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« Haganology | Main | Tourgée et al »

Dec 18, 2006


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Does anyone know what the new name will be?

The CA

Do you mean the US is actually reshaping the war? Surely not this administration. They never change tactics.

"Packer says one serious mistake in the larger information war was Bush's appointment of a political operative, Karen Hughes, to a critical information post."

Therefore it must be true. After all, he is a JOURNALIST...and was in the Peace Corp.

So we have an Australian Lt. Colonel and a journalist as our experts.

Day in and day out, Ed Cone looks for a new reason to attack Bush. First Bush won't change, then he has changed too much. Not enough troops, then too many troops. Then it was an information problem, now it's a lack of understanding of Iraqi culture. Anything excuse at all that can remotely be used can and will be used. It doesn't even matter if it is consistent or if there are so many reasons offered to bash Bush that they are incoherent- which means they can't all be true. Don't let that stop you.

What's on the plate for tomorrow? Let's see. Maybe we'll find some journalist or lower ranking military member from Canada who will say the war was botched because the military had the wrong colored uniforms or because Bush didn't understand Iraqi astrology and invaded in the wrong month.

This stuff is becoming a joke.

John D. Young

Our policies in Iraq and throughout the region have done the impossible. They have unified most to resist the American occupation. Many who may have initially welcomed the ouster of Saddam have fled the horror of Iraq.

Ed Cone

Sam, perhaps you should address your concerns about Kilcullen's shaky expertise to the authors of that new Army/Marine counterinsurgency manual -- they'll surely be redfaced when you tell them that they based Appendix A, A Guide for Action, on such a spurious source (see the manual's Source Notes-3: "Appendix A is based on David Kilcullen,'Countering Global Insurgency,' Journal of Strategic Studies").

You might also bring your doubts about Kilcullen to his boss, Hank Crumpton.

You misstate my views (I've never said we have too many troops, for example) and the content of my posts on the work of others (the culture and information problems are part of the same theory, not contradictory items). This really isn't about me, or Bush, it's about wanting our country to have an effective security strategy. I have come to understand that you cannot see beyond a very narrow lens that casts everything as partisan politics, and that you cannot believe that anyone else operates outside of this same worldview, but you might at least get your facts correct.


"What's on the plate for tomorrow? Let's see. Maybe we'll find some journalist or lower ranking military member from Canada who will say the war was botched because the military had the wrong colored uniforms or because Bush didn't understand Iraqi astrology and invaded in the wrong month."

I hear there's going to be a killer interview with the Rumsfeld's Pentagon janitor who will testify about how Rumsfeld threw out all those memos and position papers that the Democrat experts kept sending him!

And then we'll hear from the expert about how all this mess was caused by bad feng shui when Laura Bush last re-arranged the White House furniture!

The CA

My comment was more about your being all over the place on Bush with only one common goal and that is to find criticism. You don't seem to care about the quality of the advice given Bush as long as it is critical. All of these critics can't be right at the same time especially when their advice and complaints are contradictory - but that doesn't seem to matter to you.

The bit about partisanship is just a way for you to try and discredit me without dealing with the post (which I'm sure you'll use as a smart comment soon along the lines of "Sam you already discredited yourself when you...") and what it says about the irrationalism behind the constant Bush bashing. You are the one who loses credibility when you try to play out every little battle as opposed to making better and more consistent points on a few larger areas of disagreement. If General Mills said the Bush policy has been a failure because he concentrated too much on Northern Iraq, you would highlight that. If two weeks later, General Electric said the Bush policy was a failure because he concentrated too much on Southern Iraq, you would highlight that- even though they both can't be right. The only criteria on your list is that they are critical. That's why it appears as petty partisanship. At the very least, it is inconsistent and unprincipled.

You end up talking in circles with your list of "100 things Bush has done wrong in Iraq" subtitled "At least half are impossibilities like having too many troops and not enough at the same time".

Ed- answer this simple question- Why has the Iraq War been a failure? All you do day in and day out is write about some critic saying Bush should have done this or Bush didn't do that even if they are contradictory. So rather than deal with all of the advice that Bush didn't follow- why don't you tell me what has been the result of Bush's stupidity. What exactly is the failure in Iraq and how is it measured?

Ed Cone

I guess Kilcullen does janitorial work and feng shui consulting when not producing work that is credited by the authors of the new Army/Marine counterinsurgency manual as the basis of the section of the manual called A Guide for Action.

You know what's great?

Knowing that you both will come back soon and say, oops, maybe we should have done five minutes worth of research before posting these shoot-the-messenger comments, I guess the joke is on us...and then go on to address the substance of the post.

The CA

The sole substance of the Killcullen mention is that he is critical of Bush for using the term "war on terror". So now the war has come down to linguistics. You are overstating what he said as part of your post with whatever credentials he has elsewhere. You don't even link his comments to the relevance of the rest of your post- and what good are they anyhow? Are we supposed to believe that we are losing the war in Iraq as you claim because of the WORDS Bush used? If that's so, how important are the other 99 reasons you give for losing the war?

Like I said before, they can't all be true. You don't even care that they can't all be true. And the petty critical stuff you come up with to add to your list is becoming predictable, incredible and pathetic.

Ed Cone

Anyone can scroll up the thread and see that your comment was largely about discrediting Kilcullen (and Packer), Sam. It's what Bubba picked up on. You also put words in my mouth that I did not say. Own it, or back off it, but don't pretend you didn't say it.

My critique of Iraq has been consistent, on the big picture -- a flawed case for war, no planning for an insurgency, misreading the reaction of the populace to our presence -- and on the specifics, including disbanding the army, not enough troops, etc.

This critique is hardly unique to me. You did catch the part where Rumsfeld was forced out, didn't you?

I really don't understand your position. Either the war is going pretty well by historical standards, or it's not. If you think it's the former, make your case (and send word to Bush, his team has been saying things are not going well). If not, then doesn't the buck stop with the Decider?


"I guess the joke is on us...and then go on to address the substance of the post."

No, you just missed the point.....or misrepresented it.

With you, it's sometimes hard to figure out which is correct.

The CA

"Anyone can scroll up the thread and see that your comment was largely about discrediting Kilcullen (and Packer), Sam."

Nope. The point of my comments were to discredit you for constantly bringing up every little criticism of the war on Iraq regardless of whether it is consistent with your previous criticisms or not. I made this same point on your post from two days ago about the war. You have yet to address this, but more importantly you haven't answered my question- You are so big on pointing out the criticisms of the President in Iraq but can't seem to in your own words explain why you believe the war has been a failure. What has failed? How, when and why?

It is your position that I don't understand- the war is a failure, you just can't explain how? "Because there is an insurgency" is not an analysis, so you'll have to do better than that. That also begs the question "so what?" How is that a sign of failure? Some specifics from you would be nice.

You are the one bitching about the failure all the time, perhaps you should explain it better yourself rather than relying on every quote that comes down the pike offering advice and criticism. Go back to my example of the two Generals- they both can't be right, but that won't stop you. If you want to call it a failure- explain how you define failure and how this war fits into that definition. "Lack of planning", etc are not the same thing as failure, so please don't tread out those tired criticism and instead focus on the real question I have asked rather than your criticism of the strategy.

Ed Cone

Sam, sweetheart, get over me. I'm no good for you.

I could disappear tomorrow, and the situation Bush has put this country in would not change a bit.

The post above is about trying come up with a better global strategy than the one Bush has been pursuing. If you want to argue that our strategy does not need changing, have at it.

If you want to argue that changes are needed, but not the ones suggested in the post, feel free.

But it's not about me, Sammy. Never was.

In Iraq, we're pinned down in a civil war that threatens to widen into a regional war. The country we aimed to pacify and make a bulwark of stability is not pacified or stable. Our military resources are stretched thin and our strategic options limited. Our credibility has been tattered. We've been in Iraq longer than we were in WWII, with no positive end in sight.

The missteps that led to this failure have been discussed here in detail, no matter how many times you say they have not. They've also been discussed pretty much everywhere else.

If you would like to make a case that things have in fact gone well in Iraq, please do so. If you would like to make the case that things have not gone well but, hey, it's not really anyone's fault, well, pixels are free.

If you don't want to make either of those arguments, then what are you going on about?

The CA

Let's deal with what I guess are your reasons for claiming the war is a failure one by one:

1) "In Iraq, we're pinned down in a civil war that threatens to widen into a regional war."

How are we pinned down and what evidence do you have that the war in Iraq is "threatened to widen" and how strong is that evidence? If we get "unpinned" is it still a failure? At what point did it become a failure because we are "pinned down" assuming we are?

2) "The country we aimed to pacify and make a bulwark of stability is not pacified or stable."

It's not stable because there is violence in Bagdad? There is violence in Los Angeles, too. But putting that aside, and conceding that the country is not stable- how is that a failure? When was it supposed to have become stabilized? Who's timetable are we on and where did it come from? The situation in Israel is not stable either. That conflict has been going on for 50 years, so I suppose that the state of Israel has been a failure as well.

3) "Our military resources are stretched thin and our strategic options limited."

I agree that the military is stretched, but as much as I hate to say because of the predictable response- Mr. Clinton had a lot to do with that. As to the second part, how can you say the options are limited when every day you trot out some new person to complain about Bush and show what he should have done or should do. There are plenty of options. Choosing the ones that will work is the task. Even so, how does few options translate into failure? Isn't the outcome (meaning what happens in the END) what is important?

4) "Our credibility has been tattered." That is a separate, highly debatable issue, but even assuming it is true, how does this translate into failure in Iraq?

5) "We've been in Iraq longer than we were in WWII, with no positive end in sight." We have been there slightly longer. We don't have the whole Russian Army to help us out. The nature of the enemy is different as is the technology of war. What would a positive end be?

So suffice it to say that you still haven't defined failure or explained how we have failed. In Vietnam, we lost. We went there to fight the communists, and they won. We left, and they took over. That is an example of failure. Make the same argument for Iraq if you believe it is a failure. What did we lose/are losing?

I have never said this war was a complete and utter success. You by contrast, view it as an abject failure but can't seem to give a specific reason(s) why beyond mentioning strategies you don't like or timelines that are too slow. You can't seem to quantify your disgust in any meaningful way. Instead, you say things like "it's a failure because we didn't have enough troops" or "it's a failure because people don't like us". Both miss the point and present a false argument. If we went into Iraq with "enough" troops but still lost the war, then you would have a point. But merely not having "enough" troops is not failure.

At the end of the day, there is a goal(s) to reach. If we don't reach those goals, then we will have failed in some of them. You ignore the goals and argue about the strategy when the game isn't over yet.

What makes it worse is that you argue against the strategy at every opportunity as long as it is critical. So what is it Ed, more troops or less? What is the reason we are failing Ed? Every day you come up with something new as if everyone making a claim is right- even when they conflict with your other posted remarks. You find any reason you can to label the war a failure and appear to have adopted all of them without any real original thought of your own. If it's critical of Bush, that's good enough for you.

The CA

We had a war. It lasted more than one day. People died. Therefore, the war was a failure.

That seems to be the thinking around here.

David Hoggard

Sam is going on about, again and again, the point that he doesn't like anything you have to say, Ed.

He has made it his life's mission to hang on, and criticize, your every word and it is TIRESOME.

I thought your post was informative and your analysis of the situation on the ground in D.C. quite reasonable.

Sam is, again, attacking the messenger and closing his ears to the message. Bubba is, again. playing Tonto to Sam's Ranger

Did I mention it is all very TIRESOME?

Ed Cone

I'm at a loss, Sam. You continue to put words in my mouth, and to ignore the substance of the post and its context. You are yelling, not conversing.

You also seem to operating from a fairly limited dataset on widely-discussed news stories and analysis. Comparing Baghdad to Los Angeles, demanding to know where I'm getting these wild ideas about fears of a wider regional war...how does one even respond to that?

"When was it supposed to have become stabilized? Who's timetable are we on and where did it come from?" Uh -- summer of 2003, according to the Bush admin.

And so on.

And all along, assertions that criticism of the war is based on dislike of Bush, and not a hint of understanding that criticism of Bush might be based on dismay with what he's actually done. I would like to be happy with the way he's conducted our foreign policy since about Jan '02. I'm not.


"Bubba is, again. playing Tonto to Sam's Ranger."

Sure Sancho....whatever you say.

Or am I confusing you with Roch?

David Hoggard

No, Bub... you are just confused in general.

Fred Gregory

Yo! David and others who missed it the first time..What Danny Bonaduce said to John Conner of TheResistanceManifesto:


The CA

"I thought your post was informative and your analysis of the situation on the ground in D.C. quite reasonable."

Except that it is yet another reason that Bush screwed up the war in Ed's mind. Ed can't seem to make up his mind about what the failure is or what the cause of the failure is, so he just posts any excuse that comes along the pike. That's not analysis and that is what is tiresome. But it's his blog so I guess that's just how it is.

"He has made it his life's mission to hang on, and criticize, your every word and it is TIRESOME."

The problem with that theory Hoggard is that if you read my own blog, there are plenty of stories that have nothing to do with Ed, and on this blog there are plenty of comments that have nothing to do with Ed. Funny also how you don't seem worn out by the cabal here and on my blog that have made it their life's mission to criticize my every word.

If I am to understand you correctly, the problem you have with my comments on this topic is that they are all about Ed as opposed to the substance. Well, how can you have a substantive conversation with someone who's life mission is to oppose Bush at every turn, consistent or not? That doesn't seem to be a problem with you, and all I have done is point out the futility and lack of substance involved in dealing with such a person. I'm sorry that is too complicated for you to understand. A person has no convictions if they believe in everything. That's what is going on here, and it goes directly to the substance. One day it 's too many troops, the next day not enough, etc. Is that a substantive position? Isn't it fair to question such a person? Did I not ask Ed to elaborate on his definition of failure and to explain how what the many anti-Bush statements he posts support the notion of failure as well as explain how contradictory causes can simultaneously be true? That's like believing in creationism and evolution at the same time- at the very least, such a person should be able to explain this. Otherwise, they are just complaining for the sake of complaining which is exactly what you accused me of.

Every day it's something new- a new accusation about how Bush has screwed things up. Nevermind whether a totally different reason was given the day before. So which theory does Ed believe? He can't even finish the simple sentence "the war is a failure because..." All he does is say "troop levels" or something else, but doesn't explain how that causes the failure he claims day in or day out. Lately, the theories are getting even more numerous and odd, not to mention petty. Ed complains because things haven't been perfect, but never says how things should have gone and why they didn't go that way. He simply has no criteria to measure. Every time I ask him for specifics, he gets smart and starts complaining about me and resorting to more generalities like "there's an insurgency". Okay, how is the fact that there is an insurgency mean the war is a failure? How is it Bush's fault that there was an insurgency? He faults Bush because the war isn't perfect while never explaining what his definition of success is and why his definition is the correct one. It's nothing but criticism over and over again, often inconsistent criticism at that.

Somehow this is my fault for pointing this out. Somehow I'm just trying to cause trouble for trying to pin him down on a position and asking him to explain it in a way that makes sense. The complete lack of understanding about causal relationships in arguments on this blog is often stunning and unbelievable to me when dealing with supposedly educated people.

The CA

Ed, again you attempt to refute me with a "state the obvious" approach. I.E., how do I know the war is a failure? Because all of these people say it is. Everyone knows it's been a failure, therefore I need not explain it.

That gets you off the hook without having to answer the question.

As far as your response about timetables- see my response above about how you contradict yourself on one things. You complain that Bush has been to stubborn, yet if he had stuck the timetable you mention in the first post, the situation would be worse. Is that what you want? This also illustrates the contradictions in your comments, and shows that Bush hasn't been stubborn as you claim because he did change as the situation called for it. Apparently, not fast enough for you, so it begs the question- What should he have done differently and when should he have done it? That's the timeline I am referring to.

You use the fact that he changed strategies to beat him up, while simultaneously beat him up for not changing strategies to satisfy you. Yet, you can't even say how, why and when he should have changed his plan and how such things would have resulted in a satisfactory manner. In short, you complain a lot but can't connect the cause and effect dots of your own arguments. There was no "stay the course" the way you define it. Your own quote above shows that. Can you complete this sentence: "If we had sent more troops (provide number of troops) in (provide Cone timetable), the result would have been (fill in desireable Cone outcome)". Try that instead of complaining about troops etc without applying them to your nebulous solution and desired outcome. It's called a "causal relationship" and is a fundamental part of any defensible argument.


I hope that I am wrong...but I think Bush (or we) attacked the wrong country.

My prediction is that in years to come we will look back and say why did we not see Iran as the much larger threat to world peace?

Percy Walker

When talking about whether things were bungled, it isn't just about whether our goals are achieved; it's about whether they are achieved at an acceptable cost. What we have spent in lives and money and good will is not worth what we have achieved so far and, to many people, what we have spent already far outweighs what we had even hoped to achieve.

Why don't you just defend the war, CA? Ed has pointed to what others have written who have thought longer and harder about these issues than either you or he have, and, to my mind, he has answered your challenges with respect to his own views. Yet, you keep asking for more specifics. For the life of me I don't know why.

Kirk D.

Here is just one of the many reasons why we are losing the war in Iraq. Others include not shutting down the flow of money to the insurgents from Saudi Arabia and Iran, allowing blatant and rampant corruption within the elected government, not giving all factions of the country an equal voice in their government and oh yeah, the close to 3,000 dead and over 50,000 wounded American Soldiers.

Ed Cone

Sam, you continue to misstate my positions. I have not argued that we have too many troops, for example. You are making up contradictions to my own point of view and then attributing them to me.

I oppose the conduct of this war because it has been unsuccessful. You say it's just Bush-bashing. You try to steer the conversation into a swamp of argument by demanding information on widely-discussed issues, making ludicrous comparisons (LA and Baghdad) and throwing out sweeping and easily refuted generalizations about what I've said on these subjects.

What you don't do is make any actual arguments that the war has been conducted well.

Your only response to the substantive post at the top of this thread was an attempt to discredit Kilcullen. That ended embarassingly for you, and you didn't even have the guts to own up to it. Deny it all you want; it's right here in the comments.

The problem you have here is that the war is happening in the real world. It's not a rhetorical game. It's not about your bizarre hard-on for me.

You can assert that the reaction to a gross miscalculation on the war's duration equals strategic flexibilty, and you can shout that I'm a terrible hypocritical inconsistent Bush-bashing meanie, but it doesn't change the facts on the ground.

That's too bad. I'd rather lose a blog war than real war. I guess you get to do both.

The CA

There you go again Ed, saying things like "I oppose the conduct of this war because it has been unsuccessful" but refusing to define success. You do this all the time with things when you talk about "failure" etc, but refuse to explain what that means to you and instead argue about methodology.

Anyone who reads you long enough or wants to search through your archives will easily see that you consistently point out criticisms of the war in Iraq even if they are contradictory as I have illustrated above. How do you explain this, Ed? Do you deny the fact that if one Bush critic said we didn't have enough troops, you would print that and hit Bush with it, while if another said we had too many troops you would print that and hit Bush with it? Do you deny that if 20 people gave 20 reasons for the as yet undefined "failure" in Iraq that you would find a way to support each theory even if they couldn't all coexist? And yet you want to accuse me of rhetorical games when that is what you are doing by adopting every anti-Bush position that comes down the pike regardless of whether it makes sense. Your failure to define victory and success is deliberate. It prevents you from ever having to say you were wrong if it is accomplished. Remember above when you said "it's about wanting our country to have an effective security strategy" but fail to offer what you believe such a strategy should be? It's just empty rhetoric.

That's what the substance of my comments have been, not this bit about Kilcullen for which you claim some kind of victory which has nothing to do with the point I was making. The Kilucullen thing was about you finding yet another excuse to blame Bush for something, this time something as stupid and petty as using the "war on terror" as if that has caused the problems in Iraq. Kilcullen doesn't even make a strong argument. There is no embarassment here or being "wrong" (in what way, Ed?). You just chose to say this because you've failed to deal with what I have really been talking about and continue to do so.

You are really beginning to believe your little cabal of Cone worshippers if you think I have a hard on for you. You just can't take the criticism so you and they try to turn it into some bizarre obsession theory that isn't borne out by the facts.

As far as your last comment goes, I never see you posting on my site and addressing the points made there, so it's hard for you to claim victory in a blog war when you are afraid to step outside of your own little world and comfort zone. This isn't about you and me anyhow Ed, as much as your ego would like to think so.

Further, my offer still stands- anytime you want to debate in person, face to face, on any topic- just let me know when and where and we will see who wins the war if you insist on believing in your own superiority in this fictional war you have created.

So much for your civility talk, huh, Ed? You are a phony.

Kirk, you make the same mistake Ed does. You mention a list of things that you say are problems but don't show how they translate into losing the war. Here's a hint: Define losing the war first, and then explain how the things you mention are related to losing the war. It's simple cause and effect. It is a concept that obviously terrifies Ed because he refuses to illustrate it despite my repeated requests. Don't accept style over substance, which is what Ed would prefer because then you don't have to think about the flaws in his logic and presentation.

Percy, where did Ed answer my questions with regard to his own personal views and how does that jibe with the adoption of all the other anti-Bush views he puts out every day?

Ed Cone

Again, Sam, this is all happening in the real world, not at my blog.

The Bush administration defined the terms of success: finding WMD; drawing down forces quickly; fostering a stable, democratic Iraq; and building on the momentum from Afghanistan in a global fight against terrorists.

The first two did not happen. The third is in serious doubt, and the fourth has at best not had a good few years.

I think the Decider is accountable for his actions.

I don't think a lot of the things you continue to asribe to me. At some point, after specifics have been pointed out to you repeatedly, your misstatements begin to look more like outright lies.

I continue to be puzzled by your blustery calls for a debate, when we are debating right here.

Also, your latest opus does a great job of debunking the Sam's-weird-hard-on-for-Ed theory.

The CA

Finally, you provide some glimmer of your definition of success that can be debated. That leaves us with the causation problems. Obviously, the use of the term "war on terror" played no role in whether there were WMD, or drawing down forces quickly or anything else you mentioned as not having been achieved...except the last sentence- "and building on the momentum from Afghanistan in a global fight against terrorists." Sounds eerily close to "war on terror" to me. Kind of undermines your whole argument about semantics in this post and the one about Rumsfeld a few days ago when you use terms so close to the one you criticize.

We may agree that the war has not been a complete success this far. How successful, we probably differ greatly. None the less, my issue has been how the items you complain about daily are related to that success/failure. As I just demonstrated, your argument about words and phrases that started this thread have yet to be linked at all to success or failure despite my repeated attempts to get you to do so. Same thing with a lot of your other criticisms.

Nobody is lying here, Ed. I have made a pretty basic request for you to define terms and then show how your criticism relates to the terms you define. I have also asked you to explain how contradictory explanations for the as yet undefined "failure" can all be true, and if they can't, why do you post them anyway? Go back to my fake Generals above if you can't understand this.

We have agreed in the past about whether the war was a wise decision and on other positions regarding the war, so for you or anyone else to argue that I am just out to get you or pick a fight is disingenuous and false.

As far as the debate goes, there is a whole different dynamic to a live debate than a written one. You have a whole lot less room to maneuver and avoid questions or switch topics. My frequent call for such a thing is only in response to your repeated claims of "victory" which are not only self-serving but also easy to claim from behind a keyboard. It's like playing video boxing and then saying "Hey I beat you on the video game, why should I fight you in real life?".

In any case, there is no "hard on" for Ed Cone, but your use of the term says a lot about your psychology. It is clear that once again you have chosen to make this about me instead of dealing with what I have said. Apparently, anyone who makes an in depth challenge to Ed Cone's reasoning must have an obsession with him. Sounds like you have a hard on for Bush by those standards.


Since we can't ungenocide a bunch of Aryan browns or unplunder 10 trillion dollars, we should continue the mathematical pursuit of moral perfection. If two wrongs don't make a right, just pile on the wrongs to infinity and by some yet to be discovered unnatural law, right will be done. This is the method of all states and statists. Both sides use the method whenever it suits them. Looks like it's working real good.

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