If the Iraqi insurgents defeat the U.S. then every bad guy on earth will study and learn their techniques. The people now running for president will find themselves in bigger heaps of trouble than the current one now is — trouble that this presidential campaign hasn’t even dealt with.
But, look, the Iraqi insurgency is hardly the first group to demonstrate that it’s possible to force foreign occupying armies to withdraw from territory where they’re not wanted even if the occupying army is, in some sense, militarily superior. This has been a well-known feature of the world for decades, if not centuries. Indeed, it’s worth pointing out that advocates of invading Iraq used to be perfectly aware that we wouldn’t be able to use military force to trump public opinion. Remember that “greeted as liberators” business? Remember when the administration was denying there even was an insurgency? That’s said that stuff for a reason. The contention was that we wouldn’t need to fight a counterinsurgency campaign, not that we were prepared to fight and win one.
Steven Weisman offers us an all-too-sympathetic Paul Wolfowitz retrospective:
Now, as friends and critics sort through the wreckage of Mr. Wolfowitz’s bank career, they wonder if it was doomed from the outset. Supporters say he arrived at the bank, a citadel of liberalism, from a four-year stint at the Pentagon, where he was an early champion of going to war with Iraq and left bearing its stigma. [...] But others say Mr. Wolfowitz repeated the mistakes he had made at the Pentagon: adopting a single-minded position on certain matters, refusing to entertain alternative views, marginalizing dissenters.
Look, I have no doubt Wolfowitz was doomed from the state. But to comprehend his doomed-ness and what to make of it, one needs to step back. Why was he given the job in the first place? He had no obviously qualifications for it. He’s read some neoliberal political commentary about the need for international development strategies to focus more on good governance. I’ve read that stuff, too. As have a lot of people. It’s convincing stuff. But, genuinely, folks who’ve read it are a dime a dozen in this town. Do I get to run the World Bank? No. Wolfowitz had no genuine expertise in Africa, in development policy, in economics, in governance, or in any of the relevant fields.
What he did have, that I lacked, was a track-record as a high-level political employee. It was a track-record marked by . . . spectacular failure. Failure so spectacular that George W. Bush decided Wolfowitz needed to be fired from his job because he was so incredibly bad at it. In order to fire him while minimizing feather-rumpling, he was dumped on the Bank, even though he had no relevant expertise and a long track-record of failure (think Team B) in his previous work. So, yes, he was doomed from the start. Boo-hoo.
As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, President Bush has threatened to veto a House defense bill over a provision that raises the pay for U.S. soldiers by 3.5 percent, instead of the 3 percent preferred by the White House.
Last night on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Todd Bowers — an Iraq war veteran and director of government affairs for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — broke down the White House’s position in dollar terms. Bowers explained that the difference between a 3 percent and 3.5 percent pay raise is the difference of six bucks a month for the average servicemember. Bowers said:
[The average servicemember] gets $1300 a month. You got expenses that you have to cover for. You got to take care of family members, car payments. It essentially adds up. This 3% raise would give them approximately $29 extra dollars, alright. Point five percent gives them an extra $6 dollars. We’re talking about $6 for someone that is serving over in Iraq and Afghanistan that is away from their families. It’s not too much to ask.
Transcript: Read more
Here‘s a post by New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz mocking the Palestinians for the current Fatah-Hamas fighting through which they’re suffering. He followed that up with a second post on the topic, and followed that one up with a third. In case you hadn’t gotten the point, though, he made it four in a row on the topic.
Gone missing from this analysis is any recognition of the extent to which the current terrible situation is the result of stupid American policy choices. The dynamic on the US-Israeli side has become one of self-fulfilling prophesies, where the failure of ham-handed policy initiatives to produce the desired Palestinian quisling regime becomes the reason for more ham-handed initiatives whose failure then becomes yet another reason there can be no serious push for peace.