“Fight ’em there or fight ’em here”

The cartoon involving Zawahiri below is here as a symbol of the vapid incomprehension of the Jihadi adversary which characterizes the thinking of many who suscribe to the "Fight ’em there or fight ’em here" school of "thought."



Jihadi_islamofacists Is there a causal connection between civil war and insurgency in Iraq and an absence of Jihadi attacks in the United States?

Let’s see – What would it be?

– People now fighting us in Iraq would otherwise be fighting us in the streets of Peoria?  How?  There were no Iraqis among the 9/11 attackers.  The bogus claims of people like Stephen Hayes that evidence exists of Saddamist/Al-Qa’ida collaboration are a fraud.  The only people who say or think that anymore are the simple minded dupes of the Bush Administration, committed neocons like the AEI crowd and the merely ambitious and venal hoping to have a few "bones" thrown their way.

– War in Iraq keeps the Jihadis fully occupied so that they don’t have the planning energy left to work against the West in Europe or the United States.  Hello!!  Madrid, London twice, Indonesia, etc.

The fact is that the War does one thing.  It gives the Jihadis a convenient place to fight us and it may in the future give the Iranians a place to fight us on their own terms.

The RNC crowd are still saying this egregious crapola as a response to anything they don’t like.  Ridiculous.

Ah, yes, what will be the reponse to this thought?  -Leftist- Defeatist- Jihadi Sympathizer – Someone who wants Saddam back in office, etc.

Sorry, I do love freedom, but the present Iraqi government ain’t it.  No.  It is the triumph of Twelver Shiism.  This is something the Shia had never managed for themselves, but they have done well with the help of folks like Chalabi, my friend Reuel Gerecht and Zal Khalilzad (greatest American of all time according to Biden).

Pat Lang

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63 Responses to “Fight ’em there or fight ’em here”

  1. Patrick Henry says:

    You said alot..with very few Words..
    I like this One..!!

  2. Mo says:

    Col. Lang,
    I think you over estimate the importance of “Twelver Shiism” to Shia’s in regards to the Iraqis and Lebanese. A nationalist movement centered around a religious or secterian group is still a nationalist doctrine whether Shia or Sunni, or for that matter, Muslim, Christian or Jewsish. The Arab world and the Shia populous has no widespread desire or longing for a clerical theocracy such as Irans.

  3. Mo says:

    Apologies for posting again so soon. I have just enlarged the image and read the contents after posting.
    I know that what is written is written to mock the beliefs of Al-Qaeda, but nonetheless, so you are aware, I, as a relatively western, liberal and moderate Muslim find it very abusive.

  4. lina says:

    “Al Qaeda made a conscious, tactical decision to do battle with the United States in Iraq and we have responded and fought them there. We need to fight them there because if we don‘t fight them there, we are going to fight them here at home.”
    (Van Taylor, Iraq War Veteran and Republican candidate for House of Representatives, TX-17)Aug. 23, 2006
    We’ll find out in November if this egregious crapola, as you so aptly call it, still sells.

  5. Jon T. says:

    What I like the most is people who have never served in the danger zone calling others non patriotic who have actually carried a weapon and fought in an American war. It’s so transparent I don’t get why more Americans do not see the manipulation. Lazy, greedy, too busy being important, delivering the kids to soccer and ballet, not paying attention, drunk, stoned, don’t care, self righteous, chosen by God, City on the Hill? What? If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. When attentive, then decide how to handle the anger.

  6. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I am not sure why you say “Sorry Babak”.
    Will you please explain?

  7. jang says:

    Another “Drink Me” myth debunked. Your insights are a refreshing antidote to WH spew & spin. Thanks again.

  8. Byron Raum says:

    I must disagree with you somewhat, Colonel. But the disagreement is only on the surface:
    We are indeed “fighting them over there so that we don’t have to fight them over here.” After the obvious wonderment and sense of destiny bin Laden and al-Qaeda must have felt after our invasion of Iraq, they settled down to a plan of action. Given what a perfect way it was for them to train their students in urban guerilla warfare, they have absolutely no incentive to attack Peoria.
    I recall a NYC subway attack that was called off. Cheney’s speculation was that this was because it would not kill considerably more people than 9/11. Rather, I would speculate that it was because they saw no reason to introduce a random element into the situation. When things are going your way, you don’t fiddle with parameters.
    So, yes…we are fighting them over there so that we don’t fight them over here. For now. But that isn’t because of our choice. It’s theirs.

  9. zanzibar says:

    PL, you forgot Mehlman’s label du jour – Defeatocrats!
    And Khalilzad has a twofer – in addition to the “freedom” in Iraq he has mid-wifed, his earlier “freedom” project in Afghanistan now with a resurgent Taliban in the liberated land of democracy where an organized crime boss is the recent Kabul police chief and a third of the Afghan GDP is the narcotics trade. Afghanistan under the tutelage of the Decider is the world’s largest producer of opium and supplies 87% of the world’s illegal heroin. Freedom is going swimmingly for the Afghans.
    After months of widespread frustration in Afghanistan over corruption, the economy and a lack of justice and security, doubts about President Hamid Karzai have led to a crisis of confidence in the country.
    Interviews with ordinary Afghans, foreign diplomats and Afghan officials make clear that the expanding Taliban insurgency in the south represents the most serious challenge yet to Karzai’s presidency.
    The insurgency has precipitated an eruption of doubts about Karzai, widely viewed as having failed to attend to a range of problems that have left Afghans asking what the government is doing.
    Corruption is so widespread, the government apparently so lethargic, and the divide between rich and poor so great, that Karzai is losing public support, warn officials like Ahmad Fahim Hakim, vice chairman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
    “Nothing that he promised has materialized,” Hakim said, echoing the comments of diplomats and others in Kabul, the capital. “Beneath the surface it is boiling.”

  10. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The mockery is directed at the neocons who are misrepresenting my culture.
    I don’t want you to think that I am judging as to whom should lead in Islam. PL

  11. Glen says:

    “Fight them there or fight them here” and “stay or cut and run” are simplistic dogmatic slogans which probably reflect President Bush’s limited black/white world view. It was a shock when I begin to realize that these same slogans were the WH “policy” for winning the Iraqi war. It takes one’s breath away with it’s simplistic stupidity. It must be incredibly frustrating to be on the JCS and deal with the WH.
    Just my two cents,

  12. Arun says:

    In reply to Byron Raum: if we had concentrated on cleaning up Afghanistan and the border areas of Pakistan, then, we would be facing virtually no Shia or Sunni terrorism. Nor a resurgent Iran. Al Qaeda would have had no home. There would be no domestic opposition to war in any Western country because there would be no war. There would be no masses of people in the Muslim world angry with the US because there would be no war to be angry over. And instead of the Iraq adventure, we should have been making the Middle East even quieter by moving along Palestinian statehood. We’d have had the horsepower left over to tackle North Korea as well.

  13. taters says:

    Tony Zinni was called a traitor and an anti Semite by the same crowd. That sickens me in the deepest part of my soul. Thank you Col. Lang for telling it the way that only you can.

  14. confusedponderer says:

    I do not think that the ‘we fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here’ really convinces me. If Afghanistan is any indication, once Iraq is ‘off the radar’, be it because the US left willingly or in defeat, there will in any case be a motivated and well trained cadre of people who will fight us then, here. Here, meaning the West. Till then the US give them realistic on-the-job-training.
    There is no gain in fighting them there. Because attrittion cannot work against self-radicalising enemies, it merely delays the inevitable here, and will make the enemies facing us ‘then’ more fanatised, and far better and up-to-date trained than they would have been three years ago.
    A low key approach sans invasion of Iraq, would have served us all so much better. This ‘fighting them there’ only agravates the problem, but ‘strategic offensive’ has the appeal of sounding and feeling so good and grand. You can fight terrorists without invading countries. The folly of the neocons is that they believe that regime-change can change the minds of peoples to conform with their views. They also do not understand the value of strategic self-restraint. ‘Just defending myself’ gives a degree of legitimacy that pre-emption will never grant.
    I think to choose the latter path and go determined down that road requires far more guts, patience, and more patience, nerves and courage than to howl for heads to roll, and regimes to be changed and the Middle East to be transformed. You never know, maybe restraint, sticking to Afghanistan, would have led to Osama getting caught. As far as prestige is concerned, and that counts a lot, his head on a spike would have served the US image of being a potent and powerful nation better than the war that is dragging on in Iraq now.
    The US are now in Iraq longer than they’ve been in WWII. This is because the Nazis were total pussies. Talk about a convincing display of strength.

  15. James Pratt says:

    The neocons seem to think that the only relevant facts in the world are American money and guns. Lyndon Johnson felt the same way, at least till the New Hampshire primary in 1968.
    Another government boondoggle based on false pretenses at the American taxpayer’s and fighting man’s expense.
    Bush wants to turn Iraq into another Okinawa, with troops there until most of the oil reserves have been pumped. It will take three more elections probably to convince the RNC and DLC otherwise.

  16. Dan says:

    Just came across this. It seems appropriate somehow:
    “The situation in Lebanon is difficult, frustrating and dangerous. But this is no reason to turn out backs on friends and to cut and run. If we do, we’ll be sending one signal to terrorists everywhere.”
    Ronald Reagan, February 3, 1984, a few days before US forces pulled out of the country.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    There was a long essay by Matthew Arnold on Shia Islam in which he pointed out that it is only in Shia Islam that one can find delicacy of feeling and softness.
    Furthermore, over the last 600 years, Muslim Philosophy has only survived as a living tradition among the Shia Scholars.
    More recently, I think, that the Shia Doctrine of Ijtihad & the amalgamtion of the principles of Republicanism and the principles of Islam are two more outstanding contributions of the Shia thinkers to Islam.

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I have met an intelligent middle-class person who stated to me that “we fight them over there so that …” in a Blue state.
    I just do not know how many think like him.

  19. taters says:

    By the way, the “fight them over there..” slogan is every bit as crazy as the current apologists’ comparison of Iraq to WWII and the subsequent occupation of Germany and Japan – which sadly is not uncommon among that crowd. Heck, I live in Detroit, I guess it’s simply an absolute miracle that I’m safe in Dearborn or Hamtramck or that I can eat at my favorite Lebanese restaurant. Maybe I should tell that to my Chaldean friends who own our local neighborhood store.

  20. taters says:

    President Ronald Reagan called the attack a “despicable act” and pledged to keep a military force in Lebanon. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said there would be no change in the U.S.’s Lebanon policy. On October 24 French President François Mitterrand visited the French bomb site. It was not an official visit, and he only stayed for a few hours, but he did declare: “We will stay.” U.S. Vice President George Bush toured the marine bombing site on October 26 and said the U.S. “would not be cowed by terrorists.”
    In retaliation for the attacks, France launched an air strike in the Beqaa Valley against Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions. President Reagan assembled his national security team and planned to target the Sheik Abdullah barracks in Baalbek, Lebanon, which housed Iranian Revolutionary Guards believed to be training Hezbollah fighters. But Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger aborted the mission, reportedly because of his concerns that it would harm U.S. relations with other Arab nations.
    Besides a few shellings, there was no serious retaliation for the Beirut bombing from the Americans. In December 1983, U.S. aircraft attacked Syrian targets in Lebanon, but this was in response to Syrian missile attacks on planes, not the barracks bombing.
    Although the casualties at the USMC barraks were substantially higher, this is not to downplay the previous bombing of our embassy.

  21. confusedponderer says:

    you know full well, that without the sacrifice of brave men, like Col. Lang, all Americans today would speak Chinese. Had he not helped to fend off the Red Hordes in Vietnam, they would have landed in San Diego. Fighting them there …
    And you know equally well, that had America withdrawn from Vietnam, all of Asia inevitably would have fallen into Red Chinese hands.

  22. Wombat says:

    As someone who has been involved with terrorism research since before it became trendy (1982), the “flypaper” scenario makes me want to tear out what little hair I have left.
    By making the choice to invade Iraq, this administration has ensured that there will be on-going inspiration and training possibilities for Islamic terrorists for the foreseeable future. Most of these attacks will be against US targets and allies, but we cannot rule out additional attacks in the US.
    So far we have been lucky that our geographical distance, immigrant/assimilationist ethos and openness has made it difficult for Islamic extremism to catch on domestically.
    This could change in the future for a number of reasons, as the US does have a large population of domestic moslems. An unsuccessful and brutal war in a moslem country (Iraq, for instance); uncritical support for Israel and its more egregious actions; the return of US moslem soldiers demoralized and enraged by what they saw, combined with politically-stoked paranoia about Islam, may create conditions for a domestic moslem terrorist outbreak in the US.

  23. zanzibar says:

    “we fight them over there so that …” in a Blue state. – Babak
    The Blue states are not immune to the power of propaganda and rhetoric carried continuously on corporate media with no rebuttal. Note that a recent poll showed that the majority of Americans still believe there was a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda.
    The 9/11 and terrorism link with everything Bush and Cheney want to do is natural – they are a one trick pony.
    In a way the “fight them there…” shtick is a win-win for them. No terrorist attack here and they win. Terrorist attack – they also win. The terror alert frequency will rise as elections near in a replay of 2004.
    The one issue that the majority of Americans agree on now is that Iraq is a fiasco. If the Democrats can take advantage of that they have a chance.

  24. The notion that there’s a terrorist behind every bush is propaganda. Its purpose is to win elections inside the US, not to confront and win the “war on terror.” Unfortunately, the domestic effects of such propaganda destroys American solidarity and sets the stage for polarizing culture wars whose purpose is less than strengthening virtue.
    Perhaps the only way to maintain the US empire is to instil a military ethos, hopefully returning us to virtue–but that will not occur when politicians and their cronies exploit the fear to gain power and line their pockets.
    One of the lessons of this so-called “war” is that the US military and its civilian leaders are not very good at knowing their enemy. Not only have we had intelligence failures in this regard, but the military itself has been slow to recognize who the enemy is and to work outside the box when it comes to recognizing the enemy’s tactics.
    While it helps to consolidate the home front, all moralizing does is to propose easy solutions that fit outmoded preconceptions. While I don’t think that the neocons are done yet in trying to impose their template of old-world hegemony on to a region whose untapped masses have yet to exhibit their true worth, it should become obvious that the new “war” is more on the political front than on the battlefield.
    If someone hasn’t already posted a link and selection from this article, here it is. It’s one of the more cogent and realistic descriptions of what’s gone wrong and what’s potentially workable in the Mideast than anything i have seen in a while.
    At the American Conservative, Andrew Bacevich writes:

    So it turns out that Arabs—or more broadly Muslims—can fight after all. We may surmise that they now realize that fighting effectively requires that they do so on their own terms rather than mimicking the West. They don’t need and don’t want tanks and fighter-bombers. What many Westerners dismiss as “terrorism,” whether directed against Israelis, Americans, or others in the West, ought to be seen as a panoply of techniques employed to undercut the apparent advantages of high-tech conventional forces. The methods em-ployed do include terrorism—violence targeting civilians for purposes of intimidation—but they also incorporate propaganda, subversion, popular agitation, economic warfare, and hit-and-run attacks on regular forces, either to induce an overreaction or to wear them down. The common theme of those techniques, none of which are new, is this: avoid the enemy’s strengths; exploit enemy vulnerabilities.
    What are the implications of this new Islamic Way of War? While substantial, they fall well short of being apocalyptic. As Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has correctly—if perhaps a trifle defensively—observed, “Our enemy knows they cannot defeat us in battle.” Neither the Muslim world nor certainly the Arab world poses what some like to refer to as “an existential threat” to the United States. Despite overheated claims that the so-called Islamic fascists pose a danger greater than Hitler ever did, the United States is not going to be overrun, even should the forces of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi insurgents, and Shi’ite militias along with Syria and Iran all combine into a unified anti-Crusader coalition. Although Israelis for historical reasons are inclined to believe otherwise, the proximate threat to Israel itself is only marginally greater. Although neither Israel nor the United States can guarantee its citizens “perfect security”—what nation can?—both enjoy ample capabilities for self-defense.

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There was a time in the middle part of 1970s that individual Japanese soldiers were being discovered in the Philippines that were still carrying the war of Imperial Japan. I recall a sketch by Art Buchwald based on this that envisioned the meeting of the last American soldier fighting the war in Vietnam years after the war had ended. I specially recall the part that his parents are brought over to convince him to abandon his (clearly) hopeless cause. The soldier would say: “I am fighting for Nixon who said our aim is peace with honor.” And the parents’ reply was: “Nixon is no longer the President of the United States.” Next he would say something to the effect that Vietnam was the enemy and his parent would reply: “Vietnam is not our enemy, they are exporting transistor radios to us!”
    This is all I recall (rather vaguely).
    But my point is this: was that war necessary?
    To what extent was that war caused by a group of males (men) in US that wanted to pursue their liberal fantasies of power and glory?
    Did it not weaken US and harm its social fabric?

  26. meletius says:

    Arun pretty much nails this.
    To the extent we wanted to fight Al Qaeda “over there”, they (including Osama!) were present in Afghanistan; no need to invade Iraq (which had NO Al Qaeda) in order to engage tham “over there”.
    But it’s an absurd slogan anyway because, as the train bombings and the foiled London air bombings demonstarte, we are “fighting” them BOTH in South Asia AND the West.
    So if the pinhead slogan actually identifies a “preventative” strategy against Islamic terrorism, it has failed, like all of George Bush’s “plans”.

  27. confusedponderer says:

    in the 1980s Reagan successfully talked America into fearing a Nicaraguan invasion and on May 1, 1985, declared a national emergency. An impoverished country of some 3.5 million people, roughly the size of New York State, with a GNP smaller than the economic output of most mid-Western U.S. towns, constituted “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the security and foreign policy of the United States.” It hardly can get any more absurd than that.
    I once had a Russian exchange student as a guest, and while getting very drunk one night he told me this about propaganda: “You know, during the cold war we Russians were told: ‘The world beyond Mother Russia’s borders is a dreadful and sad place. You don’t want to go there.’ The Americans were told by their government: ‘You’re free to go wherever you want to, but there’s no better place than the US of A’. He closed with: ‘The American’s bought it.’ ”
    I laughed a lot about that joke, and I think he made his point well.

  28. Abu Sinan says:

    The sad thing is, all of this is patently obvious to anyone with even a basic understanding of the Middle East.
    The problem is Americans just dont have a clue. Look at the recent poll that found that a majority of Americans cannot even locate Iraq on a map. A country in one of the most important regions in the world where going on 3,000 Americans have died.
    I am not asking that Americans speak Arabic, sa7? La. Americans need to start learning in school more about these places, they need to WANT to start learning about these places.
    Our future, as a nation, is wrapped up in our policy in this area. As long as we have uneducated( about the Middle East)ideologues forming and running our policy and have a populace who doesnt know better, and doesnt want to know better, things will only get worse.
    Listening to our current policy makers is all the same. In Arabic it is known as “kalaam fadi” and both parties are guilty of it, just the RNC is a bit more guilty.

  29. super390 says:

    Americans won’t waste time learning about the Middle East if their intention is to try to control the entire world. We have 700 bases in 120 countries. Hardly any Americans even know that fact. Would anyone who really accepted the hassle of understanding the world build 700 military bases all over it? You don’t have to understand the differences between nasty foreigners when you have all of them at gunpoint.

  30. john f says:

    Babak M
    You mention Matthew Arnold’s writing on Shia Islam. Could you be more specific on where I might find that, please.
    You also mention ” the Shia Doctrine of Ijtihad & the amalgamation of the principles of Republicanism and the principles of Islam”. I wonder, again, if you could point me somewhere I could read more of this, particularly online.
    If you mean that through people like al-Sadr’s father, Nasrullah, and now Sadr himself, the Shia seem to be evolving self-organized, independent ways of building effective social and educational and defensive structures around themselves, which in time could present alternatives to the present ricketty state structures in the Middle East, then I, from my limited observations, would agree with you. Indeed, this is about the only positive thing I really can see occuring there at the moment.
    Quite where Iran fits into this evolution, if at all, I don’t know.

  31. Byron Raum says:

    Arun, I agree with you completely. My point was that it is not yet obvious to the shallow mind as to what is happening. The reason there have been no homeland attacks is that it has been a strategic decision made by our enemies. It is not due to anything that we have managed to accomplish, nor is it a sign of weakness in our enemies. If anything, it is a sign of their satisfaction with the way the war is progressing. This means that we should be very worried, not complacent about the lack of homeland attacks.
    Talking about how far anti-Semitism has advanced, this cartoon is an excellent illustration. Apparently, the caption reads, “Smile, my son, lest we be accused of anti-Semitism.”

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Your observation about fear is interesting.
    My impression is that in the United States, some how, there is constant fear:
    fear of loosing one’s job, fear of disease, fear of the opposite sex, fear of lack of health insurance, fear of the young, fear of the old, fear of the other races.
    It is astonishing to watch how US is a country that promotes fear and injects it into its social fabric. It is as though US is hell-bent on destroying mutual trust among its citizens and populations.
    I note here also that to many EU visitors US infrastructure and human quality looks dilapitated and shabby.

  33. ali says:

    Truth is fighting them over there now means you’ll have to fight far more of them over here.
    At least that’s what happened in Europe where “over there” is just a jaunt across the Med and the potential “them” is a sizable chunk of your youthful population.
    If we continue this amateur night bungling we’ll simply have far too many of our neighbors cooking up TATP in the bath to ever catch them. In the scale of things these nuts are a negligible threat to our society; but before you know it we’ll all be having pre-boarding cavity searches for bus rides.
    Unfortunately while security folks, now almost universally, find this obvious it is something only the French seem willing to comprehend as a body politic.
    And I’ve got two words for anyone feeling safe between shining seas: “Hamburg Cell”

  34. taters says:

    confused ponderer – Hi. I have yet to read HR McMaster’s “Dereliction of Duty” – I believe the vast majority of VN veterans here have. I will, soon. Maybe I’m afraid what will be said about Maxwell Taylor. I found the Col.’s thread on “The Brave Rifles of Tal Afar” to be especially enlightening on Col. McMaster. I don’t know if you’ve seen this or not. btw – That’s a great handle you’ve got.

  35. confusedponderer says:

    thanks for the link. My thoughts when reading McMaster have been that he’s a bright and honest guy doing his job diligently and well. That said, it is a simple fact that the US don’t have the manpower to repeat what he did in all of Iraq.
    And it’s more, there are things that are out of their hands. To elaborate: On a conference, John Mearsheimer spoke about his time at West Point in the late 1960s. An English professor had assigned his class to read French existentialist Albert Camus’ “The Plague.” The instructor explained that he was using the book as an allegory for what was happening in Vietnam: the plague came and went of its own accord – and humans “operated under the illusion that they could affect the plague one way or another.” Mearsheimer said he saw a similar dynamic afoot in Iraq.
    “There are forces that we don’t have control over that are at play, and they will determine the outcome. I understand that’s very hard for Americans to understand, because Americans believe that they can shape the world in their interests.
    “But I learned during the Vietnam years when I was a kid at West Point, that there are some things in the world that you just don’t control, and I think that’s where we’re at in Iraq.”
    And I think that is the problem that McMaster cannot solve despite all his qualities and tactical successes.

  36. taters says:

    confused ponderer,
    Unfortunately, McMaster was shipped back to stateside. I believe Col. Lang said McMaster should be “bumped up” and what came to mind to me was George Marshall and the analogy was that success should be rewarded – as opposed to the current crop of “Freedom medal” recipients. ( Failure has been rewarded – of course Bremer come to mind immediately, I’ll simply leave Franks out of this for now )Great post, thank you very much. I must admit, I would be disappointed in a bad assessment of Maxwell Taylor.

  37. Maggie says:

    I am new to this blog and have not read back very far, but based on the posts I have read and their comments, I am surprised and disappointed by their whiny tone. There is a lot of nitpicking and not a lot of constructive criticism.
    “Fighting them over there so we son’t have to fight them here” is just a slogan, a sound bite. It’s not why we began OIF and it’s not why we are still there. This is not to say that I have no problems with the planning (or lack thereof) and execution of OIF. But the fact remains that we are there and we can not just up and leave.
    Based on what the posts and comments, I would say that I am not as well read as the majority here and certainly not as well educated in military history. However, I do try to pay attention to curernt events and foreign policy. The links between Iraq and Al Qaeda were very vague based on what I read in the 9/11 Commission Report. Never at any point did I take from Administration statements that Al Qaeda was why we were engaging in OIF. My understanding (as a Republican in a blue state) is that we went to Iraq to depose Saddam. In my opinion the world is better for it.
    Also, I’d like to point out something in the comments – confused ponderer said “The US are now in Iraq longer than they’ve been in WWII.” That is incorrect. We declared war on Japan December 8, 1941 and victory over Japan on August 15, 1945 (although the treaty wasn’t signed until 1951) = 44 months, 7 days. OIF began March 20, 2003, 41 months, 8 days ago. I’m sure his statement will be true eventually…..I just wanted to show that I was paying attention. BTW, I can find Iraq on a map.

  38. wtofd says:

    I expect you’re about to be on the bottom of a gang tackle so I’ll tread lightly.
    In my opinion the world is better for it.
    How? Tens of thousands are dead in Iraq. The formerly stable country is coming apart at the seams. We’ve not slowed our real enemy (AQ). Many who know the region would say we’ve helped them.

  39. taters says:

    There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
    Herbert Spencer

  40. confusedponderer says:

    ‘The links between Iraq and Al Qaeda were very vague based on what I read in the 9/11 Commission Report.’
    To be clear here: There were no links. None. Not vague links. No links at all. When you didn’t take that no at all subtle implication of the existence of a link from administration babble, you didn’t pay attention. For example to this:
    “CHENEY: Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that’s been pretty well confirmed, that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”
    That is, of course, utter nonsense, and investigations quickly showed just that. Cheney made the statement anyway. By making this statement Cheney put Atta and Iraq and 911 in context and suggested nothing less than at least consultation, if not cooperation. And he not only did it there but at about every public appearance he had. He made an argumentum ad nauseam.
    Besides, I was referring to Nazi Germany (May 8 or 9, 1945), and I though that was clear from my closing line after that bit. Japan is so far east that it fell off my map.

  41. Byron Raum says:

    Joining the crowd..my comment essentially relates to “But the fact remains that we are there and we can not just up and leave.” Sure we can. We can get up and leave at any time, but is it clear that our only reason to stay is anything more than stubbornness and an inability to admit fault?
    First, we are paying an immense treasure in wealth and limb to stay in Iraq. If there was a chance that we could pacify Iraq, then that would be a good argument to stay. There is no such chance. There’s even very little chance that we can keep Iraq as a client state, ala Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. What’s lost is lost. The dead soldiers will not be brought back. There is no way for the occupation to pay for itself, as Mr. Wolfowitz so happily asserted. It’s money thrown down a sinkhole.
    So what do we actually hope to accomplish in Iraq? What are our objectives? What is our plan? Aside from “stay the course.” Even if we stay the course, what course is it that we are actually staying?
    This might sound like a rhetorical question, but it’s not. With the collected wisdom here, there might be an answer….

  42. Maggie says:

    Let me rephrase – While we *could* leave, we shouldn’t. We caused this mess, we need to clean it up. That’s not being stubborn, that’s being principled. Sticking in Iraq until we stand up their forces is the right thing to do. I am aware of the cost. I have sent the great love of my life over there twice since ’03 and my 18 year old son will be enlisting in the Marines shortly.
    Confusedponderer – I’ll give you points for the crack about your map.
    As far as the world being better off…..I stand by that one. Saddam’s body count was higher and more sadistic. Iraq is dangerous but I sincerely believe that Iraqis have a better shot now than under Saddam. For the record, I’d take an IED over an encounter with Uday any day of the week.
    As for being at the bottom of the pigpile here….don’t you think I knew that when I made the first comment? I did this with my eyes wide open.

  43. taters says:

    Hi Maggie,
    Welcome. A friend of mine who is an Iraqi had to leave Iraq in the middle of the night – from Uday. He’s a bright guy and an engineer. He referred to Saddam & co as gangsters, however he said now his mom and sis can’t go to a store anymore since the invasion and subsequent occupation. This site is one of my favorite places, I’m glad you’re here.
    Kind regards,

  44. zanzibar says:

    Thanks for your comments.
    “We caused this mess, we need to clean it up.” – Do you believe the same team that caused this mess can clean it up? Or will they create more of a mess?
    “world being better off…..I stand by that one. Saddam’s body count was higher and more sadistic.” – Do you then believe that it is the role of US taxpayers and the military to take out all leaders who cause a high body count and are sadistic? Or are there other “interests” in Iraq?

  45. Maggie says:

    Taters – Thanks for the welcome. I agree there is a problem with the occupation.
    Zanzibar – “interests”? Perhaps you mean oil? Sorry, I don’t buy that one, never have. We won’t keep that oil. We won’t profit from it. And I do think we can clean it up. While we can find fault with much of the administration’s handling of Iraq, they have no evil intentions and they do want to succeed. There are changes being made.

  46. wtofd says:

    Zanz, you raise an important point. If dictators killing their people is justification for invasion and occupation, then why aren’t we in Africa?
    Maggie, what is your source for Saddam’s body count? Your “world being better off” sticks with me. I don’t think it’s as simple as GWB’s “Stand By Your Man” speech last week. We can’t win in Iraq because:
    1. They (pick your insurgency group) don’t want us there. They live there and are fighting, in their minds, an existential war. If this sounds simplistic, please refer to the French and then the US in VN.
    2. Our army is ill-equipped to deal with a long insurgency.
    3. Our public won’t stand for higher casualties.
    4. The politicians running the war lied about the reasons for going (see SecDef Rumsfield in April 03 hem and haw about lack of WMD/AQ, then switch to democracy spreading. That’s called mission shift, and it’s almost always a sign that things are going very badly).
    Principles are great. I only wonder if we’re throwing good money, after bad. I’m curious. Do you support our military “spreading democracy” over other parts of the world?
    For a discussion of insurgency style conflicts I recommend John Robb’s blog. He’s tracking 4GW and counter-insurgency, much of which is playing out in Iraq.

  47. confusedponderer says:

    The guys who yell: ‘Better dead than red!’ the loudest usually are those least likely to ever face the choice. I know people who did. They said it was silly, but not all that bad either, as long as you didn’t stick out your neck.
    Maggie, you’re safe overseas. From your distance it is very easy to say: ‘It was worth it’.
    I would ask that not an American but a real authority, an ordinary Iraqi. A Sunni would probably want Saddam back, a Kurd certainly not, given the quasi autonomy he has, and a Shiite would also say no. It would depend on whom you ask, and how you ask.
    Had you asked instead: ‘Would you prefer imperfect order or perfect chaos?’ the answer would probably be ‘imperfect order’; not everyone’s a Michael Ledeen.
    In chaos the new rights the American tutored constitution gives are pointless, because they carry no weight, and are not enforced or protected in any meaningful sense. It might well turn out that Saddam’s dictatorship pales in comparison to the atrocities of the sectarian civil war the US helped unleash. Is that worth it?
    I guess your reply on that question will be: ‘Yes it is, and civil war ain’t gonna happen, because we’ll stay and finish the job!’ Sorry, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Who do you think is gonna help America? Everyone who allies with the US is delegitimised automatically. America cannot control the sectarian factions in Iraq, and it will fail trying. They have their interests and they differ significantly from America’s. They will pursue them consequently.

  48. zanzibar says:

    I did not necessarily mean oil. What I was trying to understand was your statement that the world is better off for us having invaded and occupied Iraq to depose Saddam although Iraq did not attack or directly pose a threat to us. A rationale you gave was that he killed many of his people and was a sadist. If this is what you believe does that then lead to US taxpayers financing the overthrow of all sadistic leaders that kill large numbers of their own people. Second, are there other reasons you believe that the world is better off now that we have taken out Saddam.
    I am curious since the Administration’s rationale has changed over time. Prior to the invasion it was concern about WMD and “mushroom clouds” and the enunciation of a new policy of “preventative war”. Today it is about the creation of western-style democracy.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not believe you are aware of the costs.
    To pacify Iraq, 20% of the population will have to be killed.
    Clearly, you are disregarding costs to the people of Iraq.

  50. pbrownlee says:

    OIF is, I assume, “Operation Infinite Floundering”? Or “Operation Imperialist Farce”? Or “Operation Ignorant Fools”? Or “Operation Imminent Failure”?
    And who is it gets to name these things these days?
    Used to be the point was to obscure what we are doing from the other side and those on our team who did not need to know — but very clear to those who were involved — with occasional light swaggering (“Overlord” and so on). Sometimes flashes of irony.
    Now these things seem to be designed by zany chickenhawk White House/Weekly Standard PR types to be a “really fabulous” bumper sticker somewhere.
    These guys could not go two rounds with a revolving door.
    (Sorry if this appears “whiny”; the source of such comment lies in incandescent outrage and utter contempt for abysmal incompetence, reckless irresponsibility and invincible, homicidal ignorance.)

  51. Maggie says:

    wtofd – My source on body counts? 1st off Human Rights Watch puts just Kurds killed under Saddam as 50,000 to 100,000 over merely 6 months in 1988. That’s deliberate genocide, not collateral damage (I know, dead is dead, but still). http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/08/18/iraq14027.htm
    I have heard figures of 600,000 (Documental Centre for Human Rights in Iraq, recognized by HRW) and up to 1 million (out of 22 million) given by New York Times writer John Burns.
    As far as body counts since 03/2003 the only organization giving 100,000 is The Lancet and to my knowledge they are all alone on that one. Conservatives say 20,000 to 30,000 but I think “Iraq Body Count” comes closer with a max of 45,316.
    For the record, I do support spreading demoracy in other parts of the war. Although that was never my understanding of our top reason for going into Iraq. Doesn’t anyone remember all the UN sanctions? Bush didn’t just wake up one morning and say “Let’s saddle up and head to Iraq!” As far as WMD go, maybe nothing was ready to hit New York at that moment, but plenty has been found that violated the UN Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq. Do you simply disregard the Duelfer Report?
    Saddam wasn’t there yet, but he was getting ready, he was planning, sanctions weren’t working.
    I disagree that our military is ill-equipped for dealing with a long insurgency. I think that problem is leadership and I think the tide is beginning to turn on our approach to that problem.
    As for your remark on the French in Vietnam, it’s ironic but my copy of “Street Without Joy” by Bernard Fall arrived the other day and soon I will be better versed in that particular subject.
    Confusedponderer – So now I shouldn’t comment on OIF because I am safe in America? LOL What next? Will I be restricted to commenting only on events in Boston? I am really worried about David Ortiz.
    As far as civil war in Iraq goes, I would not say it will not happen. I can’t predict the future. Would it be worth it? Who can say, that’s for history to judge.
    Zanzibar – Sorry if I jumped the gun, but I hear a lot of the “oil” arguement and I am sensitive to it. Saddam was a threat to his immediate neighbors and I do believe that a threat to free people anywhere is a threat to free people everywhere…you know “Ich bein ein berliner” and all that. I think any time somebody violates that many UN sanctions, etc. there should be some consequence. We didn’t decide all on our own that Saddam was a problem.
    Babak – I don’t see how it’s at all clear that I am disregarding the impact of this war on Iraqis. I see it as giving the Iraqi people to determine their own future. I said I’d take an IED over being raped and beheaded by Uday. But again, being an American, over here in Boston, who am I to venture an opinion?
    Pbrownlee – I’ve been cautioned against saying things are whiny. But I will say that OIF isn’t viewed as “”really fabulous” bumper sticker somewhere” by those who wear the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal or the Iraq
    Campaign Medal.
    How’d I do? Did I hit the high points? It’s late and you’ve distracted me from a good chunk of my nightly reading….good job!

  52. wtofd says:

    thanks for all the links. I appreciate your spade work for me.
    If we can’t control the 3 largest provinces now how will “leadership” changes improve the situation?
    As for supporting democracy why then aren’t we in Africa? That we’re not in any meaningful way intervening in genocides there makes me doubt your conviction to “democracy spread” or “freedom threats.”
    As for you concern for the Kurds I’ve seen this as a scurrying attempt to provide justifcation for a war lacking a concrete one. Point taken: he killed Kurds and his own Arab citizens. But again, if you’re so concerned for the Kurds and see this as a justifcation for invasion, why aren’t we in Turkey?
    Final question: which free people was SH threatening?
    To answer your question, I try not to disregard any threat. But, since resources are finite I think we should have let sleeping dogs lie in Iraq and go after more pressing problems – AQ in Afghanistan and Pak.
    NB The season was over the day Tek went down. Take heart, Theo made the right move not to unload any young arms. They will come back stronger and with more stamina next season.

  53. zanzibar says:

    Agreed that Saddam was a serial violator of UN sanctions, however that did not cause the UN to pass a resolution authorizing force. On the other hand UN inspectors were in Iraq until the current Administration asked them to be withdrawn. And of course Iraq was required to prove a negative. Saddam I don’t believe was perceived as a threat by his neighbors. He seemed to be fairly well contained with the no-fly zones and his army had not recovered from its destruction in GW I. In the event his neighbors were threatened they would have likely joined the coalition. In this case however, Saudi Arabia and Jordan cautioned against the invasion. Turkey refused the use of their territory for any military operations. The only country that had a material reason to depose Saddam was Iran.
    The decision to invade Iraq was a unilateral decision by the Bush administration with only Blair providing any support since there were no multilateral resolutions.

  54. Maggie says:

    I agree about Africa. I think there should be boots on the ground in Darfur. I attended a very informative lecture at the Old South Meetinghouse not too long ago about this. It was a Ford Hall Forum – Women to Women: A Journey to Darfur
    Gloria White-Hammond, Liz Walker and Linda Mason, with Kenneth Sweder. I wrote letters, I have the “It Could be Me….Save Darfur” t-shirt (although I need to get another, too many washings). But do you seriously believe we could do that right now and not be ripped for it? When we have talks, we are condemned for not acting unilaterally. When we act unilaterally, we are condemned for not having multi-lateral talks. We can’t win and my personal feeling is this….when someone asks me to justify Iraq by bring up Africa…it’s a smoke screen (no offense). We are in Iraq. Iraq is it’s own issue.
    As I stated previously, some strategies are changing vis a vis the Brits controlling the border with Iran and the Coalition Forces dealing with the 3 provinces you mention. It may not be successful, but many people who know far more than I do are very hopeful.
    As far as Saddam’s threat to free people, I was speaking of the bounties he paid to the families of suicide bombers who killed Israelis.
    Turkey? Again different issue, needs a different approach. Afghanistan and Iraq got the stick….Pakistan and Turkey got the carrot. (too glib?)
    Thanks for your kind words about the Sox. Tonight we were hit with another blow that puts baseball in perspective. Jon Lester (rookie pitcher) was diagnosed with lymphoma.

  55. confusedponderer says:

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t comment. I do so, and I certainly think you have the very same right. My point is far simpler: That your point of view is US-centric, and seems to almost completely blend out the Iraqis, or Lebanese.
    I do think they’re a very important piece of the puzzle as America has made them lab rats of their grand ‘democratisation experiment’.
    To say that things are for history to judge is a cavalier excuse to not have to deal with the issue now. America IMO can ill afford that.
    I’m not moralizing here. It’s merely a question of what works and what doesn’t. Would Israel’s ‘targeted killings’ help fight terror, swell, go ahead, but alas, they don’t, predictably so. So I’m against it.
    If America is going down a bad path, doing things that cannot work, which I think she is, the time for course corrections is now, not when they’re already over the cliff, tanking, like: ‘Uhm, windy. I still insist that my whiny critics were wrong when they said invading Iraq was a mistake, and a costly one. I say let history judge wether it was a bad idea to march on.’

  56. Maggie says:

    confusedponderer – My comment on history being the judge of our actions today was not meant to be cavalier. I believe that to be true. We can only know it was the correct path after we get there and look back. Today, we can look back and know that our inaction or weak response after the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, etc., emboldened AQ. Statements from AQ as well as the 9/11 Commission bear that out. The result 2,996 dead. Since then…….no successful attacks here. I know this arguement drives people on the other side crazy, so please know that I am not trying to deliberately agitate. To me that’s just a fact. Not every action by this administration has been wise or wellplanned, but all told…..these are the facts right now. Maybe something horrible will happen (God forbid) and blow holes in this arguement. But right now that’s true.

  57. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It seems to me that there is a logical flaw in your argument.
    On the one hand most people would, I believe, attribute the absence of terrorist attacks in the US post 9/11 to the vigorous GWOT measures taken by the USG since then, but what is missing is a rationale for believing that there is a causal connection between our intervention in Iraq and that absence of terrorist attacks in the USA.
    The president asserts that the Iraq intervention is the “central front” in the war against “Islamic fascism” as he call it, but his assertion is only that. pl

  58. Maggie says:

    You may well be right. None of us can ever know for sure. I am merely pointing out random facts. There may be no link at all.
    Fact: AQ thought we were weak and at one point OBL was reported to be disappointed that his attacks on the embassies did not yield a stronger response from us.
    Fact: We made little to no response to AQ attacks and those attacks escalated up to 9/11.
    Fact: Poorly planned or not….poorly executed or not….our response since has been vigorous.
    Fact: There has been no successful terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.
    I can’t prove those facts are related. You can’t prove they are not. As they say…”It is what it is.”
    I’m not the only one who thinks these things are linked. There was a horrible post over at Huffington by someone who was wishing for a successful terrorist attack before the midterm elections so Americans would vote for Democrats.

  59. W. Patrick Lang says:

    As I said, I don’t dispute the notion that a vigorous response to the jihadis has disrupted their activities, but there is nothing in your argument that has IRAQ written on it.
    Based on a long experience of Iraq, I do not think that there was any organizational or operational relationship between the Iraqi government and the jihadis before 9/11. pl

  60. taters says:

    There is an article by Col. Lang written in 2004 entitled Drinking the Kool Aid. I would assume most of us here have read it.
    From the Mid East Policy Journal
    Volume XI, Summer 2004, Number 2

  61. dan says:

    I presume that the anthrax attacks that occurred in the wake of 9/11 don’t actually count as terrorist attacks then?
    Or that the profusion of terrorist attacks in the wake of the Iraq invasion are not materially relevant, as they weren’t attacks on the US?
    Frankly, the European and other nations that have suffered terrorist attacks in the past 3 years might consider the trade-off for no attacks on the US a little burdensome.
    Remember, there’s an awful lot of “there” over there.

  62. ikonoklast says:

    I would have to argue that the responses – or non-responses – to USS Cole and the embassy bombings neither emboldened AQ nor resulted in 9-11, which was after all the second such attack on the WTC. Once bin-Laden determined his course and attracted a competent core group it was a done deal, and most likely the goals, tactics and strategies he nurtured will survive him.
    A small group can make its plans in secrecy and has the advantage of taking its time until all details are in place. Despite all efforts by their respective governments, the Nihilists and Anarchists of Russia, and the Irish Republican Army perservered for years.
    An underground organization devoted to suicide attacks would see only more opportunities for martyrdom as a result of a military response. As we saw in Afghanistan against the Soviets, and now see in Iraq against the Coalition, ideologue fighters will congregate where the action is. The more brutal the struggle, the stronger the appeal – the more certainty that your death results from an act of justice. These people BELIEVE!
    When it comes to fighting al-Qaeda literally, without the distractions of Iraq, geopolitics, oil, etc., it’s a fight against ideas. Very difficult to counter.
    On a tangent, when it comes to bin Laden personally does the US really want to capture him? He’s so convenient as a boogeyman in domestic politics, and once you’ve got him you’re stuck with either giving him a bully pulpit or making him a martyr. The best course would be to “disappear” him and pretend he’s still out there. The stuff of madness, lurking conspiracies … but I’ve often wondered why we offered $50 million for Saddam and only $25 million for Osama. It seems an odd prioritization.

  63. Maggie says:

    I don’t believe that the anthrax attacks were terrorist in nature. They certainly weren’t AQ. I was under the impression that they are viewed by the FBI to be criminal in nature.
    As far as Europe goes…while what happened in London and Russia and Bali were indeed terrorist activities, they were homegrown with limited ties to AQ if any at all.

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