We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

A brutal takedown

…of the Bush administration’s war on terror by Bill Quick. I find very little to disagree with.

A few excerpts, below the break, for those who need to be convinced to Read the Whole Thing.

Mr. Quick reflects my frustration that we have not been serious with fighting this war. I am not quite sure I can agree with him that we are worse off for having pursued this war because we have done so in a weak-kneed, half-assed way, but we certainly have not done what we could to exterminate the Islamofascist threat, and we are rapidly approaching the day when we will be worse off because it will be a nuclear-armed Islamofascist threat.

I vividly remember on the afternoon of 9/11, I told one of my law partners that I had no doubt that we would see nuclear weapons used before this thing was done. Sadly, five years on, I see no reason to withdraw that prediction.

As succinct and comprehensible a statement as I have seen of why military intervention in Iraq (and elsewhere) is essential to exterminating militant Islamofascism:

[T]he most effective strategy, in fact, the only proven effective strategy, available for waging and winning the war against Islamist fundamentalist terrorism: It would be necessary for us to destroy the regimes that sponsored, armed, trained, supported, protected, and used these Islamist terror organizations. Just as the seemingly ubiquitous communist “revolutionary fronts” all over the world seemed to dry up overnight with the destruction of their sponsor, the Soviet communist regime, removing the regimes in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Korea, and elsewhere that similarly succored a host of Islamist terror organizations would both give us a clear-cut, straightforward strategy, and also give us the standards by which victory would be measured: the destruction of those regimes would signal victory.

His verdict on Bush:

The first administration of the first century of the American Third Millennium will, in my estimation, be remembered as one of the biggest failures of that century. Bush’s great failure was, not invading Iraq, but not weathering the adversity that followed through acts of real leadership, and then pressing on with the necessary military destruction of the other regimes he, himself, named as most dangerous five years ago.

22 comments to A brutal takedown

  • guy herbert

    You’ll be unsurprised to know that I find almost nothing to agree with, except:

    And the Wahabbis of Saudi Arabia continue to fund a global terror support machine the likes of which we have not seen since the Soviet regime financed and trained every two-bit communist terror organization it could find.

    The trouble is mainly with the nominal allies of the US, not its nominal enemies. See also Pakistan. See also Israel, which is really not helping, not even itself.

    The Iraqi adventure having been such a dreadful bloody disaster (to my disappointment and eventual despair), and the follow-up on Afghanistan and Iraq, both, such an ideological one, the US really needs a new grand strategic plan. The idea that it simply needs to be more aggressive, against more (and tougher) targets, when ungoverned aggression has both made things worse and tied up a lot of military power, is not a plausible plan.

  • michael farris

    Imagine, just imagine that the US administration had/has no intention of waging anything like a real WOT but wants to appear to be doing so in order to win elections and is doing the bare ass minimum it can do achieve that aim (winning elections).

    Go it? Have you visualized it?

    How different is your visualation from that scenario from the current situation that actually exists?

  • Good exercise michael — answer: not much.

    I think the U.S. has bouts with brilliance but cannot muster a cohesive total plan. I believe normalized relations with India, pressure on North Korea, the Iraq War, and The War on Terror are all hymns in the same hymnal. Unfortunately, we have different choirs trudging up and down the altar to sing each verse.

  • Joshua

    The idea that it simply needs to be more aggressive, against more (and tougher) targets, when ungoverned aggression has both made things worse and tied up a lot of military power, is not a plausible plan.

    Syria is definitely not a “tougher” target than Iraq. Iran only is in the sense that its people would maybe be able to mount a more capable resistance if occupied. Of course, they would also probably be better able to supply an alternative central government, so there’s that.

    North Korea is the only “tougher” opponent in the Axis of Evil – and they arguably don’t have to be dealt with. Their relationship to Islamic terrorists is more likely to be that of vendor selling weapons – which of course the terrorists can’t buy without the money that they get from Syria and Iran (or so the theory goes – it may be that they get most of it from other sources – “charity” donations from certain Saudi millionaires, etc.). North Korea doesn’t give things away for free out of religious solidarity. Whatever else they’re up to, they’re not trying to take over the world or even destroy the US (who else would save their population from starvation if not for the US and Japan?).

    Of course, you’re right that Iraq as it stands is a disaster. But I think what the linked post is arguing for is not more military adventure but rather more resources put into shoring up Iraq. The expected deterrent isn’t working because the Iraq invasion is a demonstrable failure. The idea of invading Iraq wasn’t wrong or misguided, but doing it half-assed is worse than not doing it at all. I think the argument in the linked post is one for fortifying our position in Iraq – which seems like a better idea than admitting defeat and going home, really.

  • I think the argument in the linked post is one for fortifying our position in Iraq

    No, its for fighting the war on terror the only way it can be won – by taking out all of the state sponsors of terror, not just the two junior partners (Afghanistan and Iraq.)

    So far, what we have mostly done is cleared out a lot Iran’s rivals for it while it concentrates on getting some nuclear weapons.

  • veryretired

    In 1942 or 43 you bunch would have been suing for peace with the Nazis and proclaiming how disappointed you were with the administration, and how smart you all were to see everything so clearly.

    It must be difficult to live amongst the rest of us inferiors when you are so wise, so sensitive, so far sighted, so all knowing.

    Too bad there’s no space travel. You could go somewhere else and live on a perfect world—you know, where everyone’s just like you, and never makes any mistakes or falls short.

  • Joshua

    No, its for fighting the war on terror the only way it can be won – by taking out all of the state sponsors of terror, not just the two junior partners (Afghanistan and Iraq.)

    Kinda hard to do in the case of Syria and Iran without a stable position in Iraq, though, no?

    So far, what we have mostly done is cleared out a lot Iran’s rivals for it while it concentrates on getting some nuclear weapons.

    Right – and we’re hardly in a position to fix that as long as Iraq is not secured.

    Implicit in the argument is that securing Iraq comes first. We go after Syria and Iran when and if they give us a good reason to (like, for example, Iran’s refusal to give up its budding nuclear program). But this is all impossible without secure bases in Iraq.
    Were Iraq credibly under thumb, Iran might not be behaving as it is now.

  • There is no clear equivalence between the clients of the Soviet and Iranian regimes. In the first case, the peoples in the client states desired and welcomed release from their master. In the second, the master is widely viewed as an authentic pole star. I see no reason to believe that quashing Iran would ‘release’ its clients. On the contrary, its current surrogates would mushroom – if you’ll pardon the expression – into its successors, of greater or lesser significance depending on, among other things, what funds they could raise from, e.g., the House of Saud.

  • Max

    Too bad none of the Bush deranged can read a map. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have isolated Iran. This is called shaping the battlefield.

    It’s getting really tiresome to see “Bush” and “failure” still blasted into every post of the Bush deranged as though that tired idea of driving Bush and failuure to the top of the Google search result had any real world meaning.

  • D Anghelone

    The failure is in not identifying what these assholes value and threatening that. What do the Wahabbis value? What course of action would stymie them and not us? What do the apocalyptic Shia value? What course of action would stymie them and not us?

    What if they don’t care how many of their number we kill or if regimes fall as long as a desired chaos ensues? Economic chaos would lay low the materialists and not the mystics.

  • Jso

    The idea that it simply needs to be more aggressive, against more (and tougher) targets, when ungoverned aggression has (present tense?) both made things worse and tied up a lot of military power, is not a plausible plan.

    How do you see “ungoverned aggression” as already having taken place? If the entire middle east has anything living in it, then we clearly have not seen it.

  • Nick M

    In a war people die and things get broken.
    - Gen. Colin Powell

    Iraq and the whole WoT is a shambles. It was a shambles right from the get go. Remember when W changed the name of the Afghan operation from “Infinite Justice” to “Enduring Freedom”? That was a defeat because it showed weakness. Remember “Shock and Awe”? Wasn’t that awesome or shocking was it? Another defeat. We should’ve left the population of Iraq catatonic or finger painting the walls with their own faeces crazy with an assault and light show that would have played on IMAX for a century.

    Every time we equivocate, every time we state this isn’t a war on Islam, every time our leaders bend over backwards to minimise “civilian” casualties, then inevitably a JDAM hits a primary school, and they have to apologise we lose a battle.

    This is a war. We should simply obliterate countries that don’t toe the line. No ifs, buts or maybes. It’s not for us to rebuild these places but if they rebuild in a way that is obnoxious we should reserve the right to give ‘em a second dose. I say that because the new Iraq and Afghanistan are not exactly paradigm states are they? All that blood and treasure and still a convert to Christianity can face the death penalty and Shia gangs (with quasi-official sanctioning) can murder suspected homosexuals with impunity.

    And why we are “best mates” with the Saudis and Pakistanis is frankly beyond me…

    I’m normally a peace-loving kinda guy. I grew-up under the Cold War and was delighted when that ended. I was 16. For a brief period I dreamed of what we could achieve and then this shit starts up again. Quite simply, I’ve had enough. I am sick to the back teeth with muslims. Which brings me on to…

    D Anghelone
    The failure is in not identifying what these assholes value and threatening that.

    Precisely. If all the leaders of the Free World (including India, Russia, Brazil and China – I’ll stretch a point there) could just simply threaten the Islamics with the ultimate sanction: straighten up and fly right or next Hajj Mecca and Medina get nuked to absolute buggeration. We also take down the Dome of the Rock and the Imam Ali Mosque. Oh, if only…

  • guy herbert

    “ungoverned aggression”?

    Uncontrolled aggression if you like. Aggression with no thought for the future or the past. Violence as its own justification, and violence without limits because the US deems itself morally right because it is the US, regardless of what it does, and regardless of what other people might think.

    As NickM points out, Iraq was and is a shambles. The Pentagon throws out established military doctrine but wins anyway, because of immense technological and material advantages. It ignores the established rules of war evolved through experience by failing to shoot looters. Yet its troops are made frightened of their own shadow to the point they’ll shoot anyone else at all.

    If there’s a plan for reconstruction beyond flooding the coutry with cash dollars and commercial mercenaries it is really not discernable. And removing all party officials from power in a former one-party-state pretty much guarantees no-one knows what’s going on, and those that might have little left to do but continue to fight.

    Some things have gone right, no doubt, but beneath the wreckage of disasters that are solely down to arbitrarily smashing things that get in the way of the military, no-one can see them.

    Among the things that have been arbitrarily smashed because they get in the way of the military are any respect for the rule of law – not “international law”, which is a red herring, but its own basic standards of due process and humanity. Along with those leaks away any claim to moral superiority, despite it being the certainty of that which drives the same absolutism. The flatulent naming of military operations, “Enduring Freedom” and so forth, just emphasises the utter solipsism and self-deception.

    A new grand strategy would begin with asserting that the US would henceforth live up to its own standards in the application of power, giving the equal protection of the law to all within its power, and that the “freedom” it would henceforth seek to establish in other parts of the world would no longer default to the right to be ruled by a US-friendly dictatorship, but mean seeking liberties for others analogous to the constitutional rights that its citizens enjoy at home.

  • guy herbert

    BTW, that last point means precisely the opposite conclusion to NickM’s. “We” should not just smash countries that refuse to toe the line. (Psychologically interesting mixed metaphor, there.)

    There is nothing wrong with countries refusing to toe the US line on any policy matter. What is objectionable is if they try to force their way of life onto others. Which is also objectionable if the US does it.

    I’d quite like to live in a Britain substantially different from the one we do. But I suspect that the US would try to stop us having a truly independent policy on any number of social and political questions. (We were impressed into Mr Nixon’s War on Drugs, for example.) Its extraterritorial inclinations have already been noted and disparaged on Samizdata. Yet I’m someone who shares a lot of US values. How much harder the bullying and braggadoccio must be to stomach if you don’t.

    A US that were to forswear intereference abroad for domestic reasons, and to rest on its huge and widely admired cultural power, rather than seeking to police every corner of the world, would be a great deal more respected and a great deal less to fear.

  • susan

    The greatest failure in the 21st century are the so-called allies who wasted the latter part of 20th century peacetime by failing to establish and maintain their own military, indoctrinating lies/myths through their own propaganda machines, expanding the serfdom of Socialism whilel supporting and defending the United Nation’s International Community of kleptocrats, dictators, collectivist, murderers, liars and thieve.

    Cowards hiding behind one leader to do all the dirty work then call him a failure is blinded to all of their own contribution to events see in the dawn of the 21st century.

    Over the past six years I have heard the most vicious and vile attacks on a single leader who was forced into war because 20th century decades of denial be deemed a failure after failure.

    Bill Quick’s verdict is just a repeat of those who continue to deny the bigger picture while pin-pointing all these events as failure.

    Didn’t the British empire during Hilter’s rise to power also wait until it was too late, after all they were just Jews in Poland who were exterminated, which then forced Amercia to fight your wars while fighting our own against Imperial Japan.

    The greatest failure of the 21st century will not be Bush it will be all those who expected Bush to take care of the problems while cowards, liars and propagandists sat on the sidelines stabbing Bush in the back all for the purpose of maintaining some image of peace-loving people who do no harm.

  • Nick M

    “We” should not just smash countries that refuse to toe the line.

    What is objectionable is if they try to force their way of life onto others.

    And that second quote is precisely what I meant about countries behaving in ways that are obnoxious. Saddam’s Iraq was clearly playing that game. I would suggest that the Saudis and many others are supporting things which we find objectionable. They all need to be taken down. Taken down Biblically.

    And why not? What would you miss from the Middle East? Their noted culture and wit? The flag burnings? Their cutting edge ladies fashions? As long as the oil keeps flowing I don’t care what happens there. Over 2500 UK/US troops have died in an ill-fated “nation building” exercise in Iraq. What for? To take a country from Baathist tyranny to a particularly amusing combination of increasing anarchy and incipient theocracy. We should never try this again.

    Why we banned the neutron bomb is beyond me. I see an absolute requirement right now.

    I’m bored with these antics. We could end it in an afternoon.

  • stuart

    “What if they don’t care how many of their number we kill or if regimes fall as long as a desired chaos ensues? ”

    The Japanese learned the error of this in 1945. And if our so-called ‘allies’ in Europe took an active, military role instead of sabotaging everything we do, the WoT would be won by now. American blood shed for European peace – again.

  • As noted before, between two evil acts, you pick one which prevents an even starker choice downh the road. All this equivocating simply emboldens the enemies of civilization, and a more brutal response now may yet forestall a much more final response in the future.

    A few more incidents, and the patience of the public with the current conflict may well run out. In fact, a majority of the American public(60%?) in polls support Israel’s offensive, when conceivably it would have been 50% at best only 6 years back, before 9/11.

    A few more years. A few more incidents. We may not like what’s coming, but trust me, there will be a reckoning, whether we like it or not. If the cycle of history holds true, the fifty-sixty years of relative peace we’ve enjoyed may soon be coming to an end.

    TWG

  • Although I have next to no problem with the efficient and explicitly military trouncing of Islamic terrorists and the governments that support them, I still contend that there is a missing part to our strategy for eliminating Islamic/Arab terrorism overall and that is: stop making the same kinds of political mistakes that give our enemies propoganda points or–worse–legitimate reasons for grievance.

    Or, put another way, even though we do have a perfect right to totally eliminate a threat to us from, say, Osama bin Laden, we’d bloody better still keep in mind why he’s so fucking upset and–especially–why it seems fairly easy for him to obtain followers to do the kinds of things they do.

    Or: we have failed to hold to our own ideals over the past many decades, and much of our trouble in the Middle East stems from that.

  • Nick M

    You’re right Ron. We can’t claim the moral high ground and be friends with the house of Saud. It is pathetic the way the UK jumped through hoops (ably abetted by BAEs GBP60mil slush fund) merely to acquire an order for 48 Typhoons (with an option on another 24 – more hoop jumping ahead I suspect). We supported the Shah for similar expediencies. Look where that got us? We never learn.

  • Chris

    Susan,

    ‘which then forced Amercia to fight your wars while fighting our own against Imperial Japan.’

    You conveniently forget that in your war against Imperial Japan The Allies included the Republic of China, the United Kingdom (and members of British Commonwealth countries controlled directly by the U.K., such as the Indian Empire), The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada as well as the US. The Soviet Union even chipped in and fought a short, undeclared border conflict with Japan in 1939, then remained neutral until August 1945, when it joined the Allies and invaded Manchukuo. Free French soldiers and ships fought with the allied troops and ships in the pacific.

    Countries seldom (if ever) go to war for altruistic reasons. They start, or join because they have something to win or lose otherwise.

    I am not sure what drove the US (and the UK with it) to begin its current excursion into the middle east – I’d like to believe that it something more than just oil (all of it including Iran’s) – but maybe not. I doubt that it was out of the goodness of their hearts or to ‘liberate’ the Iraqis and the Afghanis.

    I don’t think that there is an easy solution to the current situation – turning the middle east into a parking lot I don’t think is the answer, but nor can one back off and just say sorry – my fault at this point.

    PS Nick M – I would miss the food and they’ve got some great chill out music.