December 6, 2006

Wednesday 061206

Rest Day


Enlarge image

CrossFit SoCal's new box

Iraq Symposium: In response to the widely leaked recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, has put out a call for suggestions from the blogosphere for making progress in Iraq, Syria and Iran.

Post your ideas and proposals to comments.

Posted by lauren at December 6, 2006 5:11 PM

I'm in favor of a glass floored self lighted parking lot.

Comment #1 - Posted by: Spence at December 5, 2006 5:37 PM

Comment #2 - Posted by: Hari at December 5, 2006 5:38 PM

Thank goodness for rest days! This has been my toughest week yet on crossfit. I always try to accentuate the positive....the first digit on my third toe from the left on my right foot feels GREAT!!

Comment #3 - Posted by: Valerie S. at December 5, 2006 5:51 PM

Operation Linebacker III- the sustained aerial bombardment of the Sunni Triangle and Sadr City.

Comment #4 - Posted by: Froggy at December 5, 2006 6:04 PM

i'd like to add something to the Geneva Convention

Back extensions should be put in as a cruel and unusual punishment

sitting down hurts...

Comment #5 - Posted by: Anthony from Ottawa at December 5, 2006 6:14 PM

Unrestricted warfare. Sans smart munitions.

Comment #6 - Posted by: CF68 at December 5, 2006 6:23 PM

Stop all imports from China due to their influence in Iran, North Korea, etc. If that doesn't work, we nuke China now instead of later. I would venture to say that Iran and North Korea might play nice for the next several hundred years.

Comment #7 - Posted by: Steve Cassidy at December 5, 2006 6:44 PM

We are not making the progress we want in Baghdad and Iraq. The Sunni's and Shiites do not want to have a coalition government.

Why don't we pull out of Iraq and into the Kurdish territory. We set up an independent Kurdish state and forge an alliance with a group that for all intents and purposes seems to want the same thing we do.

Comment #8 - Posted by: Anthony at December 5, 2006 7:22 PM

Isn't that a picture of a curves for women workout center?

Comment #9 - Posted by: Chris at December 5, 2006 7:36 PM

i agree with Chris

that place doesn't look very "crossfitty"

Comment #10 - Posted by: Anthony from Ottawa at December 5, 2006 7:50 PM

I was going to post the exact same thing but I checked their website and there is a note saying they will open Jan 2nd with this

"...We will start to hold a few of our classes during December while we renovate the space (add pull-up bars, raise the ceiling height, etc.) For more information, contact "

So I presume this is how it is now and they will make it 'crossfitty'

Comment #11 - Posted by: aaronwilson at December 5, 2006 8:04 PM

Initiate an immediate US pullout. Turn the new US embassy over to the UN as its new headquarters.

Distribute all of our planned new permanent desert bases to countries with long-term strategic interests in the area, specifically, the Russians, French, Germans, Chinese, Turks and Sauds.

Release all prisoners and ask the Pope, the Dalai Lama and prominent Muslim clerics to preside over a truth and reconciliation commission.

Uh, that's all I got.

Comment #12 - Posted by: mark at December 5, 2006 8:10 PM

Crossfit SoCal folks have some cool backyard equipment. I particularly like wall ball targets.

I can't really see paying someone for gym time as I workout at MCRD San Diego. Working out around folks that have a mortally vested interest in fitness keeps things in perspective.

But I may see some of you at Mission Bay. Keep pushin'.

Hey... are some of the SoCal guys in a witness protection program? Just wondering...

Comment #13 - Posted by: kevin gp at December 5, 2006 8:17 PM

#4 and #6 understand what should be done. Certainly leveling Sadr City along with Mookie should send a message of strength and resolve to Iran. Slightly OT, but is anyone else embarrassed by George 41 having a public breakdown, sobbing in public? That was pathetic at a time our leaders need to nut up and lead and the fomer presidents step aside and get off the stage.
Ok, so I'm a little edgy. Tough crossfit week and I still have to do Murph tomorrow. There will be no pda's (public displays of emotion).

Comment #14 - Posted by: MarkFu at December 5, 2006 8:30 PM

Get out now and spend the billions on our own country.

Comment #15 - Posted by: Maximus at December 5, 2006 9:51 PM

Like Chris #9 and Anthony #10 I was confused by the photo. My understanding is that Coach doesn't even like the bench press that much as deadlifts, presses, squats and Oly Lifts. because you lie on your back in the bench. More muscle groups are recruited (and have to be coordinated) when exercising standing up.

This place looks like it has more backrests than a bar lounge! I am sure the SoCal group will fix it up as Aaron #11 indicated.

Comment #16 - Posted by: Tony at December 5, 2006 9:58 PM

my favorite day
go for a light swim, some sauna and hot tub action.

Oh yea, and PT in 3 hours, ugh

Comment #17 - Posted by: Agui at December 5, 2006 11:04 PM

my favorite day
go for a light swim, some sauna and hot tub action.

Oh yea, and PT in 3 hours, ugh

Comment #18 - Posted by: Agui at December 5, 2006 11:06 PM

my favorite day
go for a light swim, some sauna and hot tub action.

Oh yea, and PT in 3 hours, ugh

Comment #19 - Posted by: Agui at December 5, 2006 11:06 PM

my favorite day
go for a light swim, some sauna and hot tub action.

Oh yea, and PT in 3 hours, ugh

Comment #20 - Posted by: Agui at December 5, 2006 11:08 PM

# 10- is that crossfitty or more properly crossfitish?
In response to the Iraq question.
1. Deploy enough troops to do the job
2. Adopt a more agressive posture, relax the ROE and start doing bad things to the bad guys.
3. Place the Iraqi army/Iraqi police issue on a back burner. Stand them down and disarm until things begin to stabilize. Then start over with a new plan.
4. Seal both borders FOR REAl! Engage any and all unauthorized crossing with areial assets to include attack helos, AC- 130 gunships and fighter/attack aviation which are to be permantly on station conducting thermal imaging surveillance. Anything not at an authorized crossing is fair game.
5. Stop handing out weapons and start collecting and destroying them as fast as possible. Do away with the ridiculous policy that allows 1 AK-47 per household for "self defense".
6. Incarerate for the duration of the conflict any and all persons found engaging in "AIF activities" The Iraqi judiciary is turning them loose so fast that we almost don't bother catching them anymore.
7. Rediscover the death penalty and start using it on our enemies at home and abroad. (esp abroad) K-

Comment #21 - Posted by: Kman at December 5, 2006 11:42 PM

Some might say that the philosophy of control by force in a country other than yours, until they behave exactly how you want, is both naive and not dissimilar to mass-organised terrorism. At least terrorists mean to kill themselves and others of the same team - no 'friendly fire' there.

Comment #22 - Posted by: Lee at December 6, 2006 12:10 AM

#22 Most Iraqis are happy that we're in their country, and scared to deathh to show it. Getting the minority to live by the rule of law and abandon their attempt to sieze control of the nation by force is the mission.
Terrorists do not Terrorize others by killing "themselves and others of the same team." They do so by the slaughter of innocents.

Comment #23 - Posted by: Kman at December 6, 2006 12:44 AM

Send in the Master Chief.


Comment #24 - Posted by: Dan Silver at December 6, 2006 1:24 AM

So no innocents have been slaughtered by allied forces in the gulf? No women, children or old men?

Type 'civilian casualties iraq' into google.

As for 'Terrorists do not Terrorize others by killing "themselves and others of the same team."

Then what is a suicide bomber?

Comment #25 - Posted by: lee at December 6, 2006 1:50 AM

My Boyfriend is up for his second tour in Iraq (to be leaving in April 07) after just getting home in September (06) from a 15 month tour... I think that is all need to say regarding my opinion about the situation in Iraq....

Comment #26 - Posted by: Cassie at December 6, 2006 2:12 AM

#25 Any innocents killed by coalition forces were not the intended targets.
A "suicide bomber" is a misnomer for a Homicide bomber. Lets put the emphasis on the victims instead of the clown wearing the vest. And again the difference is he isn't killing his own folks(members of the "same team") he's targeting innocent 3rd parties to effect the behavior of survivors and to gain access to mass media.
# 26- my tour here is done in about 90 days and if the U.S. doesn't get it's act together I intend for it to be my last. K-

Comment #27 - Posted by: Kman at December 6, 2006 2:36 AM

The war in Iraq is not a topic I am very knowledgable about, so I rely on other specialist to summarize options and providing alternatives.

John Wixted's summary ( is what I feel closest to my point of view and he can explain it in much more eloquently then I ever hope to.

Re mark #12 - Dalai Lama ???? Care to explain how that would improve the situation ?

Re Kman #21 - point 4. Care to explain how you will handle (or just shoot down) refugees crossing the borders ?

Comment #28 - Posted by: Tamas at December 6, 2006 3:47 AM

#23 kman

You are deluded.

•The vast majority of Iraqis want the US troops to leave Iraq. According to a World Public Opinion Poll conducted in January 2006, 87% of Iraqis say they want a timetable for the withdrawal of US-led forces from Iraq. A recent poll by the US State Department found that nearly three-quarters of Baghdad residents said they would feel safer if US and other foreign troops left Iraq. Sixty-five percent of those polled favored an immediate withdrawal of troops. Another poll, by the Program on International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland found that 71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask for the US troops to withdraw within a year.

I also recently read a poll that said 65% of Iraqis are in favor of violence against US forces.

Get the hell out now.

Comment #29 - Posted by: Maximus at December 6, 2006 4:22 AM

Hooray! Rest day!

Now I have time to go post about fitness at !

Rest day!!

(man, I haven't been so relieved since it rained out 7th grade gym class)

Comment #30 - Posted by: Hale at December 6, 2006 4:54 AM

If we are going to fight, we need to fight! I know a Marine who followed a terrorist around for three months (he is a sniper) with orders to kill that ter when he got the opportunity. He had more than five opportunities, the upper echelon would not give him the green light or by the time he got it, the target had departed the area. Let the soldiers fight the war, that is what we pay them to do. If not, we need to leave and seal our borders completely.

Comment #31 - Posted by: Trooper at December 6, 2006 4:59 AM

I do not doubt our military's abililty, and resilience to fight until the war is won. Unfortunetaly the problem here is that we have no vision of "what" it is we want them to win. Our goals keep changing with the wims of the political climate. I no longer know how to define victory or "winning" in Iraq, nor what an acceptable exit strategy would be. All I know is that hundreds of Iraqi's still die every week, and dozens of our boy's and girl's die, or are mamed every month.
My opinons? I have none. Greater minds, military and political are at odds over how to proceed. My only is suggestion is that we bring our soldiers home now! If we are unwilling or incapable of defining a victory for them to achieve, then we only creat a quagmire from which only misery is created.
Let the Iraqi's decide their own future, if they wish to spiral into chaos and civil war, then it is their own decision, if they chose stability and democracy then let that be their own decision as well. But let us leave it to them, and bring our soldiers home.

Comment #32 - Posted by: GeorgeP at December 6, 2006 5:32 AM

Leave and stay out of other countries business.

I am ashamed that this is my first post here but I felt compelled to add some sense to the responses like turn into a glass parking lot or linebacker III.

I feel most of the fault lies in the upper levels of our very own government and that is where you start the cleansing.

How about this analogy: You are having trouble seeing but instead of getting glasses or better yet corrective surgery, you start to blame everything else for being out of focus and as a result of this you just start destroying everything with the thought that you will scare everything that still exists back into focus. Never realizing that it would just be easier and more effective to stay within yourself and fix the problems with your eyes. Once the eyes are fixed maybe the differences will not be so different.

My point= start here get the criminals in prison and it will start to get better.

Comment #33 - Posted by: ruddy at December 6, 2006 5:42 AM

#29 Maximus

Citing a study conducted in Jan 2006 isn't very representative of the attitudes held now, given the meteoric rise in sectarian violence in the past 12 months, nor is citing studies w/ no date a very reasonable basis for your argument. Just because you read them recently doesn't mean that they are recent studies.

Not to mention, a timetable for withdrawl is a far cry from immediate and total removal, which is what you are calling for.

Even if everything cited is current as of yesterday, everyone should be careful what they wish for.

Comment #34 - Posted by: JR at December 6, 2006 5:44 AM

Wondering if someone could help me out...

About a week ago I hurt my back (along my right shoulder blade) while trying to lift too much weight on a deadlift (lost my form and ending up pulling the weight with my arms). Anyway, it doesn't really hurt but it gets sort of numb as times, even when I'm not lifting. The feeling is very similar to being hit in the 'funny bone'. Does anyone know what this is / what I should do about it / if I can lift through it?

Thanks in advance.

p.s. i don't think i've ever been so happy to get a rest day.

Comment #35 - Posted by: f at December 6, 2006 5:55 AM

I haven't been over there in a while but some of my observations may still be valid.

Early to mid 2004 should have been the real focus for "nation building". I would never take anything away from the senior military leadership, but they are not the duty experts when it comes to this stuff. The State Dept., Dept of Justice, and a few other cabinet level positions were very slow to get involved. DOD is a big green monster, and we will not ever back down or ask for help (to our downfall at times). I think the only way to truly make headway in Iraq is through an Interagency approach that relies upon all assets of the U.S. Govmt not just DOD. Yes I realize there are plenty of spooky people in Iraq, but we need more foreign policy experts from the State Dept. (I can't believe I just wrote that), Law Enforcement guys (DEA,FBI,CBP,etc..) and other "niche" oriented agencies/groups. I would also be careful about polls or statistics from any website that goes to the extremes (left or right).

OK now I gotta go do yesterday's "Murph".

Comment #36 - Posted by: cdells at December 6, 2006 6:07 AM

My opinions and views are still the same, if we were yank everyone out at once it would create a worse problem there and then be bringing the fight to here.
We obviously can't seal our borders as quick as some would like (It would take years), so, saying that we could stop them at the borders before the terrorists entered the US is a ludicrous idea. There are too many back woods roads in the north coming in from Canada, too many unwatched swamps and bays in Florida. If we could seal the borders to keep out the terrorists than we will have partially won the drug war too, but there goes our commerece with legit companies and countries.
I totally believe and agree that upper echelon (all the way to God level) needs to relax the rules of engagement, pull out all the TV cameras and let our soldiers do their job as they should. Why train all the time to kill an enemy if you are never allowed to use the skills because someone up top is looking at their career disapation light for every decision?
If we set and follow a reasonable timeline for withdrawal, we must do it in a way so that there is no gap between the Iraqi forces (police, military, whatever) keeping the peace and our forces keeping the peace.
People like statistics and numbers because they seem real and to be the truth, but unfortunately anyone can make up anything and make it sound good to get their point across. Statistics are known to be spun to fit the ideas of whomever is using them. It's kind of like scientific theory. Theory is really just someone making a guess and then trying to find the proof but it is a guess based on thier opinion. Don't confuse scientific Theory with scientific Fact. Don't confuse statitics and opinion polls with the truth.


Comment #37 - Posted by: jknl at December 6, 2006 6:34 AM

Thanks for your service. Be safe. So far as I can tell, you are one of the very few to post an opinion that is based on first hand knowledge of the situation. I think you've got some good ideas.

Kman said seal the borders, but mentions authorized crossing points. Though I can't speak for Kman, I'd bet that he doesn't intend to have a bunch of refugees mowed down at these authorized crossing points.

You are a political operative and you are deluded by the talking points you link us to.

"Talking Points on How and Why to End the War
By Mandate for Peace

To: Democratic Representatives and Senators
From: Mandate for Peace campaign
Date: December 4, 2006
Re: Need for Democrats to Carry Out the Voters’ Mandate for Peace, End the War, and Bring the Troops Home Now

Dear Democratic Representatives and Senators, "

Lot's of inflamatory data in you talking points, but not a lot of citation. Bad form. The Mandate for Peace needs better writers.

I am not a veteran, but I'm a citizen that appreciates what our soldiers are sacrificing for our safety. If they are not bringing the fight to the war on terror in Iraq now, the terrorist will be bringing the fight back to our shores later. And remember, last time that happened a lot of innocent Americans lost their lives.

Thanks again Kman. Be safe.


Comment #38 - Posted by: MCORRY at December 6, 2006 6:36 AM

This is a very welcome rest day. I woke up two or three times last night with shoulders feeling like they had knives stuck in them. Today, everything hurts. Will still try to make it to Kung Fu tonight if I can walk...

Comment #39 - Posted by: Chris M at December 6, 2006 6:42 AM

#15 maximus ...I'm with ya on this one!!!

Let me get this straight ....the same dolts who lied to us and knowingly disseminated false information to get us into the war (Bakers neocon "think-tank" <---a joke in itself) are the people we are seeking advice from on changing the direction of the war. Never has a president relied so much on the laziness and gullibility of a people.

WE NEED TO CLEAN UP OUR OWN BACKYARD.....perhaps then we can "export democracy" to those who really don't want it. LEADERSHIP THROUGH EXAMPLE NOT HYPOCRACY.

I loved the Murph workout and the 50's kicked my butt. Coach is piling it on lately!!! Good job to all.


Comment #40 - Posted by: ricky at December 6, 2006 6:58 AM

The American Spectator has a great piece on the Iraq Study Group this month--lots of good dirt and critique--one item of note is that the group hired a PR firm to help them present their "data" . . . .

Comment #41 - Posted by: cjones at December 6, 2006 6:59 AM

Don't you hate it when you have a disjointed thought?
I wrote- "If we could seal the borders to keep out the terrorists than we will have partially won the drug war too, but there goes our commerece with legit companies and countries."
I was not trying to imply at all that legit companies and countries are related to the war on drugs. What I was trying to say was that if we seal our borders then it will mean that we will have to adopt certain rules that will have to be for everyone wanting to do business outside the US, such as increased inspections and licensing, governmental restrictions, and so on. The legit companies and countries would be hindered enough to not want to pursue commerce here, because of the hassle encrewed (is that even a word?). Sealing the borders of our country seems like a can of worms.


Comment #42 - Posted by: jknl at December 6, 2006 7:04 AM

I don't support affirmative action here at home; dislike it much more when applied to a foreign land. Especially one who's commitment to betterment seems (from the safety of my desk) less than total.

Mr Borat, I haven't forgotten our discussion, swamped right now, should have some time Saturday, my next rest day.


Comment #43 - Posted by: Michael Ledney at December 6, 2006 7:05 AM

you have my utmost respect.
i'm going to copy the 7 suggestions and forward them to my Senators and Reps. [not that it will do any good]

Be safe and know that the majority of Americans are glad your there; like in iraq, the media is focused on what sells.



i like the crossfitish line.

Comment #44 - Posted by: water-ratt at December 6, 2006 7:14 AM

Wage total infowar against the enemy center of gravity, namely the domestic MSM and the anti-war left in and out of the democrat party
1. To educate people like Ricky who harbor false beliefs about how we got into the war and prevent the further propagation of such false beliefs;
2. To educate people like Maximus who harbor false beliefs about the consequences of defeat in Iraq and to prevent the further propagation of such naive beliefs;
3. To educate the populace as to the nature, aims and methods of the enemy, including particularly their use of our domestic media and our domestic opposition parties to gain through domestic political means our defeat on the battlefield;
4. To refute, utterly and completely, constantly and without fail, those responsible for propagating the lies and foolishness that have swept into the status of conventional wisdom;
5. Vigorously prosecute criminally those in the media who have published classified information on the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the Swift financial monitoring program, the secret flights of the terrorist rendition program, etcetera, etcetera. I would like to see Eric Lichtblau and Bill Keller in prison and their sources in the adjacent cells.
6. Keep on killing al Qaeda whenever and where ever found;
7. Destroy taliban/al qaeda camps in the northwestern frontier provinces of Pakistan and tell Pakistan to kiss off if they don't like it - revisit Colin Powell's diktat to Musharraf;
8. Foment domestic revolution in Iran and the overthrow of the mad mullahs;
9. Ditto for Syria;
10. Destroy Hezbollah utterly, totally and completely, to the last man, when they launch their coup in Lebanon;
11. Force the Saudis to stop wahabbi prosletyzing all over the world;
12. Propagate freedom and democracy in the Middle East as the ultimate ideological weapon against radical Islam;
13. Do not ever give up. Ever.

Comment #45 - Posted by: Harry MacD at December 6, 2006 7:30 AM

Hey, I like this! Without any hoopla in the last two weeks everyone seems to have suddenly agreed that there is a problem that needs to be fixed in Iraq and that what we are doing now is getting us nowhere. Admitting one has a problem is always the first step to fixing it. Now we can begin to move forward.


Comment #46 - Posted by: mc at December 6, 2006 7:56 AM

Damn right, harry.

It's time for the country to realize that it's the liberals who are enemy #1. The terrorists are a distant second, as they would not be so successful without the MSM supporting their every move.

The only question is, who's up against the wall first, Jim Baker for his treasonous Iraq Study Group report, or Robert Gates, wishy washy liberal incoming SecDef who said we aren't winning in Iraq?

Comment #47 - Posted by: AndrewN at December 6, 2006 8:17 AM

I started a WOD that I came up with and named "Satan Smiled".
15 rounds of 1 hill sprint, 10 pushups, 15 squats.

I'm not sure if there is something similar in the CF arsenal, but it is killer! I dropped the PUs and Sqats after round 3 and I almost puked from 13-15.

Let's here it for the Posterior Chain!

Comment #48 - Posted by: Aaron Jacob at December 6, 2006 8:17 AM

Harry MacD #44,

The truth shall set you free if you seek it out.

Or just keep quoting the spinners....either way I will respect you and your opinion.

History will show the "liberals" are actually the patriots in this fiasco. Time will dispel the myths of this invasion.

Best wishes,

Comment #49 - Posted by: ricky at December 6, 2006 8:22 AM

#21 Kman and #44 Harry MacD,

How do you plan on paying for all that? I'm no expert, but rumour has it military over-extension is the beginning of the end of great empires.

Comment #50 - Posted by: Richard at December 6, 2006 8:24 AM

Three guys -- a Canadian farmer, Osama bin Laden, and an American engineer -- are working together one day. They come across a lantern and a Genie pops out of it. "I will give each of you one wish, which is three wishes total," says the Genie.

The Canadian says, "I am a farmer, my dad was a farmer, and my son will also farm. I want the land to be forever fertile in Canada."

Pooooof! With the blink of the Genie's eye, the land in Canada was forever made fertile for farming.

Osama bin Ladin was amazed, so he said, "I want a wall around Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran so that no infidels, Jews or Americans can come into our precious state."

Pooooof! Again, with the blink of the Genie's eye, there was a huge wall around those countries.

The American engineer says, "I am very curious. Please tell me more about this wall."

The Genie explains, "Well, it's about 5000 feet high, 500 feet thick and completely surrounds the country. Nothing can get in or out -- it's virtually impenetrable."

The American engineer says, "Fill it with water."

Comment #51 - Posted by: incognito at December 6, 2006 8:33 AM

#10 and #9

If I got the directions and location for CF SoCal right then their new place is currently a 'women's gym'. It is a great location right near the largest soccer store in San Diego. I'm sure Ahmik and Krista will be CrossFitting the place up. Can't wait to visit.

Comment #52 - Posted by: Jeff at December 6, 2006 8:35 AM

#49 Richard

America isn't an empire.

Comment #53 - Posted by: Dave at December 6, 2006 8:36 AM


Jeff is right, we are taking over a "Curves-type" gym...good for is already zoned for fitness and has great parking! The current owners are in the process of selling all of their equipment and we are in the process adding ceiling height and pull-ups bars, etc. This is the before pic, we will send in some after pics, soon!

Comment #54 - Posted by: Krista J. at December 6, 2006 8:53 AM

#53 Dave,

Empire or superpower, the point I was trying to make was that the posters' proposed solutions would drain the U.S. treasury.

Comment #55 - Posted by: Richard at December 6, 2006 9:01 AM

People who call the US an empire have no problem living within it, and those living outside it want to be in.

Sorry Dan, Master Chief just signed a movie deal and is unavailable. How about Master Shake? Meatwad?

As much as I hate war and the fact that we're in that hellhole Iraq, I can't see us pulling out ala Vietnam. The result of the pullout was Orange County getting Little Saigon and it was cool. Which American suburb is going to volunteer to establish "Little Baghdad" for the thousands of refugees? Afterall, if we destroy their country and fan the flames of sectarian violence, then the least we can do is find them a nice place to live. I volunteer Bakersfield. It looks a lot like Iraq.

Comment #56 - Posted by: Ron Nelson at December 6, 2006 9:12 AM

Did "Murph" today. Written i y-days comments.

Comment #57 - Posted by: mrjling at December 6, 2006 9:19 AM

Caught up with 50
34:46, details posted there.
30 Minutes still elusive...

Comment #58 - Posted by: bingo at December 6, 2006 9:20 AM

Surprised this hasn't been suggested yet:

CrossFit Iraq into submission.

WRT the original article... why encourage the 'blogosphere' into posting opinions?

Comment #59 - Posted by: David Vessey at December 6, 2006 9:38 AM

Some thoughts...

1. Get the mainstream media to tell the truth. The movie "Wag the Dog" seems to have become more of a reality than we would like to admit. I know that the NY Times divulged one of our key methods in finding laundered terrorist money; I'm wondering when they'll leak an al Queda plan.

2. Communicate to the enemy that the US is not a "paper tiger". An extreme show of force would be sufficient to do that. Warn everyone in the Sunni Triangle to leave within 48 not say why. Then drop a low-to-medium yield nuclear bomb on the area and clear it out. Move onto the next city and do the same. I guarantee that everyone will start listening a little more intently.

3. Call it what it is. Terrorists are bad. They've always been bad. It is NOT the Iraq War that has made them angry. Take advantage of the fact that Iraq is a lightning rod for terrorists. Now we've got a lot of them concentrated in Iraq. Kill them all.

4. Put together a clandestine group of ex-intel guys and special forces troops, and start assasinating the bad people.

The acknowledgement that Islam is more of a cult than anything and that terrorists are bad people, along with truthful reporting, a massive show of force, and the flexibility to assasinate the leaders of certain groups, would probably solve a lot of problems in our world today.

Comment #60 - Posted by: Matt in Boston at December 6, 2006 9:53 AM

And one other thing...arm Israel to the teeth and then set them loose. They'll take care of things.

Comment #61 - Posted by: Matt in Boston at December 6, 2006 9:55 AM

"Then drop a low-to-medium yield nuclear bomb on the area and clear it out."

Why be so half-assed, Matt? Don't be so weak willed. Large yield or nothing.

Might as well hit Mecca too. That would really show them we're serious. And Tehran. Really serious.

Comment #62 - Posted by: AndrewN at December 6, 2006 10:02 AM


"Little Baghdad" already exists. East Dearborn Michigan.

Here is a bilboard from the area.

Comment #63 - Posted by: Yacob in Dearborn at December 6, 2006 10:41 AM

Foreign military adventures usually yield unintended consequences. That's what we face now. There are no perfect answers but pulling out of a fight once engaged is the worst answer. We did it once and the ensuing bloodbath was far worse than anything that happened in the years of our involvement in RVN. The places we really should not be are Germany and Korea. They both can defend themselves. Take those soldiers and send them to the Baghdad area, destroy Sadr's thugs, disband the Iraqi police (also thugs) and aggressively restore order. Train new police and go home.

Vietnam vet, retired Jersey Trooper, new but dedicated crossfitter

Comment #64 - Posted by: edmc at December 6, 2006 10:45 AM

Instapundit says he wants revolutionary ideas, not same old, same old. Looking at the bigger picture - I don't think that Iraq can be addressed in isolation - here are some suggestions (not necessarily what I would do and off the top of my head, without fact checking...):

1. Give Anbar and the predominantly Sunni areas to the Saudis - forever - tell them to sort it out; if the Iraqi Sunnis have been worried they will have no oil in a federated or otherwise structured Iraq, they will have some now.

2. Deal with Syria - The Syrians are all about regime stability; they will toss Hizbollah and Lebanon if they are sure of their own security; have Israel give them the Golan Heights back, give them a US guarantee of non-aggression towards them, drop the Hariri investigation, open up trade with them. In exchange require them to leave Lebanon alone, seal the Iraq border and stop supporting Hezbollah.

3. Drop the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty busting deal with India (although India never signed the NPT). It's only pissing-off China and Pakistan; see below. It's a terrible example to any potential proliferator.

4. Tell China the US will recognise their takeover of Tibet fully (it's not going to reverse anyway, sorry Dalai Lama), drop the India nuclear deal. In exchange tell them to support all measures vs. Iran and stop trading weapons/material to them. Tell China they can either trade with the US or with Iran; not both. Mean it.

5. Tell Russia it can have back it's sphere of influence in Central Asia; close US bases there. In exchange tell them to support all measures vs. Iran and stop trading weapons/material to them. Tell the Russians they can either trade with the US or with Iran; not both. Mean it. Drop US support for their WTO membership if necessary.

6. Pull US forces out of South Korea - the only reason they are there is that the South Koreans know that they are hostages vs. any North Korean attack (ie. guarantee US response if there is an attack). Redeploy these troops to Afghanistan and finish the job there properly. Tell the South Koreans and Chinese to sort out North Korea. Maintain blockade of North Korea trading.

7. Legalise and regulate drugs - this will cut the legs out from several unsavory regimes, and starve Taliban renaissance of funding. US cotton & other farmers can then change crops to high margin drugs and stop receiving ridiculous subsidies and support - get the Europeans to do the same and restructure international farming tariff/subsidy regime to benefit of all.

8. Tell Pakistan to get serious about it's NW frontier provinces; tell them we have dropped the NPT busting deal with India in exchange for US access to NW frontier from Afghanistan, if required, by US forces.

9. Without the Iraqi Sunnis, give the Iraqi Kurds Kirkuk and the northern oil, and set up a federal structure in Iraq. Without Sunnis, tell Shiites they don't need militias any more & disarm them.

10. Launch serious project to develop alternatives to oil.

Comment #65 - Posted by: Borat at December 6, 2006 10:50 AM

Having been to that awful part a few times in the last 5 years many of you have no clue what you are talking about (on both sides) If you are getting all your info from CNN or Fox news like most Americans you are getting a biased view. Next time you are watching/reading something on Iraq take a deep breath and realize the motives behind the article-to sell more papers, commercials, and whatever else. And to those who keep comparing this to Vietnam (you really need to bone up on your history instead of listening to hollyweird morons) the Vietcong/NVA did not follow us home, these guys and gals surely will.

Have the best day ever!

Comment #66 - Posted by: pat at December 6, 2006 10:55 AM

#56 Ron, Detroit already has the claim
to the largest Chaldean population in USA.

Better luck next time, Bakersfield.

Comment #67 - Posted by: jimc at December 6, 2006 10:58 AM

Pull out for now, let the 'tards
maim, loot, kill, etc...Civil War
so what. This country had one, most
of us survived.

Look at this for the long haul:

Move back in with extreme
prejudice when the whole miserable
population realizes how good the
occupation is for them relative to
the alternative.

In the meantime,
fix Afghanistan for good, like
practice for the Big Leagues.

We left and came back once, why not
a third time?

Comment #68 - Posted by: jimc at December 6, 2006 11:12 AM

Launch a research initiative with the scale and urgency(or greater) of the Manhattan Project related to alternatives to oil. By totally divesting ourselves of petrol dependency we regain monumental strategic advantage over our enemies in the middle east.

Bonus: We get to send Hugo Chavez a nice big box of "Fu@# YOU!!!"

Comment #69 - Posted by: Rob_M at December 6, 2006 11:35 AM

I love all the suggestions for carpet bombing and nuclear weapons use. History has clearly shown just what an effective means that is for getting what America wants. Just look at Vietnam, we dropped more bombs than the entirety of WWII and WAM! Everything turned out great!

The idea that only soldiers with first hand knowledge are entitled to opinions or suggestions is absurd. Our president doesn't have first hand knowledge. Our congressmen (and women) don't either. Fortunately for us, we live in a society that seperates ultimate power and the military. Read some history for an explaination of why this is a good thing.

Comment #70 - Posted by: Oliver at December 6, 2006 11:39 AM

Oh, I neglected to mention, it seems to be very easy for people here to talk about killing millions of people, I suppose because there's some racism going on and their lives don't count as much. No one would suggest a strategy that caused millions of American deaths, how can you behave with such calousness towards our brothers and sisters in the middle east?

Comment #71 - Posted by: Oliver at December 6, 2006 11:43 AM

OLIVER, YOU ARE MY HERO! To you other coldhearted americans; make love, not war :)

Comment #72 - Posted by: TT at December 6, 2006 12:19 PM

At Oliver-

If your comments were directed at me where did I say only the military is entitled to an opinion. I said people should make there own opinion, not regurgitate a bunch of garbage they heard from someone else.
Why would anyone here want a strategy to cause millions of American deaths? Last time I checked militant islam does not care if you are left or right-they want to kill you, yes you, and all the other people defending their actions. If that is a brother or sister relationship to you I feel sorry.

Comment #73 - Posted by: pat at December 6, 2006 12:19 PM

Nuke 'em till they glow, then we can shoot them in the dark, too!

Comment #74 - Posted by: Jon at December 6, 2006 12:19 PM

while we're all discussing important issues... here's one the war has seemed to make us forget altogether
"The World Health Organization reports that 3 million people now die each year from the effects of air pollution. This is three times the 1 million who die each year in automobile accidents."
The last I checked Running jumping PU's and all other forms of fitness require air.

Comment #75 - Posted by: ManzoV at December 6, 2006 12:39 PM

K-Man (#23)and Harry MacD (45) are right on. We could win this thing in four months if we would follow K-Man's recommendations.

Maximus (#29) you probably ought to go for a different screen name if you are going to endorse strategies like that - shall we allow a country we invade to vote on whether or not we stay? Not very "Maximus-y." Let's not worry about the polls and just do what's right for OUR country, namely win the war.

PT test today - 91 PU, 99 SU, 13:34 2 miles; 342 on the extanded scale for a 40 y/o 210 pounder. Thanks Crossfit!

Comment #76 - Posted by: MurphIZ at December 6, 2006 12:41 PM

#64 edmc-
Thank you very much for your service during Vietnam.


Comment #77 - Posted by: jknl at December 6, 2006 12:42 PM

Wondering if someone could help me out...

About a week ago I hurt my back (along my right shoulder blade) while trying to lift too much weight on a deadlift (lost my form and ending up pulling the weight with my arms). Anyway, it doesn't really hurt but it gets sort of numb as times, even when I'm not lifting. The feeling is very similar to being hit in the 'funny bone'. Does anyone know what this is / what I should do about it / if I can lift through it?

Thanks in advance.

Comment #78 - Posted by: f at December 6, 2006 12:48 PM

Murph, I hope I'm still scoring like you on my APFT when I get to be your age! Keep on keepin' on!!!

Comment #79 - Posted by: JR at December 6, 2006 12:54 PM

some of you know-it-alls need to identify what a "NEO-CON" is before you start the whole "Bush Lied" trash.

Comment #80 - Posted by: CCTJOEY at December 6, 2006 1:00 PM

Recognise Iraq for the GWOT zinc anode that it is. As upset as I am when A Soldier or Marine dies in Iraq, I have to remember that the jihadists are heading to Iraq to die and focusing less on US civilians. Kill them where we find them. Make a fake video as the terr leader in Iraq, as OBL, and as any other figure neccesary, make it look REAL (We have Hollywood after all.) Have them urge peace and declare victory. Destroy everyone who goes for it. Wait for Al jazeera to show rebuttals, kill everyone who reveals themselves. Send out new videos, repeat until done.

It may come down to 1 Billion dead Muslims.

Procecute this war like it's a war. Vietnam was engaged haphazardly, we won every battle and still lost. WWII was engaged whole-heartedly, we won. I'm not talking just militarily, but engage the full power of America on the threat and we will win. Spread freedom hope and higher quality of life everywhere we can and share it with the people who need to see

It may still come down to 1 Billion dead Muslims

Comment #81 - Posted by: Robert Taylor at December 6, 2006 1:05 PM

Hey all. I live in Buffalo, NY and since there is such a huge law enforcement community here please keep these two in your prayers.

Comment #82 - Posted by: Dave at December 6, 2006 1:22 PM

Executed the CD Total WoD today (not well prepared):
275/115/275lbs. M/51/177

Comment #83 - Posted by: Brand at December 6, 2006 1:43 PM

Dan, Ron,

Master Chief is too busy making movies and dating porn stars (the chicks from DOA). Besides, the situation is not dire enough for someone like him to take notice.

Sam Fischer is an alternative that is more. . . subtle.

Other than that I reccomend:

Let the Iraqis vote about keeping US troops everywhere or playing less of a roll.

If the vote says to, condensing troops to bases and to sealing the boarders. Using this as a training ground to learn about sealing our own boarders.

Using small, highly orgainzied, excellently equiped, and superbly trained teams to fight terrorists/progress haters without restrictions. Basically, fight them using similar tactics as they are using against us.

As said above, only provide aid to areas that show that they want it. Encourage people to migrate to these areas if they don't want to hang out for the violence in the 'bad' areas.

Divide the country into States. Allow state law and governments to propegate, just like how the UNITED STATES was started. Once the States figure out how to take care of their areas, worry about integrating the laws as a whole.

And now for a really radical idea. . .

Let people from the US immigrate over to Iraq by offering incentives. This would require a lot of polical hootzpa, 50,000 or so willing refuges, and a ton of military support, but it could be done. If we want democracy in the sand box, we have to infect them with our own freedom from the inside.

If we invest correctly, we can start a thriving community that we can send people looking for a fresh start.

Two of the coolest countries in the world were started with colonization, but a lot of errors were made. I think we can learn from our mistakes, and make the third time the charm.

Comment #84 - Posted by: J Jones at December 6, 2006 1:45 PM

#10 kman i think you have some pretty solid ideas

#28 maximus i have two questions for you
1. these polls that you refer to: do you really think an organizations sent pollsters door to door in iraq to gather this information? i seriously doubt it. therefore how accurate can it be?
2. if we had an immediate pullout, iraq would collapse into utter chaos and all the sacrifice and lives lost would have been for nothing. is that really what you want?
i have done 4 tours since 9-11, 1 to afghanistan and 3 to iraq. i have also been involved in the region since 1999 and this is what i believe based on my experience.
1. seal the borders along the lines of what kman proposed.
2. forget public opinion and aggressively take the fight to the AIF. It is not enough just to caputure these people. they are turned loose too easily. in june 05 i was part of an element that interdicted an IED team, when the bodies were searched release papers from abu ghraib were found. these papers were dated one week prior.
3. continue to train and expand the iraqi army.believe it or not there are some very effective iraqi units, but we need many more.

the iraqi government needs to be able to control the country by force if necessary. i think we should leave iraq but not until we finish the job my 2 cents

Comment #85 - Posted by: tim thomas at December 6, 2006 2:42 PM

How about trying a different approach?

AMERSFOORT, the Netherlands, December 6 /PRNewswire/ -- On Sunday, December 10, 2006, Muhammad Yunus and the institution he founded 30 years ago will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. The Bangladeshi economist, known to many as the "banker to the poor," started his journey toward creating the Grameen Bank in 1976 with a loan from his pocket to 42 desperately poor people in Bangladesh. The total loan amounted to US$27--less than US$1 per person. One of the 42 borrowers was a woman who made bamboo stools and a profit of just two pennies a day. With a loan from Prof. Yunus, the woman could now sell her product to the highest bidder and her profit skyrocketed from two pennies a day to US$1.25 a day.

Muhammad Yunus was trained as an economist, not a banker. Over the last 30 years he has broken countless rules of banking and other disciplines. He provided loans to the poor, not the rich; to women, not men; in small amounts, not large; and without collateral or excessive paperwork. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee is celebrating the work and breakthroughs of Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank, and all the other revolutionaries who have pioneered this remarkable intervention.

Comment #86 - Posted by: Kurt Holm at December 6, 2006 3:00 PM

1. Act like real men. Grow up. That means taking responsibility for your own past mistakes and stop blaming others ('liberals' and 'the media') for simply pointing out facts that everyone now recognizes are obvious.
2. When you make statements like "most people in Iraq want us to stay," be prepared to back it up. Where did you get this information? Maybe some of you don't like the polls Maximus produced, but at least his opinion was based on something. Do you have other polls? If you don't believe in polls, show us some other evidence. No more faith-based opinions, please. We've had enough of that.
3. All of you who have been supporting Bush for the last few years have to recognize that the rest of us no longer trust you or your facts. You made some seriously mistaken predictions. From now on, you are going to have to work harder to prove to us that you have any credibility at all. As a good first step in your rehabilitation, see 1, above.
4. Declassify more information and fast. History shows that America (and all countries) make their biggest mistakes when decisions are made secretly by a few people. Secrecy short circuits the fact-checking and sounding board process. The New York Times and Washington Post editors who have released classified documents are PATRIOTS who risked a great deal to help all of us out of this mess. We wouldn't be having this discussion if it weren't for them. You'd still be sitting around trying convince us that everything is going great.
5. Stop torture. It doesn't work. It backfires. It's simply wrong. Stop pretending it's not torture (see 1 again)
6. Restore civil liberties. Restore habeus corpus. Restore the system of checks and balances and the rule of law that makes our country worth fighting for. We cannot defeat jihadists by becoming like them.
7. Let's pick one attainable goal and work toward it together. Are we trying to make Iraq a better place for the Iraqis? If so, then we want to listen to them and work with them and help them build a better society, a functioning government, a restored infrastructure, etc. Or are we trying to make America safer? If so, that may mean a more violent set of actions. Those two goals may be mutually exclusive at this point. Maybe.

... since many posters are putting up fanciful suggestions, so will I:

8. Bush and everyone in his administration who had anything to do with this mess should step down, immediately. They had their chance. They blew it and refused to admit they were blowing it for years. Time to give someone else a shot at fixing it. Now.

Comment #87 - Posted by: mc at December 6, 2006 3:24 PM

To those of you who argue that closing Iraq's borders would help: are you basing that opinion on the idea that foreign fighters are a major part of the problem there?

Maybe closing the borders could help, but studies I've seen indicate that most of the people we're fighting are Iraqis, not foreigners.

The conservative London-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimates that the number of foreign fighters is “well below 10 percent, and may be closer to 4 or 6 percent.” American intelligence estimates that 95 percent of the insurgents are Iraqi.

It seems that mostly what we are fighting is confusion:

From Newsweek, 11/10/2006:
"What the Americans still don’t know is who, exactly, they’re fighting. Last week, after four suicide-bombing attacks in the heart of Baghdad left more then 30 people dead, Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling, deputy commander of the First Armored Division, told reporters that the attacks were the work of “foreign fighters.” Yet just 24 hours earlier his division commander, Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told a news conference that he had not seen “any infusion of foreign fighters in Baghdad.” On Sunday, the hidden enemy struck again. At least 15 U.S. troops were killed and some 21 injured when a U.S. Chinook helicopter was shot down in Western Iraq. It was the deadliest single strike against American soldiers since the start of the war.

Foreigners or locals? Which is it? U.S. intelligence officials split the difference and suggested that Baathist dead-enders had hired foreign jihadists (or, possibly, local fanatics) to drive the suicide vehicles. But they couldn’t really know for sure. The level of confusion and guesswork was telling and unsettling. How can Americans know whether to support the occupation of Iraq if their own leaders don’t know what they’ve gotten into—much less how to get out?"

I think gathering and releasing some more solid information about what the hell is going on in Iraq should be the first step to any plan on what to do in the future.

Comment #88 - Posted by: mc at December 6, 2006 3:36 PM

Group Moffett

Run 1-mile
100 situps
100 pushups
Run 1-mile

This WOD was done with a vest on. Total time of 30:17:42.

Comment #89 - Posted by: Adrian D at December 6, 2006 3:44 PM


I agree - send in Master Chief!

Comment #90 - Posted by: Bill at December 6, 2006 3:59 PM

No time for a more personal response, just some fuel for the fire...

Anyone basing their way forward on the unforgivable deaths of nearly 3,000 brave young Americans should familiarize themselves with the concept of sunk cost ( ), family friendly wikipedia summation which I paraphrase below:

"...sunk costs are costs that have already been incurred and which cannot be recovered to any significant degree.

a rational actor does not let sunk costs influence one's decisions, because doing so would not be assessing a decision exclusively on its own.

Behavioural economics recognizes that sunk costs often affect economic decisions due to loss aversion: the price paid becomes a benchmark for the value, whereas the price paid should be irrelevant. This is considered non-rational behaviour."

We deserve more from our first MBA president.

OHS, 5x5 - 177/197/217/237
55# Tabata DB swings - 15

Comment #91 - Posted by: Michael Ledney at December 6, 2006 4:05 PM

I'd like to add to my own post 87, point 7:

If our goal in Iraq is to make the US safer, we need to determine whether removing ourselves from Iraq will encourage those who would come here to attack our homeland, or whether it would remove one of their primary motivations for wanting to kill us. A few CIA and DOD and other studies have said the Iraq war is making us less safe, if I'm not mistaken (no citation handy). Taking ourselves out of Iraq would free up more resources to do a better job in Afghanistan ... another war that we seem to be on the verge of losing. Catching Osama Bin Laden would help raise our international standing after this Iraq distraction.

Comment #92 - Posted by: mc at December 6, 2006 4:21 PM

Ahmik & Krista- I can't wait to see that place when your done w/it. I know it's going to sick!

Comment #93 - Posted by: DJ at December 6, 2006 4:24 PM

i'm so glad the iraq symposium was able to so eloquently restate the campaign plan that has been in place for the last two years. refresh my memory again, wasn't this the symposium the newly elected crop of politicians was supposed to use to determine the new course we are supposed to take in iraq?

maybe all that bluster was just that. maybe the situation on the ground isn't as bad as the major media outlets would have us believe. for example, maybe the 2 iraqi divisions in the lead in the north and the 2 set to take the lead early next year are actually allowing forces to pull out of the north and surge on problem areas like baghdad and al anbar province. maybe the reconstruction efforts in places like tal afar and mosul which have brought at least a somewhat normal way of life have been successful. maybe now that forces are freed and trained to secure oil and electricity, there will be a source of revenue for the iraqi people and they will actually begin to see some of the fruits of the labor that has gone into the country for the last couple of years. nah, surely reuters would report that.

oh, i almost forgot my suggestion for improvements. the biggest thing the government can do to improve the situation in iraq is to force the state department to live up to its end of the bargain. when i left three months ago we were definitely at a point where a political and diplomatic solution was more appropriate than a military one. due to drawing down of forces, the reconstruction effort was moving largely into the hands of the provincial reconstruction teams. unfortunately too many key positions are left vacant as any state department member can simply say they don't want to go when asked to serve in iraq, thus shirking their civil responsibility because it would be an inconvenience. less-qualified green suiters are forced to fill the vacuum when they are intended to augment and learn from their state department counterparts, and that situation worsened as the elections loomed (but surely no mid-level political flunky would subvert national interests for personal political gain!), but that could have been my imagination.

happy rest day!

Comment #94 - Posted by: mfbunch at December 6, 2006 4:54 PM

You are speaking on a topic you really know nothing about. You have just been fed some numbers and spun them to support your position. Here is the truth:
Yes you are correct, foreign fighters make up a small percentage of insurgents in Iraq. What you did not learn from being fed these numbers is that same small percentage of foreign fighters account most of the spectacular attacks in Iraq. You see, when you sit on your plush couch and hear about a car bomb that exploded in a busy market and killed 40+ people, it was not an Iraqi suicide bomber.

Comment #95 - Posted by: BB at December 6, 2006 5:20 PM

#85 Tim Thomas

Question" 2. if we had an immediate pullout, Iraq would collapse into utter chaos and all the sacrifice and lives lost would have been for nothing. is that really what you want?"

This is called the "Sunk Costs Fallacy" or the "Concorde Effect" (google it) in economics, or simply in common parlance. "Throwing good money after bad".

The fact that bad things (1000s US soldiers dead 10,000s of Iraqi innocent civilians dead) have happened in Iraq is a done deal and immutable. Continuing to fight a lost cause will not undo the harm already incurred.

The Bush administration has realized that Iraq is un-winnable and will now prepare the public for the inevitable pullout, with minimal damage.

We will leave. It will be a disaster. The administration knows this. We will be reaping the whirlwind of our bad decisions in Iraq for generations, I expect. Get used to the idea of failure and a Vietnam for our generation.

I'll see you all back in this forum in 6 months to a year to say "I told you so", but I won't get any pleasure from it.

Comment #96 - Posted by: Maximus at December 6, 2006 5:21 PM

Oops, I did not see comment #91 made the same point.

Comment #97 - Posted by: Maximus at December 6, 2006 5:31 PM

Ok just for my own amusement:

So much money has been spent it would be a shame to let it go to waste so instead of bringing troops home Iraq should be made an official state of the union and join the USA completely, with full citizenship for its people (once they passed the citizenship test of course). Now the referendum would be held seperately in each of the three iraqi ethnic areas. So if the Kurds for example voted to join the union they could even if the other two groups didn't.

Sorry, couldn't resist it!

You could also go part way towards this by offering citizenship for Iraqis who agreed to serve an agreed term in the US armed forces (combat units only) or who had essential skills.

Comment #98 - Posted by: RDC at December 6, 2006 5:36 PM

It's hard getting in late on these things, as so much has been said. I'm pretty much with Harry M. though.

One important disctinction needs to be made, in my view, in that there are no "Iraqis". There is no uniform referent to that word. We are all "Americans", but we don't agree. We recognize 3 broad groups, the Shiites (backed by Iran), the Sunnis (backed by Syria?), and Kurds. Yet, not all Sunnies are Baathists or Wahhabists. Not all Shiites support an Iranian style mullocracy.

When you study how organized crime works, it would be easy to conclude that "Italians" support it, but in practice, what happens is small groups of people terrorize neighborhoods. If somebody "rats" someone out, their whole family might get blown up. So some semblance of unanimity is presented to outside communities and law enforcement. Now, if the group, the Mafia, Casa Nostra, is pretty even-handed, then they are tolerated and almost liked. But they don't benefit most people. The smart ones hand out Christmas gifts to the kids, but they are not really an asset, most of the time, to people outside their group.

Right now, I think that ordinary Iraqis who try and help Americans, in both the Sunni and Shiite areas, are killed, and this is a result of a similar, gangland-style control system. I would hazard a guess this gets reflected too in opinions polls. "You think what we tell you to think".

Thus, in my view, a lot of this is not just "sectarian" violence, but what we might call the acts of "enforcers".

As Bush commented in an interview on the radio, the better description (than sectarian "activist", or "terrorist" or community defender) for these people is very simply "criminal".

This conflict has been compared to Chicago gangland wars, and I think both the comparison and the solution are apt. What we have now are groups , not unlike in some respects, the Sinn Fein/IRA comparison, political by day, and violent by night. Or "businessman" by day, alley fighter by night.

The way you stop this is mass arrests. We don't need to kill these people, but we need to get them where they live. Arrest anyone on any side shown to be participating, and seize all assets held by anyone in their family both up and down one generation, including nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts. Family loyalty is strong in Arab nations, but that would hurt any family. We can make adjustments on the punitive aspect of it, based on feedback, but the basic need is to create a counterbalance to the fear created by the enforcers. We also need to categorically protect the families of informants. This might well lead to a need for mass visas to the US. This is a necessary cost. Everyone in the 'hoods knows who the players are. They're just afraid. That's the whole point of our own Witness Protection Program.

We need to go into mosques that are operating as organizational centers. If we need to form an Islamic commando force to make this work politically, then do it. If that can't be done, then it is Allah's will that the internecine, Muslim on Muslim fighting stop, and by Allah we are the ones to do it.

Create a public information campaign and release it to Al-Jazeera. As far as that goes, if Al-Jazeera refuses to run our side of things, too, then we need to point out, in our own informational counterbroadcasts throughtout the region, this fact, and tell our own version of events. Dig up dirt on their reporters, and blackmail them. They're not worried about digging up--or making up--dirt on us. They are getting people killed.

Like in gangland wars, you have to control the flow of guns. Many of these guns and bombs are coming across the borders of Iran and Syria. We need to stop this, and if it takes cross border raids or bombing runs, we need to do it. Develop intel on these flows, and USE IT. I have a feeling we have it now. Pull the damn trigger.

If we can pull it off, leave a horse head on Ahmadinajad's bed. He's a coward. He'll understand. I had a great uncle who used to sneak into German army barracks and slit just one throat.

All that stuff, if it could be done, would do us some serious good. Men understand men (yes, I know a lot of the CrossFit women are tougher than most men, but the fact in this case is all the leaders involved are men, at least at the strategic level). A message like that gets remembered. All the policital stuff, who cares.

Quite honestly, if I were President, I'd just send the guys into Pakistan. If some Pakistanis wanted to protest, I'd shoot them. We still COULD bomb them into the Stone Age. You're with the program or not, and they aren't with the program.

I'd pull Assad in and give him one week to start a withdrawal from Lebanon. If not, I would destroy from the air his entire air force, and substantial portions of his ground forces, both in Lebanon--with the help of the Israelis, and within Syria itself. He doesn't stand a a chance against us militarily. But in poker, you don't play your own hand, you play the other guys, right? We suck at poker. We're letting a guy holding a pair of twos beat us, while holding a royal flush. Assad is actively destabilizig two nations, Lebanon and Iraq. This is against international law. It needs to stop.

I'd pull Ahmadinejad in and tell him we needed the nuke program to stop. If he said no, I'd bomb all the development facilities. He has repeatedly threatened, once he gets the weapons, to use them to destroy another sovereign nation, and has shown no signs of being susceptibel to rational deterrence. If he's playing games, that's called calling his bluff. No nation that has aggressive intentions should be permitted to get nuclear weapons. Anyone who thinks Israel won't nuke Iran is smoking crack. We can keep them under control for now, but nobody in a nation that size can be expected to absorb a first strike. Many, many people will likely die unless Ahmadinejad is bluffing, or unless someone more rational either IS in control, or gains control. Or we make that whole guessing game moot.

Peace is achievable. But not by amoral, opportunistic cowards.

Comment #99 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 6, 2006 5:42 PM

That sunken costs argument is nonsense. We're not trying to recoup our losses. We are engaged in a battle with an enemy who has told their own followers and would-be recruits "this is the main battlefield". We are currently engaged in a Global War on Terror to prevent ANOTHER 9/11. Prevention is not at all the same as throwing good money after bad.

The relevant question is, are the people that planned this still in business, either actually or potentially? And the answer to that seems to be a pretty clear yes. Therefore, the war is not won, therefore, we need to win it.

This is not a poker hand where we lost a bunch of money and are emotionally trying to get it back. We are fighting a real enemy, who has qualitatively changed the stakes on us. The war was originally preemptive; now, it is about showing some backbone against an enemy who arguably attacked us in the first place only because he figured we had none. Bin Laden has stated publicly more than once that Somalia was a sort of "ah hah" thing for him. You kill Americans, they run. Simple as that.

We have a choice. This war is not lost. Only cowards quit just because the odds are against them.

Comment #100 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 6, 2006 5:52 PM

Speaking for myself, I am not relying on any such fallacy. I am comparing the benefits of victory and the costs of defeat.

Victory is better than defeat - just one man's opinion. YMMV.

I want to win, and I want to destroy the forces that threaten to destroy western civilization to the point that they are no longer a meaningful threat on any relevant time horizon. There are many, many elements to achieving that victory, most of them are not military. Our biggest problem over there, but certainly not the only hard one, is extremist Islamic doctrine itself. Our greatest weapon against that is freedom. The bad guys understand that with crystal, perfect clarity. And that's why they'll do anything, anything, to prevent it from being established in their midst. They know they can't compete against freedom.

If we win, it's how we're going to win.

But we can't sustain the fight unless the domestic polity is behind the effort.

The needed domestic consensus is absent. Because the dems and the left chose political opportunism over the national interest in a time of war and a gathering existential threat.

CBS asks Abizaid "Aren't you just managing defeat now?"
And so our enemies are spiking the ball in the end zone.

It's not a lost cause unless we give up as easily as you recommend.


Comment #101 - Posted by: Harry MacD at December 6, 2006 6:34 PM

Did a relatively light workout to recover as I have a PFT on friday.
2/3 CFWU
Alternated clean and jerks and snatches:
5 x 50 kg - 5 x 50 kg
3 x 60 kg - 3 x 60 kg
2 x 70 kg - 1 x 70 kg

Comment #102 - Posted by: Dale Saran at December 6, 2006 7:45 PM

# 74 I've always heard that quote as "Nuke em til they glow, then use their A-holes for runway lights. (cold war version?)
# 88 The real issue at the borders is the flow of material. Large quatities of late generation weapons and explosives are moving in as well as a steady trickle of foreign ADVISORS and technical specialists.(they're not downing F-16's and chinooks with pea shooters)I'm close to crossing a line there so I'll shut up. We're in a defacto war with Iran and Syria and our response is inadequete.
Neocon Schmeocon,,what about us Paleocons? We've been carying the water for all these years and we still will be when the fairweather freinds have moved on.

Comment #103 - Posted by: Kman at December 6, 2006 8:00 PM

Um, Master Chiefs movie was put on hold indefinitely, so I guess he could use the work.

Comment #104 - Posted by: a noble at December 6, 2006 11:40 PM

You know, people make a big deal about borders. The fact of the matter is that if Iran and Syria are directly supporting with military material and technical expertise an insurgency in Iraq, they have in effect already proclaimed themselves a part of the war. I think Bush could plausibly argue that any crossborder "affirmative actions" were part of the overall scope of the conflict, which he has been tasked with winning. Me, personally, I'd risk jail to get around any strangleholds the no-nothing, run and hide, folks on capital hill put on me. We are asking people to die. There are people we've put in harms way who are getting their legs blown off, and whose last thought is how much their kids are going to miss them.

To heck with failure, and to heck with defeatism. THERE IS A WAY FORWARD. There is always a way to win, provided one is creative, able to make firm decisions, and willing to persist until the job is done. There are an infinite number of ways to climb a mountain. Some are gradual, some are straight up. Sometimes, though, we circle the mountain 25 times, proclaim it unclimbable, then go back down.

In any given tactical situation, the best you can do is the best you can do. However, if a failure doesn't kill you, then your best can become progressively better over time. We can try different things, figure out what works, and then fire for effect, and keep firing until nothing is moving.

Comment #105 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 7, 2006 4:36 AM

Getting back to my normal schedule of being a day behind, did 30 muscle ups today, 12:12.
Should have looked at tomorrow's workout first...

Comment #106 - Posted by: MurphIZ at December 7, 2006 4:41 AM

The Question: What should our Iraq policy be?

Harry MacD’s and Kman’s posts at #21 and #44 were excellent. But Harry MacD’s was too macro – too global. Kman’s was too micro. Put together, there are too many items and would lead to too much controversy and argument.

Start from the top down, and the problem and its solution become apparent. The President must clarify CentCom’s mission.

Problem Analysis: Our main source of information, the mainstream media, is a fun house mirror. We assume to be true that the US is in a defensive position in Iraq, taking regular military losses, maybe 1000 killed per year, while the Iraqis take substantial losses, perhaps ten times that figure. Our offensive actions are rare, whether a named operation, or a simple fire fight. Our losses in skirmishes and operations are minimal. The bulk of the loses are from sniping and random stationary bombs and car bombs.

The enemy combatants are some mix of residual Ba’athists, foreign insurgents, and well–known competing religious sects acting out their jihad. The numbers are unknown, but might those loses might be in some ratio, like 1:10:100. Pick your own numbers.

The loses occur with remarkable regularity, that is, rather uniformly in time and concentrated in Baghdad. There are few long, quiet periods, few clusters of unconnected attacks, and few attacks outside the capital. These observations are consistent with an over-all tactic, a few intelligent sources, and not from uncoordinated discontents.

The primary problem today appears to be from actions by jihadist militia, who number between 10,000 to 40,000 gross, a few thousand for masked street demonstrations, and a few hundred actual combatants who do the bombing, kidnapping, and murder. They have no means of identification, and between jobs, meld into the general populace. They are dominantly males of military service age. Many are suicidal, or have no significant concern for their own lives. They communicate by word of mouth, most often in mosques, but augmented by cell phones and the internet to unknown degrees. Conventional weapons are abundant throughout Iraq, and some may have been accumulated in safe places, including mosques.

The derivative Iraq question: How can a handful of militiamen gain a draw in the field against what in all respects is the best military force ever? Why would that military force withdraw?

The militia men are almost always invisible, protected by the civilian populace where they hide. They are not amenable to a concerted effort except as targets of opportunity.

The militia leaders are jihadist imams, protected by the sanctuaries given by the US to religious figures and their property. They direct terrorist with impunity.

The field solution: launch an operation to take out the jihadist imams, without regard to religious sects, symbols or borders, and sanitize their mosques. The method will depend on their location, and will be different in Europe than in the Middle East, and different again in Iraq. Prefer verifiable kills over captures. In the background, take out militiamen as targets of opportunity.

Issue a new deck of cards. Keep score. Keep the deck up to date as replacement Jihadists step forward.

The withdrawal problem. Withdrawal is a consequence of foreign but especially domestic lack of support. That’s because losers get no following.

A concerted, publicized and successful campaign to remove the heads of the jihadist movement will quickly produce the necessary military results and slowly the support.

After the jihadist imams are neutralized, reassess the problem.

Comment #107 - Posted by: Jeff Glassman at December 7, 2006 5:20 AM

Here's an article on Israel and Iran, indirectly.

Bottom line: they view Iran as a threat on par with Nazi Germany, with good reason. They also, with good reason, see negotiations unbacked by a direct threat of military force, as a farce. They are proposed, consistently, for the simple reason that nobody opposes talking. It's easy. The problem is, the fact that there was at some point a goal of actually accomplishing something other than broken promises is forgotten.

Israel, obviously, is also prepared to take unilateral action. If that happens, I personally am not going to blame them. However many people die in that conflict, I will lay the blame for that squarely on those who have been unwilling to accept the unpleasant, historical necessity of using force to deal with irrational, intransigent, and aggressive nations. We are already at war with Iran, and technically have been since they broke one of the ONLY cardinal rules of diplomacy, which is the sacrosanct nature of national embassies. They've been at war with us for 27 years. At some point, before they acquire WMD, perhaps we ought to at least provisionally accept that when they say "Great Satan", they aren't smiling. Not so much. It's what they believe, at least the leadership.

They are expressing this belief, on the ground, in Iraq. Both directly and indirectly, they are killing Americans, and doing their level best to shame us. How long are we going to ignore the obvious? It won't go away, and who are the damn cowards in Washington and the Pentagon who think their careers matter more than the lives of people on the ground? These are hard, hard decisions. I understand that.

Yet, the older I get, the more I appreciate the liberating effect the practice of seppuku must have had on the samurai. There is a moment in any tough, tough struggle when your mind and body and emotions are spent, and you just can't see any way forward. Where does the strengh come from? Isn't it easier to begin rationalizing and justifying, etc.etc. etc.? That's where seppuku provides crystal clarity. You have committed yourself to the craft of the warrior. You have accepted the necessity of death, at some time. Following this logic through, with honor, is a form of beauty. We memorialize the Alamo, but how many Alamos did the Japanese fight through in WW2? They were not fanatics, per se, unless the Marines are fanatics. They were committed warriors, who knew they were going to die, and who accepted the logic and necessity of their position.

In our current struggle, it's not primarily the battle on the battlefield, though. Its' very simply a political struggle, here, at home. Yet, if our own leadership accepted the logic of seppuku, how much harder would they fight their political battles? How much longer, and smarter, and more creatively would they struggle in those trenches?

Regardless of what happens in Iraq, those of us who see these problems need to become organized, and committed to winning this broader cultural war. As long as there is breath, there is hope.

Comment #108 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 7, 2006 5:27 AM

It's amazing how many of the solutions proposed here amount to killing everyone in Iraq, either by deliberate stategy (nuke 'em all) or one-by-one (which assumes we can identify "bad" from "good"). We can just keep doing that until they love us.

The second one has some appeal in principle. I'm sure it would work here, too, if a foreign power decided to selectively kill the leadership of one particular party, and keep doing that until we accepted their version of how we should live our lives.

For those advocating the first, all those people who secretly love us but are afraid to say so . . . kill them too, I guess. They're cowards, anyway . . . don't deserve to live.

Would we at least give the Brits time to get out before we nuked the south side of the country?

Comment #109 - Posted by: davidjwood at December 7, 2006 6:29 AM


What frustrates me, and likely others, is I feel we have a use of force continuum that goes up to a certain point, then stops. Let's say our potential power is X--where X includes our use of our nuclear capability--then we only go up to 1/2X, then say, we're done, this is unwinnable. The call for nukes, while perhaps unjustifiable tactically or strategically--an open question--is to my ear a reflection of this sentiment.

Let me ask you a question: tactically, how bad would a situation have to be before you would accept the use of nuclear weapons?

Better yet, as a thought exercise--which likely approaches truth: if it could be shown conclusively that if we had used nuclear weapons in Vietnam, killing 100,000 North Vietnamese, that we could have saved 1,000,000 Cambodian deaths, a substantial number of Vietnamese deaths, and shortened the Cold War by 15 years, would you have considered that justified? Let's simplify it, actually: if we could have saved 900,000 deaths, would the use of that weapon have been justified? Do you think the slippery slope is that slippery?

It seems to me people fail to do the math on these things. There are people out there looking for nukes to use on us, and they won't need to rely on our use of them to justify using them on us. I don't think our use of them anywhere makes their use on us any likelier. Our enemies have shown themselves for a long time to be effective propagandizers, to the extent that it becomes the Israelis fault that suicide bombers have to set themselves off in front of discoteques, in the middle of groups of teenage girls. That's the Israeli's fault. And it will be our fault when we get hit. Right?

We have a shared interest in peace, just a difference in approach. From where I'm sitting, every step we take back, our enemies take one step forward. And this is all pure bluff on their part. They have nothing, but when they do, it seems likely they will use it.

When you're in a swamp, you march out of it. You don't march in endless circles complaining about the depth of the mud. Most of the time, the march out of the swamp goes right through the need for ruthless--but if executed correctly, short-term--violence.

I am a Taoist, to the extent that I have a creed. I have read the Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu, and Wen Tzu more times than I can count. I've memorized substantial portions of their texts. It is clear that the goal is always to avoid violence through thinking 15 moves ahead of your opponent, and feeling another 5 beyond that. We lack that ability in this country. We find ourselves in problems that we create through our inability to make decisions. We have a lot of good smart people at all levels of government, but we don't listen to them, distressingly often.

If you screw up by failing to adopt a longterm strategy that you execute with subtlety and skill, you wind up with the necessity of violence. Violence is bad. Therefore, you make it as short as possible. Generally, this necessitates great violence to win a conflict, followed by as swift a reconciliation as you can achieve. We dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, and they are now our ally. We ended a war with an enemy, in a week, that had hitherto fought to the last man in every campaign they fought. And we killed more people with our carpet bombing than we did with the nukes. If you look at those facts, the use of nuclear weapons was, in my view, Taoist.

Comment #110 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 7, 2006 7:37 AM

When we dropped the nukes in Japan, who did we drop those on? Women and children for the most part. The military aged males were elsewhere fighting a war. Barry brings up a great point regardless of which side of the argument you are on. "Generally, this necessitates great violence to win a conflict, followed by as swift a reconciliation as you can achieve." I'm not agreeing with the nuke option, just something to think about.

Comment #111 - Posted by: BB at December 7, 2006 8:16 AM

BB #95

I gave you my sources, what are yours?

Comment #112 - Posted by: mc at December 7, 2006 8:30 AM

Morally, genocide is just not an option for me. The consequence is that I don't see any way to win an offensive fourth generation war through force of arms.

We can neutralize threats. We can demolish production capacity. We can remove governments. We can't dictate what happens next.

Now maybe I'm biased, but I think our culture is better. I know our economy is better. I've got your shock and awe right here: Distribute a Sears catalog and a $500 gift certificate to every man, woman and child in Iraq*. Show them the benefits of a capitalist economy under a liberal democracy. I would expect better results than we've seen so far, and $12 billion looks downright frugal:

*Not an original idea.

Comment #113 - Posted by: Maurkov at December 7, 2006 9:10 AM

Good idea.

If Master Chief is available, but, um, unwilling due to his "porn star" commitments, we can find a guy named Master Chef, or better yet, an Iron Chef to send over.

Cook up some kick ass dinner in an hour; everybody's so happy and full the fighting stops. Peace breaks out; Sunni's and Shia hugging each other; Al Queda becomes the new Peace Corps and starts digging canals and building schools; OSB goes back to college and gets his counseling degree and is arrested for crimes against humanity on his first day as a junior high counselor, but not before gets a young man to renounce his gang affiliations and turn in his weapons for Laker tickets; Syria becomes the "Switzerland of the Middle East;" Iran disassembles their nuclear plants and turns them into "sensitivity centers" where the male dominant/misogynist society will be rehabilitated; George W. Bush will read a book.

It could happen. Never underestimate the power of a good meal. Iron Chef it is.

Comment #114 - Posted by: Ron Nelson at December 7, 2006 9:22 AM

I should add, MORE violence is not necessarily better. It's all a question of assessing the situation rationally, and determining what is likely to work, and not taking ANY options off the table. You have to follow the logic of the situation. We are attempting to bail out a boat that's leaking in multiple places. Not unreasonably, our electorate seems to think the boat is sinking, given the sheer amount of effort it's taking to keep it afloat. However, that doesn't mean the leaks can't be plugged.

It might take more effort, for some period of time, and a qualitative change in our effort, for some time, to plug the leaks. But once that is done, the bailing will actually help on an ongoing basis.

Right now, we're complaining about how much water is in the boat, and little else. This is just plain stupid and dishonest.

What are we afraid of in Iran and Syria? International opinion? Who cares what other people think. They live where they live, and we live where we live. They need us economically AND militarily. Winners tend to get credit over time too. Will opinion be better of us if we decide to fail, leave, and Iraq turns into an Al Queda haven or Iranian satellite? Opinions change, but reality is what it is. We need to concern ourselves with realities, not opinions.

Are things trending to better? Is global peace and security more or less likely if Iran has nukes? If Syria goes back to making Lebanon a satellite?

We seem to be treating our foreign affairs not unlike how we treat our debt. We borrow against tomorrow for credit today. That's all "negotiations" with Iran and Syria would get us. Hamilton and Baker aren't stupid. They know that, but lack the backbone, apparently, to call a spade a spade. Or there are other political criteria I don't see.

Our endgame needs to be regional peace. As long as the Arabs in the region think they still have a chance to destroy Israel, the Palestinians won't accept any offer short of that. As long as we have nations that are overtly attempting to undermine other nations, by generating chaos and violence, we won't have peace. Everyone knows this, but nobody wants to admit the truth that peace is in fact possible, if we simply ask--and if that doesn't work, demand--all parties to put their "big boy" pants on. The Palestinians need to accept the obvious truth that you can't demand in the same breath the destruction of Israel and the "right of return". It just doesn't work like that.

We don't need a democracy in Syria or Iran, but we need more moderate, pragmatic people in power. We need to get them into the global economy, and I want to start seeing Syrian and Iranian imports in Walmart.

Comment #115 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 7, 2006 9:33 AM

Imagine if the US was in Iraq's position with a foriegn power invading and dictating how your country should be run, how hard would you fight against your univited oppressors? That's what your up against, you wont win.

These people dont need you, they dont want you, they will sort their own problems out. It wont be pretty, lots of people will die, but they wont be your people.

Spend your trillions on finding an alternative fuel source, make what they have valueless and watch them wither and their influence wane.
They will be back on camels before the end of the century. They already are spending their money faster than they are making it.

Comment #116 - Posted by: Clay at December 7, 2006 12:05 PM

It's deja vue all over again...

But, since Barry is keen to look 15 steps ahead, then why not?

So, assume the US takes some action, a la kman, Harry McD, Barry C, Jeff Glassman: get tougher, constrain freedom of the press in the US, mass arrests, killing faces on a deck of cards, putting a horses head in Ahmedinejad's bed, whatever. Further assume that this leads to a more peaceful Iraq, and that, somehow, there is no particular global fallout, either literally, economically, or politically.

Then what? I would be surprised if the Iraqi's wanted the US to stick around (they may or may not want the US now - maybe they tolerate US presence for security, maybe they like the US, maybe they hate the US? - but we probably don't know because they won't tell us: they may not tell the truth to pollsters and they may smile at troops while holding a detonator behind their backs). What does the US do next? Hold elections? Stay around anyway just to make sure?

Unfortunately I would assume that for the next 30 years or whatever, Iraq is a broken country: The Kurds ultimately want independence; Sistani wants a unified Iraq; SCIRI wants an autonomous Shiite state in the 9 southern provinces; the Sunnis want power back; Al-Sadr wants some sort of Islamic state; etc. etc. These guys can't agree on what they want, and there is no basis for agreement on an Iraqi state going forward. As soon as the US leaves or draws down troops there the violence will return to some extent. Long term, with a Shiite majority, Iraq is going to become closer to Iran; it's probably going to have a government that is not aligned with the US. The US needs to face that fact.

You might argue that the 'solution' will have taken out all the leaders capable of causing trouble, but I would argue that the opposition is just as capable of looking forward 15 steps as the US is. Start killing Imams? They will go to ground, change their tune as expedient, wander into Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Iran, and basically adjust their response to the moves the US makes. The Israelis can't make it work in Lebanon, Gaza or the West Bank, the French couldn't make it work in Algeria. Mass arrests? The British tried it in Northern Ireland (since you brought it up Barry: in 1971, 'knowing' all the key IRA players they arrested many (many got away, some to the US...) and declared they were there for however long it took; there were massive Catholic riots and marches, one of which turned into Bloody Sunday, whoops: after a lot of pain, the long term future of Northern Ireland will be settled politically...); the whites tried it in South Africa, the French in Indochina - all failed because the locals didn't want foreign occupation in the long term.

Perhaps that's were we disagree at a fundamental level: I think you are looking for a magic bullet, you think you have found it? I think that this is a multi-generational struggle that will require a broad range of issues to be resolved both in the middle East and further afield; there is no magic bullet.

And, by the way Barry, I do agree with your last lines : "We don't need a democracy in Syria or Iran, but we need more moderate, pragmatic people in power. We need to get them into the global economy, and I want to start seeing Syrian and Iranian imports in Walmart."


Some extras:

- The sunk cost fallacy is not about recouping losses; it's about drawing a line under what has gone before if it is not recoverable, ie. 'sunk', and assessing your options from where you are now without emotional attachment to the previous losses.

- Jeff Glassman, on Capitalism and Liberty, which I think is important to any long term solution in the ME: You provide a nice list of "liberties in the American system", which you say lead to Capitalism. Again, though, we have a definition issue. The liberties you list are all things that I agree are required for a capitalist system to function; they are almost definitions of capitalism. Therefore, if you are defining Liberty by your list, then we are in full agreement that Liberty leads to Capitalism; in fact they are almost tautologous. To the same extent, using your definitions you would have to agree (?) that Capitalism leads to Liberty, since you define them as the same thing. However, they are all 'liberties' that could be, and have been, found in dictatorships, Chile for exmple under Pinochet (perhaps with the exception of 'A right to private communications', although violating that right is usually easier said than done). Your list seems to leave off a couple of liberties that I would have included in a list defining Liberty, namely pluralistic, fair and democratic elections and freedom of the press.

Comment #117 - Posted by: Borat at December 7, 2006 12:15 PM

I hate doing point by point analysis, so I won't.

Your argument boils down to, it's possible this whole thing won't work, even if we do as some of us have proposed. No duh (as my cousin used to love to say). Surely you are not implying we are so intellectually feeble-minded we don't see that?

The way it works is you go as far as you can see, then you can see farther. Our proposals are about creating peace, now, so that a rational discussion, absent daily bombings, can happen.

It is about creating in the short, medium, and long term peace in the region, and ultimately much happier populations. Do you think workaday Syrians are happy? Are the Iranian people happy? The Lebanese?

The point is, we have a nation of lawbreakers who need to stop breaking the law. If you want to compare this to the IRA, please tell me when the IRA killed 3,500 people in a month? I didn't think so. If Al Capone had been killing 1,000 people a month, we wouldn't have had to bring him down with income tax evasion.

"Unfortunately I would assume that for the next 30 years or whatever, Iraq is a broken country: The Kurds ultimately want independence; Sistani wants a unified Iraq; SCIRI wants an autonomous Shiite state in the 9 southern provinces; the Sunnis want power back; Al-Sadr wants some sort of Islamic state; etc. etc. These guys can't agree on what they want, and there is no basis for agreement on an Iraqi state going forward. As soon as the US leaves or draws down troops there the violence will return to some extent. Long term, with a Shiite majority, Iraq is going to become closer to Iran; it's probably going to have a government that is not aligned with the US."

These are assumptions, and negative ones at that. Al Sadr can be removed from the picture. At some point, the Iraqis may want separate nations. That's fine. Not our worry. If Iran becomes reasonable through some means, then who cares if they want to be allied? Our goal right now is to stop the relentless killing, then see what we have. The leaders will likely be different, and the dynamics will be different as we will almost certainly have to end the cross-border interference to end the violence. If you take Syria and Iran out of the picture, who is left in the Middle East to create trouble? The Palestinians have no money without outside assistance.

With respect to the Capitalism/Liberty issue, the key component is the right to the ownership of private property. That is essential both to Capitalism, and to liberty. All meaningful rights are grounded in the right to own things. Wherever that right is abrogated, so are other rights. China has not as yet accepted that right. In my view, it is the sine qua non of democracy.

I understand the point about sunken costs. Please reread the above post. I don't think I can improve upon my clarity.

Over and above all that, I have to say that your overall credibility would be enhanced if you used your real name, and not that of an ironically detached, and cynically manipulative comedian. He went for laughs, but from what I can tell, humor was not really his intent. Comedians can be some of the most cynical people on the planet.

I haven't seen the movie, so perhaps I shouldn't comment, but my instincts are usually--but not invariably--quite good.

Comment #118 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 7, 2006 2:14 PM

I have a second, so I'll add one other thing.

I woke up this morning really wishing I hadn't posted that bit about the horse's head. I thought, you know that's really over the top.

Then, this afternoon I got to thinking about it. Think about the HORROR of 3,500 men women and children getting shot, drilled in the head, blown up, tortured to death, etc. Just ponder that. Qualitatively, this was going on before we got there, and systematized. Now, it is going on, and is more random. You can argue numbers, but both before and now are absolutely awful.

In any activity, many reasons and motivations play in. In this case, I think we not only have a geopolitical security interest in securing Iraq--we don't want the terrorists to win on what they have claimed is their frontline--but also simply ethically. To give this long suffering people a respite from random death.

Comment #119 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 7, 2006 2:27 PM


I thought you were inviting us to look at the long term with that Taoist paragraph?

Perhaps I should have been clearer. My argument boils down to the fact that the US is regarded as an occupier in Iraq and as hostile by many Muslims in general (that is their view, not necessarily mine or yours). The US can probably be a facilitator but any long-term resolution in the region will have to be done by the locals. I am not convinced - convince me - that 'mass arrests', 'go into mosques', 'create a public information campaign', 'send the guys into Pakistan', etc are anything more than short term measures that may or may not work to bring peace now in Iraq, but will probably stir up the region and solve no long term issues. You ask 'If you take Syria and Iran out of the picture, who is left in the Middle East to create trouble?', and I answer potentially Saudi Arabia after the Al Sauds fall, Egypt after Mubarak eventually dies, not to mention whatever emerges in Iraq, Syria after Assad and Iran down the track, again. Clay in post #116 says a lot in a short post.

Unfortunately I do not share your distaste for point by point analysis, so:

You take issue with my assumptions, saying 'These are assumptions, and negative ones at that.' We are all making assumptions here, and I think it is necessary to address both the negative and the positive assumptions one makes - you can't just wish negative issues away and ignoring or labelling them 'negative' won't work either. You can dispute them, as you do in one instance with your point that Al Sadr can certainly be removed from the picture (although that raises the issue of what happens to his group), but his removal will not fix Iraq by itself.

Please see your post #99: 'What we have now are groups , not unlike in some respects, the Sinn Fein/IRA comparison' to see where the IRA first cropped up. You will have to help me locate where I even begin to intimate that the IRA killed 3,500 people in a month. My point was that mass arrests don't work when carried out by a power regarded as an occupier; I used the IRA example because you mentioned them.

Please see your post 100# where you say 'That sunken [sic] costs argument is nonsense. We're not trying to recoup our losses.' You may or may not understand the point about 'sunken' costs; I have no idea, but rereading your post gives me little clue either way. Harry MacD in the next post says 'Speaking for myself, I am not relying on any such fallacy. I am comparing the benefits of victory and the costs of defeat.' a clear statement that indicates he probably does understand sunk costs.

As to the credibility of a name: I am nobody. Nothing I say here will make a blind bit of difference in the real world to the issues being discussed here. If I were Jim Baker or Muqtada al-Sadr or on other days Bjorn Lomborg, perhaps posting my real name would add credibility to what I write. I am here to think, listen to opinions, dispute them and learn; one day I will move on. In the meantime, call me what you like, one name is as good as another. In the case of Borat the movie, my instinct is that you would not like it.


Comment #120 - Posted by: Borat at December 7, 2006 5:05 PM

Jeff - all of my suggestions require rethinking our approach at the highest political levels. They may seem tactical and "micro" but on balance I think not.
Borat - I'm not advocating mass arrests. Rather treating the people we capture as nations have always treated POW's. Keep them out of the game until it's settled. K-

Comment #121 - Posted by: kman at December 7, 2006 9:00 PM

Unfortunately, I think we hawks have to confront the fact that to an objective observer, the goals of the Iraq war have failed, in a Clausewitzian sense. To salvage our ideals of national security, I believe we need to do the following. Convene a symposium of hard-nosed national security experts who opposed the war: Odom, Zinni, Lang, Bacevich, and add some Arab specialists from academia. Have them lay out their pre-war objections. Then, a tiger team of critical-thinking hawks (as opposed to cheerleaders) would lay out detailed and specific tactics to overcome their objectives. The level of detail would include appointments in government agencies along with the qualifications that would be required for these posts (eg relevant language skills or specialized economic training), military tactics esp. counterinsurgency, development of new Iraqi institutions for promoting maximum employment and civil security, and cost estimates for what it would have required to implement these plans.

I know it seems to late for this, but I fear confronting these criticisms head-on NOW is necessary to salvage the (political) viability of our(eg hawks) strategy for national security.

Comment #122 - Posted by: Disillusioned conservative at December 8, 2006 4:57 AM

kman #121,

I agree. I say again, your suggestions were excellent and even enlightening. But we don't want Bush making tactical decisions, or even devining a strategy from a bunch of even excellent tactics. Each person needs to work at his own level, and solve the problems which must be solved at his position. Bush needs help to get focused on the problem.

From what Bush says in public, he seems to be instructing our military to bring about democracy in Iraq and turn it into an ally in the War on Terror. That is an impossible instruction. The military kills people and destroys things. He needs to tell the military whom to kill and what to destroy.

Bush is clear that he wants the Iraqi government to control the violence. That is not just unrealistic, but a fantasy. Iraq is generations from being able to do what the US military is unable to do (under the present mission defintion). The Iraqis are not capable of self-defense against terrorism. Moreover, the present government is in bed with its own enemy. When we finally get around to taking out Muktada al Sadr, the al-Maliki government is likely to collapse. Democracy's a b'tch.

Next, the size of the force should remain, as Rumsfeld said, a CentCom decision. For the President or SecDef to do decide troop strength is micromanagement. Moreover, warfare is never successfully conducted by determining the time-line distribution of the number or mix of combatants. Troop strength should not drive the mission. McCain, Kristol, and Murtha et al are wrong-headed.

In the recent soft-ball confirmation hearing for Gates, only one Senator showed any insight into the troop strength question. That was Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat of all things. We didn't invade Iraq with enough troops to secure all Saddam's weapon depots. That doesn't mean, McCain, that we didn't have enough troops! It means that securing the depots was not part of the mission. CentCom says we have enought troops now for the mission, and that more troops would mean more targets. Exactly. If we appear not to have enough troops, the question is to do what? Apparently CentCom just doesn't have enough to do. The President needs to priortize the enemy for CentCom. Then, Bush can tell CentCom to find them and kill them, wherever they are hiding.

You found fault with the Rules of Engagement (ROE). I take it at face value that that is true. But that is for CentCom to decide, not the President. Of course, he has the right and duty of oversight, but should not attempt to do more. That kind of micromanagement was a big factor in the loss of and the losses in the Vietnam War.

You wrote about the leaky border. That, too, is a CentCom decision. If weapons, supplies, and combatants are coming across the border, CentCom might want to let them come. Tracing the movement of supplies would provide great intelligence as to the sources and destinations of the material of war, intelligence that is otherwise sorely lacking. Maybe we want to stop them at the border and install tracking devices.

As for the personnel, Welcome to Iraq! It's a lot easier to have the targets come to the shooting gallery than to move 150,000 men around the Middle East looking for onesies and twosies.

The instant problems in Iraq are mainly two, and they need Presidential attention. First, the US forces appear to be in a defensive posture, doing feel-good nation-building and getting IED'd. Meanwhile, known leaders of the insurrection(s) and the sectarian violence are directing terrorist attacks with impunity from known safehouses. The second problem is the loss of support for the US, but that is solved by solving the first.

Bush is a Christian fundamentalist. He practices Love Thine Enemy. E.g., Putin, Fox, Imams. He was angered by 9/11, and stayed angry. That was just what the US needed after 30 years of turning one sore cheek after another. Now he needs to get angry about the enemy disguised in robes and temples. CentCom needs an immediate, clear instruction on whom to kill and what to destroy.

Kman, keep up the good work. Your insights are most valuable. But the view from the ground is never very strategic.

Comment #123 - Posted by: Jeff Glassman at December 8, 2006 5:47 AM

kman #121, I did not mean that you in particular were advocationg mass arrests - you didn't, and I apologise for implying you did - but I did include your comment in those of a wider group who were broadly aligned in their views in my attempt to tease out some of the issues here.

Jeff Glassman #123. Your post has some interesting thoughts on some of the aforementioned key issues.

With regard to the micromanagement issue, I doubt anyone has ever accused Bush of micromanaging - Rumsfeld on the other hand was notorious for it, so perhaps his removal will change things. I don't know enough about Cheney to comment on him in the abstract, but presume he will still influence Bush in his dealings with Gates and the military.

The only point I don't broadly agree on in your post (still) is that one can take-out the 'known leaders of the insurrection(s) and the sectarian violence are directing terrorist attacks with impunity from known safehouses'. I think they will adapt to US tactics and that in any event removal of some leaders will not address the underlying issue that at the moment, and for some time to come, Iraq is basically ungovernable by any system that the US would find attractive.


Comment #124 - Posted by: Borat at December 8, 2006 6:34 AM

Borat, #124

Bush is under-managing the war. Rumsfeld got a bum rap as a direct result of and payback for his streamlining the military. That was well within his pay grade, and was, to make it worse, quite successful. Beyond that, I need an example of Rummie's micromanagement.

My nominees for poster boy micromanagers are Jimmie Carter and LBJ/McNamara.

Dead men don't adapt. That may be the definition of dead. We need to take out Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Shi’ite leader Muktada al Sadr, and Sunni leader Harith al-Dhari. As each of the terrorist-criminals is replaced with their militia and terrorism intact, repeat. This will work under my assumption that the leaders teach suicide for others, not themselves.

Saddam is proof that Iraq is not ungovernable. If you mean it is incapable of self-government, that is a different matter. If true, Bush’s great experiment will fail. If he succeeds, however, he will have disproved your rather racist assumption and accomplished something as great as any President’s legacy.

Let’s help him.

Comment #125 - Posted by: Jeff Glassman at December 8, 2006 9:19 AM

I'm going to take a somewhat longer view. We are in a struggle for the future of civilization with an ideology that is more sinister than communism (which caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century). The struggle may take centuries, and certainly it will last for generations.

Iraq is only a battleground in that struggle, but has the same importance as the Normandy invasion had to Allied efforts in WWII. It's purpose is to establish a beach head of freedom in the midst of a virulently sick culture. If we lose this beach head or withdraw from it, the war will not end, the respite will be temporary, and the jihadists will regroup and continue to attack.

It may be that democracy and freedom are incompatible with Islam or with Arab culture. The theory that if we bring freedom to Iraq it will spread like a virus throughout the Islamic world, may in fact be untenable. But the alternative is that we kill them all before they kill us. By their repeated declarations, as it stands now it is us or them. So we might as well persevere with the current strategy of democracy. At present that means getting much tougher with the Shia militias.

Comment #126 - Posted by: Dan MacD at December 8, 2006 10:15 AM

Jeff Glassman, #125

I have no problem with Rumsfeld's streamlining of the military; I agree that it was quite successful. He could have done all that and still been a micromanager - perhaps it would have been even better if he had directed it in a more hands-off manner - I don't know. I had thought we were discussing the management of the Iraq war, not transformation of the military. As for examples of Rumsfeld's micromanagement, Bob Woodward's book State of Denial is riddled with them - for example Woodward claims that R. was personally deciding which units would deploy and when under the TPFDD deployment system prior to the Iraq invasion, and there are others. You can call Woodward a shill for the Left, you can say he was part of a hatchet job on R. presenting him in the worst light, but no-one seems to be disputing his facts or calling him a liar.

Men can adapt before they die. The Israeli's, whom I assume have reasonable information, have been after Nassrallah for a while and failed; Harith al-Dhari has an arrest warrant out on him as of late November and no-one seems to know where he is now - I see those as adaptations. Saddam, Osama, Zawahiri were targetted a number of times by direct US strikes and survived (although presumably Saddam's luck has run out now); it took ages to get Zarqawi. It strikes me that this is literally a hit and miss strategy.

I agree that the leaders encourage others to commit suicide, not themselves - that doesn't mean that it is hard to find people they can teach or that they need to be particularly effective teachers. From what I can see there are quite a few folks still queueing up for 'martyrdom', and if not for overt suicide then at least for the opportunity to take a shot at the US or its allies.

As for the governability of Iraq, I wrote: 'Iraq is basically ungovernable by any system that the US would find attractive'; clearly 'Saddam is proof that Iraq is not ungovernable', but I hadn't seen the Saddam system as something that the US would find attractive.

DanMacD, #126

I agree this is a long term issue. At the moment what I am unsure about is whether Iraq is Normandy, or whether it is Dunkirk or the Dieppe Raid (neither example perfect, but I hope you get the drift). We do have the option of choosing our engagements to some extent, or at least where to concentrate force, even if we do have to end up killing them all.


Comment #127 - Posted by: Borat at December 8, 2006 11:07 AM

"Saddam is proof that Iraq is not ungovernable"

So... when do we break out the plastic shredders? Re-open Abu Graib in its original capacity? Start disappearing people in earnest? Of course, as foreigners and after the years of chaos, we'll have to be twice as brutal to get the same results as Saddam. Anyone capable of ruling Iraq isn't fit to do so.

"We are in a struggle for the future of civilization with an ideology that is more sinister than communism"

Communism is much more sinister, since it asks almost nothing of its proponents. Its paralytic effect on the economy isn't obvious, nor is its pernicious effect on freedom. The tenets are actually pretty appealing to shallow thinkers, of which there is never a shortage. Does anyone have illusions about what implementing world-wide Wahhabism would be like? Are any western democracies threatening to vote themselves out of existence in favor of the imams? Any about to be overrun militarily?

Comment #128 - Posted by: Maurkov at December 8, 2006 11:07 AM

Does anyone really think that Wahhabism, or Shiism, or Islamic Fundamentalism in general (if they can stop fighting each other) can actually defeat Western Civilization militarily?

I think there is entirely too much emphasis on military solutions and not enough faith in the true strengths of democracy: open discussions, voting, adapting, economic efficiency, etc. We need to face the enemy clearly and without apologies for our way of life, and without sacrificing our virtues in an over-reaction to their threats.

Anyone who has studied the history of terrorism understands its timeless strategy: leverage fear in order to provoke an over-sized reaction from your adversary, in order to prove once and for all that the Great Enemy (whether it be the US government, Russia, England, the Saudis, etc.) is truly evil.

We have already given Osama Bin Laden exactly what he wanted. We are floundering around the world attacking the un-attackable. Now some of you are suggesting going around and picking off Muslim religious leaders and "disappearing" people without trial. Undoubtedly some imams are criminals and need to be put on trial (if we can find them) but every time we make a martyr, every time we toss aside our own legal principles, you make a bunch of new enemies.

I guess part of my attitude about all of this (and here I think I am in agreement with disillusioned conservative #122) is colored by the fact that I wouldn't trust you guys (by which I mean conservative hawks who supported this occupation of Iraq but didn't prepare for it) to organize a school picnic, much less a worldwide war.

Your track record of "thinking 15 steps ahead" is poor. Your insights have been proven dramatically and embarrassingly wrong in the past. Those who executed this war truly messed it up. So why should we now buy into your plans to "glassify" Iran and Syria, etc.?

This is a democracy. Which means you need to find goals that all of us in western civilization can agree to. You need to convince us, not just insult us.

Comment #129 - Posted by: mc at December 8, 2006 1:00 PM

The principal,underlying issue, in my view, the macro-issue that needs to be resolved in any 20 step program, is irony. It is precisely the subtle detachment from, and implicit rejection of, core values.

Bush is right to speak about good and evil. And yes, of course we have to safeguard our values. But I just don't get the sense reading these posts from Borat in particular, that there is a SINCERE effort to engage in a solution to our problems. I see a lot of reading, decent prose, and almost articulated thoughts, but not fully articulated thoughts.

Most of us on this board believe that Islamic terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center, succeeding the second time around in blowing it up. We believe that WMD's create the possibility of small groups of people in effect waging effective war against us. Those were large, large buildings, full of people. They are gone now.

And the focus is not backwards. That is obvious, and I assume you are just grasping at rhetorical and intellectual straws. The focus is a tactical nuke going off in downtown New York.

I was reading Howard Zinni's book, and he's already trying to say that the next attack will ALSO be a false flag operation, so he can go on blaming America for being attacked, and ignore the simple fact that a large section of our planet refuses to join the 21st century, in any respect except for their use of modern weapons.

We are offering solutions, which may or may not be the right solutions. My crystal ball is broken, and the 15 steps is an ideal. As a nation, we lack the patience and staying power to do more than a couple.

But it really is, to me, important that we as a nation demonstrate that we possess the maturity to complete what we start, that we have not become so soft and complacent that we will let uneducated, bloodthirsty sociopaths drive us out of a theater and war that are important to us geopolitically.

The Baker-Hamilton report was widely interpreted in the Middle East as a sign WE are admitting we've failed. As such, it is a potent recruiting tool for the Al Queda. Prior to all this, nobody would have thought they had a chance.

Borat, my objection to your name arises because of what it implies. You don't have an interest in solutions. I would ask you for some, but I don't think you have them. You sit back, and watch--detached and critically--what everyone else says, then comment. This is a cultural malaise that lies at the root of our problems. It is a defect of our educational system that produces people unable to make positive, affirmative JUDGEMENTS that are the sine qua non of effective action in any sphere of life. If you lack a language of right and wrong, you lack a tool for making lasting decisions in conditions of ambiguity.

This is why you harp on small things, and almost but not quite--say things that matter. To return to one, the British substantially controlled the IRA. They didn't eradicate it, but they mitigated the violence. We haven't eliminated the Mafia,either, but they aren't shooting each other in the streest.

Comment #130 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 9, 2006 6:15 AM

I have enjoyed reading your thoughts and feel as though you touched on many a good point. I think that what a lot of people don't seem to connect together is that we, as the public, aren't privey to some (a lot) of information. It is bogus for us to believe that whatever the government finds or does, is or should be, public knowledge. Some things it is just best that we don't know. As far as WMD's go and people saying that because we haven't "found" any that there weren't any, it defies logic that they wouldn't realize that we gave Saddam ample amount of time to get the bombs out to where ever.

The last rest day we touched on the idea of perserverance and persistance and I would like to throw out there, commitment. Most American's today seem to lack commitment. It is a trait that I would like to see come back.

I was telling my daughter, N (she is a very mature 14) about the Iraq findings and the report, and she asked me, does that mean that the troops will pull out now? I told her I wasn't sure but that I thought they would start cutting back soon, and her eye's teared up and I asked her why. She said that if we pull out all of the troops then we will have more terrorist violence here. What do you say to that? I did what all parents would do, I gave her a hug.


Comment #131 - Posted by: jknl at December 9, 2006 8:50 AM

Most of these things are common sense. It takes a lot of educating to beat them out of people.

Comment #132 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 9, 2006 5:45 PM
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