalty and cowardice.

    Reply
  8. Phillip

    Brad, you talk about it being a “cop-out” for a person to say they support the troops but not their mission. Well, (and this is for you, too, Dave) I feel that it is a cop-out to dismiss opposition to Iraq policy as simply being due to some kind of irrational hatred of the person of George W. Bush. “RTH” above explains this point well, above. Dave writes of “the Bush haters who are using the Iraq war as a political fulcrum to attack the president.” He has it exactly 100% backwards, but I assume he prefers to see it that way because he can take the depth and breadth of opposition to Iraq policy less seriously that way. Let’s imagine GWB resigned tomorrow, but the team stayed in place and the policy continued as before. There might be a brief “honeymoon of hope” for the new Prez, but if things continued as they had been in Iraq, he or she would soon be the focal point of strong opposition, as W is now. It’s the policy, not the man!
    Seeing that we’re up to 53 comments (as of this moment) on Brad’s Sunday Iraq column, and reading the passionately-held but widely differing views, it makes me think about how divided the country has become. Interesting, then, to be reminded of an even more bitterly divided time, by this news headline 38 years ago today. But, just as I’m thinking the country is starting to approach that level of division, I’m reminded this morning that maybe the US is more united than I thought.

    Reply
  9. james potter

    i think you are now whistling in the dark. the invasion of iraq is inevitably entwined with president bush. separating the ytwo can be an intellectual exercise, but not reality. i am always disconcerted with the analogy to the helicopters leaving saigon as being some sort of precipitous withdrawal from vietnam–we had advisors in vietnam in early 60s and committed ground troops in 1965, we vietnamized in 1969 and only in 1975 did we have to evacuate by helicopter. it certainly did not look good but we invested a generation of youth and a boatload of money in the effort. as to the iraq war, it will wind down with troop withdrawals and the next president (who is not totally associated with the invasion) justifying our leaving that little place of heaven. the argument you make would have been quite useful in the run up to the war, now it is too late to raise (with the possible exception that if a major terrorist action takes place in the us or in europe we and others may have to revisit our strategy). other wise your editorial will simply be a footnote , like ones from the vietnam era , supporting a policy in which many americans have spurned.

    Reply
  10. Lee

    Now that we know that one our spies inside Saddam’s top echelon gave us WMD details which matched exactly the places we found…
    …. and we have 3,000 pages of new transcripts of their WMD programs as late as 2002, and…
    …. we have videotape of Saddam discussing the WMD he hid from UN inspectors…
    … it is about time the Seditious Left dropped the lies about there being no WMD.

    Reply
  11. Ready to Hurl

    I think that it’s about time for full o’ crap Lee to explain the elephant in the room: WHERE ARE THESE WMD AND THE PEOPLE THAT MADE THEM?
    BTW, Lee, when you stop calling people who disagree with your political opinions “seditious” then I’ll stop calling you names.
    Jerk.

    Reply
  12. Capital A

    It’s called spectral evidence, Hurly. Unprovable, but damning…for accused and accuser.
    You’d think we’d have learned something from the Salem witch trials or the McCarthy hearings.
    In related news, did you hear some adults wanted to banish the reading of well-established classics?

    Reply
  13. Lee

    Having a silly opinion doesn’t make someone seditious. Having a predisposition to believe lies about our troops, and to spread lies about the war against our enemies, is seditious.

    Reply
  14. Lee

    Bill Clinton Aided Iran in Quest for Nukes
    Thursday, April 13, 2006
    In a hairbrained scheme that was personally approved by then-President Clinton, the CIA deliberately gave Iranian physicists blueprints for part of a nuclear bomb that likely helped Tehran advance its nuclear weapons development program.
    The allegation, detailed recently in the book “State of War,” by New York Times reporter James Risen, comes as the Iranian nuclear crisis turns white hot, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
    boasting ominously on Wednesday that his nation has joined the world’s nuclear club.
    Reports Risen: “It’s not clear who originally came up with the idea [to give Tehran nuclear
    blueprints], but the plan was first approved by Clinton.”
    Beginning in February 2000, the CIA recruited a Russian scientist who had defected to the US years earlier. His mission: Take the nuclear blueprints to Vienna to sell them – or simply give them – to the Iranian representatives for the International Atomic Energy Agency.
    Dubbed “Operation Merlin,” the plan was supposed to steer Iranian physicists off track by
    incorporating design flaws in the blueprints that would render the information worthless.
    But in what may turn out to be one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of all time, Operation Merlin backfired when the Russian scientist spotted the design flaws immediately – and even offered to help Iran fix the problems.
    Risen said the Clinton-approved plan ended up handing Tehran “one of the greatest engineering secrets in the world, providing the solution to one of a handful of problems that separated nuclear powers
    such as the United States and Russia from rogue countries such as Iran that were desperate to join the nuclear club but had so far fallen short.”
    He noted that thanks to the bizarre operation, Iran could now “leapfrog one of the last remaining engineering hurdles blocking its path to a nuclear weapon.”
    Ironically, Risen’s New York Times has declined to cover Mr. Clinton’s Iranian debacle –
    concentrating instead on his book’s other revelation: President Bush’s decision to authorize the NSA to monitor terrorist phone calls inside the U.S.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0743270665?v=glance
    http://www.drudgereport.com/flash9nyt.htm

    Reply
  15. Mary Rosh

    Lee, articles from newspapers like the D.T. Daily, the Shantytown Sentinel, the Crystal Meth Clarion, and the OxyContin Observer don’t count.

    Reply
  16. Lee

    No paper that prints facts counts with socialist idealogues. Witness Red Mary’s calling the Boston Globe and NY Times “liars” when they print facts supportive of the Republicans she hates.

    Reply
  17. Mary Rosh

    Lee, what is this “Red Mary” business? I pay more taxes to the federal government than I receive in services. YOU are a shiftless freeloader who lives off of handouts paid for out of MY taxes.

    Reply
  18. Lee

    Yet another window into the hateful dementia of the modern “liberal”, tormented by imaginary boogeymen in the Cracker States.

    Reply

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