mm094: Point/Counterpoint: A War We Just Might Win – New York Times | Why the latest good news from Iraq doesn’t matter. – Slate Magazine

MUDGE’S Musings

Were you as bemused as I was by the story early this week in the NYTimes?

nytimes

July 30, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

A War We Just Might Win

By MICHAEL E. O’HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK

Washington

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

A War We Just Might Win – New York Times

How could I make sense of this? Well, a couple of days later, Slate.com helped put this odd story into perspective.

slate

war stories

Irrelevant Exuberance

Why the latest good news from Iraq doesn’t matter.

By Phillip Carter
Updated Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007, at 3:02 PM ET


In 1975, Army Col. Harry Summers went to Hanoi as chief of the U.S. delegation’s negotiation team for the four-party military talks that followed the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. While there, he spent some time chatting with his North Vietnamese counterpart, Col. Tu, an old soldier who had fought against the United States and lived to tell his tale. With a tinge of bitterness about the war’s outcome, Summers told Tu, “You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield.” Tu replied, in a phrase that perfectly captured the American misunderstanding of the Vietnam War, “That may be so, but it is also irrelevant.”

Today, in Iraq, we face a similar conundrum. Our vaunted military has won every battle against insurgents and militias—from the march up to the “thunder runs” that took Baghdad; the assaults on Fallujah to the battles for Sadr City. And yet we still find ourselves stuck in the sands of Mesopotamia. In a New York Times op-ed published Monday, Brookings Institution scholars Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack argue that “[w]e are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.” They go on to describe the myriad ways the surge is succeeding on the security front. But in emphasizing this aspect of current operations, they downplay the more critical questions relating to political progress and the ability of Iraq’s national government to actually govern. Security is not an end in itself. It is just one component, albeit an important one, of a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy. Unless it is paired with a successful political strategy that consolidates military gains and translates increased security into support from the Iraqi people, these security improvements will, over time, be irrelevant.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Why the latest good news from Iraq doesn’t matter. – By Phillip Carter – Slate Magazine

Okay, I’m back on track here. Slate raises two excellent points:

  • Who chose what O’Hanlon and Pollack saw? “Potemkin village” indeed.
  • Carter points out the “fatal flaw” to the argument: that progress is only sustainable at the present troop levels, and that’s not in anyone’s plan.

And that quote from New Republic encapsulates it all, doesn’t it:

We have just plain screwed up too many times.

Our patriotic, courageous and determined children have died by the thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan because those ideologues in the White House, Cheney and Rove and Rumsfeld, have just plain screwed up, over and over and over again.

And Congress continues to dither and fight its internecine battles.

It’s time to make the long march home to sanity.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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One Response to mm094: Point/Counterpoint: A War We Just Might Win – New York Times | Why the latest good news from Iraq doesn’t matter. – Slate Magazine

  1. Amazing blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused .. Any recommendations? Thank you!

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