Category Archives: Marines

Addressing War, National Interest, and Iraq-Part 1

On a previous post that I wrote, oddly enough one about Josh Romney possibly running for congress, a debate has broken out in the comments section about war and President Bush.  Anytime this is discussed between me and someone who wants us to withdraw immediately from Iraq, a few of the same arguments are made, two of which are stated in comment below, given to us by SLCondensed:

I guess my problem is I can’t honestly justify attacking a country for its oil when there are so many worse countries and regimes around the world. The situation in Darfur is much worse than it ever was in Iraq, and we don’t do something about it why?

I posted a fairly brief response to this comment, but feel that there is so much more involved with this comment that it justified a whole post here.  The first comment SLCondensed writes comes down an issue of national interest and this is what will be addressed in Part 1 (the comment about Darfur will be addressed in Part 2).  After reading that sentence there are a few questions that need to be asked: 

1. Why did we go to war in Iraq?
2. Did we go to war in Iraq for Oil?
3. Were there worse regimes and countries than Iraq?
4. Considering how much conflict there is in the world, what responsibility does the U.S. have to intervene?  What is the threshold for such an intervention? How should the U.S., being the industrialized world’s security provider, determine when military intervention is acceptable?
5. Does the reason we went to Iraq in the first place even matter to the situation today?

Regarding why we went to war in Iraq, there was not one single reason.  Sure, the Bush administration sold us that there were WMDs and that was really the only reason given, but it was so much more than that.  First, I need to remind the reader that EVERYONE believed Iraq had WMDs before we invaded, everyone (except Saddam).  The question wasn’t, “Does Iraq have WMDs?”, it was, “how much of a threat are those WMDs?”  So I don’t want to hear anything about Bush lied, what a crock.

Anyway, here is the list of reasons why I think we went to Iraq: 1. WMDs (9/11 was still fresh on our minds), 2. Surround Iran with U.S. forces 3. Oil and Gas, 4. Send a message to other despotic regimes (which worked magically, just about 9 months after Iraq started Libya gave up it’s WMD program, perhaps Bush’s greatest acheivement and solidified my vote for him in ’04), 5. Revenge against Saddam for trying to assassinate Bush ’41, 6. To provide freedom to the Iraqi people, 6. To finally force people to take Western threats seriously (I mean, how many times can you say, “you better do this or else” and never follow through-lookin’ at you U.N.), 7. To fight terrorists somewhere not named the United States.

Some of those reasons are more honorable than others, some are more realistic than others, some are childish, but ultimately I believe all of those things were considered by the Bush administration during the decision making process.  Of course, the Administration could not come out and say all those things, it would have been political suicide. No President, whether GOP or Dem, would be that stupid. 

Question 2 was answered in question one, of course the need for oil played a part in our decision to go to war in Iraq.  So what?  The need for energy and fuel is essential to any society, the whole reason we have any interest in the Middle-East at all is because of energy.  If they didn’t have oil or gas we would view them and treat them the way we do Mali and Sudan.

Question 3, certainly there were worse regimes in the world, but not many.  North Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia, and Haiti to name a few.   But this brings us back to national interest and it’s role in our decision making process, which I will discuss in full in Part II.

Question 4,  these questions have no cut and dry answer.  But I will certainly share my opinion.  The way I view the current world is I see the U.S as the world’s only superpower and essentially, as the military for Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand.   Each of these geographies, whether we or they like or not, rely on the U.S. predominantly for their security.  The reason they can get away with having such miniscule military forces is because they know the U.S. is there to back them up and we will so long as the reason is just.  This is a good scenario for both parties, it allows us to maintain our place in the world and grow and expand our economic interests.  It allows them to focus their more limited resources on providing for the people socially and economically.  The fact the U.S. acts in this role is precisely why the developed world blossomed.  Now these realities may upset you or you may like them, but the fact remains that this is the reality of the world in which we now live.

So, with the U.S. having such a large role in the world, both economically and militarily, it puts us in a place of responsibility.  How to use that responsibility is a question of great debate and the cause of much frustration and animosity, both on the part of America and the rest of the world.  The fact is, despite our current position as the world’s hegemon, we still have limited resources, we can’t do all things and we can’t be involved in everthing; nor should we.   Thus, all decisions are usually to be made based upon national interest.  Every country in the history of the world operates this way.

With the U.S. in such a unique and powerful position, we also have to show restraint.  Just because we have freedom and democracy does not mean that we have to force every other country to institute the same.  Forcing democracy seems like an oxymoron.  At the same time, the spread of democracy is in our national interests so we encourage democracy and try to demonstrate the value of it. 

Similarly, both because of national interest/limited resources and because we need to allow countries to largely work out their own issues, we just can’t and shouldn’t get involved everywhere.  Sometimes it is justified, but determining that justification is difficult.  I will address this much more in Part II.  Ultimately, though, the U.S. needs to make decisions based upon what is best for the U.S.

Question 5, ultimately SLCondensed’s comment basically was saying that we need to leave Iraq because we never should have been there in the first place.  Whether that reasoning is true or not, it has absolutely no relevance on the current situation.  The anti-Iraq people’s favorite argument against Iraq is this reason we are there thing and it is utterly ridiculous. The fact is, we are in Iraq, we destroyed their government, and we decided that we were going to help rebuild it and to provide freedom.  Essentially, we broke so we are going to fix it.

Why we went to Iraq in the first place does not change the fact that we are there.  Pulling out all of our troops and causing an even worse humanitarian crisis because you disagree of our original justification for the interaction is ridiculous, ignorant, and naieve.   Further, we are now winning.  Why are we going to pull out when victory and success is in our sights?

But you may say, what determine’s victory in Iraq? I would argue that victory is a country that is relatively stable, can provide for the basic needs of the people, and has a semblance of democracy.  We don’t need Iraq to be like the U.S. or even like Turkey right away, we need Iraq to just be able to largely support itself, defend its people from radicals, and provide an environment for continued economic development.

This leads me to briefly discuss U.S. history in war.  The United States has a large history of doing terrible in wars at the beginning but pulling out the victory in the end.  Let’s run down that history.  The U.S. had no business winning the revolutionary war.  We lost battle after battle and very nearly lost the war in the first year.  The war lasted about 8 years, in 1776 things were awful, yet by 1783 and ’84 we had come back and won. 

The War of 1812 was near disaster as well.  Our Navy was terrible and we lost many battles early on, but managed to pull it out in the end.  The Civil War is the perfect example.  From 1860 to 1863 the Union army was terrible, many people criticized the war and wanted us out.  had we listened to them the United States would be two countries. Fortunately we had a President that had resolve and refused to cower to public pressure.  Eventually, we won some big battles and won the war. 

In WWII the German military had the upperhand for the first year or two of our involvement, but again, American determination resulted in victory.  This takes us to Vietnam.  The reality in Vietnam is that when we gave up, we were on our way to winning, things were looking up.  The only reason we lost the War was because our politicians back home caved to public pressure.   We would have been outright victorious a short time later had we seen it through.

The only two wars that we haven’t been behind in were WWI, because we came in late and gave the Brits and French the boost they needed to break the stalemate with the Germans, and Iraq I, we faced a ridiculously weak military and only required Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.  (By the way, that was a War that was solely for oil, I wonder where all you were then?).

Today, we are going through a similar pattern to what we SHOULD be used to, except for the fact our people are historically ignorant.  The first 3 years of the “war” (I don’t even consider it a war, it more a peacekeeping and stability mission, we won the war when the Iraqi Army collapsed and Baghdad fell) were disasterous.  We made a lot of mistakes, just like the Lincoln administration did in the 1860′s, but year four has been a resounding success and year 5 is starting out much the same; even the Political situation is starting to stablize.  Yet so many of you still want us to throw in the towel.  It makes no sense!

As a result, the only conclusion I can come to as to why you want us to give up actually has nothing to do with Iraq or the realities there, it is that you hate and despise President Bush and want whatever it takes to bring him down to occur (short of assassination of course).   I am confident that had Kerry won in 2004 and followed the exact same path that Bush has taken in this second term, today you would be loving Kerry.  The reality is that so many of you are so blinded by your vitriol for Bush that you fail to recognize that the fastest way for us to get out of Iraq and the best way to ensure that a humanitarian crisis will be averted is by finishing the job there.  It reminds me of a common phrase our training instructors told us in Air Force Basic Training, “the fastest way out of here is to graduate.”   Things are going well in Iraq, sure they aren’t perfect, but they are still going well (you can tell that by the limited coverage Iraq gets in the media).  Give it a chance and try to look at the situation realistically.

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An Ill-Timed and Unnecessary Genocide Resolution againt Turkey

This week, Democratic leaders in the House will seek to pass a non-binding resolution officially classifying the mass-murders of Armenians by the Turks in World War I as genocide.  This is a terribly ill-timed and strange move on the part of the Democrats.   If it passes there could, and likely will be, significant detrimental effects on U.S. – Turkish relations.  Detrimental effects that we cannot afford.  

Certainly, what the Turks did to the Armenians in 1915 is a genocide.  There is no argument here and there should be no argument anywhere.   Additionally, genocide needs to be condemned wherever it is found. 

But why now?  Our relations with Turkey are already strained by the coalition forces’ inability to curb the increasing number of Kurdish militias staging incursions into Turkish territory.  Also, we need Turkey.  They are one of our few Muslim country allies and the most moderate of Muslim states.  Passing this resolution will only prove to have negative effects on our relations with little good in return.  

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Turkey’s top general, General Yasar Buyukanit, warned that the passing of this resolution may result in the U.S. losing access to Incirlik Air Base, a key cargo and transportation hub for our military.  He also added that, “If this resolution passes the House, our Military ties with the U.S. will never be the same.”  These are huge implications not only for us, but for the greater war on terror.  We need Turkey on board and we need Incirlik Air Base. 

It is indeed important that history be accurate and refer to genocide for what it is.  But why can’t this be done during a time of peace or at least when our key international issue is not bordering the country we are about to deeply offend.  This genocide occured nearly 100 years ago, what will a few more years of waiting to do this harm?  If Congress is intent on this, they should  pass this measure in 2015 at the 100 year anniversary or when it is less politically harmful.  But now is not the time. 

So, there are two options that we have that may serve to solve the problem, we could pull the resolution from the table or have it defeated.  Or we could pass the resolution then encourage the Turkish parliament to offically classify our treatment of the American Indians in the 1800′s as genocide and then call it even.  I prefer the former.  This is a strange and unnecessary move on the part of the Democrats, if it passes and Turkey does indeed follow through on their threats, we had better place full blame on Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. 

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Petraus and Congress

Yesterday, General Petraus presented his long awaited report on progress of the surge in Iraq. All in all his report was positive regarding how things have gone. As I watched (some) of the coverage I was greatly impressed by the General and the his understanding of the realities of the War and the way in which he handled the congressmen. I am very impressed by the General, but more on that in a minute.

I have a really big problem watching our public officials or candidates on T.V. I am not a fan of most speeches by the President, I can only watch debates for at a maximum of 30 second intervals without gouging my eyes out, trying to watch congress or senate on CSPAN is as enjoyable as a root canal, and even political shows on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. drive me crazy. About the only political organization that I actually enjoy watching is British parliament, great fun. (Wouldn’t it be great to see the President (Bush or otherwise) have to constantly defend his positions against progress in the manner that the British PM does, fantastic). Anyway, the point is, is that as I was watching the coverage of the report yesterday, I was sucked in by General Petraus and completely repelled by the congressmen. Politicians drive me nuts. Every one of the congressmen questioning Petraus loves the sound of their voice. They wouldn’t shut up. It would be their turn, so they would go off on some partisan diatribe about whatever they thought about the war or Bush or whatever, they would talk for a good 10 -15 minutes then some of them would just defer their time to someone else and not ask a question. And if they did ask a question it usually had to do with political policy rather than military tactics and strategy. If I were in Petraus’s shoes I would have blown up. I would have said that they are all complete idiots, they have no idea about anything going on in Iraq, told them they were playing politics with peoples lives, and that he is the commander of American forces in Iraq, not the President.

We need to realize that most congressmen are no different than you or I, most of them are not children of privilege and many had regular jobs before getting into politics. They certainly don’t have any greater understanding of history, international affairs, or public policy than most of you who browse and read political blogs regularly. That fact is never more apparant to me than when I am watching our congressmen at work, some of them are dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anyway, let me go back to Petraus. I am convinced he is our Eisenhower, he is absolutely the right man to be in charge. In fact, I could see him running for President in 2012. I don’t know if he is GOP or a Democrat. I assume GOP because I like him and hope that’s what he is, so I would expect that if Hillary wins the presidency that the good General may well be in the thick of it in 5 years. If he is a Democrat and a GOPer (other than Romney or Huckabee) is in office, I would likely vote for Petraus and give my vote to a Democrat for the first time. He is impressive.

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Perceptions of Iraq Improving at Home

Prior to starting this blog, I like most Americans, was wavering in my support for the Iraq War. In 2002 and 2003 I was all for military action in Iraq. I, like nearly everyone in the world, believed Iraq had WMD’s, I criticized the UN for their “if you do it one more time!” routine without ever backing it up, and I believed that Saddam had to go (although I did not believe he was a direct threat to America). As the war continued and dragged on and as the media only reported the negatives in Iraq, my commitment weakened and by May of this year I was leaning towards withdrawing the troops. That all changed once I started the blog and actually started researching what was really going on. Within two weeks of doing this research I was (and still am) 100% convinced of how essential it is that we stay in Iraq and I was also convinced that the surge was starting to work and the tide was slowly changing there.

Previous columns highlighted my reasoning for such beliefs, but I was ever more frustrated. The word was not getting out to the American people. However, that looks like it is starting to change. Last week a couple of analysts from the Brookings Institution, Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack (who were staunchly against the War from the beginning) said, “we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory,’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.” They continued, “there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.” While these quotes are far from throwing support behind the war, they emphasize a current trend among the media and other observers that Iraq is not as bad as some thought. The one question I have for the above individuals is what constitutes ‘victory’? I would think that a ‘sustainable stability’ is exactly what we are looking for in order to be victorious in Iraq; a stable government that can provide basic services and freedoms and can also provide relative security from insurgents and terrorists. I think we should be looking for stability more along the lines of Morocco or Indonesia rather than Canada or Sweden (at least for the relative short term). But I digress.

Even the AP is getting in on the act. Robert Burns wrote in a column that, “the new U.S. strategy in Iraq… is working.” He further adds:

Despite political setbacks, American commanders are clinging to a hope that stability might be built from the bottom up—with local groups joining or aiding U.S. efforts to root out extremists—rather than from the top down, where national leaders have failed to act.

Commanders are encouraged by signs that more Iraqis are growing fed up with violence. They are also counting on improvements in the Iraqi army and police, which are burdened by religious rivalries and are not ready to take over national defense duties from U.S. troops this year.

Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson writes, “We’re winning in Iraq. Ok, I said it. It’s crazy. Stupid. Naïve. Hopelessly optimistic. And true. Something has changed, and the cut-and-run crowd in Congress did not get the memo. They insist the war is lost and we should get out yesterday. But the war has taken a turn for the better, like a patient making a sudden recovery after years on life support.”

These are just a few examples from among many articles that show that the perceptions of the current situation in Iraq is starting to change. It is very refreshing to finally be hearing good news out of Iraq.

However, the most significant sign that things are changing here at home does not come from the media but by what the people think. In a Gallup Poll released today says that, “the additional troops are ‘making the situation better’ rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was ‘not making much difference’ dropped to 41% from 51%. ” While the 31% and 41% numbers respectively are nothing to write home about, it does show a recent trend of increasing support for our mission in Iraq.

This current situation makes me wonder if Iraq will follow the trend of most of America’s previous wars – e.g. the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII. In each of these wars we lost major battles and were struggling during the initial and early stages in the War. In fact in the Civil War, the Union was losing for the first 3 years and only Lincoln’s resolve kept us afloat. It looks like this same pattern could be what is happening for us in Iraq: early loses, strong negative public sentiment, and then, finally, victory.

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Is Obama OK with Genocide in Iraq?

Barack Obama up until now has been a strange enigma in my mind.  On the one hand, he is among the most left-wing senators in our country and I completely disagree with him on most of his policies.  On the other hand, he seems to be a genuine and honest person.  He does not seem to be overly tainted by Washington politics…yet.  And he is generally likeable and charming.   I have wondered if the race for President came down to Giuliani v. Obama, would I really consider voting for Obama?   Me, a right-wing conservative?   Well, up to last week, the answer was yes, I would consider it (though not likely).    

Anyone who reads this site fairly regularly is aware that I believe that success in Iraq is essential to U.S. national security, U.S. long-term interests, and to the preservation and rebirth of America’s image world-wide.   I have also argued that if the sole reason we stay in Iraq is for humanitarian reasons alone it would be worthwhile and justified.    So, when I read the comments of Mr. Obama on Iraq last week, you could imagine my extreme disappointment.  He essentially said that maintaining troops in Iraq for humantiarian problems and preventing Genocide in Iraq is not enough of a reason to keep our troops there

Now before I get into his justifications for this remark and my interpretation of what he is saying, allow me to interject something about what the Left (of whom he is a significant part) is suppossed to be about.   The left continually supports human rights and life, they are suppossed to be the U.S. humanitarians, they support Amnesty International, condemn U.S. actions across the world that are remotely deemed as insensitive and hurtful, and they are currently staging a large advertising campaign to raise awareness for the genocide in Darfur.  Aside from Obama’s obvious lack of understanding about the realities of the War, this is what is most disappointing in him.  He and candidates of his party should hold the line that they don’t agree with the war, they believe that political success is highly unlikely, but if only to save lives we should maintain a presence in Iraq.  Very disappointing and really causes the left to lose even more credibility.

Now, back to Obama’s specific statement.  Is he saying that the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people is not as important as the loss of another 1-2 thousand American lives?   That is what it sounds like to me.  Many of you may think that 1-2 thousand more American lives are not worth it, but personally I think that is sad.  In a situation like this in Iraq that we essentially created, I personally would be willing to make such a sacrifice, and when I signed my name on the dotted line to join the Military, that is exactly what I said I was willing to do. 

To emphasize his point Obama said the following:

 “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now—where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife—which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

What a completely stupid and asinine argument.  It infuriates me that he could be this short-sighted and moronic.  The problem with his argument is that we had nothing to do with the problems in the Congo and Sudan.   We did not cause them.  In Iraq, we are the reason the Iraqi’s are in the situation they are, for good or bad.  Al Qaeda in Iraq is there because we ousted Saddam and they see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation in attempt to earn themselves another country from which to field their operations.  We have an obligation to the Iraqi people to help them and protect them from people who commit atrocities like those AQI has committed.  We have no such obligation for Sudan or Congo.  

Further, regarding the deployment of US forces his argument is off on the wrong foot immediately.  Our troops are already deployed there for a military engagement mission.  The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is in no way the basis for our deployment there, but it should be part of the mission now that we are there.   He is right that we should not engage in war or deploy troops solely for such reasons, but that is hardly applicable to the situation in Iraq.  Thus, he has a complete lack of understanding of what is happening there and what our mission is.  Obama then added the following:

It is my assessment that those risks (of genocide) are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

Wow, what can I say here?  I am almost speechless. He is wrong, wrong, wrong.  If we left too early AQI, Iran, and other groups would push into Iran harsher and faster to establish a new Taliban like state, to build a new Islamic Republic, or just to gain political power at the expense of anyone who stands in their way.  These groups are not just there to attack Americans, they are smarter than that.  When they see our weakness and wavering they push harder and are more ruthless, but the one thing remotely holding them back is the presence of American troops.  For evidence of this read Michael Yon’s blog.

I am extremely disappointed in Barack.  I recognize that he is a politician and is trying to earn votes, but this is unacceptable.  Primarily because it is a poor and not-thought-out argument.  It makes him look ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief and leader of the free world.

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