Flutterby™! : Petraeus and Buzzell on the war

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Petraeus and Buzzell on the war

2007-05-18 16:52:04.951883+00 by Dan Lyke 12 comments

I have mixed feelings over the United States' occupation of Iraq. I believe that it was a mistake to get involved over there, that the United States was blindly mislead (see my previous entry) despite the truth being above the fold on the front page of the New York Times, and that the primary purpose of this war is to line the pockets of the cronies of the current corrupt administration.

On the other hand, I rather believe that we as a nation bear some responsibility for un-fucking the situation over in Iraq. The current administration is obviously incapable of being the driving force behind that, but maybe if we had a president who was willing to stand up and say (and believe) the same things that General David Petraeus has said about values (source) we could regain the moral high ground and have a prayer of being a positive uniting force, rather than a common enemy.

And it's especially tough when I read Some Soldier's Mom on the Democratic response to the Bush Administration's fuck-ups and find myself agreeing with parts of her argument:

Forget why or how we got there. Inside the four corners of the box WE ARE THERE and whether it was intended or not, our military presence is keeping millions of Iraqis alive and if we leave, they will die.

and empathizing with her desire to know that the sacrifices that her offspring have made are worth something.

At any rate, this musing was started by hearing Colby Buzzell on some radio station and thinking that his book, My War: Killing Time In Iraq[Wiki], would be worth a read.

And we must demand of every presidential candidate, no matter their strategy on dealing with Iraq, that they embrace the same moral high ground that Petraeus is asking of the troops.

[ related topics: Politics Books Ethics Journalism and Media ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-18 17:26:14.305835+00 by: Dan Lyke

It looks as though he's pulled down much of his blog (probably both in response to some of the military's concerns, but also because it's gone into his book), but the animation and reading of "Men In Black" is worth a watch/listen, especially for the sense of "lots of people around and you don't know who the enemy is and in this case a guy who was being shot at had the presence of mind to fire warning shots to disperse the spectators, but can ya blame the guy who doesn't?"

Note to self: There are no spectators in a firefight, if I ever find myself in a situation where I imagine myself being one, I should reconsider.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-18 21:57:20.547012+00 by: eyes_of_newt [edit history]

We were PNAC'd into the horror of Iraq (I know, I can't figure out how create a link like you folks do. Sorry!)




I'm sure most of you have heard of PNAC, who signed the document and who is, or has been, a part of this corrupt "administration." The United States owes the Iraqi people,in my opinion, the following: 1. Our withdrawl from the their country; 2. Our financial assistance in rebuilding their country; 3. The impeachment/indictment, conviction and imprisonment of DUHbya, Dickhead Cheney and everyone else who lied us into this murderous blue ruin; 4. For what it's worth, an apology from this country for allowing ourselves to be duped by a coterie of psychopaths who believe it's America's manifest destiny to rule the friggin' world.

Dan, I agree with your statement, "... we as a nation bear some responsibility for un-fucking the situation over in Iraq." But, the sweeping goal needs to be: to "Help Un-Fuck the World" and Impeach Cheney/Bush, et.al.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-19 13:05:03.987703+00 by: jeff [edit history]

I've been quite aware of PNAC for a long time, and put this PNAC page together several years ago. Many of the links which I collected and placed on the page with my commentary are still relevant today.

What we're seeing today is a confluence of PNAC, AIPAC, and residual Likudian influence in American politics. The "minnow has swallowed the whale" in this point in American history, and it doesn't bode well for US when a foreign power "hijacks" our system of government and, ultimately, our way of life through parallel influences in mass media and elsewhere.

I personally don't believe we should attempt to "control" a tiny green zone in central Baghdad, which comes under daily mortar fire. Of 1,000 employees, only 7 speak fluent arabic. Let Saudi Arabia and Iran fight for that symbolic mess that is Baghdad. Of more interest is the oil revenue sharing agreements which MUST be worked out. I'd personally station some troops near the oil infrastructures in the south (Basra) and north (Kirkut).

Which brings up another point. I'd have an American presence in the north, supporting the Kurds there and helping to minimize any reason to believe they will cause trouble for Turkey. The Kurds are really the ONLY ethnic group in the country who like US in any way. Staying in Baghdad and central Iraq is a non-starter, unless you want to spend the next 50 years there losing more American lives.

YES, we have created a mess there, and that was predicted from the very beginning by me and a lot of others, when it was clear we were going to war regardless of any pre-posturing or raison de etre. In this particular case, with all of the dynamics involved, there was about a 6-month window of opportunity to "win the peace" for the region, with reasonable costs to both Iraqis and Americans.

Of course, the total mismanagement of the occupation of Iraq could be the source of another thread in its entirety. Which reminds me of Carole King's song, "It's too late Baby ..."

#Comment Re: Iraq made: 2007-05-19 13:33:04.55174+00 by: m

At a minimum our nation has broken Iraq, slaughtered some 750,000 Iraqis, 3400 Americans, added further imbalance to the Mideast, severely damaged our military, burgeoned our national debt, legalized torture, committed crimes against the peace, crimes against humanity, and destroyed what was left of our national reputation.

Those who are ethical look at these crimes with revulsion, and feel an enormous collective responsibility for the atrocities committed in our name. The honest and humane reaction, is to want to do the right thing, to accept accountability, to want to repair, or at least ameliorate the damage done.

But, as an outside force which has destroyed this nation, we are unable to return its people to life, reunite the fragilely balanced factions, restore an economy, or even the daily necessities of life. We have caused so much chaos, that the only rebalancing possible must come from the Iraqis themselves. This nation with its disparate cultures can only be left to its own internal realignment. That is most likely being torn into the three constituent peoples who were welded together by the British after WWI. Great bloodshed will accompany this, and these deaths will also be the responsibility of the Bush administration.

This is perhaps the true horror of Iraq. We have broken something we can not fix. If we can force ourselves to see just what we have done, to accept the true measure of this abomination, perhaps there will be no more Iraqs. But, I suspect that our national fiber is too weak to truly see what we have done.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-19 13:47:57.878033+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Our national fiber isn't too weak, but the perceptions and messaging created by the mass media are certainly giving US fewer real and legitmately sane options over our destiny. The overt and covert marginalization of Ron Paul by "certain elements" of the media is but one example.

Wake-up, America.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-19 16:38:46.649786+00 by: Larry Burton

> We have broken something we can not fix.

I hear this repeated but I'm not sure I can accept that statement totally.

First, Iraq was broke before we went there. Yeah, things are more violent in portions of Iraq now than they were before our invasion but ask any Iraqi Shia' or Kurd if things were working like they should be and if they were living without fear and I think you will discover we did not introduce violence and a non-working infrastructure to that country.

Second, I refuse to believe that Iraq can't be fixed. Granted the US can't fix it alone but I will argue that Iraq can't be fixed without the aid of the US. General Patraeus has stated that the solution is 80% diplomatic and economic which leaves the military solution at 20%. For a 100% solution there is a requirement for a military element. Iraq isn't currently able to provide that entire 20% themselves.

We have a responsibility to Iraq. We need to meet that responsibility. Unfortunately that is going to require us to have a military presence there for some time to come.

#Comment Re: We have broken something we can not fix made: 2007-05-20 00:03:42.800284+00 by: m

Iraq was broken before we got there? We have replaced Husein's rape rooms with our own. The mass graves reported to contain hundreds of thousands of his victims have not been found. The pictures of Husein's reputed gassings of his own people are most likely to be those of Iran gassing Iraqi's.

Baghdad had electricity and running water 24 hours a day before we got there, now such services are sporadic at best. Unemployment is 40+%. Religious and sect hatred is increasing. Violence is increasing. American military are dying at an increasing rate. The US only controls that portion of Iraq which it has its boots on. When our military moves on, control is lost. Now the Brits have admitted to the loss of Basra to the militias.

If we could shoulder our responsibility, and actually do something positive, then I would be all for it -- no matter what the cost. But, after four years the situation continues to deteriorate. What is going to make it change? This administration of war criminals, who lied us into an illegal war of aggression? We are the problem, not the solution.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-20 14:43:30.222197+00 by: topspin

You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it... -- General William T. Sherman

Our attempts to fight a McWar in Vietnam failed and they will fail again in Iraq. The American people must accept that we are as cruel and ruthless in war as anyone.... or we are defeated.

I don't speak to the justification or morality or reasons or whatever of the war, but to the fact of war. It is selfish, vicious, deadly work.... nothing more, nothing less.

We are not sparing the population in Iraq. Thousands and thousands and thousands are lost, whether we directly or indirectly caused the deaths. The current course and debate goes something like this: if we leave too quickly, we leave the people to deaths due to lawlessness and despotism; if we stay too long, we prolong the multitude of civilian deaths we've seen already.

What we must do to stop the bloodshed in Iraq is ACTUALLY fight a war.

We must put Iraq on notice: We make ALL the rules. We will kill a good many people enforcing our will, as we see we need to kill them. We will do our best to build a stable government for you in a few years, but for the time being.... this is our country. When the people are sufficiently docile, we will begin the rebuilding.... until then, your country is ours and we rule with the boot on your neck.

Then, and only then, will the bloodshed cease.

Of course, we know this won't happen. Regional volatility, domestic grit, and worldwide opinion won't allow a real war in Iraq, so we will leave Iraq, now or later, and leave years of death and worldwide distain as our legacy.

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one. --- Agatha Christie

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-20 15:21:33.732371+00 by: eyes_of_newt [edit history]

Where have all the great minds and great leaders gone?

Don't join the book burners. Don't think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. Dwight D. Eisenhower

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity. Dwight D. Eisenhower

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice. Albert Einstein

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Robert Kennedy

I am not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens. Woody Allen

I think I'm so educated and I'm so civilized 'Cos I'm a strict vegetarian But with the over-population and inflation and starvation And the crazy politicians I don't feel safe in this world no more I don't want to die in a nuclear war I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man. Ray Davies

#Comment Re: made made: 2007-05-20 15:52:00.527054+00 by: m

"What we must do to stop the bloodshed in Iraq is ACTUALLY fight a war."

Three to four percent of the Iraqi population has been killed in this latest war. This on top of their losses from Iraq1, their recent Iran war, and the deaths resulting from the sanctions. We will kill them until they stop killing? In a culture of vengeance, the more we kill, the more enemies we make. What will a "real" war be -- 50%, 100% of the population?

The Iraqi's suicide bombers pretty well demonstrate that they have the will to fight on, no matter what the odds. No determined insurgency has lost in the past 100+ years. We have already bombed them back close to the late 1900s. Just how much further are we prepared to go? Just how much longer will the rest of the world allow us to continue?

Just how much longer are we going to continue a war, which by both International and US law is illegal? How many more people will die and be maimed before we accept that force is not the answer to all problems?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-20 19:28:29.654625+00 by: jeff

Let's make one thing very, very clear: We DO NOT "have a responsibility to Iraq."

We DO NOT have a responsibility to Iraq, for "Iraq" does not exist.

Its borders have been artificially delineated by outside powers for years. Natural cause and effect will allow three countries to emerge. Let's stop the BS and let it happen. There's going to be bloodletting regardless of the path taken, but make no mistake about it, this is the end result.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-20 19:56:51.152384+00 by: topspin

m, sadly we agree more than we disagree.

We AREN'T fighting a war in Iraq, currently. We are "managing" an insurgency/civil war. We WILL NOT prevail in that effort, of course, as we both know.

The binary options thinking "Continue the war or not" doesn't change the misery the Iraqis face. Control of the sectarian issues and violence in Iraq requires, shall we say, a "firm hand." We're not going to sell democracy there. Saddam DID make the trains run on time, even if you couldn't be sure your loved one would return home on that train. For example, what would've been the life expectancy of Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia under Saddam? It would have been measured in weeks, perhaps. While that fact is distasteful, al-Sadr and his ilk DEFINITELY contribute to the instability and bloodshed in Iraq and would EVEN IF WE LEFT unless someone as vicious as Saddam dealt with them. We don't deal with them and the violence escalates. We need to deal with them like Saddam did.

That's reality. In order to stop rampant bloodshed and allow some sense of economy and normalcy in Iraq, someone is going to have to be as big of a bastard as Saddam. Stability in Iraq is achieved at gunpoint. The only question is: whose gun? Leaving Iraq without assuring we know (and approve of) the next dictator is as stupid as going into Iraq in the first place. Until we find that dictator, we need to BE that dictator.