May 2008

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« Man Marries Dog | Main | I’m Sorry I Destroyed Your Country »


matt mcknight

To the broader question- the cost has already been too high to justify the outcome, so staying the course is already the wrong choice.

No one can accept the assumption that the "surge" is "working". It's easy to prove that something isn't working, but it is hard to prove that any X is the cause of Y. For example, the surge obviously wasn't working a couple of months ago, because the violence was higher than it was prior to the surge. Now the violence is lower, but we can't assume that it was because of the surge. Perhaps the policy of segregating Baghdad is further along, perhaps many idiots have killed each other, perhaps the recent restrictions on mercenaries have kept them from antagonizing people, etc. Without considering other factors, can you honestly think the surge is working??? So, I don't think I would ever say the surge is working.


As an illustrious man once wrote, and I believe he was also referring to Bush, one of my favorite quotes ever:

"A broken clock is right twice a day too!"

I'm not sure the phrase is originally his but I read it in this cute little blog by some dude called Scott Adams!

It's a much better phrase than that squirrel one.


"And could Iraq’s experience with al-Qaeda be the death blow to al-Qaeda’s credibility with other extremists in the region?"

Well, in Iraq, Al-Qaeda is not Iraqi, its a foreign group. If the Iraqis get fed up and ask Al-Qaeda to leave, they're just as fed up of them as they are with the Americans ... so why does the surge get credit for that??


I would be surprised and amazed that it actually worked, but I couldn't bring myself to endorse "invading a country and declaring martial law" as a justification for spreading peace.

I disagree with an assessment of "even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut" in this case, because it wasn't as if he invaded Iraq on accident, or happened to be in the neighborhood and stopped by with thousands of tactically armed guests. I think "even Stalin revolutionized a country" might be more descriptive.


@Joe: "Imagine you hired a contractor to renovate your house." Great analogy! I wish I had read this before my first comment of my own.


Latecomer, but...
No credit, and here's why:
If you pound on a rock with a hammer, eventually you will be able to break the rock. It may take a larger hammer, but eventually you will be able to crack it or pulverize it.

The issue at stake is in the choice of why you are trying to break the rock, not whether you were able to (eventually) break it down.

Being able to (again, eventually) break it down means next to nothing, as anyone with enough money and time to waste on the project of breaking a given rock could pulverize it.


No, I wouldn't give Bush credit for that. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Broken presidencies? Maybe right twice every eight years. But when was the other time he might have been right?


Some thing must be going right in Iraq. (suddenly their defaulted bonds are trading up, like 60 cents on the dollar from 50 cents on the dollar)


I am not American, nor did I read all the posts, but the consensus seems to be 'No'

There's probably some great wisdom to be gained from this poll, but with the limited amount of time I have to spend on this, I must admit that I merely find it mildly amusing (but worthwile nonetheless)


If it keeps these assholes from killing more people for no reason? I'd give em the peace prize.
Hey Georgie! Great Job!If ya knock it off now I got a peace Prize for ya!
Nothing else has seemed to stop these rabid dogs.



How stupid and ignorant are you? India was the richest and most advanced country in the world before the Brits can here. They looted the country and killed its culture. They didnot work to "stabilise" the region. On the contrary, they worked to destabilise it. "Divide and rule" as they call it. The poverty and misery in India is utterly and completely due to British occupation. Read your history before you go shooting your mouth like that.

Steven McDaniel

As far as armchair generals being able to find something to criticise about the ones actually responsible for the outcome in the real world is concerned, yes, any blind squirrel can find a nut, and vice versa.


Yes, of course. It's the intellectually honest thing to do. But, the opportunity cost in lives, treasure and our relationships was too high.

For France or a Commonwealth nation, it would be worth it. For Iraq, no way.

In any case, "taking credit" by the Administration is too akin to an incompetent mechanic finally getting the wheel alignment right on your Ford Fiesta after a year in the shop and $200,000 in charges.


"For today, answer the hypothetical: IF staying the course works, and you had been a critic of it, will you give President Bush and his team credit for doing this part right?"

Define "works". The problem is as the New York Times very clearly summed it up in an editorial yesterday:

"There have been some advances since President Bush sought to salvage his misadventure by sending even more troops into Iraq. Violence has declined and Al Qaeda in Iraq is said to be weaker. But Mr. Bush’s main argument for his escalation — that it would create political space for Iraqis to work together and achieve national reconciliation — has proved wrong."

Not a single American soldier should have to die for Iraqi democracy. In this case, fewer deaths are still too many, and still constitute a mistake. Deposing Hussein was not in America's interest, nor is perpetuating the occupation--in any form.

It is quite understandable that the Shia would not wish to share power with the Sunnis. It is just too bad that the Bush Administration is coming to understand this very late in the game. Now what? We cannot impose peace, let alone democracy. It's a hornet's nest. I've said for years the solution is turning over control to the United Nations and the Arab League. Our nationalism forfends . . . to our peril.


"Suppose patience and more force, along with the natural learning curve on how to operate over there, were all the Iraqis needed to get to relative peace? "

THE SURGE WAS NOT PRIMARILY ABOUT MORE FORCE!!! Why do so many people think this?? Gah!!

It is so frustrating to see this, there are conference calls with military guys every day, talking about the TACTICAL change that has led to so much progress. The media, of course, ignores them.

Instead of sitting in huge bases, U.S. forces are estblishing lots of little joint US/Iraqi garrisons, from which they maintain constant contact with the locals. This has made the locals, 90% of whom just want to live in peace, much more willing to help our forces, both with tips and Concerned Citizen groups (like neighborhood watch with AK-47s), against extremists and militias. That has led to a huge drop in violence.


One thign I've never quite got is how "surge" meaning more troops for a short period, is better then more troops full stop. The problem I see is that in a country of the size and population of Iraq the allied forces are trying to keep the peace with a very small number of thinly spread troops, which is why groups with medieval mindsets and weapons and tactics worse then WW2 are causing a problem for some of the best equipped armies in the world. What we need is more troops parmanently as far as I can see, as the invasion plans drastically underestimated the size of force needed.

Though I wouldn't give Bush much credit if it does work, but only beacause anyone in his situation would have to saty in because it's obvious things will be a far worse mess if we leave now.


I guess the one success of the Iraq mess is that it sends a message to other countries that may have been thinking about letting Al-Qaeda settle there, that the US is run by a moron who will invade at the drop of a hat without thinking or caring about the consequences.


We're essentially talking about giving him credit for trying to swim to the side of the shark infested sea he parachuted us into while we were still hung over from the big chum-wrestling party.

The only good solution for Iraq is a time machine. Unless we've got one, there's nothing for it but to gut this out.

Eric Murphy

Imagine you hired a contractor to renovate your house. You started out with a rather run-down, but still serviceable, four-bedroom, two-bath spit entrance ranch.

The contractor starts the project by essentially leveling your entire house with explosives. You end up living in a tent in the back yard, with no plumbing, no electricity, no heat. Heavy machinery is constantly tearing up the yard, sometimes backing over your tent, and once a back-hoe accidentally killed your dog.

Ten years drag by, while you live in your tent. You live through drenching rains, blizzards, and heat waves, year after year. Your youngest child dies of dysentery from the lack of sanitation. You can't work, because without plumbing you can't bathe or wash your clothes. The contractor makes very slow progress, because as becomes clear very early on, he has no idea how to build houses.

Finally, twelve years later, you end up with a reasonably okay home, which now in addition to the four bedrooms and two baths, has a patio, pool, and two-car garage. Unfortunately, your wife has left you, your two youngest children are dead, and you have to re-enter the job market after being unemployable for a dozen years.

Does your contractor get credit for building you a nice new house? How much credit?

Now, let's assume that you didn't hire this particular contractor. He just sort of appointed himself as your contractor, and rebuilt your house for you, unasked, while you shivered in a tent for a decade. How much credit do you think the contractor gets now?

Michael Blank

No, I would not give him credit for doing this one thing right. It was forced upon him due to overwhelming pressure. He had been given the advice by multiple military advisors that more troops were needed from the beginning and did not react to it till pressure from the public, congress and polls combined to force some action.


IF staying the course works, and you had been a critic of it, will you give President Bush and his team credit for doing this part right? ... EVENTUALLY.

There I fixed it for you. Hopefully the surge will work out great, but that doesn't excuse the administration for their incompetence before they decided to implement the surge.


It was touted by everyone that Reagon's policies brought down the Soviet Union by outspending them on the space race and then they collapsed. To this, I say "Any blind squirrel can find a nut!"

Dilbert's Rabbi

I HATE it when he makes sense!!


I would be delighted if we were able to stabilize Iraq under any circumstances and would gladly give Bush credit for finally getting it right after mucking about making things worse for 4 years. Two big caveats
1. Things would have to be provably, sustainably better across Iraq. No partial credit, no credit for lies. If this administration says water is wet I'm going to want to stick my finger in to test it.
2. There's always the asterisk - the best possible accolade I could ever give would be "After 4 years of wasted lives, time, and money due to poor planning, Bush finally put together an approach that achieved his original aims and proved his original goal to be correct."

I guess, when you spend 4 years fumbling around and lying about it, you don't get credit for "holding on" without big negatives for screwing it up for all that time. But still - I would be thrilled if he could pull it off.

John Elliot

> Reagan just happened to be in the White House when it finally happened.

The funny thing is that he wasn't. George H.W. Bush was. Reagan was deified by the Republicans for less than clear reasons. Maybe it was because he rode an evangelical wave to the White House. Maybe it was because he was a mentally unsound man that was so superstitious he allowed a diviner to determine his schedule, or that he was so out of touch that he oversaw a corrupt administration that sold weapons to Iran to fund terrorists in Nicaragua. Maybe it was just the well-staged symbolic theater, which partisans eat up as great evidence that the clowns we elect to the highest office are actually competent.

Whatever it was, it is easily the funniest aspect of the Republican Party.

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