Monday, May 07, 2007

"We are not naive."

So says the LATimes. Good grief! Read their Sunday editorial and tell me that they are not subscribing on to the Harry Reid-brand of defeatism naïveté:
Bring them home
Iraqis need political reconciliation, not occupation; and U.S. troops shouldn't referee a civil war.
May 6, 2007

WHATEVER THE future holds, the United States has not "lost" and cannot "lose" Iraq. It was never ours in the first place. And however history will judge the war, some key U.S. goals have been accomplished: Saddam Hussein has been ousted, tried and executed; Iraqis have held three elections, adopted a constitution and established a rudimentary democracy.

But what now? After four years of war, more than $350 billion spent and 3,363 U.S. soldiers killed and 24,310 wounded, it seems increasingly obvious that an Iraqi political settlement cannot be achieved in the shadow of an indefinite foreign occupation. The U.S. military presence — opposed by more than three-quarters of Iraqis — inflames terrorism and delays what should be the primary and most pressing goal: meaningful reconciliation among the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

This newspaper reluctantly endorsed the U.S. troop surge as the last, best hope for stabilizing conditions so that the elected Iraqi government could assume full responsibility for its affairs. But we also warned that the troops should not be used to referee a civil war. That, regrettably, is what has happened.

The mire deepens against a backdrop of domestic U.S. politics in which support for the ill-defined mission wanes by the week. Better to begin planning a careful, strategic withdrawal from Iraq now, based on the strategies laid out by the Iraq Study Group, than allow for the 2008 campaign season to create a precipitous pullout.

With four out of five additional battalions now in place, there is no reason to believe that the surge will help bring about an end to what is, in fact, a multifaceted civil war. The only bright spot is in Al Anbar province, where Sunni tribal leaders have joined U.S. forces in the fight against foreign Al Qaeda fighters. They deserve our continuing support. But as long as civil war rages in Iraq, even the post-surge force of 160,000 troops cannot achieve more than marginal progress.

As Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. war commander, has acknowledged, the solution to Iraq's problems cannot be military. Yet political progress has been backsliding. It was only frantic White House intervention last week that prevented the resignation of the last Sunni leaders in the Shiite-dominated Cabinet of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. The Sunnis say the Maliki government is sectarian, corrupt and incompetent; and they're right. The Bush administration should convene national peace and reconciliation talks as early as possible — say June 1. All of Iraq's parties, tribes, ethnic and sectarian factions, except for Al Qaeda, should be invited to the table.

But an important element needs to be taken off the table: American blood. The U.S. should immediately declare its intention to begin a gradual troop drawdown, starting no later than the fall. The pace of the withdrawal must be flexible, to reflect progress or requests by the Iraqis and the military's commanders. The precise date for completing the withdrawal need not be announced, but the assumption should be that combat troops would depart by the end of 2009. Iraqi political compromise is more likely to come when Washington is no longer backing the stronger (Shiite) party. U.S. troops could then be repositioned to better wage the long-term struggle against Islamic extremism.

We are not naive. U.S. withdrawal, whether concluded next year or five years from now, entails grave risks. But so does U.S. occupation. The question is how best to manage the risks.

First, there is the grim prospect of a bloodbath in Iraq. But the best way to forestall slaughter is political reconciliation, not military occupation. Second is the worry that Al Qaeda will establish a beachhead in Al Anbar. Yet Iraqis have already turned against the foreign fighters. Third, the neighbors may meddle. Alarmists fear an Iranian proxy state in Baghdad; southern Iraq is already allied with Tehran. But Iraq's neighbors are more likely to be helpful once withdrawal is assured, and instability is not in their interests, especially without a U.S. occupier to bleed.

Having invested so much in Iraq, Americans are likely to find disengagement almost as painful as war. But the longer we delay planning for the inevitable, the worse the outcome is likely to be. The time has come to leave.

Feel free to write the LA Times and give 'em hell. I will. They may only have 815,000 subscribers in a state of 35 million in a country of 300 million; but even a wannabe influential paper has influence. Especially around here, where I live.

Blogging (from the Left):

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Blogger J_G said...

The relevent questions to such mental... well, let's just call them long thought challenged would be; what is Iraq and the middle east going to look like if we raise the white flag, board all are troops on planes and ships with our tail between our legs and leave Iraq? In two or three years what will our economy and the economy of the rest of world look like if al qaeda moves into Iraq with Iran and control 2/3's of the world's oil supply? How will moving our troops out "Harms way" benefit the US? Where will we be fighting al qaeda if they occupy Iraq. Shall we call them out and fight them on the field of their choice which would certainly be Afghanistan rather than Iraq? I don't think naivete is the proper terminology here Monsieur Wordsmith, I think there other words that may describe this shortsight and shallow thought pattern.

Monday, May 07, 2007 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I don't think naivete is the proper terminology here Monsieur Wordsmith

How about "Harry Reid-brand of defeatism naïveté", damoiselle j_g?

Here's my letter to the LA Times:

Part of the decline in LATimes readership and subscription doesn't have to do with the advent of the internet; it has to do with political partisanship. Case in point is Sunday's Editorial, Bring Them Home.

I am absolutely appalled that the LATimes feels the need to "declare the war is lost"; and then proceed to state slanted facts to support a flawed position; as well as using spin to pursuade its readers into a self-fulfilling prophesy of defeatism. The complexities are real; but the war is not lost. And it is highly irresponsible and NAIVE, for you, Harry Reid, or anyone else to take the a position that echoes the public statements of Zawahiri.

General Petraeus was unanimously voted in, by the Senate, to be the new Commander in Iraq, leading a new counterinsurgency and security plan in Baghdad. If we are not going to give him the moral and logistical support that he needs, why send him off to battle?! Only about 60% of the troop increase have been deployed. The full security plan has not been fully implemented, it is showing success and promise, and yet you choose now to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? We are (prematurely) pulling the rug out from under him and our military while encouraging our enemies.

It is despicable that the LATimes would parrot Harry Reid's misrepresentation of what General Petraeus actually said, in regards to "no military solution". The military surge is part of the solution; the political solutions cannot move forward without the security the military increase brings with it.

As you mention in your editorial, the turnaround in Anbar Province is good news. It is good news, that is grossly understated. Sheikh Abd al-Sattar is a significantly influential local ally, and is instrumental in fighting and defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq. They want him dead; and he sees them as the terrorists they are, seeking to murder and ruin his country, both Shia and Sunni alike. Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is the enemy of all of us. They are the ones bogged down in Iraq. What do you suppose they will be doing once we disengage ourselves from the chosen battlefield? Do you think they will stop being terrorists?

To leave Iraq under these conditions does not make our troops safer; it does not make America safer; and it will most assuredly not make Iraqis any safer. If our soldiers read your editorial, how do you suppose that makes them feel? Supported? General Petraeus? Supported? Do you think General Petraeus thinks the "war" to be "lost"? The Iraqis who fear openly siding with the Americans, Coalition, and the Maliki government because it might make them targets of reprisal from al Qaeda in you think reading your editorial or listening to Democrats back in Washington gives them the confidence they need to align with us? What message does this send to our allies in the Middle East who have sided with us against al-Qaeda? That America doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to sustain losses that are inevitabilities to winning wars? And finally, what message are we sending to the Jihadists?

There are complexities upon complexities, with no sanitized solutions. But an American defeat or even the perception of a defeat will have repurcussions, the likes of which we cannot afford to obtain. If you bemoan the loss of troops and the financial burdens now, our losses will grow 100 times worse if we don't see this through and show some backbone. This is larger than Iraq; but Iraq is the central battlefield in a larger struggle. We're in a war. Let's start acting like we're in it to win. If the LATimes short-sightedly aligns itself to the anti-war Left, the lot of you will find yourselves standing on the wrong side of history.

Monday, May 07, 2007 1:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Good letter to LAT. Their editorial solution to Iraq is about the type of military advice I'd expect from liberal journalists.

Monday, May 07, 2007 3:03:00 PM  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

The LA Slimes is as bad as the NY Slimes...what rubbish and overt proganda!

Monday, May 07, 2007 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

Well if you think this is bad it's going to get worse and hold on to your seats. And prepare yourselves.

Our Troops are about ready to move in on a real strong holdout of evil MF's

Notice all the terrorists killed that the LA Times (Nor anyone else for that matter) did NOT lead a story with in the last week, al-Masri, el-Baghdadi, etc. etc.

And Condi had been working feverishly and has successfully gotten it through Syria's head I do believe to strengthen thier borders with Iraq.

She is also working on Iran (Good Luck), however, it looks like they may cave on the border situation soon.

Interesting to note also there seems to be a "Good Guy" insurgent group working with our Armed forces in the thick of all this.

Alot of this isnt being mentioned in the MSM I am relying on Pat Dollard these days for information.
Because the LA Times is repugnant.

They were repugnant when I lived in Cali and I can still see my Dad throwing the paper across the room when I was little and yelling something about Bull****, still dont know what that was all about but I remember the front of the paper he was reading being the LA Times.

I like that letter you wrote Word.

You better believe they will be hearing from me!

Monday, May 07, 2007 7:56:00 PM  
Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

Send this with your letter Word

Let Me Finish My Job

Get out the Kleenex

Monday, May 07, 2007 8:54:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks for your comments. Some great ones over at my cross-post at FA.

Monday, May 07, 2007 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Interesting observation at

Posted by Steve, he points out that in March

in a particularly disturbing editorial, the Times blasted congressional Dems’ withdrawal timeline, calling it an “unruly mess: bad public policy, bad precedent and bad politics.” Right from the White House talking points, the LAT accused Speaker Pelosi of trying to “micromanage the conflict, and the evolution of Iraqi society, with arbitrary timetables and benchmarks.”

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

The LA Times is a strange paper.

One minute it says Pelosi shouldnt Micromanage the war and the next instant says it's time to go.

I dont know what the Times expect anymore.

I have some questions, if Al-Queada is who we are fighting have we not found the "Rat's Nest"? Right there in Iraq? If we should get back to the war on terror, isnt this it?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 8:37:00 AM  
Blogger The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Does this suprise youy from the LA ,"liberal, " Times. ? This liberal rag always subscribes to left wing plitics and that is why their subscriptions are down more than 40%.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 9:17:00 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Instead of saying, "We are not naive," the editorial should read:

"We are losers.

"We are inviting a humanitarian disaster in Iraq and the region.

"We are guaranteeing an escalation in terrorism worldwide.

"We are inviting terrorists to come to OUR shores and hit us again."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 9:46:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

if Al-Queada is who we are fighting have we not found the "Rat's Nest"? Right there in Iraq? If we should get back to the war on terror, isnt this it?


Here's what Lawrence Wright said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt:

Al Qaeda is more diversified now than it was in the past. It’s really four separate organizations. There’s al Qaeda in North Africa, which is very much more important an entity now than it had been, an organization called the Salafist group for preaching in combat, which is centered mainly in Algeria, has now switched its allegiance to al Qaeda. And they have a training camp in Mali. And you know, they had this big bomb in Algiers just last week. So they really are making a statement, and they pose a real threat to Europe, because the commerce between Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Spain and France. So that’s one group of al Qaeda. Secondly, there is al Qaeda in Iraq, which is really the heart and soul of al Qaeda right now, and that’s where the main effort is. It’s where the jihadis are going to be trained. And when that conflict is over, they will be returning to their own countries, and into the West to cause additional havoc. And then there is al Qaeda in Europe, which is a very widespread, loosely connected, centered largely in London in England, but also in the outskirts of Paris, and in Italy. It’s all over, really, all over Europe. And then finally, there’s the mother ship, which is headquartered in Pakistan. So those four entities are loosely connected, but have a common cause, and are still directed overall by bin Laden.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I hope you watched the video over at Marie's, Wordsmith. It's very much worth the time.

Your letter to the LA Times is wonderful. I hope they publish it, but I don't suppose you're holding your breath.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 1:31:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

The L.A. Time is just taking Bush Derangement Syndrome to the next level: pure fantasy.

Don't know if anyone saw Senator Dodd (DEMOCRAT-CT) on Fox News Sunday. But it was like reading a press release from the Daily Kos.

We're supposed to pull our troops out of Iraq so we can fight Al Queda. Total disregard for the Al Queda who are currently responsible for the majority of violence in Iraq today.

I've often said that Democrats view of reality goes beyond a red state/blue state divide. These folks are on another planet altogether and the oxygen supply is running low.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 7:09:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I guess my letter was too long-winded to see print in the LA Times. Here's the ones that made it in:

Iraq policy at a crossroad
May 8, 2007

Re "Time to leave Iraq," editorial, May 6

We may not have "lost" Iraq, and our key goals there may have been accomplished, yet by the stated goals of the administration — eliminating Al Qaeda through a long war on terror and establishing stable democracies — we have not won and can never win. The administration continues to violate its duty to tell the truth about Iraq and fails to provide the transparency integral to democracy, just as it claims to be spreading democracy. Given the vast failures and violations of the truth, the United States has in fact lost much: our credibility, our integrity, our reputation and our ability to be proud of our democracy.

The only way to get it back is not only to leave Iraq but to hold accountable through impeachment and incarceration the leaders who have committed such high crimes against democracy.


Los Alamitos

Although I am a liberal Democrat, I disagree that we can leave Iraq now or even years into the future.

Let me explain up front that the invasion of Iraq was probably the worst blunder ever made by a U.S. president. However, the quagmire into which the Bush administration has placed this nation cannot easily be undone.

We made a complete mess, and now we have to live with it, perhaps for five or more years until we can leave with some type of repair for Iraq and some type of honor for the U.S.

Yes, this will cost us thousands more American lives and billions more dollars. Our country will forever remember the total mess caused by George Bush.


Corona del Mar

The editorial suggests that the U.S. has no constructive role to play in the Iraqi civil war and, accordingly, it should withdraw its armed forces. How soon we forget. There was no civil war going on when the United States invaded Iraq. After deposing Saddam Hussein and the Baathists, the balance of power completely shifted, resulting in big-time sectarian payback. None of this was contemplated by the Bush administration and the Pentagon.

To suggest that we have no place in a civil war that we created is the worst kind of cynicism. If the international reputation of the U.S. is damaged now, I can only imagine how we will be regarded after we leave Iraqis to slaughter one another unencumbered.


Rancho Mirage

The Times recommends having all combat troops out of Iraq by the end of 2009. That's more than 120 weeks away. At 25 casualties per week, that's more than 3,000 dead soldiers. At what point do you think our non-robotic soldiers will say "no more"?


Newbury Park

Larry Shapiro's comment irritated the hell out of me (actually, they all suck). Al-Qaeda made the strategic move to instigate the sectarian violence. As Austin Bay recounts:

Fearing an American and Iraqi strategic victory (creating a democracy defending itself against terrorists), Zarqawi saw only one strategic option: exploit Iraq's Shia-Sunni religious divide by slaughtering Iraqi Shia civilians. The Shia would respond to al-Qaida's terror attacks by igniting a "sectarian war." He believed the religious war would "rally the Sunni Arabs" to al-Qaida.

And so was launched the bombing of the Al-Askari Mosque of Samarra. So al-Qaeda in Iraq is responsible for fomenting the "civil war"; not the U.S.

And I think Dennis Prager made a very astute point here, regarding some of the criticism about lack of post-war foresight planning:

Here is the latest example of this new form of evil as reported by the Associated Press: "Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff, said . . . the vehicle used in the attack [on Iraqi civilians] was waved through a U.S. military checkpoint because two children were visible in the back seat. He said this was the first reported use of children in a car bombing in Baghdad. 'Children in the back seat lowered suspicion, (so) we let it move through, they parked the vehicle, the adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back,' Barbero told reporters in Washington."

These same "insurgents" routinely blow up children who line up to receive candy from U.S. troops. Likewise, college students are targeted for death, as are men lining up to apply for civilian jobs, men and women attending mosques, physicians in hospitals, and so on. The more innocent the Iraqi, the more likely he or she is to be targeted for murder.

I submit that there was no way to anticipate this. And no one did. This includes all those who predicted a civil war in Iraq between Shiites and Sunnis. I include myself among those who predicted savagery in Iraq. On a number of occasions prior to our invasion of Iraq, I recounted to my radio listeners this chilling story:

As a young man, in 1974, I was riding on a bus traveling from Beirut to Damascus. The man I sat next to was an English-speaking Iraqi whom I asked at one point in our conversation, "Can you describe your nation in a sentence?" "No problem," he immediately answered. "We Iraqis are the most barbaric people in the world."

I obviously never forgot that man's words, and therefore anticipated great cruelties in Iraq. But neither I nor anyone who predicted a civil war had so much as a premonition of this unprecedented mass murder of the men, women and children among one's own people as a military tactic to defeat an external enemy.

It is, therefore, unfair to blame the Bush administration for not anticipating such a determined "insurgency." Without the mass murder of fellow Iraqis, there would hardly be any "insurgency."
The combination of suicide terrorists and a theology of death has created an unprecedented form of "resistance" to an occupier: "We will murder as many men, women and children as we can until you leave." Nor is this a matter of Sunnis murdering Shiites and vice versa: college students, women shopping at a Baghdad market and hospital workers all belong to both groups. Truck bombs cannot distinguish among tribes or religious affiliations.

If America had to fight an insurgency directed solely against us and coalition forces -- even including suicide bombers -- we would surely have succeeded. No one, right, left or center, could imagine a group of people so evil, so devoid of the most elementary and universal concepts of morality, that they would target their own people, especially the most vulnerable, for murder.

That is why we have not yet prevailed in Iraq. Even without all the mistakes made by the Bush administration -- and what political or military leadership has not made many errors in prosecuting a war? -- it could not have foreseen this new form of evil we are witnessing in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

You're letter was the best one, and I'm not just saying that because I'm prejudiced in your favor. I honestly believe it's true. It was a bit lengthy though, and that may have been the reason they didn't publish it. I wish they would have. :(

Wednesday, May 09, 2007 7:40:00 AM  

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