March 19, 2009

Iraq After Four Five Six Years In

VMFA-533.jpg[Republished from last year at this time.]

Five years in. An inch of time. Five years in and the foolish and credulous among us yearn to get out. Their feelings require it. The power of their Holy Gospel of "Imagine" compels them. Their overflowing pools of compassion for the enslavers of women, the killers of homosexuals, the beheaders of reporters, and the incinerators of men and women working quietly at their desks, rise and flood their minds until their eyes flow with crocodile tears while their mouths emit slogans scrawled on cardboard. They believe the world is run on wishes and that they will always have three more.

Like savages shambling about some campfire where all there is to eat are a few singed tubers, they paint their faces with the tatterdemalion symbols of a summer of love long sent down to rot with the worms. They clasp hands and sing songs whose lyrics are ash. "We shall... over... come." Overcome what, overcome who? Overcome their nation? Is that their dream? It is the lifelong dream of those that lead them. That much is certain.

Five years in and we see these old rotting rituals trotted out in the streets like some pagan procession of idols and shibboleths, like some furred and feathered fetish shaken against the sky by hunkering witch-doctors, to hold back the dark, to frighten off the evil spirits and graven images that trouble the sleep of the dreamers.

Five years into the most gentle war ever fought, a war fought on the cheap at every level, a war fought to avoid civilian harm rather than maximize it. Picnic on the grass at Shiloh. Walk the Western Front. Speak to the smoke of Dresden. Kneel down and peek into the ovens of Auschwitz. Sit on the stones near ground zero at Hiroshima and converse with the shadows singed into the wall. Listen to those ghost whisperers of war.

Five years in and the people of the Perfect World ramble through the avenues of Washington, stamping their feet and holding their breath, having their tantrums, and telling all who cannot avoid listening that "War is bad for children and other living things." They have flowers painted on their cheeks. For emphasis. Just in case you thought that war was good for children and other living things.

There were children and other living things on the planes that flew into the towers. They all went into the fire and the ash just the same. But they, now, are not important. Nor is the message their deaths still send us when we listen. That message is to be silenced. The rising brand new message is "All we are say-ing is give...." And it is always off-key.

Five years in and they are upset that their party of the 90s has been so long interrupted; that their raves are foreshortened; that their sleep is persistently shaken by car bombs beyond the far horizon; that their time at the mall can not be entirely, completely, and utterly without guilt.

Five years in and the clear and present danger to the nation must be closeted in favor of the unclear and distant end of the world if we insist on exuding, as all life does, carbon dioxide. Send the nation and its armies and its wards and protectorates to the block, but keep the polar bears cold.

"Can't you see that worldwide wall of water sweeping in to inundate all life in 30, 50, 100, 500 years?"

"No. I cannot see it from here."

"Ah well, you are a warmonger, an evil person, a vile Christian, a shameless, shameless American.

"You must have shame. Shame is what we have when we look around us. We are ashamed of what was given us. You must join us; share in our shame at being Americans, at being the last best hope of earth.

"Join us and join the rising despair of people who, believing in nothing, believe only in the self, the life of the senses, the mollifying of guilt, of 'the expense of reason in a waste of shame.'"

Five years in and the fools in the streets multiply. They are tired of the war, but full of themselves.

Hear me now. This is my answer to you. This is my answer and this is my prophecy.

It is taking too long.| It will be with you, blowing hot and cold, for decades yet to come.

It is costing too much. | How much will it cost to rebuild a burned and irradiated Los Angeles?

Too many soldiers have died. Even one soldier's death is too much. | What is the nature and duty of a soldier? Is a soldier there only to come in and sandbag a flooded New Orleans? Bring you a Red Cross sandwich and a cup of weak coffee after a tidal wave?

We shall overcome. | Overcome who? Your fellow citizens? Certainly not the enemy. You'll not get over on this one with your Ghandiesque platitudes, unless you are ready to all go like lemmings over the cliff and onto the spikes. You don't strike me as the kind of people with that level of commitment. You strike me as the kind of people who like to prance, rant, and chant, and then go home for a nice chilled Chardonnay and a slab of grilled tofu. Then you spend an hour bitching about Bush before taking a bong hit and sucking up some MTV. I know you well. I was you.

We shall take our no balls and go home. | You will return when your children are slaughtered in their schools. You will return when one of our cities burns. You will return when your cities freeze in the winter, when your drinks warm without ice in the summer, when your iPods go flat as you walk streets with few lights, when your electricity is rationed, and the shelves of your store are bare. You will return when the crops fail and the trucks cannot roll.

Look around you. Everything you have, everything, is there because of oil. The brute fact of the planet right now and into the next few decades is that without oil, the machine that enables you to be you runs on oil. If that oil runs out, your nation, any nation, will do all that it can to get it back. And you will be back not "with peace, but with a sword" of a terrible fire. In your name. In all our names.

It will not be our fault because we marched and spoke up. We moved on. | You have made a festival out of your foolishness if you are young, and, if you are old, out of a yearning for a lost youth you left behind on the last day of 1969. You have carried that yearning forward all your life. You re-enact that foolishness again because you know no other, and you know no better.

"We shall not/ We shall not be blamed." | If we leave because of your pouting and pique, we will return because of your stupidity. There will be blood after and blood later and fire to follow. That war will not take Five years. It will take an afternoon at best, but decades of digging out will follow. A million may die here but many millions will die there.

What follows will make the Great Depression seem a mild recession. History will unfold in ways we cannot now fathom. The American experiment, still young, may falter -- may fail.

Should America falter or fail other forces, not so sweetly congenial to freedom, shall rise. The utopian world you seek will be set back a century at the least. We will all have to bear the brand of that fire, but on your foreheads the brand will burn deep. And we will know you for what you are. Worse still, you will know.

Five years in and the only way out and out now would be to quit. Capitulation is not a policy. It is procrastination. There is a way out, but it is years away and many people, people who swoon easily in the sunlight of this "war lite," do not have the ability to endure any war; even so tepid a war as this. They do not have the simple patience.

It is in patience alone that our enemies outstrip us. After all, when you look at what they have made of their "civilization" what indeed do they have to lose?

Five years in and what do we have to lose should you force us to lose?

In time, everything.

Posted by Vanderleun at March 19, 2009 4:36 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

You don't mention the counter demonstration known as Gathering of the Eagles. I understand that the park service put their numbers at 30,000.
GOE could be an example of the "Swift Boat Vets". On steroids. Remember them? My personal experience in the buildup to this event is that there is definitely a need here. The PGR, VFW, VVFW, American Legion, one would think, would mobilize their members in such instances but the stated position of their leadership was either negative, tepid, or non-existent. There was almost a revolt over at the PGR forums over the tepid response of the so called board of directors. Some threads were shut down. People got very angry at this.
A year ago I did the "run for the wall" and met and observed people across the breadth of this country. I was on the road for a total of 21 days. What I witnessed is beginning to resonate among the punditocracy, among my fellow lovers of liberty, and that is this country is desperately in need of leadership that will articulate the challenges we face and the actions we must take in this the latest existential challenge to our nation and the eternal verities which the genius of our forebears promulgated into our constitution.
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. If people demand leadership by marching in the street in sufficient numbers at sufficient frequency, leaders WILL emerge, and this kernel of freedom's rejuvenation will blossom and grow and sweep the nation and eventually the world.
There is a buzz now about "300". King Leonidas knew that he would die defending freedom and he knew with the same certitude that the valor of his men would give him and the ideas for which they fought an immortality that would stretch into the future for as long as men walked the face of the earth. It is time to renew that commitment. Gathering of the Eagles can be a beginning for liberties new spring.

Posted by: John Hinds at March 18, 2007 6:54 PM

Thanks, Gerard. A most excellent piece. I truly hope many will read this one...

Posted by: Dan at March 18, 2007 8:34 PM

Well put, although it was the wrong war, incompetently run.

"Sit on the stones near ground zero at Hiroshima and converse with the shadows singed into the wall. Listen to those ghost whisperers of war."

Time, and past time, to turn some of the enemy into shadows.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at March 19, 2007 3:37 AM

Only two defining forces have ever agreed to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American G.I.
One died for your soul and the other for your freedom. If it were not for the United States Military, there would be no United States.

Posted by: ChiefTestPilot at March 19, 2007 5:33 AM

Genius. One of the best essays I have ever read

Posted by: Matthew at March 19, 2007 5:47 AM

Ah, the problems of living in the Gilded Age. Americans have everything they could possibly wish for. Even the "poor" can afford Starbucks. In the age of affordability, easy money and easy times the young, the spoiled and the restless demand peace in our times. It is an easy thing to get. All they want is to do nothing and hope that others will do nothing as well. Which is the easy solution to peace.

Never mind that the rest of the world is not living in an Gilded Age. Never mind that others have to pump the oil, pour the latte, prepare the Big Mac.

As Charles Dickens has said, we live in the best of times and the worst of times. No matter how much we wish it, these are indeed times of strife, war and anguish for this nation and the rest of the world. We must be prepared to defend our existence with reason and sword.

Posted by: subrot0 at March 19, 2007 5:49 AM


Posted by: thedaddy at March 19, 2007 6:27 AM

Unfortunately the teacher's union has stripped the real history of the US and the world out of the textbooks and classrooms, alsong with the high level of acedemic achievment which made Ameria great. Universities and colleges are no longer places of reasonable debate, professors who never had a real life or had to struggle for one pass out fluff and propaganda to inmature minds already soggy from the K-12 experiance.
Those of you who have a platform have to keep shouting out the truth, maybe someone will hear it and believe it.

Posted by: William at March 19, 2007 7:07 AM

First of all, it took us less time to win WWII than it did for us to lose in Iraq. The problem isn't unrealistic flower children chanting on the lawn, the problem is unrealistic chickenhawks shouting incoherent war slogans while not paying any attention to what is actually happening. Our adventure in Iraq hasn't made the world safer, it's made it more dangerous, and that has nothing to do with stupid hippies. You got the war you wanted-stop blaming the people who tried to warn you for it not going the way you said it would.
-Winston Delgado

Posted by: winston delgado at March 19, 2007 7:20 AM

4 Years, 3K+ lives, half a trillion dollars.

"Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"--D. Rumsfeld

The answer is no.

The Bush fraud has to end and be replaced with another, successful policy, but of course, then the rightwingnuts will have to accept responsibility for enabling the worst President in history. The odds of that are...ZERO.

Posted by: Hi at March 19, 2007 7:23 AM

What a silly post.

No, 4 years is not a long time. But when we were promised that we'd be out in weeks, it's an eternity.

Posted by: jvf at March 19, 2007 7:26 AM

It is more expensive than vietnam so it was not fought on the cheap, and as "Their overflowing pools of compassion for the enslavers of women, the killers of homosexuals" are you talking about fundamentalist christians?

And how many airstrikes have we called in on iraqis who had as little to do with the war on terror as those in the world trade center? And we do it everyday for 4+ years now!

Posted by: madmatt at March 19, 2007 7:39 AM

katukaa, katukka

Posted by: stevesh at March 19, 2007 7:43 AM

It's not that it's taking too long, or costing too much. It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. So said the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. A recent NIE said our being in the middle of the civil war in Iraq is AGAINST our national interests.

There is a difference between doing things right, and doing the right things. The Bush & Cronies Crime Family has done neither. I case you haven't noticed, NOTHING they have done in the last six years has been good for our nation.

And I guess you didn't read the PNAC from 1998. The Bush & Cronies Crime Family have no intention of EVER leaving Iraq. Note the construction of the permenant bases and the world's largest embassy. They intend to try to "control" the oil. He plans to give the cell phone monopoly to Verizon, etc. He thinks that this will be his legacy and make up for all the dead.

They have made a fool of you.

Posted by: tommo at March 19, 2007 7:48 AM

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, VanDerLeun.

Posted by: Das at March 19, 2007 7:51 AM

Vanderluen: "If we leave because of your pouting and pique, we will return because of your stupidity."

Why oh why don't they understand that most basic of human behaviors? Reward a bad behavior and you will ALWAYS get more of it. Always!

Posted on and linked. Thanks for the great piece.

Posted by: GM Roper at March 19, 2007 7:56 AM

Note perfect. Thank you.

Posted by: Flea at March 19, 2007 8:10 AM

I remember back in the 60's when we were told the same lies about the reasons that we HAD to win in Vietnam. The domino theory has now been replaced by the "they will follow us home" line.

Posted by: John Ryan at March 19, 2007 8:15 AM

I would suggest that Iraq is not where this "war" must be fought because it is a war against Islam, not Iraq. On the other hand I see only two solutions for the current Iraq situation. They are spelled out in the excellent article at the URL below. In fact, a democracy such as ours does not have, or has not shown to this point, the total resolve to use either solution. Bush has not even thought about how to win in Iraq, let alone against Islam. He has not provided the resourses to support the Petraeus FM 3-24 DRAFT solution, and has not prepared the nation for the Roman solution. And to close, I might ask why Bush would expect, in light of VietNam, anything less than the reaction he is now receiving after his failures? Why did he (and you) not prepare for this response from the American people?

Posted by: HighPlainsJoker at March 19, 2007 8:29 AM

Great essay, complete with Faux Liberal commenters as cases in point.

Posted by: J. Peden at March 19, 2007 8:44 AM

What a sad, shameful excuse for a human being you are. Some folks will never learn, no matter how much they are bludgeoned over the head with the facts. Fight on, you glorious keyboard warrior!

Posted by: Seamus at March 19, 2007 8:53 AM

this post illustrates one of the key problems with discussing bush's war. the faithful can only seem to be able to support their arguments by posing strawmen and this case ridiculous strawmen and ridiculous mis-charachterizations. they bandy about quotes that were never spake. they make predictions as though every prediction they have made to date has not been dead wrong. they mock independent and critical thought as foolish...when it is their own thoughts that are tainted by a cultish loyalty...acting as though faith in one mans policies is a litmus test of their patriotism. they conflate 9.11 and iraq as if repeating it often enough will make it so.
a factual re-wite of the last graph: our enemies baited an incompetent leadership into the exact conflict they wanted, knowing full well their patience would allow them to outstrip us. and loyalty to the cult of one man will not allow the faithful to see that there are other means to the end...they see only the strawmen and mis-charachterizations necessary to support their arguments...and their cult.

Posted by: jay k. at March 19, 2007 9:06 AM

"Dispatches from the New America"

Wow, a "new" America. When did this new America show up, and what are the differences between the new one and the old one?

Just wondering. Thanks.

Posted by: bob at March 19, 2007 9:24 AM


Would it be possible to put jay-k's comment up in the body of your original post? Perfect Pitch, Large Singing Distaff Valkyrie (Cf.), QED.

BTW, did not intend the second K in the "katukaa" upthread but I kind of like it now.


Posted by: stevesh at March 19, 2007 9:37 AM

Your "feelings" require you to act with illogic as well.

Your "feelings" that war in Iraq has made you safer.

Your "feelings" that we are doomed if we leave Iraq.

Your "feelings" that western civilization is on the brink of destruciton by Islamic fundamentalists.

Your "feelings" that we have brought Iraq progress.

Your "feelings" that the war in Iraq, if prosecuted indefinitely, will prevent a nuclear attack on LA.

See? All those feelings you have....they have no logical factual basis, they are simply based on the emotions of fear and pride. Yet you feel self-righteous enough to belittle the anti-war crowd's disdain for the awful leadership this country has suffered...and label them "feelings", as if they weren't based on the reality that this war is a disaster.

When considering "feelings", I'll take love (and even shame, when called for) over fear, hate and foolish pride any day.

Posted by: ME at March 19, 2007 9:55 AM

4 years in a there still are Americans who believe Joe Wilson was speaking truth to power by declaring Bush lied.

Amazing how easy it was for Joe Wilson to con so many people.

After having lived in Moscow, Russia in 1991 with access to the knowledge that the Russian mafia was selling under the table all sorts of former Soviet Union state secrets (like how to effectively hide things) and weapons to Iraq, as well as, many other Mid Eastern kleptoctrats I didn't need George W Bush to convince me that ending Saddam's regime was vital to our National Security. And, apparently Clinton's 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act wrote the same thing.

Posted by: syn at March 19, 2007 10:00 AM

WTF are you not over there if you think staying is so important? Not one more American soldier should die, instead the likes of you and your ilk should be over there having your head blown off. Don't give me the crap about being too old for the military, didn't you notice the security contractors? Join a security contracting firm and protect American supplies, or whatever, but get your butt over there if it is so important to you.

Posted by: Fred at March 19, 2007 10:20 AM

But the Preznit already declared "Vicroty!"...Remember?..."Mission Accomplished!"

So why won't you Lovers of Death let our brave troops come home to their families?

Because you think you are entitled to steal our tax monay and give it to the Merchants of Death - you have a "welfare mentality" this Great Republic cannot afford to indulge.

Posted by: fiskhus jim at March 19, 2007 10:26 AM

Excellent post, Sir!
The BDS commenters drive your points home with a flourish of insanity!

Posted by: Ben USN (Ret) at March 19, 2007 10:28 AM

Wow. The neo-con delusion gets deeper every day.

Posted by: Mike at March 19, 2007 10:43 AM

Hmm. Seems your essay has really brought out the moonbats. Must be working.

Posted by: pbird at March 19, 2007 10:44 AM

Those who wish to end this war and put an end to loss of American lives are not doing so out of compassion for the "enslavers of women", or the "killers of homosexuals," they strive to end the fighting out of compassion for the enslaved women, for the gay people killed, for the innocent civilians who have died as a result of our invasion. Many of those who want to withdraw are not saying that it is a good solution. Quite the contrary in fact, there is no good solution. We cannot win this war. Every "insurgent" we kill sparks more opposition among the Iraqi people and therefore causes more "insurgents" to be created. If we wish to instill a democracy in the region, we would have to kill the 70% of Iraqis who want American troops to end their occupation; to leave the country they attacked without a cause. There is no good solution. This war is a debacle, and it only gets worse as time goes on. Withdrawal will cause even more sectarian violence for a period of time. That much is true and accepted by those calling for withdrawal. However, the best bad solution is ending American involvement in Iraq. No, the supporters of withdrawal are not advocating for the terrorists, or the extremists, or the dictators. They are advocating for the innocent men, women and children hurt by our bombs.

Posted by: sad truth at March 19, 2007 10:58 AM

Folks, the article is fundamentally not about Iraq or Bush or even about the "enemy" - it's about us and what we value most, which is revealed in our behavior. It's the world of Fahrenheit 451 playing itself out in real-time, the false prophets vending their wares once again, crying "peace when there is no peace".

We may give allegiance to the fantasies we create about how we wish the world to be, but reality will crash in upon us, sooner or later. Are we living in the time of Louis XIV, Louis XV, or Louis XVI? - place your bet and cast the die - but remember the stakes are our lives and those of our descendants.

Truly inspired article, Vanderleun. Found you via GM's Corner.

Posted by: civil truth at March 19, 2007 11:39 AM

A fine essay as usual, Gerard.

As for the detractors:
Ah yes, it's always the wrong war, or a civil war, or we were told it would be over quickly, or this is all about oil, or the neocons have screwed everything up royally, or the terrible leadership of Chimpy Mc Bushitler, or it's giving tax dollars to the merchants of death, or..or..or..or...

To which I ask:
Is it ever right to try to defend ourselves against the attacks of the Islamists who have stated their intentions very clearly? Is there any alternative strategy other than cut and run offered? Is there any recognition that trying to bring the Muslim world into the modern world is a strategy for lasting peace? Is there any recognition that the solution offered by Edwin Lutwak would never be accepted by Americans and cannot lead to lasting peace? Is there any recognition that if we cut and run now the next engagement will be closer to home and infinitely more violent? Is there any recognition that our enemies deepest desires are to turn as many of our cities as possible into smoking, radioactive ruins? Is there any recognition that this is not an enemy that is going to let us ignore them? Is there any recognition that the best way to defeat this enemy is to be UNITED and RESOLUTE and PATIENT? I could go on but I think the point is clear.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 19, 2007 11:42 AM

If you are not paying for this war or sacrificing you should not have an opinion.
So Right Wingers either pay for the war out of your misserable earnings, or go fight your damn war youselfs... Either way you are on your way out war, and everithing. The loosers that could never get it right, celebrate their stupidity with still more "advice" what a bunch of clowns!!!

With 70% of Americans opposing you loosers, and you still think you can dictate on the rest of us!!! Hey people wake up!! you guys had been judged not to even be good enough to sale used cars at Uncle Sam's Used Car Lot .

Posted by: gil at March 19, 2007 11:57 AM

Brilliant piece. The asshats are coming out in force, and proving every point.

"the supporters of withdrawal are not advocating for the terrorists, or the extremists, or the dictators. They are advocating for the innocent men, women and children hurt by our bombs"

This maroon must be "Imagine"-ing a world of ponies and rainbows for everyone. Simply put, if the US fails here, we've failed the world for generations - guaranteeing enslavement of women, death to homosexuals and face it, all non-muslims. Way to think short-term!

Posted by: apb at March 19, 2007 12:01 PM

I am not the faithful. I did not vote for George Bush. I am not from America. I admire America a great deal. For all of its faults which there are many, the policy of standing up in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere is the right thing to do.

I have had the good fortune to travel very many places in the world. The vast majority of Muslims are not interested in assimilating themselves into the dominant culture. The most amazing thing is that Muslims feel that you have to adapt yourselves to them.

This has happened to me in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Qatar. This is a feeling among all income levels from the extremely rich to really poor. The argumentation seems to be that they are the dominant culture across the world and they will not be dicatated to under any circumstances.

Do I have hard numbers? Do I have concrete data that will authoritatively back up my claims? No I don't. But the fact that other cultures exist and have a place in civil society seems to escape most Muslims.

President Bush has decided to make a stand. And it needs to be done because others cannot do so. The parallels are quite stark: the last days of the Roman Empire, the stand at Thermoplyae, World War II and the Cold War are all major endeavors that defined a generation and its place in history. This is one such time. And he is to be applauded for this feat.

Posted by: subrot0 at March 19, 2007 12:28 PM

I must admit that the tide certainly appears to be turning. Interesting that the vast majority of Iraqis feel optimistic and do not feel they are in a "civil war". (This from a British study released today). What does it say when the various tribes in Anbar province, unite and send thousands of there own young men to join with the US and Iraqi forces against the terrorists? What does it say when the populace of Baghdad see their city returning to some semblance of normalcy? When will the media begin to focus on this?

Texas Democrat

Posted by: Texas Dem... at March 19, 2007 12:34 PM

The only "true" solution is to vaporize the entire middle east. Otherwise, to talk of victory is simply to equate this "war" with the conventional wars of the past. We have been told that this war is not like any other, but no one wants to fight it that way.

And unless you destroy every terrorist and every remote relative of the terrorists, you will not have won. In fact, one must obliterate not only the human beings, but their entire history and culture. Otherwise there will be no such thing as victory.

Are you man enough for that?

Nation building is precisely the mistake. In your absolutist world there is only right and wrong. If you are not willing to "go all the way" then you simply are crowing like a school yard bully who happens to be the biggest baddest boy right now. But there are allows bigger and badder boys waiting to be born and waiting to depose the current bully.

This is not a game. And alluding to the movie "300" puts all of the bluster in its proper context. The defense of freedom by the Spartans was against an actual attack by actual hordes of enemies.

But as all bullies our "new war" was no such "noble" act of the down trodden soon to be conquered, but the flex of a power (not unlike the Persians). But to our current crop of "heroes" war is simply just another video game.

Posted by: eddiehaskel at March 19, 2007 12:55 PM

Excellent piece. It seems you got them mad by attacking thier holy text, "Imagine". Hello moonbats. I grant you the power to replace Bush and the Congress and Supreme Court with your hand picked moonbat candidates. I grant you the power to capture Osama and his buddies! Even then you would be unable to stop this war, which, moonbats, is not really just in Iraq or Afghanistan. You will not stop it and it will reach it's logical conclusion as all processes in this world do.

Your holy text, "Imagine", has no power.

Posted by: w at March 19, 2007 12:58 PM

Who exactly believes the world is running on wishes? The ones who see this war for the tragic, hopeless blunder it was or the ones who keep magically believing the tide is turning, no matter how namy times they have been proving to be wrong, no matter how many "six more months" go by, no matter how many new strategies are offered, no matter how many Americans and Iraqis die. You all are the ones who are breathing fairy dust, but of course you don't have to suffer the consequences of your extreme delusions.

Posted by: The Frito Pundito at March 19, 2007 1:03 PM

Actually, I'd say that this country has already suffered the consequences of the delusions of the 60s generation and their spawn many times over in the last few decades. If you'd been paying attention, you'd know that.

Regarding "War On the Cheap" --

The Claremont Institute サ For the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy

"The United States produces approximately $11 trillion of goods and services annually, of which roughly $400 billion, or 3.6% of GDP, has been allocated to military spending including the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This 3.6% of GDP is far less than the 5.7% the U.S. devoted to defense spending in the peacetime years of the period 1940-2000, and barely more than just a quarter of the average of 13.3% of GDP devoted to defense in the wartime years." [Figures from 2004 but the general proportionality holds]

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at March 19, 2007 1:14 PM

Did I write this?

Wish I had.

Posted by: Alex K at March 19, 2007 1:28 PM

response to jimmy j at 11:42...
Is it ever right to try to defend ourselves against the attacks of the Islamists who have stated their intentions very clearly? YOU ARE CONFLATING A CIVIL WAR WITH 9.11 - STOP IT. Is there any alternative strategy other than cut and run offered? YES. MULTIPLE OPTIONS. THOUGHTFUL OPTIONS. OPTIONS THAT ACKNOWLEDGE REALITY. OPTIONS THAT RECOGNIZE A FAILED STRATEGY AS A FAILED STRATEGY. Is there any recognition that trying to bring the Muslim world into the modern world is a strategy for lasting peace? YES - IS THERE ANY RECOGNITION THAT DOING SO AT THE END OF A GUN, AND BY TORTURING INNOCENTS, MAY NOT BE THE BEST METHODS TO DO THIS. Is there any recognition that the solution offered by Edwin Lutwak would never be accepted by Americans and cannot lead to lasting peace? I WILL RECOGNIZE THAT ON THIS POINT I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE REFERENCING. Is there any recognition that if we cut and run now the next engagement will be closer to home and infinitely more violent? IS THERE ANY RECOGNITION THAT THIS PREDICTION IS PROBABLY ABOUT AS VALID AS OTHER PREDICTIONS BY NEO-CON DREAMERS AND OTHER SUPPORTERS OF BUSH'S WAR. Is there any recognition that our enemies deepest desires are to turn as many of our cities as possible into smoking, radioactive ruins? MORE CONFLATION. STOP IT. DO YOU REALLY THINK THIS IS WHAT IRAQI INSURGENTS FIGHTING A CIVIL WAR WANT. Is there any recognition that this is not an enemy that is going to let us ignore them? AGAIN WITH THE CONFLATION. Is there any recognition that the best way to defeat this enemy is to be umnited and resolute and patient? IS THERE ANY RECOGNITION THAT A FAILED STRATEGY IS A FAILED STRATEGY IS A FAILED STRATEGY AND ALL THE RESOLUTNESS AND PATIENCE WILL NOT CHANGE THAT. I could go on but I think the point is clear. YES IT IS.

Posted by: jay k. at March 19, 2007 1:34 PM

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at March 19, 2007 2:32 PM

Gerard: What you say could not have been said better. As a Muslim I have supported Bush from the morning of 9/11, and nothing despite all the sound and fury has put a dint in my view that Bush has been right in how he has dealt with the forces of "fascism" at play in the greater Middle East. If the Arab-Muslim world is to enter irrevocably into the modern world, embrace modernity and democracy, it will be because of the proddings of the U.S. And irrespective of where are "moderate" Muslims -- the constant droning of the question why Americans are not hearing sufficiently loudly from "moderate" Muslims" -- the facts are the Arab-Muslim world is not a monolith, Muslims have been casualties in great number for their quest to be free people, and great many Muslims are not neutral in this struggle against the forces of darkness that have intimidated, coerced and ruled them. You are so right, the weakness or absence of patience on the side of freedom entrenches the forces of unfreedom given their long history of patiently maneuvering against the tide of human history of which America remains the beacon and the citadel in our world.


Posted by: Salim at March 19, 2007 2:46 PM

Six years since 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden still has his head. So much for fighting terrorists. All we have to show for 6 years is a civil war in Iraq, Afganistan slowly sliding backward and and the freaking ISI and Al-Qaeda laughing at us from the safety Pakistani tribal areas. You neocons are certified idiots and you want us to trust you for another 6 months after which you want another 6. No. If we don't meet the Islamic threat with some inteligence rather than stupid, useless beligerance then Bin Laden and his ilk will have *our* heads. Get out of Iraq, regroup, and reengage when we get an administration that has a real plan. With this bunch all we have to look forward to is FAILURE. Better to stop at 3200 dead than 4000+.

Posted by: barking moonbat at March 19, 2007 3:34 PM

It's hard to trust a chimpanzee who is giving our tax money to his lizard friends, no matter what the charge.

Makes you want to move to Orange County, get a Republican bleach-bottle blonde with plastic knockers, then head north, posting pithy observations on the American landscape.

Posted by: Wallace Telford at March 19, 2007 4:09 PM

jay k.
Golly, you don't have to yell at me. Well, let's see if I can answer some of your assertions.

"YOU ARE CONFLATING A CIVIL WAR WITH 9.11 - STOP IT." Au contraire, it is you who wish to believe that the Islamists are restricted to a small group in a small area of the world. They may number as many as 100 million and are in every Muslim country and many non-muslim countries. Osama, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, KSM, and many others have declared very plainly that their intentions are to attack us everywhere and anywhere. They do recognize that there are people like you who want to believe that you can treat them like an isolated problem, which can be dealt with by dipolomacy, foreign aid, police work, and real politik. In fact they're counting on it.

If you are refering to the ideas of the ISG, then I will agree there are some options .........for talking. But what options have been put forward for defeating the Islamists? Can they be defeated without military action? If not, then what military action other than redeploying to Okinawa do you suggest?

"YES - IS THERE ANY RECOGNITION THAT DOING SO AT THE END OF A GUN, AND BY TORTURING INNOCENTS, MAY NOT BE THE BEST METHODS TO DO THIS." Let me see, do I know of any countries that were converted to democracy at the end of a gun? Oh, how about Germany and Japan? But they may not be good examples because we had to kill many hundreds of thousands to accomplish that end. We are trying to do this in a humane fashion.

The strategy will work if we intend to be an imperialistic power. I don't believe that is our intention and I don't think it would lead to lasting peace.

"IS THERE ANY RECOGNITION THAT THIS PREDICTION IS PROBABLY ABOUT AS VALID AS OTHER PREDICTIONS BY NEO-CON DREAMERS AND OTHER SUPPORTERS OF BUSH'S WAR." And your prediction is that leaving Iraq before the government can stand on its own would lead to lasting Middle Eastern peace? You are aware of the increasing number of attacks on the West since 1979, aren't you? You are aware of this site aren't you?

"MORE CONFLATION. STOP IT. DO YOU REALLY THINK THIS IS WHAT IRAQI INSURGENTS FIGHTING A CIVIL WAR WANT." You really need to do more reading, jay. Just for starters I suggest you read these sites and bring me report on what is actually going on in Iraq:

"AGAIN WITH THE CONFLATION." Again I refer you to the site for the Religion of Peace and to the many attacks which have occurred since 1979.

And what is the proper strategy for WINNING? We are waiting for that grand strategy. Oh yeah, I remember JFKerry saying he planned to get Bin Laden and be very, very tough. Yeah, that's a strategy. Many of the terrorists we're fighting in Iraq are from all over the Muslim world. They go to Iraq because it gives them a chance to see action, kill infidels, and maybe get their heavenly rewards a bit quicker. If we weren't in Iraq they would be in Afghanistan. And if we weren't in Afghanistan they would be in training camps getting ready for attacks in Europe, the USA, the Philippines, India, and Africa to name a few. I only know what they tell us. Maybe you are privy to some inside information that the Islamists really don't believe what they say.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 19, 2007 5:13 PM

As if you couldn't tell that most of GWB’s, I mean, Cheney’s attentions have been elsewhere over the last few months, there's this creeping sense of impending feeble disintegration spreading mange-like through the White House and it’s herd, as I heed a flange of greenery and blue skies a-coming. I mean a change of scenery. Freshly traumatized from their selling of what passes for a soul, Karl, DICK, and Georgie must be secreted in some dark dank cubby-hole in a forgotten rat-shit infested corner of the basement where Tricky Dicky used to drink his Kessler on the rocks and pray to his god/devil/mommie, still reeling from the stunning conclusion that their “party” has about as much soul as a Mormon Potluck. Now it just seems surprising that they didn't bail out twelve months ago and live in the woods, a tarp over a badly stained mattress (Oh DICK! Shame!), his Fisher-Price record player balanced on a cheap $1.89 Styrofoam ice chest full of Blatz and head cheese. I’m guessing that people are sick of them telling them that they’re unpatri-idiotic; they all don't know what it's like living on the receiving end of this dirty sham. No exaggeration is too excessive, no posture is too screwball.

Posted by: Carl Gordon at March 19, 2007 5:17 PM

Marvelous piece - thank you!

As a father, I fear the world my children will have to deal with if we don't re-learn the neccessity of decisive victory at all costs once battle is joined. Somehow, in WWII, Americans understood that no outcome short of their unconditional surrender would stop aggressive tyrants from controlling the world. How and when did we lose that knowledge?

While we cannot afford to lose Iraq or Afghanistan, I think a better strategy would be to systematically identify, hunt down and kill the radial muslim imams preaching destruction of the west, and to destroy their mosques and madrassas. Let them suffer directly the consequences of their own hatred. No sense in just killing off the cannon fodder while they bring up whole generations of new killers.

The spread of technology will soon enable any minor power to field nuclear, chemical, and (worst of all) biological weapons. Like it or not, we will eventually be forced to take down ALL of the hostile dictatorships and failed states, or face our own destruction. Sadly, I think it will take some truly horrific acts of terrorism before the feminized, morally confused people of the west wake up to confront the ruthless barbarians at our gates. Or would even be able to identify a ruthless barbarian as someone other than a person with a different, equally valid culture we must respect.

Posted by: Steve at March 19, 2007 5:29 PM

We've become a country of living "Lite."

Lite beer, Lite marriage, Lite divorce, Lite morality, Lite sex, Lite peace and now, Lite war.

Lite comes with too much luxury and not enough struggle, when the livin' is easy, and there's nothing much worth fighting for except strawmen and a parking place at the mall.

Oh, and did I include Lite history?

Let's compare our current demand for Lite War in Iraq with, say, two days at Gettysberg where 51,000 were killed. Or Antietam where over 22,000 died in the bloodiest day in US history.

A total of 620,000 casualties in the American Civil War. And 62 million during World War II.

The there's Lite sex as a result of over 40,000,000 pregnancies since 1973.

Today we demand to live Lite.

Mantra for our times: Let the Lite Shine In. And because it is false, it only brings more darkness.
How much darker and deeper do we go before we see the Light?

Posted by: Webutante at March 19, 2007 5:41 PM

Gerard your essay Four Years In is magnificent. It stings with the truth and shames the cowardly . You are to be congratulated and encouraged.
To all the critics, where are your solutions for victory? You whine and snivel and gripe but I don't see a single advocate telling us how to win. If you think leaving Iraq and the middle East will assure your safety, please tell us how. Diplomacy? Appeasement? Negotiations? You people haven't been paying attention. They want to kill all of us, including you. You don"t believe them? Then perhaps you need a reality check. They have been screaming for our deaths for two decades and you are not convinced? Have your head examined at once.

Posted by: william jonas at March 19, 2007 8:03 PM


Thanks again. A guilty pleasure - I love seeing the moonbats moon and howl. Notice how the moonbats never never never refer to 9/11? That we deserved it is so deeply buried in their subterreanean thinking - they simply never feel the need to refer to it, ever. Oh, they talk up the Iraqi civilian dead and dead American soldiers but I don't believe them. Their angst is selective and they select for what might leverage them into power.

That our soldiers are volunteers twists the moonbat left into insanity; they cannot abscond with the soldiers' narrative; they are forced to reckon with soldiers' stepping up to say, "I believe in this." (but they can't reckon as revealed here in the comments; so we abide their spurious analogies and shallow personal attack - they haven't got much else)

Posted by: Das at March 19, 2007 8:38 PM

Gerard, I'm so sad to see the moonbats out, but moths do tend towards a light like your piece today. One day Charles Johnson will perfect a tinfoil hat screening procedure, but until then, you'll just have to bear patiently among those who were once your brethren. A prophet is without honor in his own town, especially one who has turned against the town.

You capture a very real feeling - and better, give the reasons for it - in this essay; a feeling best described as disgust; an emotion triggered when, for example, I drive by a pack of leftists waving scribed drivel on pink poster board, nonsense about “Honk for Peace”.

As they disappear behind me, I think I've thought out parts of this essay - not the whole but a line here or there. Silently, I have inquired into the logic that, if a horn honks, then peace will result. Of course that's a magical line of thought; they crave not the sounds from the horns, but the souls of the men. The question remains though, why loud, long, atonal notes when flashing blinkers or nodding heads or, more appropriately, a “Peace Sign” would just as simply – and more civilly - indicate support. In short, why must they break the peace for there to be peace? Then I remember another chant: "We shall... over.... come," and I understand why they honk their horns, though this understanding comes from the knowledge that wars are conducted to secure peace by dominating, by destroying, by overcoming the enemy.

If Gerard will indulge me, I'll end with some Shakespeare. I open myself to all the obvious retorts of 'Richard III', 'Henry V', and 'Julius Caesar', though the last would require comparing Bush with Caesar. However, should we learn to conduct our arguments by quoting our literary superiors, then our disagreements would be at least more poetical, if not more elevated, than "Screw you hippy" to "No blood for oil". Now Shakespeare, being a very sensible and sane man, often warned us about demagogues and in 'Coriolanus' [Act III, Sc. i], we hear a speech on the topic from the title character to the assembled Roman Senate:

This double worship,
Where one part does disdain with cause, the other
Insult without all reason; where gentry title, wisdom,
Cannot conclude but by the yea and no
Of general ignorance, - it must omit
Real necessities, and give way the while
To unstable slightness: purpose so barr'd, it follows,
Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore beseech you,-
You that will be less fearful than discreet;
That love the fundamental part of state
More than you doubt the change on 't; that prefer
A noble life before a long, and wish
To jump a body with a dangerous physic
That's sure of death without it, - at once pluck out
The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
The sweet which is their poison. Your dishonour
Mangles true judgement and bereaves the state
Of that integrity which should become 't;
Not having the power to do the good it would,
For the ill which doth control 't.

The Romans would not listen to Coriolanus, but instead banished him for these words. Out of rage, he joined his enemies and with them conquered all that stood against him. At the gates of Rome, a procession of women led by his mother and wife, begged him to spare the city, and his noble heart forced him to grant mercy. We should not hope for the same from our enemy, for reasons that be obvious.

Posted by: LRFD at March 19, 2007 10:36 PM

I am one Canadian who loves America and knows the debt we owe you for our freedom and prosperity in this dangerous world.

Your piece was wonderful and true.

The comments from the Left are chilling.

Thank you,


Posted by: John at March 19, 2007 11:29 PM

I am one Canadian who loves America and knows the debt we owe you for our freedom and prosperity in this dangerous world.

Your piece was wonderful and true.

The comments from the Left are chilling.

Thank you,


Posted by: John at March 19, 2007 11:30 PM

jimmy j.
1). you are indeed conflating. we are policing a civil war in iraq. a few al-queda cells are there - sure - because we created a situation were they could exist where they couldn't operate openly before. we've given them a recruiting poster and a training ground. no doubt there are terrorists "who want to kill us" - if you enjoy fear mongering as much as karl rove does. but iraq is a seperate issue. our soldiers are being killed in a civil war that has never had anything to do with 9.11, or was ever a threat to us.
2). there is the isg, and there are probably half a dozen other plans/ideas/strategies being floated. the administration is stuck with their "our way our the hi-way" we can win militarily mentality. talking - diplomacy - is the only solution to iraq. military options have not and will not work in a sustainable way. yes - we have to kill al queda. no - we do not have to police a civil war.
3). you are really pointing to germany and japan? how long did it take to tear down the berlin wall? and japan as a model of democracy? i'll ignore the cake-walk concept sold by the administrartion.
4). if we weren't in iraq we could actually be be in afghanistan or the phillipines or any of the other places you discuss - or how about pakistan for instance - going after the people who really want to do us harm instead of policing a civil war.

i know the propagandists have made it hard for you to stop lumping iraq and al queda but ultimately you have to think for yourself. one has never had anything to do with the other. step aside and let the iraqis have a civil war and work it out themselves. right now we are doing exactly what al queda wants us to do - wear ourselves out in a civil war. we should be smarter. we need to be smarter. we can be smarter.

Posted by: jay k. at March 20, 2007 6:14 AM

notice how members of the bush-cult always refer to 9.11 - even though the two issues are only related by the incompetent actions of the people pouring their kool-aid? the sooner we stop wasting our time energy and resources in iraq the sooner we can address the people who want the fear-mogerers love to say...kill us.

Posted by: jay k. at March 20, 2007 7:23 AM

Has anyone ever thought about where we would be today if GWB had addressed the world late in 2002 and declared "I have ordered that all American air support to the no fly zones over Iraq be terminated in 90 days. The Iraqi military has been lighting up the radars on our jets and taking offensive measures against us for many months now in defiance of U.N. resolutions. I call the nations of France, Germany, Turkey, Jordan and Russia to now enforce the no fly zones over Iraq as stipulated by the United Nations approved cease fire to the Gulf War which have protected the Kurds to the north and the Shia to the south from genocide. These are the very same nations that are reaping the greatest profit from circumventing the Oil for Food program through smuggeling and illegal financial and weapons deals. The terms of the Oil for Food arrangement were also put in place by the United Nations.
These nations now have 90 days to figure out how to stop Saddam's genocide or, the blood will be on your hands."
Rather than charging to the rescue, followed by howling nations that profited greatly from illegal business deals with a despot, my fantasy is that just once the U.S. would tell it like it is and move the checker to the other guy's side of the board.
I see the same scenario developing in Sudan. Take a look at the oil contract maps of southern Sudan... Would any U.S. admin have the balls to call France and China on the mat for the genocide in the Sudan? No blood for oil, indeed! Peddle that tripe to the French. If one American boot lands on the ground in Sudan, because we absolutely MUST do something about the genocide, I will be furious.

Posted by: Babs at March 20, 2007 7:43 AM

Thank you for your essay, Gerard. It's certainly one of your best.

To those of you who shout that supporters of the war should give up everything and go fight in Iraq: many of us have. Your cries carry no weight, because thousands of men and women have given up jobs and the comforts of home to volunteer in a war that they're willing to give their lives to win.

Others (such as myself) would be in Iraq in a hearbeat if it wasn't for age or medical conditions.

And still more have already served their country well. In Europe. In Korea. In Vietnam. In Gulf War I.

And we are paying for this war in other ways. In fact, since 2001, I've been able to pay my taxes without grumbling. I just imagine that the government is using all of my collected income to finance the war against Islamofascism. You go right ahead and feel free to imagine that they're using your tax dollars to fund global warming studies.

And then there is worry. Some of my closest friends are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. I've already lost one to an IED. Another is returning to Iraq next month for a second nine-month deployment. But while I fear for the safety of my friends and loved ones, I believe that their sacrifices are making the world safer. They're not just fighting an insurgency. They're fighting against an idea. If we allow that idea to spread unopposed, then the next step will be our enslavement.

Posted by: Charles at March 20, 2007 7:52 AM

You're a looney.

Posted by: salvage at March 20, 2007 7:54 AM

that was very powerfully written. i like your use of language but i don't get the point of what you wrote.
is it that 4 years isn't very long for a war?
when did you serve in the military sir?
where did you fight? i'm curious. i have a strong feeling for all your bombast you never raised arms against anyone for the cause of defending this nation.
if you haven't served a day in uniform your words are hollow.
the deaths of soldiers ought to be for purpose and the only purpose i read in your essay was oil. but where is this oil? what say you of nation building? wasn't the president against that during his campaign in 2000?
i'm a sad conservative watching my values perverted by your taunting of these ideological children. i did not want more oil. i wanted justice and security and i still do.
this is not an anniversary to be celebrated by either side.

Posted by: dl at March 20, 2007 8:15 AM

Actually, the 'moonbats' refer to 9/11 quite often, usually in the context of 'Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 - why did we invade them? Shouldn't we be focused on Afghanistan, or getting OBL the Hell out of Pakistan (which claims to be our ally, yet shelters the biggest mass murderer of the 21st century)?'

Curious how nobody in the Administration seems to care about that any more.

Posted by: Robert Walker-Smith at March 20, 2007 8:33 AM

"There are none so blind as those who will not see."

As for that other Beetle who wrote:

"When You Were Young And Your Heart Was An Open Book
You Used To Say Life And Let Life
(You Know You Did)
But In This Ever Changing World In Which We Live In
Makes You Give In And Cry
Say Live And Let Die

What Does It Matter To Ya
When You Got A Job To Do
You Gotta Do It Well
You Gotta Give The Other Fellow Hell"

I'm all for living and letting the enemy of my living die. I was for it in 1969 when I finished basic training as a lottery winner in the draft, and I'm for in 2007 with my only son being stop-lossed and serving his second tour in Iraq as a ground-pounder.

I put my finger on Iraq on the globe. From that key point, America can project power, stability, and democracy across much of the world that houses our current and potential enemies and competitors for earth's resources. As American warriors remain on post in Europe after a war that ended over sixty years ago, American warriors must be in Iraq and Afghanistan much longer.

The tree of liberty grows slowly in poor soil.

Posted by: twolaneflash at March 20, 2007 8:40 AM

dl - No one on the support victory side of this war on words is "celebrating" this anniversary. It is the other side of this discussion that is sporting salsa dancers on stilts, women with only bumper stickers over their breasts, jihadi clad young Americans shouting for destruction of our country and the burning of troops in effigy.
Oil? Peddle your "no blood for oil" mantra to the Chinese and the French as it relates to their business dealings in the Sudan (Darfur)...
Ideological children??? I guess that someone who doesn't have a clue who they are supporting by turning out and lending "boots on the ground" is an ideologue. In that regard, I will agree with you.

Posted by: Babs at March 20, 2007 8:46 AM

Unfortunately, you make the fundamental mistake that many wingnuts make, that of confusing the world how you would like it to be with how the world actually is.

Posted by: BeingThere at March 20, 2007 9:01 AM

jay k.
Unfortunately your argument about a civil war in Iraq does not resonate with me. You obviously have not read much about what is going on on the ground other than MSM articles that want to pose any argument as to why the U.S. should not be there. It is a "global war on terror." I know it's hard for you to understand that when you want to believe that there are just a few bad guys in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Saddam was not directly involved in 9-11 and I don't know why you keep saying that I or anyone else believes that. He was, however, a supporter of terrorism and would certainly have been happy to pass WMDs to any terrorist group for an attack on the U.S. if he could do so with plausible deniability. He also sheltered known terrorists and did nothing to stop the local Iraqi Al Quaeda group. You probably didn't know that Ramzi Youssef, the 1993 Trade Center bomber was the nephew of KSM, the mastermind of 9-11. And that they are both originally from Iraq. These Islamist terrorists come from all over the Muslim world and they are active all over the world. Once again I refer you to the site:

Germany and Japan are both countries with reasonably honest representative governments. After their defeats by force of arms in WWII they have joined the family of nations that want to live in peace with others. I realize that bringing the Muslim world into the modern world will be difficult. As I recall President Bush has said many times that this was a war like no other and would last many years. So, no one said it would be easy. But it is the only way to lasting peace. Countries with reasonably honest representative governments are more interested in doing what is good for their citizens and joining in trade and peaceful relations with other nations. Read Thomas Barnett's "The Pentagon's New Map" to inform yourself about this.

Terrorism is mostly about propaganda. The goal of the terrorists is to give the impression that they are a force that cannot be resisted and that they are willing to do anything to defeat their opponents. When their enemies give the impression of being divided against themselves, it only encourages them. In that way we are our own worst enemy. The terrorists are certainly winning the propaganda war right now and I'm afraid you are a prime example of that.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 20, 2007 9:12 AM

Yeah, this essay is nonsense. You don't have to agree with - or even like - the demonstrators that you're talking about to think that this essay is nonsense. It's just completely false; the sentiment, the rhetoric, the claims to truth.

"Four years into the most gentle war ever fought, a war fought on the cheap at every level, a war fought to avoid civilian harm rather than maximize it." Gentle? Cheap? Where are you getting your facts from? This has been a brutal (for the Iraqis, although I don't suppose you notice that) and costly (for us, although I suppose that you'd like us to spend the budget on big explosions) war that has had exactly the opposite effect that it was intended to. And avoiding civilian harm is all very well, but you might want to tell that to the 2-million-odd refugees in Jordan and Syria.

For the record, I don't think we should be pulling out any time soon - but that's definitely the lesser of two evils, and I would far rather we hadn't gotten to this point in the first place. You hope your writing invokes the tenor of the great essayists, but all it does is expose the weakness of your thinking. Pitiful.

Posted by: merkur at March 20, 2007 9:24 AM

"Luxury is more ruthless than war."

Posted by: Lee at March 20, 2007 9:40 AM

Four years... too long for an ill-planned misadventure of quagmire proportions. A war that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. A war our traditional military has no ability to win. A war that we aren't even trying to win. A war that is stretching our forces thin to the breaking point. A war that is used for distraction... and reputation-making for the warmongering politicians that put us there with lies. History has taught us nothing.

Four years... of the 101st Keyboardists. Reveling in the glory of death, yet not volunteering to be the ones dying. Unable or unwilling to correctly define the enemy. Refusing to acknowledge the complicity of our own policies. Stuck in a rut of hate. Hate of Muslims. Hate of liberals. Hate of the Other. Unaware of their marginality and diminishing credibility.

Four years... and counting. How many? Ten? Fifteen? Twenty? Of a grinding war with no way to win, because once again we are between factions in a civil war. A war that was inevitable the minute we destabilized their country. Twenty years of casualties, both military and civilian. Twenty years of wounded and no money to treat them unless they can be rehabilitated and returned to battle. And for what? The myth of security at home? A country that is no longer itself, its defining characteristics of liberty and justice having been perverted in a headlong rush to solidify the power of Dear Leader and coddle the xenophobic.

Four years and spreading, because Current Occupant needs something to distract the people from his failure in Iraq, we will push the war into Iran. If we stay. As Colin Powell said, "you break it; you own it." We will own this shame forever. But as it was with Vietnam, if Iraq is to ever move forward, we must leave. There will be killing fields. We will be responsible. Current Occupant should have thought with his big head instead of the little. This unfortunate war has greatly hindered our ability to counter and control the extremists who use Islam as a shield for their irrational violence.

Four years... and plenty.

Posted by: Dolly at March 20, 2007 9:50 AM

Superb essay. You hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: igallopon at March 20, 2007 10:15 AM

Holy cow. I don't know a single person who wasn't in favor of going after the Taliban and Bin Laden, and of finishing the job in Afghanistan and capturing Bin Laden, which was not done because President Bush was more interested in Iraq. Your entire premise is wrong. If Los Angeles is attacked, the likelihood of that happening has, if anything, been increased by the war in Iraq, not decreased. Attacking an admittedly evil but secular regime has only helped Hamas and Hezbollah, prevented us from dealing effectively with North Koria and Iran, weakened reform efforts in Iran, reduced our influence and stengthened the Islamofascists that hate democracy, hate women and hate everthing we stand for.

And whose fault is it that this war was run on the cheap? General Shinsiki said we'd need 300,000 troops to maintain order and he was esentially fired. Then the Occupational Authority was staffed with a bunch of Young Republicans instead of people who knew anything about Iraq or nation building. Your anger is misdirected.

Posted by: Steve Jung at March 20, 2007 10:46 AM

Holy cow! That was a poetry of snark!

I am in awe.

Posted by: S. Weasel at March 20, 2007 11:15 AM

jimmy j.
yes terrorists are willing to do us harm. great harm. but today...right now...we are doing more harm to ourselves than they are. we are f'ing up what you call the global war on terror and there will be consequences for our errors. and make no mistake about will be because of people like you...not in spite of. obviously you have been made very afraid by the neo-con fear-mongers and i feel for you...irrational fear can be debilitating. however, rational intelligent critical thought would serve both you and your country better during times like this.

Posted by: jay k. at March 20, 2007 12:07 PM

Funny how we all seem to talk past each other in the comments.
I posed the question many posts ago of a scenario that could have happened. The U.S. could have called out the countries that were profiting rather handsomly under the oil for food program and told them that the U.S. would no longer protect the indiginous population of Iraq from slaughter based on documented world corruption. No one seems to want to take this scenario into account. Instead, the bulk of the comments are about the mistakes the U.S. has made. Is there no accountability for all the other nations of the world that have been shown to shamelessly profit on the backs of the Iraqi people?
Will we repeat this scenario in the Sudan? Will those of you that want to vilify the U.S. do so again if we place boots on the ground in the Sudan? Or, will the Sudan be alright with you as the U.S. has had a trade embargo against that country for many years hence, no commercial interest, and imports no oil from them?
If the U.S. has no strategic interest nor commercial interest in a country,is it OK for the U.S. to put boots on the ground?
Does that make any sense to anyone????

Posted by: Babs at March 20, 2007 12:42 PM

jay k,
Okay, jay, we'll just have to agree to disagree. You see the world through a different set of lenses than I do. As a 74 year old Vietnam Vet, I'll admit that I am very strongly prejudiced against seeing our country quit on a fight that is winnable. Especially when there is no reason for quitting except the desire of the neo Marxists to see this country brought low.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 20, 2007 1:02 PM

jimmy j.
winnable? what does victory look like?

Posted by: jay k. at March 20, 2007 1:31 PM

Okay, you want a plan? Here is an outline.

1) Withdraw from Sunni and Shiite areas of Iraq but maintain presence in Kurdistan. The Kurds will love this because it gives them our protection against their external enemies and it gives us a land based foothold.
2) See how the Civil War shakes out in the rest of Iraq. Most likely endstate is stable Shiite state in East including Bagdad. West is likely failed Sunni state. Other Sunni states like Syria and Jordan are also borderline stable and all will have to be watched. Our policy should be to do what limited things we can do to try to reach a stable conclusion.
3) If the conclusion is a failed state we need to do small footprint intelligence and special forces operations to detect and eliminate international terrorist opportunists that may use this situation to their advantage. The fatal flaw of the current
US Iraqi occupation is it's large, inflammitory presence. We are a big dumb elephant in a china shop. It's much better to be an invisible bolt from the blue.
4) Do not let Afghanistan fail. Increase our presense there and assist economically as intelligently as we can.
5) Address the Pakistani tribal areas. This will require diplomacy with Pakistan and if that fails increased covert action on our part regardless of how they feel about it. Ultimately Pakistan contain our most dangerous enemies. This, in a state that has the bomb. We will have to tread very carefully but decisively in this part of the world.
6) Talk to the Iranian gov't and foster a positive view of the West among their populace. If we threaten them we push their people away from us. Deal with them intelligently and they will be an allay again in 20 years.
7) Institute a Manhattan project for non-oil based energy. Rather than trying to grab the oil, make it irrelevant.

Bottom line. Stop beating everything with a cold war hammer. Use your brains instead and employ some clever manipulation and covert tactics. If you are going to be in the Middle East's face they are going to be in your face. We have to be smarter than they are, not stronger. We already are stronger but we are being dumb.

Posted by: Barking Moonbat at March 20, 2007 2:32 PM

jimmy j...
see here's the thing...even if we "win" in iraq tomorrow...the neo-marxists, as you call them, will still want to see this country brought low. only even in victory we will have accomplished absolutely nothing in the effort to stop them. iraq is never going to be the shining beacon of democracy the neo-cons have wet dreams about. democracy is not going to spread like wild-fire thru the middle east. and even if it did organizations like hamas will get themselves elected. the reality of the situation is that the iraqi government that we are propping up is so weak, and so corrupt, that we are going to be there matter what any democrat tells you. we will be there, and our exclusive goal will be to keep iraq from becoming what afghanistan was...and is currently re-becoming.
trust me...i had people die on 9.11 and i want to see al-queda and their like destroyed as much as you...but i recognize that iraq was costly mis-adventure on the way to that end. we should have been smarter. we need to be smarter. i hope we can be smarter.

Posted by: jay k. at March 20, 2007 2:35 PM

Barking Moonbat,
Bravo! You have put forth some concrete proposals for action that could have some merit. I'm sure there are parts of it that the Generals would/could shoot holes in, but what you have put forth is at least concrete, specific and gives your idea of how we can win.

You should take your ideas to Obama or Hillary or whomever you're supporting and see if they would fly.

jay k,
I think our conversation is pretty much at an impasse. G'day.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 20, 2007 4:17 PM

Dang. This MUST be a good piece if it raises the hackles of moonbats six feet under.

Posted by: Dan at March 20, 2007 7:48 PM

Thank you for this.

Posted by: Mo at March 20, 2007 8:47 PM

God bless all you who suggest we should vacate Iraq and Afghanistan, for you do hate war.

Do you suppose then that I must love war because I would prefer an Iraqi governance that would limit Shia, Suni, Kurd, and inter-Christian killing?

So often I read about the Liberal and democrat urgent cries to *Pull-out*.

Never do you mention how you are going to sleep at night when thousands of women, elderly, and children end up dead in the streets when we suddenly abandon them.

Awaiting your clever plan to ensure the lives of all those, who with purple fingers, voted for a decent government system when we suddenly abandon them and pull out.

Waiting. . . = TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at March 20, 2007 9:12 PM

Four years in and the fools in the streets multiply.

You got a lot of things right in that essay, but not this one. If "the streets" means the recent wave of demonstrations, the number of fools is actually down. Three years ago there were some normal-looking people at those demonstrations. This year they're down to the Marxist and moonbat hard core.

Otherwise a good read!

Posted by: CJ at March 21, 2007 12:01 AM

Babs, we are trying to shame the other countries into doing something about the Sudan. We're also trying to get the UN to do something about the Sudan.

Now, have you seen the commercials from Those are put out by a group that wants the US to do exactly what most of the moonbats are complaining about. They want to put boots on the ground. If they think that Iraq is bad why aren't they screaming about folks that want to get us in deeper? Ok moonbats start the chorus. The other countries aren't jumping up to the line very fast.

Posted by: Mike H. at March 21, 2007 2:24 AM

1) Great essay Gerard.

2) There is unlimited energy right under our feet in the Lithosphere layer of the earth. Dig down until you hit 100 degrees Celsius.

3) The Muslims will still want to cut off your head to show what a great religion they have.

4) To any Muslims who have your hands on a nuke and are heading over to "show us the way to peace" please consider: Hollywood, California would make a lovely glass display.

Posted by: JD at March 21, 2007 5:00 AM

Gerard, this is simply the best essay on this topic I've read.

Posted by: Ron Coleman at March 21, 2007 8:53 PM

Holy Moly! You continue to amaze me with your writing ability. You have a supernatural ability to paint pictures with words.

Posted by: dave harris at March 22, 2007 1:17 PM

I apoligize but I need to add this to my list above:

5) In case you can't manage to get the thing over here (funds, Patriot Act, or what not), Paris is simply devine in the springtime. That might make the 6 o'clock news as well.

Posted by: JD at March 22, 2007 4:33 PM

Well done, Gerard.

After twenty+ years of attacks, we recognize that the Islamists have put us in this war, and now the question is: Do we fight back or not? Personally, I could not write off the many thousands in an American city dead to an Iraqi-acquired WMD. Going to Iraq was the right thing to do. We are trying to do this cheaply, and that may be our one failure.

Posted by: azlibertarian at March 22, 2007 6:17 PM

Another great essay, Gerard. And this one sure hit a nerve among the moonbats.

To the 'bats who insist that those of us who support the war should be over in Iraq: Tell it to the office workers and cleaning people who went to work one day about five years ago and suddenly found themselves on the front lines.

I AM a combatant in this war, simply because I am alive and non-Muslim.

Posted by: rickl at March 22, 2007 9:07 PM


Once again, I find myself offering my humble thanks to you for having written such a superb and eloquent work.

They say you can measure a man by his enemies. Well, given how your essay here has brought them out in droves, I think it's obvious.

You da' man!

Sloop New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim at March 25, 2007 8:05 AM

Thank you.

That was wonderfully written and so sadly true.

This is my first time to your site and I feel fortunate to have followed the link that lead me here.

I'll be checking in regularly.

Posted by: Daphne at March 26, 2007 2:22 PM

Great article.

Sure brought the moonbats out though.

Posted by: Robohobo at October 22, 2007 8:56 PM

Those who advocated since April 1, 2003 for 'immediate' withdrawal of our troops from Iraq are quite like those who favored similar withdrawal of our troops from America's South, at the end of Reconstruction. We did withdraw too quickly, thereby promoting and resulting in the 80 or so years of brutal oppression of free black Americans.
These poltroons, masquerading as progressives, don't have a clue and don't want a clue to the meaning of the 2nd paragraph of our Declaration of Independence.

Posted by: FamouslyUnknown at January 11, 2008 7:09 PM

Ouch, some of these moonbat comments are hard to stomach. Great post, though. Keep up the good work.

Meanwhile the bad news continues to pile up for Obama, let's hope he gets the nod over Hillary. If Hillary gets the nod over Osama... er Obama, expect a chaotic resonance in the democraptic party. Expect Armageddon! Get the popcorn ready people!

Posted by: Daniel at March 16, 2008 12:56 AM

Excellent, Gerard...I can add nothing but my thanks.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at March 16, 2008 7:40 PM

jay k.
If you're out there and read this, I hope you will agree that things have changed a LOT in the last year. The Iraqi army and police are getting better with each passing day. Al Qaeda IS the prime enemy now.......the civil war you were trumpeting is over, if it ever existed.

Victory will look like this: The government will slowly learn how to unite the country, the Iraqi army and police will be able to keep the violence under control, more oil will be found and produced, (Iraq probably has more oil than Saudi Arabia) and our forces will draw down to some acceptable level until the Iraqis ask us to leave altogether.

Unfortunately, the GWOT will go on for many more years. It will continue to cost us blood and treasure. Ultimately, the moderate Muslims will stand up and take over their religion from the Islamists. When the Muslim Umma decides to join the family of peace loving nations, the GWOT will be over. There won't be a peace agreement or a treaty bands or victory parades. It will be an evolution in the Muslim world that will occur over fifty years or longer.

G'day jay.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 17, 2008 8:55 PM

As any intelligent person with a pulse knows, the "war" in Iraq is over. We should just call it a victory and come home.

We aren't doing anygood. 4,000 deaths, countless Iraqi civilian deaths almost a billion taxdollars, and all we got is....what did we get?

The longer we stay the more insurgents will attack us. The longer we stay the more American deaths and wasted taxdollars. the longer we stay the more they hate us. the longer we stay the more the world losses it's admiration for us. The longer we stay the longer it'll take Iraqi Government to stand up and fend for itself.

So by all means...the rightwing fringe's answer is To Stay Longer. Brilliant.

I think McCain should run on that...oh he is. Small favors.

Posted by: timpundit at March 19, 2008 12:07 PM

"Five years into the most gentle war ever fought, a war fought on the cheap at every level, a war fought to avoid civilian harm rather than maximize it."

You, Sir, are a man of great insight and I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: timpundit at March 25, 2008 12:20 PM

""""""Ah, the problems of living in the Gilded Age."""""""

Sorry, but the Gilded Age was 120 years ago. We now live in the GELDED Age.

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at March 19, 2009 1:05 PM

Yet another brilliant essay; thanks for reposting.

One thing which strikes me in reading the comments is how often the term "shame" is employed by people whose actions indicate no understanding of the concept. Just a thought.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at March 19, 2009 2:29 PM

The protections put in place by the previous administration are being actively dismantled. The sheriff in Arizona who arrests illegals sneaking across the border, he's now in trouble with the Justice Dept. Our new head of Homeland Security has for all intents & purposes announced that she will not be enforcing border protections. The fence, forget about it. The wave of strangers flooding across the border from Mexico could contain more than a few islamists with suitcase bio/dirty bomb material to deploy in cities across the country. Or maybe just automatic weapons & lots of ammo, as in the Mumbai attack. AG Holder wants to release some Gitmo 'guests' right here in the US, to show the rest of the world those guys aren't dangerous at all so they should take some, too.

I've often wondered why people enjoy scaring the daylights out of themselves here in America, it's a huge industry between G-force amusement park rides, the movie industry that dreams up ever more clever ways of pretending the most horrible crimes, or various bonfires of bozodom like hang-gliding or befriending wild animals. I've come to the conclusion that life in America is basically risk-free in the physical sense. So all these vicarious thrills must be sought to keep the juices flowing. The "Imagine" crowd is in for a rude awakening when the dogs of war come back to our shores, and singing/chanting/painting faces/constructing giant papermache heads doesn't stop the killing. And you can't change the channel.

Posted by: Boots at March 19, 2009 4:47 PM

Like savages shambling about some campfire where all there is to eat are a few singed tubers, they paint their faces with the tatterdemalion symbols of a summer of love long sent down to rot with the worms. They clasp hands and sing songs whose lyrics are ash. "We shall... over... come." Overcome what, overcome who? Overcome their nation? Is that their dream? It is the lifelong dream of those that lead them. That much is certain.

Mercy. Could you wrap the hell out the written word much more beautifully than that? Reading you is a short education in fine writing, Vanderleun.

Deep bows and props, my fine man.

Posted by: Daphne at March 19, 2009 6:43 PM

The habit of inattention has to be regarded as the greatest defect of the democratic character.
It is among the evils of democratic governments, and perhaps not the smallest, that the people must feel before they can see.

But in idleness there is perpetual despair; no one is more likely to make mistakes than the man who only acts on reflection. The world is not directed by long and learned proofs. All its affairs are directed by the swift glance at a particular fact, the daily examination of the changing moods of the crowd, occasional moments of chance, and the skill to exploit them.

Our answers do not spring from thought, but a readiness for respnsibility. What we have to learn to do, we will learn by doing.

It is in doing nothing that we learn pouting and pique.

Posted by: james wilson at March 19, 2009 10:33 PM

What a difference two years makes. Will the moonbats return to reprise their stupid comments?

Posted by: Stephen B at March 20, 2009 10:55 AM

Still a great post, Gerard. Thanks for reposting and reminding us that it's almost impossible to get news of Iraq except from the Internet.

Oh yeah, if jay k. is still reading your blog, I just want to say, "Whatta ya think now, jay?"

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 20, 2009 7:47 PM

Gerard, kudos for the repost. Unfortunately I was unaware of your blog at the time. It truly brought back the vein opening, raw intensity of those days.
There are but a few who use words like yours to paint an image they are trying to communicate and even fewer who I agree with on most subjects.
You are such a "word man".

Posted by: Adagny at March 22, 2009 8:15 AM