Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An explanation for "Libertarian" Republicans: the success of the Surge in Iraq has nothing to do with victory

Eric Dondero's Libertarian (huh?) Republican is making a great deal these days out of belated MSM reports that the Surge in Iraq has reduced daily violence and apparently increased social stability.

Here are Eric's concluding sentiments:

Liberals are falling all over themselves nowadays to admit they were wrong on the Surge. So much so, in fact, that as Brooks points out, they've taken to the line of it's time to bring the boys home due to that success.

The only hold outs these days seem to be the Anti-War Libertarians who still to this day stubbornly refuse to acknowledge Bush's success in Iraq: Ron Paulists, LewRockwell.com, Anthony Gregory, Justin Raimondo, Eric Garris, Thomas L. Knapp, Doug Bandow, Dave Boaz, the Cato Institute foreign policy team, Reason Magazine, and many others on the leftside of the libertarian movement. They just can't bring themselves to admit they were wrong.

I'd guess that I qualify in Dondero's book as a Left Libertarian, despite the fact that I'm a military historian, spent 21 years in the US Armed Forces, and nearly a decade working on homeland security issues.

And while I'm sure that Reason, or Cato, or Thomas Knapp will eventually explain it for him, the advantage of being a small-time operator is the flexibility to respond quickly.

The Surge was and is a tactical/operational change in the tempo and focus of American operations in Iraq, intended to be time-limited in terms of resource commitment to achieve a specific end: creating an atmosphere of temporary stability for the US-backed Iraqi government to get its act together.

I do not dispute the tactical insights of General Petraeus, the courage and abilities of my brothers and sisters with boots on the ground, or even the fact that the surge has achieved its short/medium-term goal.

None of which changes the following:

Long-term prospects for stability in Iraq, especially in the fantasy pro-US Iraq that was to be the lynch-pin of a grand strategy to remake the face of the Middle East are no better than they were three years ago because the long-term dynamics of the situation have not changed. Iraq is organized into a weak federal government system that is inherently ill-equipped to maintain internal peace in the cultural dynamic of three major ethnic/religious groups caught within the artificial confines of a common nation-state. The stability prospects of this state are poor regardless of the presence of Al Qaeda or other outside influences.

The effectiveness of the Surge has not in any fashion reduced the influence of Iran in the region. Quite the contrary, the Surge has, by making the Iraqi government look even more like American lapdogs, convinced many moderate politicians throughout the Middle East that some sort of independent counterweight to Western influence. Moreover, the increasingly unilateral nature of Israeli posturing toward Teheran continues to erode both stability and US credibility in the region.

There continues to be absolutely no evidence that "fighting the terrorists over there keeps us from having to fight them at home". The lack of large-scale terrorist action against US territory is attributable not to operations in Iraq, nor even primarily to many of the more ridiculous security measures adopted domestically (taking off my shoes in the airport); the primary deterrent to Islamic terror in the US remains logistical. Men who spend their days sitting in caves pulling fleas out of their blankets, no matter how many laptops or Swiss bank accounts they have, cannot maintain a significant operational tempo against the continental US. They can at best try for long-shot gamble every few years.

The fact that a specific tactic within the context of the war is working is not an ex post facto justification of an interventionist war in the first place. In other words, if it was neither advisable nor ethical to conduct a near-unilateral intervention in Iraq, then--guess what?--even winning the war doesn't make it right. What it does do is make the use of unilateral American military might more seductive to politicians, corporations, and ideologues of all stripes.

There are more reasons, but I'll let it rest there.

The point, for our Republican friends who mistakenly think they're Libertarians, is that the hard-won tactical victory won at significant cost to my brothers and sisters in green is a barren one, that will rank with other squandered victories like Operation Junction City (Vietnam, 1967) or Huertgen Forest (ETO 1944).


Brian said...

Yes Steve,

This is something that I have argued for a long time. If we have a war on terror what we do not need is an efficent system that places our short term goals over our long term interests. Becuase by conserving our strength through a long term strategy we make better short term tactical decisions. I want to protect American lives, and in a war on terror the worst possible thing you can do is use overwhelming force when soft power or local cooperation are needed. In the end, I am afraid we are going to waste more lives and more treasure and wind up less secure than ever. What do you think?

Brian Miller said...

The "surge" also reflects a changed goalpost for the pro-war people.

At the beginning of the war, they claimed WMDs, imminent attack plans by Saddam Hussein, etc.

Once those were proven to be blatant fabrications (or what Republicans call "mistakes"), they shifted the goalposts to "defending democracy."

That's been a dismal failure, and as violence spiralled out of control, they shifted expectations yet again -- to the "surge" reducing violence.

Now that violence has gone down to "merely" appalling levels, the pro-war folks are cheering -- despite the fact that this war, by all objective measures, has been a tremendous failure in every single one of its initial justifications... and it's follow-up justifications after the originals were proven to be complete fabrications communicated through perjury.

Eric Dondero said...

Wah, wah, wah. What a typical little liberal poser you are pretending to be a "libertarian."

What's worse, you're not even a real man. You are a like a little girl who can't even admit when they are wrong: Just whining and nit-picking all over the place.

Face up to the facts bub:

You were completely wrong on the War in Iraq.

You are not a libertarian.

Eric Dondero said...

Hey Brian Miller, the goal of the War in Iraq was to remove Saddam Hussein from office. We did that, and not only that we got his two greasy-ass murderous torture hungry sons Uday and Qusay, AND Zarcawi, as well.

It was not only a huge Victory, but a hugely Stunning Victory for the US Military and George W. Bush.

I remember all those calls before the War from you Liberals: "We'll need hundreds of thousands of body bags... Hundreds of thousands of US Soldiers will die..."

Funny how you all changed to goal posts. Hundreds of thousands of dead US Soldiers and Marines tuned into 4000. Less War Deaths in any major War in US History.

Quite a difference. Quite a difference indeed.

Eric Dondero said...

BTW, for the record, I grew up in Delaware. Graduated from Newark High School. I even tried to vote for Libertarian Ed Clark in 1980, but was 14 days short of my 18th birthday.

I remember the Libertarian Party of Delaware back then being a Pro-Defense Party, and supportive of the Troops.

Sorry to see that the LPD has sunk into the grips of a bunch of whiny-ass liberals posing as "libertarians."

Hope some day some Pro-Defense Libertarians will come back into the Party and win the Party back for those supportive of America and American values.

Anonymous said...

the surge isnt working. In fact, Sadr has 60,000 armed professional milita ready to take on the "invaders and occupiers". More Iraqis are dying every day, than ever before, as the US pushed the Iraqi's to "go out without proper equipment or arms" because they cant trust that by night, those guns wont be used on our soldiers. Keep on dreaming that the surge is working, and keep on calling yourselves patriots, your not!

If you were patriotic, cared about the soldiers serving cared about the economy going to hell daily, cared about the untold billions stolen by Halliburton, cared about the Blackwater scourge "killing without regard for human life and above the law"...you would be calling for an end to this illegal, horrible war. This is the biggest military diaster in american history...MCBush will keep it going until every oil company has stolen as much as they can...then its mission accomplished.

Steve Newton said...

"What's worse, you're not even a real man. You are a like a little girl who can't even admit when they are wrong: Just whining and nit-picking all over the place.

Face up to the facts bub:

You were completely wrong on the War in Iraq."

This is it, Eric? This is what you've got? Sandbox name-calling?

IF you could actually refute a single item, you'd be worth a response.

Eric Dondero said...

And that is precisely what is wrong with so many Libertarians: They are just plain ole wimps when you get right down to it.

Aww golly gee: Sandbox name calling. "Please, please don't call me names you meanie... Wah, wah, wah..."

Ask yourself this question.

When you attend a local Libertarian Party meeting how many of the attendees are Military Veterans?

How many of the attendees have men or women serving in Iraq or Afghanistan?

How many even know someone who is serving in the Military?

Most Libertarians are completely out of touch with the Military, Military Families and Pro-Military Voters. They are disdainful of the Military itself.

Lots of Leftist Libertarians like to claim, "it's not the Military we hate, but those like Bush who are the Military leaders and lead them into War."

Bullshit! The vast majority of Libertarians despise the Military itself, and the entire Military lifestyle, precisely because most Libertarians are total wimps themselves who could never serve in the Military precisely because of their wimpiness.

And we see that on display right here.

More whining from some Girlie Men about the War in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Quick, someone grab them a teether.

Brian Miller said...

Well, Eric, while you're busy blasting the Libertarian bonafides of everyone who wasn't willing to send other people's sons and daughters to go die in your vainglorious circle-jerk, perhaps you could explain to us why you keep using a fake name "Dondero," instead of your real name, "Rittberg."

Is it because your new Republican buddies don't treat Jews very nicely?

Steve Newton said...

All right, Eric--even though anybody reading this will already know that you haven't actually responded to a single substantive argument made in the original post either here or in your own blog, if you want to play your little flag-waving, name-calling game, let's dance....

When you attend a local Libertarian Party meeting how many of the attendees are Military Veterans?

To start with, I am. Twenty-one years in the US military, as you would have seen if you actually read the post. Retired as an E8. The first time I went to Saudi was 1984. But what you fail to comprehend is that being a veteran is not a requirement for citizenship or political participation in this country. I can live with that. What's difficult to take is your pseudo self-righteous posturing that only people who agree with you on policy are patriotic.

How many of the attendees have men or women serving in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Most of them. We've had multiple deployments of virtually all of Delaware's National Guard.

In the regulars, I have literally dozens of fellow NCOs or officers with whom I have worked or trained serving now or between rotations--everything from spec ops to the evacuation officer in the Green Zone. And obviously in your crayon-scrawled political book these people must be unpatriotic as well: most of them have serious questions about our policy throughout the Middle East, questions they can't pose publicly because their professional prevents them from doing so while on active service.

How many even know someone who is serving in the Military?

See the point above--Delaware is a small state. Everybody knows somebody serving.

Most Libertarians are completely out of touch with the Military, Military Families and Pro-Military Voters. They are disdainful of the Military itself.

This is your favorite game: you can't actually answer policy arguments, so you attack the people who make them. You have the needle stuck on stupid if you seriously believe that to be Pro-Military means giving a blank check to any administrations political and foreign policy.

Multiple Libertarians in Delaware, as well as Republicans and Democrats are involved in volunteer efforts to support our military families while their husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kossovo, Sinai, Bosnia, Macedonia, Romania and the hundreds of other places around the globe.

We visit our wounded in the hospitals that the Bush administration allowed to become festering sores of maltreatment.

Having been deployed away from my own family on multiple occasions, having escorted the bodies coming into Dover Air Force Base, having worked with our amputees and twenty-something young men who will have a colostomy bag strapped to their waists for the rest of their lives, I understand what you are simply afraid to comprehend:

War, while necessary on occasion, is or should be the last resort of policy, because war is not glorious: it is bloody awful and it breaks whole generations of our own citizens. That they continue throughout our history to sign up and put their bodies and souls between us and our enemies is a subject for reverence, not the glorification in your crazed, Rambo-like fantasies.

And most important: the fact that every act of war will result in their death and maiming, as well as that of innocent people we will never meet, means that the responsibility we owe them is to insure that they are never sent out to die for casual political reasons.

Unfortunately, you won't get any of this, because actual thought is not part of your response to this situation. You've got a few sound bites, a self-righteous attitude, and insufficient military experience or understanding to deal with the tactical realities of combat on the ground.

Which actually makes you--and jingoists like you--the biggest American enemies that my brothers and sisters in the military actually have.

Because you're quite willing to keep sending them off to die for policies that are arguably immoral even when they do work.