TCS Daily

Not Unified, No Action

By Austin Bay - February 15, 2007 12:00 AM

The Washington press corps has discovered the war -- the self-defeating tug of war between the Pentagon and virtually every other Washington government agency.

Two recent articles in The New York Times portrayed the "interagency" struggle as primarily a turf tussle between the Defense Department and the State Department, with culture clash, personal animosities and money (as in budgets) the sources of accelerating friction.

The Pentagon and State collision over economic and political operations in Iraq is (at least for the moment) the most dramatic example of interagency discord. However, the Departments of Agriculture, Justice and Commerce, and virtually every other civilian agency, are at loggerheads with Defense.

In an article published Feb. 6, the Times reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had told President Bush that the administration's "new Iraq strategy could fail unless more civilian agencies step forward quickly to carry out plans for reconstruction and political development." The Joint Chiefs pointed to a State Department request that the Pentagon supply military personnel to temporarily "fill more than one-third of 350 new State Department jobs in Iraq." The implication: State wasn't doing its part.

The Pentagon argued that "other civilian departments must devote more money and personnel to nonmilitary efforts at improving the economy, industry, agriculture, financial oversight of government spending and the rule of law."

An article published on Feb. 7 sketched State's perspective. A State Department spokesman said the skills "needed for the additional staff" (of 350 people) "are not skill sets in which any foreign service in the world ... are proficient." State "would provide leadership," the spokesman added, but "most of the staffing required would involve specialists like agricultural technicians."

Would that this were the usual budget tiff or Beltway blame game. It's not. Nor is it merely a fight over coordinating the military-security, economic and political "lines of operation" in Iraq, Afghanistan and the entire Global War on Terror, though it is that in spades.

Last week's DOD-State clash was the latest manifestation of America's greatest failure: the inability to achieve "Unified Action." That's the dry, wonkish term for coordinating and synchronizing every "tool of power" America possesses to achieve a strategic goal.

In a column published on Oct. 25, 2006, I queried then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about this abiding problem: "Mr. Secretary, based on our experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the limited interagency and non-governmental organization (NGO) participation in that operation, how do you see 'Unified Action' evolving for future conflicts?"

"Limited interagency" participation was an intentionally bland way of describing our near-total reliance on military personnel to substitute (on an extended basis) for diplomats, agriculture experts and financial advisers.

Rumsfeld replied that the United States is "better at it now than we were five years ago."

The hard truth is, America has never been good at coordinating diplomatic, information, military and economic efforts ("DIME" being the acronym).

World War II U.S. military planning guru Gen. Albert Wedemeyer argued that we didn't do it well in that conflict. "Our failure to use political, economic and psychological means in coordination with military operations during the war also prolonged its duration and caused the loss of many more American lives," Wedemeyer wrote in 1958. Wedemeyer concluded that no side won World War II, since it morphed into the Cold War. Americans did not get the victory their troops earned.

Wedemeyer's opinion matters. As a major in 1941, Gen. George Marshall tasked him to assess the demands of a global war and then devise a mobilization plan to fight it. Wedemeyer's "victory program" became the spine of the U.S. mobilization effort.

Recommendations 74, 75 and 76 of The Iraq Study Group (ISG), published in November 2006, echo Wedemeyer. Here's Recommendation 75: The United States "needs to improve how its constituent agencies -- Defense, State ... Treasury, Justice, the intelligence community ... -- respond to a complex stability operation like that represented by this decade's Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the previous decade's operations in the Balkans. They need to train for, and conduct, joint operations across agency boundaries, following the Goldwater-Nichols model that has proved so successful in the U.S. armed services."

The Global War on Terror is a war for neighborhoods. The war will only be won by successful economic development and political evolution, supported by military and police action.



First, do no harm
A better argument than this against undertaking grand foreign adventures could probably not be devised.

The federal government is clumsy and incapable of communication with itself. Its inability to coordinate activities between one branch and the next, noticeable in such fiascos as the interservice rivalry between the various "intelligence" organs such as CIA, DIA and FBI-- and even between different branch offices of the FBI-- gave rise to the 9/11 strike that started this whole business in the first place.

To task such a doddering creature with nation building is simply to ask too much. Our military forces tear down anything our civil forces can create. And until we can maintain a society in place that is superior to the one Saddam maintained, we will have lost the battle for hearts and minds.

This experience (not to mention the even simpler task of post-Katrina repairs) should serve as a guide to the future. Before embarking on any ambitious foreign adventure we should decide on a means of convincing the local population that we are not the enemy.

Possible areas for consideration, in this regard, might be to not provoke a prolonged period of anarchy and chaos, plunging the subject country into fratricidal and uncontrollable civil war. Such adventures are counter productive to our purpose-- which I believe is to convince them of the superiority of our system, so they will adopt it and join us.

At the rate we're going, every country we crush beneath our mighty heel will become just one more enemy, until we decide to stop the behavior. Maybe we should quit while we're behind.

The importance of realistic planning

Washington, DC, February 14, 2007 - The U.S. Central Command's war plan for invading Iraq postulated in August 2002 that the U.S. would have only 5,000 troops left in Iraq as of December 2006, according to the Command's PowerPoint briefing slides, which were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and are posted on the Web today by the National Security Archive (

The PowerPoint slides, prepared by CentCom planners for Gen. Tommy Franks under code name POLO STEP, for briefings during 2002 for President Bush, the NSC, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the JCS, and Franks' commanders, refer to the "Phase IV" post-hostilities period as "UNKNOWN" and "months" in duration, but assume that U.S. forces would be almost completely "re-deployed" out of Iraq within 45 months of the invasion (i.e. December 2006).

"Completely unrealistic assumptions about a post-Saddam Iraq permeate these war plans," said National Security Archive Executive Director Thomas Blanton. "First, they assumed that a provisional government would be in place by 'D-Day', then that the Iraqis would stay in their garrisons and be reliable partners, and finally that the post-hostilities phase would be a matter of mere 'months'. All of these were delusions."

For more information, see today's posting at .

Can't disagree
Though I hate the "defeatist" attitude you sometimes display roy, these are a pair of pretty good posts.

Especially this on on the archive. I note that several things expected to be in place BEFORE the invasion were not put into the works until after. Perhaps the plan would have been right on had these steps been undertaken.

No way to know for sure, but I think we can all agree that many mistakes were made. The question now is what to do about them? If I had the answer to that, I would be in Washington right now lobbying for my ideas to be implemented.

planning and action
I am honored to type here this afternoon that last night Don Rosenberg of The Constitution Party met with me at Bella Napoli on Madison Ave in Manhattan to discuss the 2008 Presidential Election. Unfortunately, he did not recognize me as the candidate and wanted Bob Smith of NH or Bob Dornan of CA or Ron Paul of TX to be the candidate on that party line next year. The planning and action continues to succeed the delusional and disobedient and disrespectful and poorly equipped W. from the Office of Presidency next year, and I am sorry to say that Hillary Rodham and formerly straight talking Johnny McCain will probably fight each other in the "main event" next year for Demander-in-chief and rabble-rousing demagogue of the not too free world. I regret that my television appearance Channel 20 cable last Friday on Catholics for Life has not yet helped get all the volunteers and professionals needed to get my distinguished name on the ballot. My opposition to instituting the draft, and various proposals and accomplishments have been listed elsewhere on the net and in newspapers, television etc, so I thank you for your continued realism in foreign policy and reading.

A lesson to be learned from all this
If you have an hour to spare-- and even if you don't think you do-- you couldn't use it any better than to watch this webcast:

I haven't seen anything better for illustrating the mistakes we made in the first year following the invasion. And I think it's mandatory that we study what went wrong before we ever, EVER conceive of the notion of doing something like this again.

As for what is to be done now, I think nothing. If we leave this month Iraq will descend into a bloodbath. And if we flounder for another ten years and then leave, it will descend into a bloodbath.

As of today we are performing sweeps across Baghdad. And finding nothing but peace and love. But the instant we leave a neighborhood and move on to the next, it resumes being exactly what it was before. The only lasting action we could do would be to put a patrol on every street corner in the country-- and have them stay there forever.

You got to know when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em.

All plans become obsolete once the shooting starts.
All plans become obsolete once the shooting starts. What General Franks and associates did not count on was the State Department opposition to the resistance groups who could have made up the interim government on D-Day.

Pauled, I have a special treat for you...
I posted this for you on the other board regarding Overracting.... 9/11, but there's a good chance that you might miss this. So....

You're one of the few who frequent this site who could appreciate this:


Take the time to download this... it's a little long, but sure to put a lump in your throat. In some fashion, you and I will be there one day.

State had no hand in this
You're saying this was the State Department's fault? I believe it was Paul Bremer who introduced the order to disband the army and send them all home with their guns, unemployed. These were the very people who stoked the resistance, which began immediately after the order was implemented. May 23, 2003.

Take a look at order number two, here:

Then check your old newspapers. Before that date, no insurgency. After that date, insurgency.

without merit
Please cite the mission statement of the CIA, DIA, and FBI that says "First do no harm." You are very confused. The purpose of all three agencies is to prevent harm to U.S. citizens, often by inflicting great harm on the enemy.

"every country we crush beneath our mighty heel will become just one more enemy,"

You mean like Great Britain, Libya, Spain, Mexico, Phillipines, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, and Iraq? Which other countries have we invaded that are now our enemies? Maybe Haiti? Naw, they're officially our ally, too, but I will give you North Korea -- we are still officially at war with the Marxist regime, simply biding a tenuous cease-fire. If I'm wrong, please cite the standing articles of war by these nations against the U.S. Hmmm, yup, once again your argument has no merit, whatsoever.

I got this
At your other post. You are absolutely right.

The army disbanded ON ITS OWN. If you actually would have paid attention to what was happening in Iraq during the fighting, you would have noticed that there was no opposition to the US forces from many Iraq army units. Instead, it was the radicals that Sadam rounded up that stayed and fought. Thus, the whole complaint about who disbanded the army is pretty silly. The army disbanded itself.

Besides the fact that any idiot would know that if the army had been kept in place, the Shiites would have rebelled immediately. Why should they trust the instrument of their prior tormentors?

Furthermore, what evidence do you have that it is ex-army people who are the resistence? The early attacks lack of organization don't support your claim. Ex-army would have been better at resisting.

Beanie, you like to criticize, but you fail to think through, just like the libs in Congress. It's pretty easy to find fault with those who actually DO rather than just talk.


Besides the fact that the whole point of the military is to inflict some pretty nasty harm on one's enemy. But Beanie doesn't get that. They aren't enemies to him. "Can't we all just get along?" to a drum beat: Do the beanie dance.


Lessons from history
You're confusing two entirely different things, Bob.

First, the Iraqi armed forces obviously had orders to put up only limited resistance to our advancing troops. You'll recall they met with virtually no opposition. They knew resistance was useless.

Then on the night of April 9 we noticed unusual cell phone traffic. And on the morning of April 10, there was no one to be found anywhere. They had been ordered to stabnd down.

They did what troops always do-- retire to barracks and await your orders from the new command. This has been pretty standard stuff since the days of Julius Caesar.

The cool move would have been to have Arabic speaking commanders ready to inspire the troops under new leadership. We could have told them the usual-- the future of your nation is up to you, we're asking you to remain in service and establish a new Iraq, bla bla bla-- and most importantly, you're going to stay on the payroll.

I can't tell you how important this would have been. Those guys are all in it for the pay check. They would have loved us, and followed their new officers anywhere. other than high ranking officers, do you think many of them actually had strong feelings of loyalty to Saddam? He was just El Jefe-- their Big Kahuna.

It would have been a bargain. Do you have any idea what Iraqi soldiers get paid? And we could have put them to work pacifying the country for us. Naturally we would have purged the upper ranks of Baathist officers, and promoted from within to take their place. It would have been a masterful plan.

But we didn't. Short sighted morons didn't think this part of the invasion through-- instead they issued Order Number Two.

Listen to what I'm saying
Obviously, what I mean by "first do no harm" is that you should make sure your efforts don't just make everything worse than it already is.

Case in point. Our military works best as a deterrent force. Its mere existence makes others hesitate to ever attack us. So that maintenance of a massive military acts as an insurance policy, ensuring that it should never have to be used.

Instead, we use it. And in so doing we prove to others that our best efforts can be bogged down by (1) one nation (Iraq) whose military chose to not even confront us, and (2) by another place (Afghanistan) that didn't even really deserve to be considered a nation. So much for our famous "two front" strategy.

So the lesson everyone takes from all this is that America was just a paper tiger. This is a terrible message to send.

Wouldn't you agree?

You don't get it and you don't know jack about the combat to take Baghdad.

You so easily blow it off. Try saying "(Iraq) whose military chose to not even confront us." to a veteran of that conflict and see if you walk away smirking. It might work on anonymous message boards and amongst your * circle, but not with those who were there. Our armed forces were far better than they in all regards save one -- they could hide among their families.

The only way that an armed force can be used as a deterrent is if there is certainty that force will be projected when provoked. Otherwise, you're a big scary Pillsbury Doughboy, aka, as a paper tiger.

It is also certain that alQaida does not see GW Bush and the U.S. Armed Forces as a paper tiger. They do, however, regard American democrats and other reactionary activists as natural allies against GW Bush and DOD. Every time Zawahiri posts a warning and threat, those prone to dhimmitude respond by attacking Bush or our military.

I completely dispute your claim that "the lesson everyone takes from all this is that America was just a paper tiger." This beggars jawdropping disbelief! The primary complaint by you and other anti-Americans is that we are not a paper tiger. We actually did what we said we would do in Afghnistan and Iraq.

That we appear to be bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq is complex and in no way remedied by biased media, self-hating westerners, and political undermining of the security effort.

Where are the "human shields" when the Iraqi and Afghani people could really use them?

Life in reverse
Bremer suggested that to do this would be like re-instating the Fascists in Italy, the Imperial Army in Japan, and the Nazi/SS in Germany, post-war. There was also a naive expectation that other nations would step up to the plate and provide security forces. Looking back, it was a mistake. Hindsight can make a military genius out of a jackass. Life is beautiful in reverse.

Must be the media's fault
Your anger and hostility are eager to read. But they don't convince me that the accounts of our invasion when it was going down were all fabrications. There was no concerted military resistance to the American advance. There was no Iraqi air response. There was no significant opposition to the advance from Basra to Baghdad. And there was no real defense of Baghdad. All there was was sporadic and disorganized resisters.

This was all fully reported when it was actually taking place. If the fighting was so fierce, why weren't there more American casualties?

Read this:

The problem with the mismanagement of our various wars is that we have not maintained control of either situation. Things are deteriorating in both countries. This is absolutely not the way to make someone respect our power-- because it's just not getting the job done.

Whether we leave or stay, at this rate, is going to make very little difference. You're trying to build a case for all this being the fault of the people telling you it's a disaster. But it's actually the fault of the same people who planned the rebuilding effort in New Orleans. They just can't get the job done. My heart goes out to the troops for the thankless job they're being asked to do.

Leaving the bad guys in charge
Try to grasp a little nuance here. I know it's going to be a subtle point I'm making.

For obvious reasons you replace the general staff, imprison the Mukhabaraat, detain the security services for debriefing and do the same for the junior officers. The reason we invaded was to replace these people.

That leaves thousands upon thousands of ordinary police and soldiers. People who are mostly in it for the employment, and who need their jobs. Put them on the street with no work and their only choices are to become insurgents or thieves. Survival even in peacetime Iraq is not easy.

Plus, we needed them as much as they needed us. As soon as we fired them, everything fell apart. And since that week, the number one complaint among all Iraqis across the country has been the lack of law and order. Say what you will about the government they were used to... it kept order. And people were used to enjoying the safety of their persons and homes.

We could have had no expectation of fictitious "other nations" stepping up to the plate. Are you talking about the ones who had sent token forces? Or the ones who told us they were against the invasion?

This may all be hindsight to you. But I was on my feet screaming during those first three days. Because once you let looting begin, you have three days to put it down. Otherwise it turns into a chronic state of anarchy, and will never be put down until the manpower is there to keep a lid on 25 million angry, out of control people.

Sez you, anyway
Sounds like you missed your calling. Since you've got it all figgered' out, You should be a warmongering, imperialist conqueror of benign dictators who kept the order and whose subjects "were used to enjoying the safety of their persons and homes." (Except of course, when they were being rounded up and fed to dogs or to mechanical shredders). The vast majority of Iraqi soldiers chose not to become head-hacking, market-bombing, IED-sapping insurgents. Many are back in the army as officers and NCO's fighting the enemies of law, freedom, liberty, and democracy. They have more choices now than under Saddam. Incidentally, they have a constitution and representative government.

My colleauge (geology professor) in the Science Department at Baghdad University put it to me this way... "Under Saddam we lived in a prison, now we live in a jungle. I prefer the jungle."

Your bleeding heart
is certainly fickle. Just a couple of weeks ago, you were berating me and the other riflemen, airmen, and sailors for taking part in past U.S. military expeditions. Get your story straight.

Within three weeks of the U.S. invasion, Gnl. Franks estimated up to 30,000 Iraqi troops killed in action. The Guardian estimated as many as 45,000 Iraqi troops KIA during the 6 week war. The estimated Iraqi troop KIA in the fight for Baghdad is 2,000 to 3,000. I'd call this damned fierce. The reason our forces suffered so fewer casualties is due to far superior training, armor, battle-control, weapons, and motivation. We cannot be beaten on the field of battle. We stay, we win.

I'm sorry, who's responsible for rebuilding New Orleans? and what does this natural disaster have to do with the invasion of Iraq? Is this the Kevin Bacon Game?

And you use some Jew hating, America bashing nobody as your source?
You should be ashamed of yourself Roy Bean. What a stinker.

Winning the peace
Okay, let's take either the estimate of 30,000 Iraqis killed during the first three weeks, or 45,000 during the first six weeks.

In March 2003 only 65 US troops were killed. And in April, 74 were killed. Of course all official resistance was over on April 10, so many of these April deaths would have been after the fighting had ceased.

Comparing these figures, isn't it obvious no actual battles took place? The story these numbers tell is just shock troops driving across Iraq killing people. No army shoots so badly that they take 500 fatalities for every enemy soldier they kill-- it's obvious the people they were shooting weren't shooting back.

The same thing happened during Vietnam. All the bodies they left lying around were said to be "VC cadre". Body counts were sky high. Our casualties were high-- 55,000. But theirs were higher-- roughly 1,500,000 including women, children and old folks.

But you've missed the more important point I was making. The only thing the armed services do is what their leaders tell them to do. And the disaster that has unfolded in Afghanistan and Iraq has been due to a lack of interest on the part of the civilian leadership in addressing the issue of how to return those countries to a condition of peace. Fixing things bores them-- they only know how to break things.

And I gave as the perfect example New Orleans. The White House lost interest, and just left it broken. The same thing has happened in Iraq-- and THAT is the reason we may have won the war back in April 2003. But with this leadership we will never win the peace.

I can see you upholding your esprit de corps. But for the life of me I can't imagine why you would defend the actions of people with no military experience, who have brought our troops to where they are today. Haven't we had enough disasters to be able to avoid them by now?

Why does deterrence fail?
Because people believe that you lack either:
1) Ability to deploy your deterrent. (They can strike first without you retailiating.)
2) Magnitude of deterrence. (Your deterrent is not sufficient to scare them.)
3) Willpower to use your deterrent force.

If people believe that we lack #3, our deterrent means nothing. It means substantially less now because of tr@itors like yourself who are systematically seeking to undermine the will to fight.

Make no mistake: Insurgencies are fueled by hope. They know they cannot defeat our nation from a military standpoint, so their only hope is to hold out long enough for us to decide that it isn't worth it. That is the ONLY WAY they can win. Every time they suffer a major setback, people leave the insurgents. Every time we suffer a setback, like the most recent resolution by 250 some traitors in the House, the insurgents gain the strength to fight another day.

American troops are being killed because hippie, buy-the-world-a-Coke morons like yourself are determined to make this country lose a war for your own political gain, and nothing more. You, and the rest of your ilk, are traitors.

Misues of the word "Treason"
Because I, unlike fans of the jurisprudence of Supreme Court Justices Breyer, Ginsberg, Souter, Stevens, etc. believe that words mean things, I think I need to restate my comment above.

Treason implies one of the following things:
1) An American citizen making war on the United States.
2) An American citizen providing material aid and comfort to our enemies.

What liberals are doing these days is providing MORAL aid and comfort to our enemies. They are making moral arguments equivocating the mass-murders committed by our eenemies with the intention of murdering as many innocents as possible with the actions of the United States, which generally seeks to minimize collateral damage in such a way as to put our own troops in greater danger. They argue relentlessly for a withdrawl of our troops despite the fact that we are clearly winning the war in Iraq. By doing these two things, they are boosting the morale of the enemy, and convincing them that if the insurgents just continue to fight for a little-while longer, they can be rid of us.

While it does not fall within the legal definition of treason, it is so close as to be indistinguishable.

Can I buy you a Coke?
Here's the error. A philosophy of deterrence actually works very well if its intent is to purely deter others from attacking us. A huge military can deter smaller militaries. A huge nuclear arsenal can deter nations full of vulnerable people. But all this falls apart once we use our tools of death in a war of aggression.

Once people realize our assault on their lives and countries is unavoidable, they must fight to the death. There is no more deterrence-- because what they feared most is already attacking them. Their choice is only to resist.

And they can certainly prevail. Why? Because their aim is not to subjugate the United States. Their aim is only to prevail in their own lands. So no matter how many of them we kill, in time we will become exhausted and go home again. Then the survivors of our conquests can come out of the rubble and begin to rebuild.

As they did in Vietnam.

In time the dinosaurs like you will die of old age. And hopefully the young people will come to distrust a way of life built on a conquest of the rest of the planet fed by paranoia and fear. But until that happens, I'm afraid more millions must die-- your kind is a persistent lot, and unwilling to share the planet with anyone who does not follow your creed.

Actually I'm being patriotic
I understand the best interests of my country are served by the promotion of peace and progress in a world learning to go beyoond war as a means of struggling with its problems.

I understand that the rest of the world looks toward us for moral leadership-- not for the power to threaten, intimidate and destroy anyone who complains.

I understand that there is no way we can subjugate the entire planet. We're pretty well tapped out just unsuccessfully trying to subjugate two fairly small and poor countries.

I understand that once the world's trust has been lost it will take a generation to restore it. And I am ready to roll up my sleeves and do the work of restoration once the war party has been defeated.

And I understand the war party will not just go away of its own accord. If they are to retire from the world stage they will require a degree of active assistance.

We actually thought for a moment that the job had been accomplished back in 1945. But there is no peace yet, thanks to your persistence. So I'm proud to be a resister.

When did we conquer Iraq?
Last I remember, we were in that country providing manpower, training and materiel to the police and armed forces of an Iraq that was recently freed from one of the most vicious and brutal dictators the world has ever seen.

The people who are upset about this fact, like al-Qaeda and the Syrian and Iranian governments, are pumping people, cash, training and materiel in to Iraq to fund the insurgency. They are seeking to replace the legitimately elected government in Iraq with an Islamic fundamentalist regime that is fundamentally hostile to our interests.

Don't feed me this horse dung about a war of aggression, roy. We freed 30 million people, and we are trying to keep them free long enough that they can do it for themselves. The insurgents think that they can force us to cut and run, and people like you are feeding that belief. You, and your other leftist cronies. People do not fight in insurgencies that they think are destined to lose. The leftists in this country giving them hope for the future are ensuring a steady supply of recruits.

This is like Vietnam, but only in one sense: The left is once again determined to do whatever it takes to see that this country loses. You are traitors, and need to be called such.

As a final note, consider the problem of deterring rogue regimes from doing stupid things if we are not willing to use our military to depose them on occasion. How do we deter Iran from going nuclear if we refuse to ever invade one of these places?

Libya got rid of their WMD programs immediately after we invaded Iraq. THAT is deterrence. When other countries know you will follow through on threats you make. However, if we fail to stick with it in Iraq, they will know that we do not have the will to win, and we will not deter anybody.

One day, the victims of bad drugs in the 60's will vanish from the Earth...
Peace can only be achieved through three things:

1) Superior firepower.
2) The unquestioned will to use it.
3) Freedom

When was the last time that negotiating with/appeasing a hostile dictator/terrorist ever accomplished anything?

Bin Laden? Ahmadinejad? Mullah Omar? Hussein? Milosevic? Khruschev? Stalin? Hitler? Has it EVER worked?

All it does is buy time, and generally not much time.

Furthermore, what does the rest of the world have to offer? China, France, Germany, Russia, all of them want our top spot! They cannot get it until they tear us down. They will never help us, and are actively hindering us by selling guns to our enemies (Iran buys guns, bombs and AA weapons from all of them,) even launching attacks against us via the internet (China and Russia in particular.) Trust? Why should WE trust THEM?

If moral leadership means doing nothing about terrorism, then I am all for immoral leadership.

Depose them all
Funny how you and I live in alternate realities. In mine we destabilized a capstone in a region prone to massive instability. True, we toppled a brutal dictatorship. But in its place we're propping up an unsteady Shiite regime that sponsors death squads to enforce its will in the Sunni neighborhoods. And oddly, we are partners with the Iranins-- who are backing the same horse.

Having been effectively criminalized, the Sunnis now have to look for support in such places as Saudi Arabia. So the chances are excellent that we and the Saudis will be on opposite sides of the new fence going up.

With the old order toppling right and left, it's time we found a first rate diplomatic team to keep our flag out of the soup. But don't look for that among the current bunch. They're above talking with people to resolve differences. So the people we most need to talk with will be demoized, while those most in need of lecturing will be coddled.

The problem we're finding with deposing regimes we've decided are rogues is that our enemies multiply when we use that approach. We were a lot further ahead of the game four years ago, before we got so thoroughly stuck in the mire.

So if we follow your approach, sticking with it until that game is no longer viable, we will end up with everyone seeking to build their WMD stockpile, to arm themselves against the Americans. Me, I don't like that future. I would go for some fence mending instead.

BTW there aren't 30 million people in Iraq. There used to be 22 million, according to the 1997 estimate, and close to two million have now fled. So let's say 20 million and dropping rapidly.

Also BTW... I think Russia is a rogue regime too. Why don't we depose Putin while we're at it?

What do you do after you've won?
"When was the last time that negotiating with/appeasing a hostile dictator/terrorist ever accomplished anything?"

Negotiating with the Soviet Union got us the SALT treaty, and nuclear arms reductions. Plus, when we have overwhelming military superiority, negotiating with the world would get us world peace.

Do you actually think that we have significant enemies? We could destroy the world numerous times over, with our nuclear stockpile. The only enemies we have are irate individuals, who have to attack us with boxcutters.

The approach your speaking up for is criminally insane. It condemns hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens in countries we don't really care about to death as a byproduct of our policies. It makes of everyone who's not a "good" American collateral damage, in the never ending war we're sustaining against dissent.

It's not a matter of trust or distrust. Your side has won over everyone else innumerable times now. But you still can't relax. I think you're haunted by the ghosts you've created.

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