Help Wanted: Peacemaker - Article by Thoms L. Friedman

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Zaphod, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    From Thomas L. Friedman in today's New York Slimes:


    I was and continue to be a supporter of the Iraq War. We went in based upon years of what appeared to be good intel but which now has either been proven to have been wrong, or which was right, in which case the question of where the hell the WMD are remains.

    Putting aside the needed debate of why the intel was so utterly screwed up, and even the debate of whether we should have just simply nuked them from orbit, we are now in Iraq, the situation sucks, and we need a way out. It doesn't have to be a retreat or even hasty, and I am confident that, despite any differences among us here (and in stark contrast to the jerks populating the left) we want an exit option that ensures victory for the United States, or at the very least isn't seen as an American defeat.

    I am curious as to opinions here on the items highlighted in red in the article above. I am no diplomat, but it sounds like something that could be done and would work. It certainly sounds better than asking our troops to continue being shot at while the Iraqi legislature goes on vacation, and having Tony Snow blame the fracking weather for it.

    I am not sure of Mr. Friedman's general political leanings, but this article sounds pretty level-headed to me, regardless.

    Your thoughts?


    ETA: Oh, and if anyone is wondering why W's ratings are (justifiably) in the toilet, it's because of BS answers like the one Tony Snow gave, and W's apparent unwillingness to fish or cut bait: either light a fire under the Iraqi's tails (as described above) or just level the place and leave. Even guys like me are ticked off at him. :mad:

    Illegal immigration didn't help, either, but that's a different topic.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2007
  2. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    I too think the suggestion Mr. Friedman makes could work. For quite awhile now I have been hoping the president would give the Iraqis an ultimatum and FOLLOW THROUGH. My worry is that President Bush would not follow through, he would give them a second, third, fourth chance and that just blows the whole thing.

    Tony Snow is either an idiot or thinks we are. It is absolutely ridiculous to give the Iraqi Parliament a break because of the weather. These are people who have lived in that climate their whole lives, they should be able to handle it. In my opinion this is just another sign that Iraq does not care about our soldiers sacrifices.
     
  3. Antoinette

    Antoinette Founding Member

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    I agree that we need a diplomatic "surge" similar to what Mr. Friedman suggests. Those who have been on the ground in Iraq, who understand what is at stake, are the ones most qualified to suggest solutions. Solutions will have to be enforced, however. A way to move forward must be found. Perhaps the September troop surge report will be a starting point for the "diplomatic surge".
     
  4. The Commissioner

    The Commissioner Retired Staff Member Founding Member

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    Friedman is an unrepentant lib, albeit one with who generally understands the 'big picture' internationally. No matter how much success is realized in Bush World, Friedman will always have something to criticize.

    As for the political solution to the war, I am sold on the policy of partition. Human history tells us the less racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse the population, the more peaceful it is. There is a lot to be said for the observation that "birds of a feather flock together."

    Since we, the USA, abhor dictators and authoritarian regimes, the only way out is to hold our nose and give the various religous groups/tribes their own land and in exchange get them to support a weak central government that distributes the oil revenues.
     
  5. The Commissioner

    The Commissioner Retired Staff Member Founding Member

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    In my opinion, A LOT of Bush's rating problem is he is unable to be articulate when discussing these complex problems in front of a camera. He doesn't inspire confidence in his listeners. I've talked with people who work in the White House, including one who served in a cabinet-level position and they all say that Bush comes across as articulate and intelligent when the camera isn't there. He does well when the words are written down for him, but I think he hasn't helped himself because the unscripted interviews give the false impression he is struggling intellectually.
     
  6. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    I agree, and it's not a good trait for a President to have in the age of television.... :thumbdown:
     
  7. USMA08Mom

    USMA08Mom Member

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    My husband is currently stationed at Multi-National Corps HQ in Iraq. He shared a few things that blew my mind. A very reliable source told him that the Embassy in Iraq only has 10 State Department employees (including the ambassador) who speak Arabic on staff. He also said that many senior State Department folks with Middle East experience have threatened to retire rather than be stationed at the Iraqi Embassy. Right now it is considered a dead-end position in that department. Doesn't sound too hopeful for diplomacy, huh?
     
  8. Antoinette

    Antoinette Founding Member

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    This AP News article by Robert Burns is on this topic.

    http://www.comcast.net/news/index.jsp?cat=GENERAL&fn=/2007/07/20/719509.html

    Here is the quote from this article that caught my attention. Major General Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division operating south of Baghdad, expressed the following opinion:

    "too much focus is being placed on the military part of the solution to Iraq's problems and too little on the need to promote progress toward a functional central government."
     
  9. nosmileysforme

    nosmileysforme Member

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    So now these are great ideas and a "new way forward"? Well, they're not, new that is. Nothing proposed by Friedman et. al. is new; his solutions were presented by others three, four, or more years ago. Those suggestions warranted examination then and they continue to warrant examination now.

    What's changed is that those who formally supported Bush and his war in Iraq are wavering. Those formerly staunch supporters (including republican members of congress) are now willing to examine ideas (partition, redeployment) that the Bush administration had convinced them were defeatist. But what's most amazing is that those who where formally the cheerleaders for the "stay the course" doctrine, and who would greet every suggestion for flexibility as traitorous left wing bile, now hold these dusty old ideas up as new, innovative, and realistic alternatives. Well, I suppose it's at least a step in the right direction.

    But it seems unlikely that anything can or will happen until the end of the Bush administration. As for partitioning, just under a year ago presidential spokesman Tony Snow said a suggestion to divide Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions, each with high degrees of autonomy, was a “nonstarter.” Bush has his plan (aka "Stay the course"), and seems quite unwilling to deviate from that plan. That plan does not include partition. As for redeployment to the borders that's been branded with the "cut and run" label and is also a "nonstarter". So is the current debate over alternative plans for Iraq a prelude to actions to be taken by the next, and presumably Democratic, presidency and congress?

    And let's stop kidding ourselves. There are those who want to believe Bush is intellectually capable (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) because it would be embarrassing to have for so many years explained to others he really does have a plan, only to find out that, no, he doesn't. "He does well when the words are written down for him"; hell, I sound like a flippen rocket scientist when the words are written down for me, but that doesn't make me one. Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the "Emperors new clothes" come to mind. For those too young to have read the tale, here's a synopsis of the plot"

    Many years ago, there lived an emperor who was quite an average fairy tale ruler, with one exception: he cared much about his clothes. One day he heard from two swindlers named Guido and Luigi Farabutto that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they said, also had the special capability that it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for his position.

    Being a bit nervous about whether he himself would be able to see the cloth, the emperor first sent two of his trusted men to see it. Of course, neither would admit that they could not see the cloth and so praised it. All the townspeople had also heard of the cloth and were interested to learn how stupid their neighbors were.

    The emperor then allowed himself to be dressed in the clothes for a procession through town, never admitting that he was too unfit and stupid to see what he was wearing. He was afraid that the other people would think that he was stupid.

    Of course, all the townspeople wildly praised the magnificent clothes of the emperor, afraid to admit that they could not see them, until a small child said:

    "But he has nothing on"


    Bush gives the impression he's struggling intellectually because he is; metaphorically speaking, he has nothing on. Bush is simply out of his element in the presidency and the large majority of the remainder of the American public has finally come to realize what half of the country had already known to be undeniably true eight years ago.

    So are they good ideas, bad ideas? Probably very good ideas. And in another year and a half or so, we can begin to find out.
     
  10. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    Bush was still smart enough to clobber the "best" the opposition had to offer, twice over.

    Also, here we are, many years later, and we're STILL waiting for a plan from the opposition that isn't "Bush sucks, so let's get out now".

    The reason guys like me seem to be wavering in our support for the war isn't because we're wavering in our desire to win, but rather we are tiring of this half-assed effort we seem to be putting forth, and tired of hearing the media report only one side while the President remains silent. Once again, he has tried to be nice to all sides and succeeded in winning none over. Had hw walked into Iraq, destroyed Saddam and all his vestiges without mercy or apology, put one of Saddam's generals in power (or put a solid deadline under the noses of the elected government) and said, "Behave or we'll be back." this would have been long over.

    But NOOOOOOOOO. It's not about WMD. It's not about a strategic blow to the heart of Islamofascism (building a working democratic nation in the heart of the Middle East). It's not about huge goals requiring huge risks.

    Instead, it's become a parade of defeatist crap from the "loyal" opposition in this country. It's been about Abu Grahaid, USMC murders, Gitmo, Bush is Hitler, etc., etc. Once again, America has been cast as the evildoer, and those doing it find it much more easy to say, "See? Bush is a moron!" than to put forth a viable alternative other than, "we surrender!"

    I think W's problem is that he's too much of an idealist rather than realist, that he is plenty bright but doesn't communicate well, and has allowed the opposition to define him instead of the other way around.
     
  11. nosmileysforme

    nosmileysforme Member

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    "I think W's problem is that he's too much of an idealist rather than realist, that he is plenty bright but doesn't communicate well, and has allowed the opposition to define him instead of the other way around."

    That's an interesting statement in that it's exactly the same lament the Kerry and the Gore folks made. But really, he isn't that bright.
     
  12. nosmileysforme

    nosmileysforme Member

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    "or put a solid deadline under the noses of the elected government"

    Zap, you know we can't do that. That's a timetable and unacceptable to the Bush administration.

    "But NOOOOOOOOO. It's not about WMD. It's not about a strategic blow to the heart of Islamofascism (building a working democratic nation in the heart of the Middle East). It's not about huge goals requiring huge risks."

    Hmmmm. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the invasion of Iraq was about their WMDs, their harboring of Al-Qaeda, and the their central role in attacks of September 11th; or at least it was those things in the mind of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld and crew.

    But of course we now know that those connections were proven to be categorically incorrect, and so instead the mission morphed into being about building a Jeffersonian democracy in the middle east. The result to date, and because of incompetent handling (remember to always blame the generals, never yourself or your own plan), is that we've created a power vacuum in the middle east to the immense benefit of our friends in Iran, Syria, and within Al-Qaeda. In fact, we've done more to advance their causes then they, in their wildest dreams, could have ever hoped to achieve on their own. And just think, all of this is only costing us 12 billion a month, or about 400 million a day, or a bit under 17 million an hour, for you math fans out there. But perhaps the worst part is that under the present administration there is literally no end in sight to this debacle.

    And not to bring up a sore point, but wasn't this really originally about Bin Laden? Wasn't it he who planned and executed the attacks on the twin towers? But then Bush says (and I've seen the interview) he's really not that concerned with Bin Laden or where he is. Well, not having as short a memory as Bush, I'd still like us to get the bastard.
     
  13. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    I will add about Friedman. I have only read one or two articles of his (read VERY many of them!) that I have not agreed with or found enlightening. He may be liberal, but he is very practical and spot on in most areas he addresses. I HIGHLY recommend reading "The world is flat" by him, it really helps understand the new age and how the world interacts. I haven't read, but I have heard excellent reviews on "The lexus and the olive tree" as well.
     
  14. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    Which was the point of the thread, not to begin yet another series of worthless "Bush is a dick" posts.

    The fact remains that the intel, which was bad from as far back as when Clinton was in office, was totally screwed up. You want the root cause for the war? That's it.

    So here we are. We either fish, cut bait, or do something else. I have yet to hear a plausible alternative outside those proposed by Friedman. If anyone has any, let's hear them if only for the enjoyment of the conversation. I don't expect anyone from the White House, Congress, or the Pentagon to skip through here and find the answer.
     
  15. nosmileysforme

    nosmileysforme Member

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    Well, and not that I find these solutions particularly appealing or plausible (though others may and it's not that I don't like them on at least a visceral level), there is also, and on opposite extremes:

    1) Pull out lock, stock, and barrel and leave Iraq to those who live there, or....

    2) Start drafting heavily and ramp up ground forces in Iraq to around 500k to 750k or so. And hey, now's a great time before anyone's had a chance to settle into their new role as frat boys and girls.

    Take away all weapons from the Iraq citizens (except the military and police; they like to kill each other too much so there's no second amendment rights for them). Shoot anyone and everyone on-sight who brandishes an unauthorized weapon and imprison everyone (ten years or so to start of hard labor rebuilding the countries roads, schools, sanitation systems, etc.) who has one hidden in their home or on their property. Basically, make things so tight nobody can move unless told they can do so. Hhmmm, sounds a bit lit Sadam's way of doing things.....was he on to something we don't know about????.

    Personally I prefer Friedman's suggestions (mostly on practical terms), warmed over though they may be.

    As for drafting, start immediately no mater what the developing plan and begin by replacing each and every very expensive non-Iraq-non-combat "contractor" (cooks, transport, mechanics, distribution, etc.) with an able young man or woman on the War Departments payroll. That should cut our operating expenses in half, though 200 million dollars a day is still not exactly pocket change (thank you my grandchildren). College deferments; forget it. The kids can go back after a deployment or two with the GI bill to speed them on their way. If those draftees want combat, fine, but they've got earn the privilege by meeting the same standard in all respects as the volunteer combat forces. In fact, and with the pressure off the non-combat support roles, the combat force standard (and the combat troops pay) can and should be raised; a lot!

    Well there you have it. And as for the intel being the root cause of the war; I don't buy it for one second. When you fire those intel officers who don't produce the intel you desire, and promote those who's intel you agree with, you set a very dangerous precedence. Essentially, you've circumvented the intel process and demoted that critical branch of the military from one of collecting and analyzing information to one of disseminating propaganda. But again, it's part of the never blame yourself strategy that's now coming home to roost.

    And speaking of roosts, Bush not particularly caring about where Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda colleagues was has also come to roost right where he left them; in the western frontier of Pakistan.

    So with regard to Pakistan, do we jump right in with 10,000 troops that we don't have, and in the process probably ignite 165 million Pakistani citizens against us for the next few decades, or do we hope that the previously ineffective Pakistani military can now somehow control the formally uncontrollable tribal areas and eradicate the resurgent A-Q and Taliban forces now making a comfortable living there, even while there is considerable sympathy for those folks within certain segments of the Pakistani military? Tough choices we've been handed and ones that we can hardly blame on bad intel.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2007
  16. nosmileysforme

    nosmileysforme Member

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    As for worthless "Bush is a dick posts" (those were Zap's words, Alberto), I take my direction from Roosevelt who said:

    "The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."
     
  17. nosmileysforme

    nosmileysforme Member

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    One last word on intellegence:

    “As a former intelligence pro….when you don’t like the answer and you set up your own thing, you tend to get the answer you want. You hire people who think like you do or want to satisfy the boss….I’ve read much more about the current set of players and they did set up a whole new interpretation because they didn’t like the answers. They’ve gotten results that in my view now have been disastrous.”

    Admiral Mike McConnell
    Serving United States Director of National Intelligence
    20 February 2007 through the present.

    Zap, I can understand if you dismiss my assessment of intelligence, after all, you have no idea of my qualifications (if I told you I'd....yada yada yada). On the other hand, it's quite a bit more difficult to blame bad intel for what's transpired in Iraq and elsewhere when a statement like this comes from the acting Director. And McConnell wasn't acting at the time in question and so his statement cannot be dismissed as him covering his posterior.
     
  18. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    Oh, I see. So the acting Director of the CIA says the intel was X, and you just believe him, eh? No possibility of a conflict of interest, perhaps? Only Bush can lie?

    Tell you what, if the intel was good, then where are the WMD now? If the intel was bad, then please explain how all these people also fell for it, many of them BEFORE BUSH EVEN TOOK OFFICE:

    Were all of them fooled, or did all of them lie, or was the intel, in fact, credible but wrong, or was it wrong and we lost the WMD after the fall of Baghdad?

    You can't say the intel was fabricated by Bush when DEMOCRATS of all people were out saying that Saddam was an imminent WMD and terrorist threat even before Bush had the power to doctor the intel.

    For crying out loud, here is Al Gore making a better case for taking out Hussein than Bush ever made, and this was EIGHT YEARS before Bush became president. He wasn't even a friggin' GOVERNOR yet!

    Link

    Here's another one. In this one, Gore talks about Iraq being a terrorist threat and a WMD threat: Link


    Oh, and here are some more interesting examples of the Great Bush Mind Control Machine in action: http://www.freedomagenda.com/iraq/wmd_quotes.html

    Either the intel was good (i.e. - there were WMD in Iraq, and Iraq was supporting terrorists), or ALL these people were lying, in which case your quote from Roosevelt is especially applicable, even beyond the Presidency, eh?

    So, I'm being asked to believe that George W. Bush, knowing full well that he wanted to invade Iraq to avenge Daddy, and almost a decade before he became President, doctored the intel so badly that Al Gore was giving speeches about what a danger Hussein was and how Bush Senior had failed to deal with him, and other Democrats were all confirming that position?

    Uh..... OK. Right. :confused:

    And here we see the problem folks: One side may be too hard-headed to respond effectively to a rapidly-changing situation, but the other side is completely opportunistic and will say ANYTHING they think will get them their power. The former position may be a problem, but the latter is far more dangerous.

    The proof? A thread begun to discuss options for a successful end to the Iraq situation stops being about the Iraq Situation and degenerates into the usual "It's Bush's Fault! No one else's!" stuff. Never mind the fact that the clowns sayiong that in the political arena all voted in support of the war, using the same intel the President had (Hillary Clinton even made it clear that she had looked at it herself when deciding, and not just taken the President's word for it).

    The intel sucked. Period. The maintenance of the peace after the fall of Saddam has also sucked. Period.

    It's what we do going forward that matters now. Hopefully historians in a few decades will look at the run-up to the war and draw conclusions with more of an interest in accuracy than politics. Until then, let's discuss what we think we could do to resolve this, if only for the intellectual exercise of it. If you want to continue blaming everything on the President, start your own thread on it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2007
  19. nosmileysforme

    nosmileysforme Member

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    Zap, you make some very good points. And here's another one to support your case:

    (President Clinton quote from Larry King, circa 2003):

    “People can quarrel with whether we should have more troops in Afghanistan or internationalize Iraq or whatever, but it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons.And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn’t know. So I thought it was prudent for [President Bush] to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don’t cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.”

    And from you:

    "Were all of them fooled, or did all of them lie, or was the intel, in fact, credible but wrong, or was it wrong and we lost the WMD after the fall of Baghdad?"

    Fooled, probably; all lied, probably not; credible but wrong, probably; lost, seems implausible.

    "And here we see the problem folks: One side may be too hard-headed to respond effectively to a rapidly-changing situation, but the other side is completely opportunistic and will say ANYTHING they think will get them their power. The former position may be a problem, but the latter is far more dangerous."

    I agree with your first assessment as we have clear evidence of this, but completely disagree the the latter as it's far too general and typical of a straw man argument. I love the quote, "does anyone here know what a straw man argument is, or only how to make one".

    "The proof? A thread begun to discuss options for a successful end to the Iraq situation stops being about the Iraq Situation and degenerates into the usual "It's Bush's Fault! No one else's!" stuff."

    Yeah, this is the first time I've ever heard of a thread leaving the tracks too. Imagine, one of YOUR threads being hijacked!

    "The intel sucked. Period. The maintenance of the peace after the fall of Saddam has also sucked. Period."

    Ya know, I'm beginning to come around to your side on this Zap, on both points.

    "If you want to continue blaming everything on the President, start your own thread on it."

    No need to, your's are plenty handy. And here's how I know it's ok to:

    "and in stark contrast to the jerks populating the left".

    I missed our discussions on CC; glad you're here.

    Regards!

    ps - I DID respond to your thread; and your comments were?
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2007
  20. The Commissioner

    The Commissioner Retired Staff Member Founding Member

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    It's been theorized that one of the people who fell for the intel was Saddam himself. He undoubtedly authorized a program to increase the WMD arsenal and his subordinates had powerful motivation (personal safety) to assure him that the program was successful even if it was not. I wouldn't be surprised if he was heard talking about his WMD's that may not have existed.
     

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