27 April 2007

Bill O'Reilly drinks Kool Aid, finds it yummy

Last night, on the Mr. Bill show, we got a look at the mind of Mr. O'Reilly as he not only decided to indulge in Kool Aid but add a lovely word to the 'Culture Warrior' lexicon: defeat. Somehow I just can't see 'traditionalists' liking that idea nor looking to embrace it with any great degree of love and caring. He has decided to actually agree that questioning the Iraq war was 'right' with respect to Bill Moyers - Bill O'Reilly now *agrees* with that. He does state that in the 26 APR 2007 Talking Points Memo. One does question this from the very same man who, on 07 FEB 2007 put forward this:

Nearly every intelligence agency on this earth believed Saddam had an arsenal of deadly weapons. But poor WMD intelligence doesn't excuse the poor post Saddam planning by the Bush administration or the failure of the Iraqis to put aside ancient hatreds and work together for freedom. — That combination, poor planning with hatred on the part of the Iraqis might doom Iraq.
Yes, nearly every INTEL Agency on the planet believed this, including UK, France, Russia, China, Israel. Given the stocks of weapons, the amount of raw material and the processing facilities that were THEN in-place at the end of Desert Storm, there was no question of Saddam's capability to research, make and produce chemical weapons if not more. In point of fact there are numerous citations that I rounded up in this post. This sort of information garnered AFTER a war in which individuals of the prior regime and the documents of that regime are available was something that NO INTEL Agency on the planet could accomplish in any way, shape or form. No *journalist* could either. The folks at Regime of Terror continue to hound down documents, interviews, citations and the such like so that a fuller understanding of what Saddam's regime *was* doing can be seen.

What Bill Moyers and other Leftists are looking for is to enforce some sort of 'perfect world' standard on wars, as seen in this post on Dan Froomkin encouraging journalists to break the code of standards and ethics at the WaPo, and giving terrorists a full panoply of rights after waging illegitimate war. Saddam aided such organizations and utilized them in attacks against the West and in other ways to have the West remove restrictions on trade with his regime. That lovely world got us to 9/11. I have some news for Bill O'Reilly: there is no such thing as absolute certainty on *anything* in the INTEL Community, just levels of confidence. If you wish a scientific rendition of facts so as to make something lock-solid, you may forget about it as that is not possible in this world of ours. NO INTEL on the planet is 100% right in all ways after it has been gathered and cast with other pieces of INTEL. That is a world of uncertainty and judging risks and the INTEL Communities do not, by and large, give much credence to the blustering and dissembling of tyrants, dictators and genocidal rulers.

For damned good reason: it can get you killed if you DO.

On post-war plans, none of them from DoD, CIA, State... you name the group and its pre-war plan would have fallen into complete shambles as the single, salient thing that they all depended upon was some part of the regime staying around. Anyone, really. I went over that problem with this post on why the 'oil drop' could not work. This has been *confirmed* by two journalistic sources that have been on the ground in Iraq: Michael Ware and John Burns. Particularly troubling is Mr. Ware's citation of the Iraqi WMD industry being *mothballed*, which more commonly refers to being stored someplace so that it can be restarted later. That, in point of fact is the most displeasing thing coming from Mr. Ware, beyond the harsh contradictions between his ideology and his experiences. From both of these men we get a view of a regime that disappeared and in a scatter-shot way, picked up its terrorizing again. That simple disappearance of governmental structure by those in power just upping and leaving, brought the entire thing down. Because we had such poor interior HUMINT in Iraq before the war, like most other Nations, we had no idea as to the truly horrific conditions Saddam was subjecting his people to. And Saddam had *videos* of torture and killing sessions made to distribute to the population so they KNEW what would happen to them if any crossed the regime.

Do that to a society for three decades and tell me what it looks like. Then include the harsh factionalization that is typical of such Arab regimes. No, I'm afraid that Mr. O'Reilly and the Left are a bit too caught up in decrying poor INTEL and that the journalistic segment was and IS doing nothing to remedy the problem. To date we still have no organization, no group, no news channel, no documentary, nothing that looks at the problems in Iraq as they came about and *why* the place was the particular kind of hellhole it was. Because doing so would show the bankruptcy of those that have attempted to paper over this with ideological venom, and the true vacancy of 20th century 'Realism' and our understanding of post-war situations. By not doing that the PRESS is at fault for not serving its educational and background purposes, to help place the present in context of the past. Instead ideological diatribes continue ever onwards and no one dares to actually address the problems of the Middle East without some sort of rose-colored lens arrangement.

But that was just the START of Mr. O'Reilly's inanity last night. Thank you to Hot Air for posting up the *other* segment that really takes the cake. In that segment Mr. Bill had on Ms. Rend Al-Rahim is the Executive Director and co-founder of the The Iraqi Foundation. Mr. Bill was ready to hit her with prime Defeatocrat work, with the recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll as ammunition. Now as that report is still under wraps at NBC and WSJ, what can be done is to look at the summary data at a place like Pollingreport - Iraq polls. Politicians love polls as do television commentators and such, because they can be used to 'gauge public opinion'. Thusly, Mr. Bill now feels it high time to add in his grand idea to 'Traditional Values' that *not* supporting democracy and helping people who had been under the boot of a tyrant for decades, IS a traditional value:
I really hate to say this, because I really wanted your country to have a shot at democracy, but I don't think its gonna happen. And if I were an Iraqi Citizen right now I would do everything I could to get out of there. Because I don't think the Iraqi People have stepped up enough to help the American forces control the fanatics and the killers. The Kurds in the north, they're doing very well, they banded together. And Kuwait in the south has a Shia-Sunni mixture and they're doing very well. But for some reason, Madam, the Iraqi People are putting up with this terrorism and its going to lead to even more terrorism, am I wrong?
Yes, that 'Culture Warrior' also adds in the concept of comparing a small nation with limited territory, that you could easily lose in parts of Iraq to that of a much larger Nation. Perhaps he will next opine that Italians can't get the hang of stable government and he wouldn't be able to understand that because the Vatican CAN. Yes, those 2.4 million Kuwaitis living on 17,820 sq. km., which is about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island, can show how easy it is to those 26.78 million Iraqis living on 437,072 sq. km, which is a bit larger than California. And Kuwait hasn't had a vicious and brutal dictator killing them off for 30 years, but did get the lovely opportunity to get INVADED by Saddam's Iraq. The Kurds to the north, in case it escaped Mr. Bill, happen to have a strong ethnic tradition of success and have had over a DECADE of safe haven from the tyrant Saddam.

I guess the rest of Iraq doesn't deserve that much time, according to Mr. Bill.

Then he is told that the People of Iraq are, indeed, stepping up to problems, informing on terrorists, leading soldiers to weapons caches and terrorists, and working hard and risking their lives to do so. From that Mr. Bill starts to opine some *more*:
O: All right. We see...[cross talk]... we hear that...

R: We have seen an improvement.

O: We hear that, but we see the body count every day. You know there are either more terrorists in Iraq than in any other country on the face of the earth has ever seen. Or the Iraqi People simply aren't doing what they should. As you know, no insurgency can exist unless the population tolerates it. That's what happened in Northern Ireland. It got to the point where the Northern Irish said 'no more' and it stopped. Here you got the Sunnis and the Shia, they hate each other, they're bombing each other. It doesn't seem to me that they're gonna stop. And we can't make them.
Oh, my! Such a lovely example of an ISLAND Nation finally wanting to stop terrorism. Plus he pulls the old Maoist 'fish hiding in the school of fishes' bit. Of course it would be wonderful if there were a civil society that recognizes civil government, but Mr. Bill seems to have forgotten that for 30 years and more it was the rule of a dictator that worked hard to put people who had little in common together so as to play them off against each other and start breaking down communities and instill fear of government. Just what he wanted. Northern Ireland is so like that, isn't it? Dictatorial rule for decades on end by a single leader? No democracy or even memory of it there? Society torn apart and individuals videotaped as they were fed into plastic shredders feet first? Yes, Northern Ireland is just *so* like Iraq.

And some of that Mr. Bill even recognizes, but when he asks about how Saddam controlled the terrorism, even *I* can answer that: those that he did not invite in and train he simply executed via his multiple secret police organizations and the Republican Guards and various other paramilitaries that he had. His sons *also* had a few of their OWN secret police and paramilitaries, too. So abusing Iraq and using the Nation as a personal plaything was a 'family affair'.

Perhaps Mr. Bill just doesn't understand the concept of: Police State?

Tyrannical Dictator?

Really I have trouble describing the exact sort of leader that would order open execution of his political enemies, have that filmed and then run that on the nightly news and in theaters. One can find the videos out there, but I will not point anyone to such sickness and cruelty, lest they get a fine idea to start doing that *here*.
That works. Terror works. Terror works to destable... terror works to keep this madman in power. But look... you're an American citizen now. Look at it from our point of view, we're losing very fine Americans in the desert in a country that does not appreciate it. All the polls say the same thing. We got more than 10,000 wounded that are gonna feel those wounds the rest of their life. We have more than that... but I'm talkin about really severe wounds. You know... Americans say 'enough'. We gave you blood and treasure, we did everything we could and the Iraqi People are sittin there and watchin this garbage go on, and they're not joining with us in enough numbers to make a difference. And that is why you got 55% of the country goin 'get out'.
Why yes, Mr. Bill, terrorism does work so long as it is applied day after day, year on year without end. Works quite well, actually. And the moment you give up, you give up your rights because you are too terrified to do anything. It is very strange to put that context out and then point to 55% of Americans who CANNOT TAKE IT. Then Mr. Bill goes on to pontificate a bit on defeat, so that it can be excused:
Its most serious for the Iraqi People. See, we'll recover from this. It was the *wrong* battlefield. It was. And there's no gettin around that. We made a mistake. Alright. But when we pull back as the next President... Bush will keep them there as long as he's in office. That'll happen. But the next President isn't going to do it, Madam Ambassador. And unless the Iraqi People get the urgency of the situation, there gonna be a lot more dead people in the street.


Sometimes you have to retreat, regroup and come back.

Come back?

Just like we did for South Vietnam?

Have some Kool Aid, Mr. Bill. You deserve it.

Oh, Yeaaah!

On the day of 26 APR 2007, Mr. Bill is giving up. That is 1498 days since the start of fighting in Iraq. Time to take a look at wars in the past that Mr. Bill *could* have supported to their end, which I take from my previous article on Wars long, wars short: Quasi-War with France, The War of 1812, Mexican-American War, actual *war* part of the Philippine-American War but not the insurgency part, The Boxer Rebellion, World War I for the active US fighting, World War II, The Korean War, The Gulf War.

Now for those that he could NOT have gotten through with American blood and treasure being spent...

The Revolutionary War. So sorry, Mr. Bill, you would be a Loyalist... or turncoat.
The Barbary Wars. Islam over O'Reilly!
Northwest Indian War. Running back to civilization already?
The US Civil War. Bill O'Reilly, Copperhead.
Westward Indian Wars, cumulative. How the West wasn't worth it, I guess.
The full Philippine-American War. Islam over O'Reilly!
The Vietnam War. Groovy, huh?

And as I have had to go over casualty figures for a few things, lets take a look at where we stand, which is 3335, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty site, using only US casualties up to the 26th, which compares with the following:

Alcohol related vehicle deaths - about 17,000 per year. All voluntary.
All automobile deaths - about 42,000 per year.
South Fork dam collapse of 1889 - 2,200 dead.
The 1906 Earthquake and fire in San Francisco - between 700 and 3,000 dead.
1918 Spanish Influenza - 500,000 dead in the US *alone*.
Peshtigo, Wisconsin fire of 1851 - 1,500 dead... which is a lot for the size of the Nation then.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1881 - 2,200 dead.
Galveston Hurricane of 1900 - between 6,000 and 8,000 dead.
Steamboat Sultana explosion of 1865 - 1,547 dead, most of those wounded Union veterans returning home.
Septicemia, year 2000 - 31,224 dead. The #9 cause of overall death in 2000.

From the NIH at the Septicemia page: "Appropriate treatment of localized infections can prevent septicemia."

Yes, clean your cuts and scrapes as you can die from having the infect. In large numbers, every single year, Americans die, voluntarily, from neglect. Neglecting themselves. And not doing what they should have learned to do at age 5. Absolutely voluntary, not cleaning one's cuts and scrapes. I am sure quite a few people do that all the time.

The certainly do die from it.

And the estimated cost of the war is $456 billion for FY 07. Sounds like a lot, huh?

That is LESS than the Merchandise Trade Deficit the US ran up importing more than we export, which was $750 billion (thanks to the CIA Factbook). With an economy of just about $13 trillion. So add Iraq and the Trade Deficit TOGETHER and you are still not at 10% of the US economy. And with a 3.4% growth rate the US added another $442 billion dollars to the size of the economy during 2006. Yes, you read that right: the 3.4% economic expansion basically OFFSETS the cost of the war in Iraq. That 3.4% is *conservative* and may actually be HIGHER by a fair margin.

So there you have the Iraq War from Mr. O'Reilly's point of view.

A war that is offset by economic growth, that has so few casualties that a simple 10% of Americans taking better care of themselves would offset it per year, every year, and a length longer than most modern conflicts, but not all... and nothing compared to some of the things the US has gone through previously.

Obviously way too much for America.

Now about that Avian Flu... shall we surrender now?


The Mechanical Eye said...


This is similar to what I would have written as early as a year ago.

Forgive me, but I have lost faith in the Iraq War and George W. Bush in particular.

While you cite that most intelligence services around the world believed Iraq had WMD, there was considerable doubt as to the amount and the capability. Saddam's WMDs were further in doubt once the U.N. inspections were redeployed -- do you recall the hated John Ritter, who became the Cassandra of the Iraq War in explaining that Saddam no longer had WMD?

We simply assumed, and lazily went from there.

We can also talk about Saddam's tyranny, which no sane person denys. So why can't we point out how miserable many Iraqis are today precisely due to our inaction after the war? As bad as a despot is, people are even worse under complete anarchy, where they have to deal with not one but many tyrants.

What we have replaced Saddam with is hardly an improvement, as much as I wish it were. On the right of your blog is a link to the U.S. Constitution -- nothing resembling it controls the Iraq government. Instead, the Iraqi must concern himself with tribal and sectarian divisions and warfare.

Worse is your blithe comparisons to automobile deaths in the US. I recall the same numbers being argued to downplay 9/11. Deaths through accident, I assure you, do not have the same affect as deliberately planned deaths, or deaths as the result of a planned blooming of democracy in the middle east.

What you have done here, I'm afraid, is merely encapsulate a lot of the more emotional pre-war arguments that I once found so convincing. Today, in the face of every failure, mismanagement, and downright falsehood used to defend, support, and conduct the war, I find it increasingly strange how many people still cling to the same "facts" to bolster an unpopular screw up of a war.


A Jacksonian said...

DU - I do understand where you are coming from.

Here is the conundrum: if what John Ritter or Hans Blix said was true, then how did they find that out? What makes them reliable sources? INTEL is *not* the science of absolutes, but the art of what is possible and probable. On nearly any INTEL report you can dig and find naysayers, that is not the problem. The problem is deciding where to put your trust.

We knew Saddam had WMDs, industry capable of creating sampe, phosphate deposits to make more, refining capability to power it, and, in general, appeared to be keeping that all working. The Clinton Administration put no effort into HUMINT in Iraq and so we are left with IMINT, SIGINT, ELINT and MASINT. Finding someone *right* on anything, ex-post facto, is no assurance that they *will* be right the next time. In particular Ray Robison who was on a number of inspection groups found clear and convincing evidence to him, as an inspector, that Saddam's work went on. Who ya gonna trust? That is what it comes down to. And more importantly, where did that stuff GO? Disposing of toxic chemicals, nerve gas and the such, will leave traces unless done in a thoroughly modern plant which has high levels of safety precautions to it and has a very identifiable footprint to it. Do we take the word of a dictator who claims to have disposed of such? The majority of Saddam's own inner circle actually believed they were *still* making that stuff with only 'Chemical Ali' saying they weren't. Would *you* trust 'Chemical Ali' on anything? A man with no compunctions about killing Kurds by the thousands? Because he is about the only source for that INTEL.

That move away from HUMINT had been going on since the Reagan Administration, which looked for technological solutions over human ones. What replaced it has, obviously, not worked as well and yet no one, D or R addresses that point. The 911 Commission looks for the people to 'connect the dots' and yet they are few, far between and have information with varying degrees of certainty to it. If you want to get better and broader synthesis of INTEL then the entire INTEL Community needs to be changed in structure and outlook. My latest on that is here but I have been saying that both when I was inside the IC and when I first had enough mental wits about me to post on it.

All of that said I never, not once, believed that this conflict would be: 1) easy, 2) quick, and 3) well done.

Those three things have never happened simultaneously on a war of any size having more than 5,000 people involved. NOT EVER.

I did and still do see Iraq as necessary to start addressing the long term things this Nation has neglected to do and as the merest downpayment on trying to finally get things done *right*. You want a long history of failure in the Middle East? Well guess what, the US has messed up badly ever since 1917 and we stopped putting the rights of man FIRST over mere trade. We put two ideas down, via President Wilson and BOTH have failed us completely: 1) trade frees people, 2) international institutions can make global order.

Neither of these works and we have nearly 90 years of failure to demonstate that fact and what happens when America decides to do something *else* beyond supporting liberty and freedom. If these both *worked* the Middle East would be the most free place on the planet. Doesn't look too good from here, does it? This 'doing something else and looking for a perfect world' has neither made it perfect, nicer or more free.

Somewhere in my mass of posts and interlocutions, I put down that I expected the basic fighting to go on for 8-15 years, based on the Philippine and Haiti experiences. You were expecting something else? Mind you, that was the *fighting* part of it, not even trying to get society rebuilt in Iraq on a fast-track timeline. The death toll of that would not be pleasant, but I was prepared for *that*. I look at history as a guide and have yet to see anything in any generation previous to ours that has ever attempted so much in to geographically disparate regions as Afghanistan and Iraq at the *same* time with such a low level of commitment by the Nation to get them done. Frankly I am *amazed* at how well things are going.

In other words I did NOT accept the blithe assertions passed along in 2002-3 nor after 9/11. What has shocked me is that we are in one of the deadliest struggles we will ever face as a Nation because it is an existential one, not a physical one, by and large. Which makes it both harder and more intractable to fight, especially when there are scads pointing out problems and very few pointing to the bright areas and showing that a difference can be made. But then I also see that Iraqi society was, basically, so eroded as to not be there when we got in, which is yet another thing that was missed by all the INTEL and Foreign Services on the planet and almost everyone decrying the place since then. And that is willful blindness by those that want to decry everything so as to not acknowledge the true depth of awfulness of the tyrant that was deposed. If the American people cannot get good information via their mass media and no one indicates such exists then no *wonders* they have lost faith in the idea of universal rights of man. Helps to understand that the foundation of that was worn right out in Iraq *first* before saying how lackluster the people there are.

Iraq is a necessary part of the long-term denial of terrorists safe haven and means to have areas to train in *safely*. You cannot get to a long-term place where curbing terrorism is possible if we fail in Iraq. Denying the central geography of the Middle East that has rich petroleum reserves and serves as the main focal point for overland trade and communications between the Middle and Far East ensures that it will always have underlying money in it. And as it is *also* next to the homeland of two of the most fanatical governments around and they have easy access to it, giving up there because of 'poor performance' is suicidal for the United States as a Nation. It is necessary to achieve something relatively workable there, but not sufficient to the long term goals.

Those are the *facts* as I see them. Probably very pollyannish of me, huh?

That is not buying anyone's line, but looking at the region, its history, and the result of long-term failure of US National and Foreign Policy in a region that we could have actively took a hand in when the cost was far, far cheaper.

We didn't.

Now we *pay* the interest on the butcher's bill that wants to take us back before Westphalia where religious wars killed large swaths of populations.

We have been fighting them the *wrong* way, but it is even more wrong to run in the face of problems as that will not make any of them better and, in point of fact, make them far worse in the long run. And we have forgotten how to properly address the Arts of War to such us these we fight who are no Nation, fly no flag, wear no uniform and wage illegitimate warfare.

This Nation has been in less well run, longer and more expensive wars and has pereservered to continue fighting, accept the cost and acknowledge that we cannot make things perfect but we damned well can make them *better*. When this Nation *stops* standing by fighting for those that have been under the reign of tyranny and terror, that will be the day that we do not deserve our liberty for we will then be actively bringing it to an end. I do not expect a 'blooming of democracy in the Middle East', although that would be a nice outcome. What I do expect is to have Nations that understand that they are ACCOUNTABLE to their Treaties and their Actions. I have written about that as well and that checklist of things to do requires that some of the inane things that have failed us be *stopped*. That, too, is necessary but STILL not sufficient to curbing terrorism on a global scale.

We no longer live in a world where two vast oceans may protect the Nation. Our enemies no longer target the Nation but our will to HAVE a Nation. They seek to erode that will in any way possible and when I hear folks decrying problems in warfare then I do present the simple thing of: tell me what will work better. Telling our enemies we have lost the will to fight doesn't get you from here to there... in point of fact that points to their winning and our losing that will to have a Nation in common.

You want to help Iraqis to fulfill *any* dreams about being able to keep the rights of man as individual? Yeah, their Constitution isn't great, but it is better than what was there before as it puts in a system of accountable governance. Help them at least stand *that* up so we can then talk with them a bit further on better ways to go about it. You know the old: stick around through some nastiness as while the wolves might scratch us some, they will devour these people whole and it doesn't look too good on *us* if we throw them back to the wolves.

Or is not supporting that worth doing?

And if we can't do that in a far off land to show that we mean what we say about those rights, then why on Earth should we believe them HERE?

Think fast! The feedback loop between Vietnam and bin Laden was about 20 years. This promises to be much, much, much shorter if we fail. We will live to regret failure.

You want an easy way out? I don't see one. But I do see the right way to head so that we can, indeed, help to make the world a bit better place and help folks to resist and counter terrorism. But there is going to be quite a bit of blood spilled. The 30 years war knocked out 15-20% of the population of Europe due to just the fighting, not even the plagues and such counted in. I consider that to be a good *minimum* on what will happen if we run this time on just about that same time frame.

Yeah, we're fighting on the cheap and not even using the powers that are vested in Congress to actually have the People address this sort of conflict. Look at the number of dead the last few years.

Then compare that to 9-12 billion dead over 30-50 years if we fail. And no guarantee that we will have any Nation nor Rights of Man as Individual at the end of it. And not an Islamic Empire. Because that is the goal of our enemies.

Best we learn to suck it up and fight in a broader way that involves more of the People and recognizes we will be screwing it up on a long-term basis.

Do you know what the call the last standing Nation to screw up? The winner. We just have to make sure our enemies screw up just once more than we do.

Because that is War.

We have been fighting it on a losing basis since 1917, when we didn't fight.

Does that look like I expect this to go on a short term scale, quickly, easily and buy into every lovely thing I am told?

And I do wish Americans wouldn't volunteer for death by not taking care of themselves. We need every able body we can get *now*. Take care of yourself and don't run with scissors. So long as you are committed to liberty and freedom and understand that it is worth fighting for to the last free man on Earth. When others wish to bring up excuses and bandy about deaths as statistics, then I am more than willing to parse numbers, chop logic and play twisty pretzel games until they can no longer define the inside nor outside of the pretzel. I prefer not to do that, but to those looking to use statistics and foul-ups as *excuses* to run, then throwing some of those same *excuses* back in their face in potent form can help a few of them wake up and realize them for what they are. If they have a shred of honesty about them, that is.

But fighting to that last man is the only statistic that should matter in war. Because nothing else will buy freedom.