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Bill Buckley jr to Pres: Get Real, Iraq "Didn't Work"

Simon W. Moon

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It Didn’t Work
February 24, 2006, 2:51 p.m.
Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans.
[Bush's] challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.
And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.
Another call to accept Realism and reality over Idealism and idyllic plans for Iraq. Perhaps some of you will take to saying that Mr. Buckley is a liberal or that he doesn't love America or that he wants the US to lose. I don't expect the inherent absurdity of such charges to dissuade the folks who're likely to do so. Absurdity and surreality have become par for the course lately. What else do you call 'conservatives' who promote 'big-gubmint' and social engineering, but surreal?

So, if you like, now would be the time to begin assembling you case that Bill Buckley jr is an America-hating, Bush-bashing liberal. When you get your cases ready for presentation, please post them here.
I'd've posted this to the "Lighter Side" except I suspect that some of you folks will earnestly believe that Mr. Buckley is a liberal.

The issue is that in addition to it being a misguided foreign policy that was sold dishonestly, it was prosecuted ineptly. The Admin crippled the Iraq invasion. America could've done better.
 
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Buckley speaks as if we are finished in Iraq and failure has been the end result. No one in the administration is saying that we have finished the job and therefore it is foolish to call it a success or a failure at this point. I'm going to let the military complete the job before I make a judgement.
 

Simon W. Moon

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“Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.”

Buckley from wiki
 

oldreliable67

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Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans. [emphasis added]
What irony! Damned if we do, damned if we don't!

Buckley's statements that the "latent" democratic aspirations of Iraqis have been unable to succeed against the "ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols" possesses a certain tension with his later statement that "the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom." While recognizing that Iraqi's possess "democratic aspirations" that are being subjugated thru force and intimidation, the latter statement suggests an unwillingness to embrace democracy. Well, which is it?

Realities of the elections and the embracing of democratic political processes thus far suggest that Buckley is premature; his rush to a judgement of failure is simply wrong. It may eventually come to pass, but that isn't the state as of this moment.

Echoing somewhat KC's observation, Buckley writes if it is all over but the shouting. But the fat lady ain't singing yet. It isn't over by a long shot. Sure, it may still all go to hell in the form of civil war, but for us to have not tried to bring democracy to Iraq would have been the worst of all possible worlds, IMO.

One thing Buckley is noticeably short on in this piece: voicing a policy prescription. As with many who did not think the effort worthwhile, criticizing from a distance is a very comfortable position.

Buckley's piece at the National Review stands in stark contrast to a piece in today's WSJ, which contends that the efforts to bring democracy to the ME have been a better strategy than the failed policies of the last two decades, even with the recent Hamas results in Palestine...

This is not to say democracy is a cure-all. It is also not to say that the peril these democracies face, from terrorist insurrection or ethnic or religious feuding, isn't grave. Nor, finally, is it to say that the "Hitler scenario" can be excluded in a democratizing Middle East; that possibility is always present, especially among nascent democracies.

But democracy also offers the possibility of greater liberalism and greater moderation, possibilities that have been opened with the courageously pro-American governments of Hamid Karzai, Jalal Talabani and Saad Hariri. And as we stand with them, it seems to us that America's bets are better placed promoting democracies -- even if some of them succumb to illiberal temptations -- than acceding to dictatorships, which already have.

Or does someone have a better idea?
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114099207518883661.html?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks.

BTW: Simon, thanks for posting the Buckley article. Although often disagreeing with Buckley's conclusions, one cannot but admire the intellect.
 

Simon W. Moon

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oldreliable67 said:
Realities of the elections and the embracing of democratic political processes thus far suggest that Buckley is premature; his rush to a judgement of failure is simply wrong. It may eventually come to pass, but that isn't the state as of this moment.
Echoing somewhat KC's observation, Buckley writes if it is all over but the shouting. But the fat lady ain't singing yet. It isn't over by a long shot. Sure, it may still all go to hell in the form of civil war, but for us to have not tried to bring democracy to Iraq would have been the worst of all possible worlds, IMO.
Perhaps he's of the same opinion as the folks who did a study for the DoD in July 2003 (IIRC) who said that there was a rapidly "closing window of opportunity." At the time, they said we had about three months to get the security situation in hand. [The actual report has disappeared but there's a link to the press release. I can make copies of the report available via email upon request]. And only a year to get the reconstruction visibly moving.

Since we began we've lowered the goal posts from what we'd like to achieve to what we're willing to accept.

oldreliable67 said:
One thing Buckley is noticeably short on in this piece: voicing a policy prescription.
Well it is short piece. He used up almost all of his alotted words to make the points that he did make. I don't see the fault with not addressing everything in a single op-ed.

oldreliable67 said:
Buckley's piece at the National Review stands in stark contrast to a piece in today's WSJ, which contends that the efforts to bring democracy to the ME have been a better strategy than the failed policies of the last two decades, even with the recent Hamas results in Palestine...
I gather from the NRO article that Buckley still buys the strategy but is lamenting the tactics and the implementation thereof.

oldreliable67 said:
fyi: The Page You Requested Is Available Only to Subscribers
 

Simon W. Moon

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From the executive summary of the Pentagon commissioned CSIS Iraq’s Post-Conflict Reconstruction report. nee http://www.csis.org/isp/pcr/IraqTrip.pdf [link no longer valid]
Report said:
1. The coalition must establish public safety in all parts of the country.
In addition to ongoing efforts, this will involve: reviewing force composition and structure, as well as composite force
levels (U.S., coalition, and Iraqi) so as to be able to address the need for increased street- level presence in key conflictive areas; quickly hiring private security to help stand up and supervise a rapid expansion of the Iraqi Facility Protection Service, thereby freeing thousands of U.S. troops from this duty; ratcheting up efforts to recruit sufficient levels of international civilian police through all available channels; and, launching a major initiative to reintegrate “selfdemobilized” Iraqi soldiers and local militias.
2. Iraqi ownership of the rebuilding process must be expanded at national, provincial, and
local levels
.
At the national level ensuring success of the newly formed Iraqi Governing Council is crucial. This will require avoiding overloading it with too many controversial issues too soon. The natural desire to draw anger away from the coalition by putting an Iraqi face on
the most difficult decisions must be balanced with a realistic assessment of what the council can successfully manage. At the provincial and local levels, coalition forces and the CPA have
made great progress in establishing political councils throughout the country, but they need direction and the ability to respond to local needs and demands. To achieve this, local and provincial political councils need to have access to resources and be linked to the national Iraqi Governing Council and the constitutional process.
3. Idle hands must be put to work and basic economic and social services provided immediately to avoid exacerbating political and security problems.
A model economy will not be created overnight out of Iraq’s failed statist economic structures. Short-term public works projects are needed on a large scale to soak up sizable amounts of the available labor pool. Simultaneously, the CPA must get a large number of formerly state-owned enterprises up and running. Even if many of them are not competitive and may need to be privatized and downsized eventually, now is the time to get as many people back to work as possible. A massive micro-credit program in all provinces would help to spur wide-ranging economic activity, and help to empower key agents of change such as women. The CPA must also do whatever is necessary to immediately refurbish basic services, especially electricity, water, and sanitation.
4. Decentralization is essential.
The job facing occupation and Iraqi authorities is too big to be
handled exclusively by the central occupying authority and national Iraqi Governing Council. Implementation is lagging far behind needs and expectations in key areas, at least to some
extent because of severely constrained CPA human resources at the provincial and local levels. This situation must be addressed immediately by decentralizing key functions of the CPA to the
provincial level, thereby enhancing operational speed and effectiveness and allowing maximum empowerment of Iraqis. The CPA must rapidly recruit and field a much greater number of
civilian experts to guide key governance, economic, social, justice, and also some security components of the occupation.
5. The coalition must facilitate a profound change in the Iraqi national frame of mind – from centralized authority to significant freedoms, from suspicion to trust, from skepticism to hope.
This will require an intense and effective communications and marketing campaign, not the status quo. The CPA needs to win the confidence and support of the Iraqi people. Communication – between the CPA and the Iraqi people, and within the CPA itself –
is insufficient so far. Drastic changes must be made to immediately improve the daily flow of practical information to the Iraqi people, principally through enhanced radio and TV
programming. Iraqis need to hear about difficulties and successes from authoritative sources.
Secondly, the CPA needs to gather information from Iraqis much more effectively – through a more robust civilian ground presence, “walk-in” centers for Iraqis staffed by Iraqis, and hiring a large number of Iraqi “animators” to carry and receive messages. Thirdly, information flow must be improved within the CPA itself through an integrated operations center that would
extend across both the civilian and military sides of the CPA, and by enhancing cell-phone coverage and a system-wide email system that could ease the timely dissemination of
information to all CPA personnel.
6. The United States needs to quickly mobilize a new reconstruction coalition that is significantly broader than the coalition that successfully waged the war.]
The scope of the challenges, the financial requirements, and rising anti-Americanism in parts of the country make necessary a new coalition that involves various international actors (including from countries and organizations that took no part in the original war coalition). The Council for International Cooperation at the CPA is a welcome innovation, but it must be dramatically
expanded and supercharged if a new and inclusive coalition is to be built.
7. Money must be significantly more forthcoming and more flexible.
Iraq will require significant outside support over the short to medium term. In addition to broadening the financial coalition to include a wider range of international actors, this means the President and Congress will need to budget and fully fund reconstruction costs through 2004. The CPA must
be given rapid and flexible funding. “Business as usual” is not an option for operations in Iraq, nor can it be for their funding.

The enormity of the task ahead must not be underestimated. It requires that the entire effort be immediately turbo-charged – by making it more agile and flexible, and providing it with greater funding and personnel.

While praise is given to the personel in Iraq for doing much w/ little apparently there're still:

1) a need for increased street- level presence in key conflictive areas;

2) a need to "quickly" hire private security to help stand up and supervise a "rapid expansion" of the Iraqi Facility Protection Service;

3) a need for short-term public works projects are needed on a "large scale" that comes with a reccomendation for a "massive" micro-credit program in all provinces;

4) a job that's "too big to be handled exclusively by the central occupying authority and national Iraqi Governing Council";

5) a "severely constrained" CPA human resources at the provincial and local levels that have led to some of the instances of implementation that is "lagging far behind needs and expectations in key areas";

6) a need for CPA to "rapidly recruit" and field a much greater number of civilian experts to guide key governance, economic, social, justice;

7) a need for an "intense and effective communications and marketing campaign, not the status quo" because communication – between the CPA and the Iraqi people, and within the CPA itself – has been "insufficient so far";

8) a need for a dramatic expansion and suprcharging of the Council for International Cooperation at the CPA because the scope of the challenges, the financial requirements, and rising anti-Americanism in parts of the country make necessary a new reconstruction coalition that is "significantly broader" than the coalition that successfully waged the war that involves various international actors (including those from countries and organizations that took no part in the original war coalition);

9) a need for "signifigant" outside monetary support over the short to medium term, meaning that the Pres and Congress will need to budget and fully fund reconstruction costs through 2004 as Senator Lugar has recently suggested and that “business as usual” is not an option for funding the operations in Iraq.

So, while the people who're there are doing a bang-up job, they are crucially underfunded, understaffed and mis-oragnized in ways that must be immediately rectified if the succes is to be obtained. It appears that the whole operation is in jeopardy at the moment, and that it will be a failure if dramatic measures aren't taken posthaste.
originally posted 07-27-2003
 

oldreliable67

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So, while the people who're there are doing a bang-up job, they are crucially underfunded, understaffed and mis-oragnized in ways that must be immediately rectified if the succes is to be obtained. It appears that the whole operation is in jeopardy at the moment, and that it will be a failure if dramatic measures aren't taken posthaste.
I note that the analysis circa is 2003. I wonder if the same conclusions would be drawn today. My guess is yes, they would, but to a significantly lesser degree. It is my impression, but without any access to authoritative information, that the demise of the CPA and L. Paul Bremer brought a fair number of beneficial and substantive changes to our effort.

We appear to be making significant progress in the areas mentioned in the 2003 report you cited, though clearly still not enough.

fyi: The Page You Requested Is Available Only to Subscribers
Shoot. I hate it when that happens! I paraphrased a lot of that article in the post here, post #35.
 

American

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Pres to Bill Buckley Jr: You're not the President.
 

BodiSatva

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Why don't we simply carpet bomb all of Iraq. Kill everybody and then start over with what we want in there. I am sick of the garbage...B1 strikes...cruise missiles...send in Big Bertha and donkey kong the crap out of the terrorist garbage!
 

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There is an old army saying that “proper, prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.” Given the experience of the humiliating defeat in Vietnam within living memory of both our military and civilian leadership, it is nothing short of astonishing that America should be involved in yet another limited war with no legitimate objective, without proper planning, and with no exit strategy other than to “stay the course” - a course set for defeat and, ultimately, disaster. Will history repeat itself again? Will President Bush - as did President Nixon before him - be forced to declare “Peace With Honor”?

In The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli maintained that a state that is easily won is not easily held because the enemy still remains everywhere about the occupier; whereas a state that is hard won is easily ruled as the enemy has been destroyed. Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz - the architects of the war in Iraq - both profess to be students of Machiavelli. Apparently, they didn’t learn their lessons well; and President Bush would have done well to have had better advisors.
 

Simon W. Moon

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Didn't Machiavelli also advise against the use of mercenaries? Hired guns are the second largest group of coalition folks in Iraq behind the US forces but ahead of the UK's. We've pumped billions of dollars into private armies.
 

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It’s part of Donald Rumsfeld’s overall plan to “privatize” the military. During his tenure, we have seen the greatest reduction of our armed forces and dismantling of military installations since the end of World War II; and at a time when our reserves and National Guard units are stretched to the breaking point leaving the nation unmanned and unprepared to meet our global commitments and provide for the national defense, or even respond to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. This has been an ongoing battle with Secretary Rumsfeld, and his plans have not been well-received by Republicans in the House Armed Services Committee. Any real Republican will tell you we need more (not less) armed forces.
 

danarhea

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Simon W. Moon said:
It Didn’t Work
February 24, 2006, 2:51 p.m.
Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans.
[Bush's] challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.
And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.
Another call to accept Realism and reality over Idealism and idyllic plans for Iraq. Perhaps some of you will take to saying that Mr. Buckley is a liberal or that he doesn't love America or that he wants the US to lose. I don't expect the inherent absurdity of such charges to dissuade the folks who're likely to do so. Absurdity and surreality have become par for the course lately. What else do you call 'conservatives' who promote 'big-gubmint' and social engineering, but surreal?

So, if you like, now would be the time to begin assembling you case that Bill Buckley jr is an America-hating, Bush-bashing liberal. When you get your cases ready for presentation, please post them here.
I'd've posted this to the "Lighter Side" except I suspect that some of you folks will earnestly believe that Mr. Buckley is a liberal.

The issue is that in addition to it being a misguided foreign policy that was sold dishonestly, it was prosecuted ineptly. The Admin crippled the Iraq invasion. America could've done better.
I posted about this a month ago, and was flamed hard over it. Glad to see another Conservative take this issue back up.

Although Buckley is a Paleocon, he did support the Iraq war when we first went in, and that distinguishes him from a lot of other prominent Paleocons who were against the war. However, I think Buckley's opposition to the war now stems not so much from any ideological opposition to the war itself, but what he rightly perceives as the incompetent way the war has been run.
 

tryreading

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So far, this is the best, most reasonable Iraq war discussion I've seen on this site, with the exception of posts #9 and #10. I wish more of them could be this thoughtful.
 
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