Open Thread

The DNC/MSM/Never Trump combine went ballistic over the Trump/Putin presser. I didn’t watch it, but I did see it explode in real time over social media. We seriously had people calling for the overthrow of the United States government to “save” us from Putin’s stooge, Trump. Plenty of people on the right – almost all Never Trump, but a few weak kneed others, as well – joined in. Given that this happened in conjunction with the discovery and an alleged Russia-NRA (yes, you read that right) connection to undermine America starting in 2015, it was all clearly scripted to be part of battle space prep for November. Do lay that to heart: everything that will show up in the news relating to politics from now until November will be battle space prep.

The more mundane reality is that Trump has Putin over a barrel and Putin knows it – so, it is time to make nice with the USA until we return an idiot like Obama to power. We’ve checkmated Putin in Syria and in the rest of the Middle East; our increasing oil production is putting a huge strain on the Russian economy; beefing up military forces in Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe means there are no more easy pickings for Putin; our calls for NATO to re-arm may create a long period of time when Russia has to behave. Trump, also no fool, knows that while Russia can’t wreck us, they can cause plenty of trouble, and if that trouble can be avoided by making a bit of nice with Putin, no worries.

In 2017, the nation which reduced its carbon emission the most was the United States…which shows that the Paris treaty and all other climate treaties are hot garbage.

Lisa Page testified again on Monday (another reason for the Dems, etc, to have a meltdown over Russia) and was apparently cooperative. I don’t know, of course, but I think she’s flipped on the Deep State.

Meathead made a movie about the Iraq war called Shock and Awe. It opened this past weekend. You didn’t go see it. Hardly anyone did. It grossed $41,000.00 (yes, forty one thousand dollars). Get woke, go broke is becoming a common thing…but more certain is it that if you tangle with Trump, you will lose…mostly because you first have to go insane before you tangle with Trump.

Advertisements

The Iraq War Was not a Mistake

As I noted before, the MSM is asking the GOP Presidential candidates the question, and the GOP candidates are all blowing it – the most recent entrant in the “Get It Wrong With a Gotcha” is Marco Rubio. I realize that the Iraq War is now the most unpopular thing which ever happened, ever, but that still doesn’t make it a mistake. At least in Rubio’s case, the question was honestly posed by Chris Wallace – it was more of, “granted that Bush believed it was the right thing to do then, do you believe it was the right thing to do now?”. The answer to that is an unequivocal “yes”.

Invading Iraq was the right thing to do in 2003. This doesn’t mean it was the only possible course of action open to us. But something had to be done about Saddam’s regime and we had the power to do it. Sure, you can go back and say we should have started arming rebels and sending Special Forces in to work the overthrow of the Saddam regime. Probably would have worked – but who would we have been arming? The people who now make up ISIS? Good chance we would have. One thing I think we’ve all learned is that arming Muslim rebels very often means arming the next set of problems. We could also have left Saddam alone – and now we’d be worrying about an Iraqi nuke along with an Iranian nuke – along with untold number of other problems a Saddam regime would have stirred up over the past 12 years. Among the possible options, President Bush choose invasion – and he was right to do so. And our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines fought with splendid devotion and courage and secured a victory for the United States, and the world. The victory was thrown away by our current President, but that doesn’t make Bush’s decision wrong, nor the sacrifices of our military in vain.

Winston Churchill in his book about World War One – The World Crisis – asserted that it is unfair to criticize someone for actions taken in the past unless the same substantial criticism was made to the decision-maker prior to the decision being made. Unless you’ve got someone from 2003 saying that the liberation of Iraq would result in a 5 year counter-insurgency operation – and showing how you know it would happen and what forces would be involved – then you’ve got no criticism to make about the decision to go into Iraq. You may use the Iraq war as a reason for, say, not going into Syria in 2015, but you can’t use knowledge gained in 2004 to condemn a decision made in 2003.

In human affairs, there is no “correct” answer in that a decision can be made which will 100% work out correctly all the time. Everything is a judgement – a balance of risks against rewards. A wise man hesitates before making a decision – but once the decision is made, moves with celerity to carry it out. And once made, all one can do is the best he or she can. Criticize and condemn the Iraq war all you wish – but to call it a mistake in the sense of “Bush should have known better in 2003” is to presume to impossible knowledge.

Karl Rove’s Silence About Saddam’s WMDs?

Quite a lot of people are upset about this:

Starting in 2004, some members of the George W. Bush administration and Republican lawmakers began to find evidence of discarded chemical weapons in Iraq. But when the information was brought up with the White House, senior adviser Karl Rove told them to “let these sleeping dogs lie.”

The issue of Iraq’s WMD remnants was suddenly thrust back into the fore this week, with a blockbuster New York Times report accusing the Bush administration of covering up American troops’ chemically induced wounds.

To people familiar with the issue, both inside that administration and outside, the blame for the coverup falls on one particular set of shoulders: Rove’s…

I was listening a little to Rush today and he was clearly flabbergasted about it. While we did not find in 2003-2004 the sort of active, WMD program that global intelligence services said would be there, it is clear from recent reports that Saddam had, indeed, quite a lot of WMDs and WMD-related materials. The fact of the matter is, of course, that Saddam wasn’t supposed to have so much as a spark-plug which could be WMD-related – per the 1991 Gulf War cease fire and various UN resolutions, every last bit of it was supposed to be removed and destroyed from Saddam’s domain. It is absolutely certain, now, that this was not done – Saddam secreted quite a lot of chemical weapons and various components for WMD programs. This, and this alone, gave sufficient moral and legal justification for the resumption of hostilities between the United States and Saddam’s regime in 2003. The whole liberal narrative about the war – that we faked evidence of WMDs in order to start a war in order to enrich Cheney’s buddies at Haliburton (and, really, this is what the left thinks the war was all about) – is false. Stupidly false, too.

Liberals will just keep on with their narrative as they never let facts get in the way of a good (for liberals) narrative, but quite a lot of criticism over these new revelations (which really aren’t all that new, of course; they are just being noticed, now, in the MSM) is coming from the right – condemnations of Karl Rove for not getting the Bush Administration to front-and-center this information, especially in the 2005-2006 time frame, when it could have proved crucial to resetting the political battlefield – a battlefield which ultimately went disastrously bad for the GOP in 2006 and 2008, largely on the strength of the liberals’ false narrative about the campaign in Iraq (to me, it wasn’t Katrina that wrecked the Bush Administration credibility – though the false narrative in that event played a big role – but, rather, it was the insertion into the American mind that Bush et al had lied about Saddam’s WMD that did the damage). Why, the question is being asked, did Rove drop the ball on this one? Why did he, so the accusation go, keep this information quiet? The allegation from other political players at the time is that Rove felt we had already lost the battle over WMDs and it was better not to stir things up, and so as evidence of WMDs piled up – and American soldiers were injured by said WMDs – a lid was kept on things. Why?

I can’t read Rove’s mind so I don’t know – if Rove gives comment on it, then those comments can be weighed in light of accumulated evidence. But here’s what I think really caused the problem:

The fundamental flaws in Bush Administration policy regarding the war were two:

1. A failure to clearly identify radical Islam as a problem.

To be sure, the Bush Administration was more clear about this than the Obama Administration, but even Bush Administration people – and President Bush – were out there routinely declaring that Islam means peace and essentially making it clear that there was no fundamental problem within Islam that needed to be addressed.

2. Following upon that, there was no strategic plan to completely remake the Muslim world.

As we couldn’t fault Islam, itself, so we couldn’t craft a plan which would have us knock down all known generators of the problem within Islam. We curtailed our efforts. We stopped at the Iraqi border and clearly never thought about marching in to Syria or Iran (two prime makers of radical Islam), but we also refused to cut our ties with the Saudis who provided lavish funding directly to Islamic groups who preached hatred, and indirectly (along with many other oil-rich Arabian States) actually funded Jihadist groups.

Hamstrung as we were, I can see Rove’s position: the only thing that was wanted, especially from 2006 onwards, was a successful conclusion to Iraq. Bush and team managed to accomplish that, but as the real problem was never addressed and all political activity had been exhausted on just getting to victory in Iraq, there was nothing left over, really, for the larger issue. Re-fighting the WMD issue would have been a waste of time – and, in fact, counter-productive. Of course, in reality, fighting the WMD issue the first time was a waste of time – and counter productive. We never should have bothered with such nonsense. We did it primarily because it was felt – incorrectly – that we needed a broad, international coalition and some sort of UN approval (and it was vital to get UN approval – or at least attempt to – in order to get Britain on board). We dithered around with that and got caught up in a side-show: whether or not Saddam had WMDs. Well, he did. And I remain convince that he had a lot more, but it was moved out of his territory by other, concerned actors during the period between our first demands and the many, many months which passed in trivial, useless action with the UN.

So, don’t fault Rove for silence on Iraqi WMDs – as a political operative, he was doing what was necessary to achieve a narrow, political goal: garner enough support to see us through to the end in Iraq. It wasn’t his job to set national policy – that was President Bush’s. Here is where I fault him – though, of course, partially with hindsight. While I’ve always felt that the reason for going into Iraq was for the larger, strategic necessity of changing the Middle East in a fundamental way, I did believe that if we could secure a reasonable regime in Iraq, we could provide an alternative to the Muslim people and they would cease to listen to the purveyors of hatred and war. I’m not so sure, today, that even if Obama had continued Bush’s policies in Iraq that this would have come to pass. It might have – and we certainly should have tried – but the more I see of radical Islam, the more convinced I become that only a really sound thrashing from one end of the Muslim world to the other will convince the Muslim people that they’d better get on board with stamping on the jihadists. This is not, by the way, because I think that most Muslims like the jihadists (I think most Muslims despise the beheaders and enslavers), but because I think that most Muslims are deathly afraid of the jihadists. And rightly so, as we’ve seen with the ISIS barbarians – our actions would be to show that if you sign on with us, we’ll be there for you as long as needed and we’ll ensure that the jihadists are never able to triumph.

We’ve pretty much lost the war right now. Iraq is a disaster, Syria is a disaster, Iran is triumphant and Afghanistan will go back to the Taliban within weeks of our withdrawal, from what I can see. The jihadists are strong and feeling stronger and the people of the Muslim world who don’t like the jihadists look out and see absolutely no one around the world who will come to their aid…so, they mostly just go along to get along and hope that not too many of their sons and daughters fall victim to the jihadists. We will, though, eventually have to get back into this war and win it – savagery like ISIS simply cannot be allowed to stand…and the longer we allow it to survive, the worse and more powerful it will get, and eventually those people will do something so horrible to us that we’ll have to act. And when that time comes, we have to treat the whole Muslim world as a unit, just as the jihadists do (they care nothing for the artificially created political boundaries within the Muslim world). We’ll have to go to war against the enemy where ever he is, and go after everyone who in any way, shape or form gives aid to the jihadists. But that is a war for another time – maybe even ten or twenty years from now. For now, the disaster is what it is – and what happened between 2004 and 2008 is what happened. No sense raking it over too much, or trying to assign blame for it all to Karl Rove. Mistakes were made; that we all know. Our job is to learn from them.

Obama’s Non-War

The usual course of action is that when the guns go off, we citizens are to rally ’round the flag and back our forces in the pursuit of victory. But that is a bit impossible right now – Obama and his Administration are telling us, over and over, that this isn’t a war. That we’ll be bombing the heck out of things and that lots of people will die horrific, violent deaths at our hands doesn’t count: per Obama and Co, war is only in existence is U.S. troops are on the ground doing the fighting.

So, no war – and thus no rallying ’round the flag. And even if we decided – correctly – that Obama and Co are just full of “stuff” and that this is a war so we’d better rally anyways, what would we be rallying for? Not for victory, because there can be no victory in this non-war. Its not like the enemy commander can offer to surrender to a drone. We’ll bomb a lot and kill a lot of people and this will help those who are fighting the people we’re bombing – and that, in turn, might lead others to victory. A Kurdish victory would be ok, as the Kurds seem a lot of very decent people – but it could also lead to Assad’s victory in Syria and Iran’s victory in Iraq; not exactly ideal outcomes for us. It could also lead to victory for non-ISIS, non-Assad forces in Syria, this might not work out well, either. Let’s just say I have my doubts about Administration assurances that they can pick the non-Islamist-screwball forces in Syria for us to back.

We can also get the worst of all worlds – we blow a lot of stuff up and kill a lot of people with attendant video showing what a bunch of hideous war criminals we are but after all that, Assad still rules his part of Syria, ISIS still rules vast tracts of Syria and Iraq and Iran has secured itself the part of Iraq it cares about (ie, Baghdad plus the oil fields). That sort of outcome is made doubly bad because if ISIS survives in any form, it will become the Islamist hero as it stood up to us, endured a pounding and emerged from the welter of slaughter with victory. Of course, all of this won’t fully come out until after Obama leaves office, so he probably doesn’t care in the least about it, even if he’s aware of the possibility.

This whole thing is the terribly bad decision of a man – Obama – who knows nothing of history, nothing of the world and yet sits assured that he’s the smartest guy in the room. I hope it works out – and I hope our losses are small. But the rule of thumb for war is that you either go all in, or stay all out. Our choices for ISIS were two:

1.  Go all out to war against them until they are all killed or taken, regardless of cost.

2.  Surrender to them and allow them to do as the wish.

Either course of action can have rational arguments to back them up. We have failed to choose between them – we’re just going to bomb a bit and hope for the best. I believe we will be disappointed – and maybe in a vastly worse geo-strategic situation two or three years from now.

UPDATE: Reeling from criticism about us not being at war, the Administration has decided we are at war with ISIS, just as we are against al-Qaeda. Meaning? I guess that six years from now ISIS will be around and a threat, just as al-Qaeda is still around and a threat after six years of Obama…

After Iraq and Afghanistan, What Should Our Policy Be?

There was just a small chance at the end of 2008 that our effort in Iraq would work.  By extreme exertions we had mostly pacified the nation and with a bit of luck and more hard work, Iraq might have slowly developed into a pluralist democracy, thus providing a both a bulwark against extremism and a model for the rest of the long-suffering people of the Middle East.  It did not, however, work out like that.  Rather than keep a presence in Iraq, we withdrew all our forces and essentially left Iraq to its own devices.  Power does abhor a vacuum and as we weren’t there and the Iraqis weren’t quite up to the task, other powers started flowing into Iraq.  Now we see the result of that – a clash which is now really more between some people who want to create a Caliphate without reference to the existence of Iraq as a nation, and the Iranians who are bound and determined to keep control of as much Iraqi territory as possible, also without reference to the existence of Iraq as a nation.  Those in Iraq who would prefer neither Iranian nor Caliphate domination are squeezed between the two and will simply have to choose which evil they think is lesser.

At the end of 2008, Afghanistan was seeing an upsurge in trouble as the Islamist effort in Iraq was beaten back and Afghanistan became the only place an Islamist could fight the United States.  In the 2008 campaign, Obama told the American people that Iraq was the distraction, but that Afghanistan was the war we had to fight.  This is why we cut out of Iraq and then surged into Afghanistan.  Not with the number of troops recommended by senior military leaders and while giving a time frame for our withdrawal, thus allowing the enemy to know how long they had to endure before we quit – but, still, the effort was made in accordance with Obama’s oft-stated premise that we had to fight the war in Afghanistan.  In Afghanistan, it also didn’t work out.  The enemy knew we weren’t there forever and continual restrictions upon the ability of our forces to conduct the sort of brutal war necessary to defeat the Islamist forces made certain that victory wasn’t possible.  Meanwhile, the Afghan government descended into ever worse corruption and clearly started making arrangements for what would happen after the United States departed – mostly in terms of giving power to those who were fighting against us.

After all is said and done, whatever we were hoping to accomplish by going into Afghanistan and Iraq has proven a failure.  For you liberals out there who are of the opinion that killing bin Laden was key and winning in Afghanistan was right because Obama said so: you were wrong.  For us conservatives who believed that we could build a democratic, Muslim nation:  we were wrong.  For those on the left who want to harp upon circa-2004 BUSH LIED!!!!1!! memes; just shut up and go away.  Seriously – no one wants to hear that nonsense any longer.  However one felt about the efforts, they have clearly failed and now it is time to re-assess our policies.

Continue reading