Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Would You Buy a Used War From These Men?

Here is Digby of Hullabaloo on the reality behind the president's "surge" initiative:
Fred Barnes just said that it's not true that the joint chiefs unanimously oppose an escalation of the war--it's that they are afraid Bush won't send enough troops to get the job done and that if it's a temporary escalation, the whole place will fall apart after we pull those troops back out.

He didn't think those were important differences of opinion, naturally, because he has once again cast his lot with Junior, but really, these are huge and serious concerns.

It's clear that Bush is listening to these armchair Napoleons because they are saying that he can "win" if he just sends in a few more troops for a few months and claps louder. And his generals are all saying that the only way he can "win" is with a massive new army that stays in Iraq forever. That is the reality based choice for "winning." Period. And it isn't going to happen because 70% of the country have wised up to the fact that this pony hunt is making the country less safe and it's costing us our future.
Maybe you're getting tired of Iraq/Vietnam analogies, but it seems to me that we are in much the same place we were in May, 1967, when I.F. Stone wrote this:
Let us put the case in the most hard-boiled terms. The United States can win this war in Vietnam if it is prepared to put in a million men, or more, and then to slug it out patiently year after year until the guerrillas are worn down. It can win if it deliberately de-escalates the firepower and meets the guerrillas on their own terms, in close combat, instead of alienating the entire population with indiscriminate artillery and airpower. A nation of 30 million cannot defeat a nation of 200 million if the bigger nation cares enough to pay the price of victory and has the patience to to pursue it. The key is patience, and patience is what the United States lacks. It is not just the signs of popular opposition to the war which encourage the other side. It is the visible impatience. Even our hawks don't like the war and want to get it over with as quickly as possible. For us the war is a nuisance. For them the war is a matter of life-and-death. They are prepared to die for their country. We are prepared to die for our country too--if it were attacked--but not for the mere pleasure of destroying theirs. This is why they have the advantage of morale, and for this General Dynamics cannot provide a substitute.
The realistic proviso from the Joint Chiefs today and from I.F. Stone in 1967 is what the neocons and the "armchair Napoleons" will never acknowledge. In years to come, after the inevitable failure of our current half-hearted effort, the withdrawal, and the likely emergence of an Iraq ruled by some anti-American, Islamist tyrant--after all this, the right-wingers will launch the same kind of "liberals lost the war" propaganda assault they created after the collapse of Vietnam. And a large chunk of the general public will swallow the line that "we could have won in Iraq"--unaware of the unspoken proviso: " . . . if only we'd committed a million men and women for at least the rest of the decade."

It would be nice if, one day, the tough guys on the right, from McCain and Giuliani on down, would run for office on a platform that discloses, in advance, the true costs of the military adventures they espouse. The only question to be decided on Election Day would be whether they'd lose to Hillary or Obama by more or less than twenty percentage points.

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