Guess Who’s Shrill Now

Guess who said this:

If Bush is re-elected, there are only two possible outcomes in Iraq:

  • Four years from now, America will have 5,000 dead servicemen and women and an untold number of dead Iraqis at a cost of about $1 trillion, yet still be no closer to success than we are right now, or
  • The U.S. will be gone, and we will witness the birth of a violent breeding ground for Shiite terrorists posing a far greater threat to Americans than a contained Saddam.

Nope. Not Howard Dean. Nope not Kerry or Edwards. Nope, not a politician. Not some wild-eyed radical. A military planner: MSNBC – 'Staying the Course' Isn't an Option brings you this radical thought from “Retired Air Force Col. Mike Turner” described as “a former military planner who served on the U.S. Central Command planning staff for operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.”

(ex-Pentagon spotted via Pandagon)

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18 Responses to Guess Who’s Shrill Now

  1. Chris says:

    End-scenario 1 sounds plausible, but what about #2. It almost sounds like the guy’s saying that the US will end in a swarm of turbaned zealots tearing through our streets shooting infidels.

    I can see this plausibly spelling the end of our country in a couple of ways, however.

    1. The national debt. Lots of ways this can mess things up. At some point, our citizens will be paying a lot of taxes on principle and interest, and not getting any services in return; for some reason, people won’t like that scenario. It might cause them to stop paying taxes, or flee somewhere else if the feds outsource tax collection to the Arabs or somebody else (i.e., tax farming). The government might have to sell off public assets to pay down the debt. Maybe China will buy the Mall in Washington, DC. Or perhaps the feds will sell the rights to administer the government to Microsoft. The long-term consequences of the debt have been swept under the rug. Our descendants will curse our names for inflicting the deficit on them.

    2. In their zeal to prosecute the war on terror, Bush-worshippers vote away their civil liberties. In which case, the US loses its identity and may as well have vanished from the face of the earth.

    3. We keep getting hit with hurricanes and tornados and floods, and are battered back into the stone age.

  2. Charles V says:

    Silly Michael…
    It’s obvious that “Retired Air Force Col. Mike Turner” is a Bush-hater. His critical remarks about Bush show clearly that he’s biased against Bush, and thus lacks the credibility to criticise Bush.

  3. Matt Weiner says:

    Chris, I didn’t get that sense about option #2. Turner isn’t saying that the terrorists that will come out of Iraq could end our country; only that they’re more of a threat than Saddam was.

    All that means, I think, is that if Iraq in four years could be like Afghanistan in 2000–an anarchy used as a base for people who want to kill Americans (Shiites instead of Sunnis, though). Since Saddam was in no position to kill Americans at all, this will be a loss to our security.

  4. Chris says:

    That was just what I was trying to figure out. Turner said we could see the end of the US, but I wasn’t exactly sure why he feels that way. The connection between terrorists and the end of the US was implicit in his putting the two ideas in the same bullet point. So he doesn’t come right out and say it, but he must see a connection between the two ideas or he wouldn’t put them together.

    My opinion: Terrorists may cause a lot of havoc, but it usually takes a rebellion or invasion to bring a government down. There aren’t enough muslims here to stage an effective rebellion, and neither do we need fear an invasion armada from Iraq. If our country falls apart, I can think of other more likely reasons–including some that don’t get much press (except for #3 on my list; I was being facetious there!).

  5. nigel says:

    You Bush haters are amazing. You people may not have faith in our president, but have a little in our troops. Having left the Army recently after 5 years a service I know personally that our military is more than capable of winning in Iraq. There is a line between opposing a war and opposing the soldiers and you people come awful close to that line. To speak of this war as if we just CANNOT win is not only premature it’s unpatriotic. Even if Kerry is elected, the terrorists will still seek to kill Americans. Stop fooling yourselves! Kerry is not going to pull troops out of Iraq. We need to understand that we’re going to be in Iraq for a long time, like it or not. All these doom and gloom predictions are purely to use the war as another campaign issue. If you think we should not have went to Iraq fine but, don’t root for our defeat.

  6. Chris says:

    I’m not sure where in these posts people have mocked/scorned/disparaged our troops. I see lots of criticism of Bush–much of it reasoned–but he is not the personification of our army. Bush is merely a politician from Texas who happened to get appointed president. Even though he was appointed, he is still nominally answerable to the electorate. So patriotism is not loyalty to a politician, but love of country. I love my country, and it distresses me to see it pillaged by this Texas politician. I can show my love of country best by voting out of office this man who seems determined to wreck it.

    As a fellow army vet, I happen to have a great deal of faith in our troops too. But the issue is more complicated than you make it appear. For instance, is there any evidence that the troops are being employed intelligently? History is filled with examples of strong armies being badly used and going down–Teutoberger Wald, Dien Bien Phu, Cannae, Adrianople, Gallipoli, Sedan, Austerlitz, Stalingrad, and on and on. There is zero evidence that our troops are being used to maximum advantage, apart from Bush’s dubious word. There is lots of evidence that the insurgency is intensifying and spreading. A swaggering assertion that our military is more than capable fo winning in Iraq does not help our troops in the least, and it fails to take into account that the skill of our troops is but one factor to consider whether we can win. There is a skillful and determined enemy, our limited national resources, as well as embarrasingly incompetent leadership–to name a few. And there’s the very good question of whether winning (whatever that may mean) is worth it in view of the costs. By voting Bush out of office, we can at least address one of these factors.

    Again, I ask that supporters of Bush make a reasoned and, preferably, evidence-based argument. If Bush is actually a competent leader, whether we’re talking about Iraq or somewhere else, then simply provide credible (i.e., non-propaganda based) evidence of his results. If you can’t find any, then support of Bush can only mean that one’s loyalty is not based on reason but ideology and fantasy.

  7. nigel says:

    What we are experiencing in Iraq is a counterattack by the terrorists. The tide of this war has not turned against us. If you people had been around during the Battle of the Bulge would have said that we were in a quagmire? What about when Lee’s army routed the a force twice his size at Fredricksburg? Were we supposed to give up? How do you people know that a victory is not within reach?

    President Bush has not been the reason we have lost a thousand soldiers in Iraq. Losses are expected though they are not wanted. We will pay a price for the Iraqi’s freedom. Just as we paid a price for ours. You should ask the people of France, England, Holland, Denmark, South Korea, Kuwait and others if American lives are worth their freedom. The President decided with the info he had at the time that enough had been enough and that Saddam and his regime had to go. Now in a war that we can’t just walk away from he’s saying that we need to stay the course and do the best we can. Explain what wrong with that strategy to me. So you want to see evidence he’s a competent leader? Well I haven’t seen anything from you haters that says he’s been incompetent. The losses that occurred have been mostly unavoidable. If you could take those Democratic Party blinders off you could see that we are on course for victory. It’s just not easy victory we ahd hoped for. So have some damn cajones and get behind the people who are trying to win this thing.

  8. Chris says:

    You again assert “the tide of war has not turned against us.” Please offer credible evidence to defend your assertion. You can do so by, for instance, citing reports (preferably with links) showing that casualties have steadily declined, or that our troops effectively provide security over more territory than in earlier months, that Iraqi morale has become more favorable to us, or that the number of insurgent attacks have declined, that Iraqi oil production has increased, that Western reporters are no longer afraid to leave their own hotel, or something. If you can’t, then one can only conclude that it is you who have the blinders on, and that you are just repeating Bush’s babbling.

    The contrary evidence that all is not well can be found in Juan Cole’s site, the Guardian, or much less frequently on US sites.

    You also should make a case for why we should care at all whether the Iraqis have freedom or not. France is a free country, but has earned your contempt (judging from your earlier posts) by actually exercising independence. Since a truly free Iraq could very easily act like France, just as any other free country, I’m not sure why you consider Iraqi freedom worth sacrificing the lives and treasure that might be better spent here. They might be “ungrateful,” too.

  9. nigel says:

    This is my favorite site when I want good news about our war instead of your gloom and doom.

    I find that the kind of stories linked on this site are constantly “overlooked” by the mainstream press. By mainstream I mean CBS of course.

    I am more apt to believe Gen. Abazaid the man on the ground rather than a bunch of Democrat elitists who are more interested in political power than the truth.

  10. Michael Weissman says:

    Several of the responders seem to think that Col .Turner’s phrase “the U.S. will be gone” meant that the U.S. will have fallen apart.This extreme conclusion then drew various further analysis, pro and con. In context, it obviously only meant “the U.S. will be gone from Iraq”, a likellihood already hinted at by Rumsfeld. The possibilities suggested by Col. Turner are basically close to the ones that the recent official intelligence review came up with, although it’s also possible that Iraq will split into parts, one of which will have Sunni extremists rather than Shiite extremists.

    As for Nigel’s question about incompetence, several major instances occur even if you accept, for the sake of argument, that Bush stumbled into war for what seemed like good reasons.
    1. Disbanding the Iraqi army. This left 500,000 armed enemies, no security structure, etc. By itself this one incomprehensible decision probably is responsible for most of the American casualties.
    2. Delaying elections while Bremer privatized the economy. This gave the insurgents a long time to organize while living standards collapsed.
    3. Failure to guard the museums, hospitals, nuclear dumps, etc. This led to extraordinary cultural and human losses and fueled angry humiliation among Iraqis. It could have been avoided with minimal commitments of forces.
    4. Gross violations of the Geneva Accords at Abu Ghraib and at least 24 other (documented) detention centers. Whatever intelligence might have been produced was worth nothing compared to the lasting hatred earned.

  11. Chris says:

    Thanks, Michael W! Turner’s statement makes sense now. I’m very glad to see that the US won’t come to an end if Bush gets reelected.

    Turning to Nigel’s post, I appreciate that he has offered evidence for our consideration. He specifically cites General Abazaid as a source that Iraq is going as planned and that the media has it wrong.

    Now it is time for the credibility probe. Abazaid, on the surface, appears to be a superb authority. Being the general in command of operations in Iraq, if anyone should know what is going on it is he. The problem with authorities (as sources of information), though, is that one has to look beyond expertise and look to their circumstances in order to see if their proofs might be slanted one way or the other. So assume, for the moment, that things are going poorly. What would happen to Abazaid were he to question the president’s directives or be in any way critical of the handling of the war by his superiors? Criticism of one’s superior officers is insubordination. At the least, he would suffer the same fate as General Shinseki and be cashiered. Moreover, as Abazaid is responsible for military operations, it is dangerous for him to suggest that things are growing out of control; he would again be cashiered. I’m not saying that Abazaid is lying. I’m simply saying that there are at least two reasons why he has a clear vested interest. People with vested interests are not credible sources, and it behooves one to corroborate his claims from independent sources.

    Credibility probes are apolitical and can be used to critique the evidence offered by those of any political persuasion. I think that by subjecting evidence to such credibility probes, we can improve the level of discourse between Bush-supporters and -critics, and offer substantive arguments rather than irrelevant ad hominem remarks. But I kindly ask Nigel to dig further and see if there is any independent information showing that Iraq is going as planned. Try to find information that speaks to the general condition of the country, rather than isolated instances of happy events (which may be the exception rather than the rule, or else dismissed as something like a Potemkin village engineered for the benefit of the reporter).

  12. nigel says:

    Your “evidence” has major holes in it. I will show where your logic is flawed.

    1. After the Iraqi army had been defeated it would have been foolish to let Iraq keep it’s standing army. We had decapitated it’s leadership, and destroyed it’s infrastructure. The Iraqi army is not like our own. They lived under strict rule with severe punishments. The only thing left to do was to destroy and rebuild Iraq with a volunteer force. Like a skyscaper the first step in building is dismantling.

    2.The security situation isn’t fit for elections now right so how could we have had them a year ago? Temporary governments are always setup before any type a self government can take place. As far as privitazation you must understand that the Baathists were in control of the industry. We couldnot let the former regime continue to profit during the reconstruction. We had to cut funding for any resistance.

    3.When governments fall there is always a time of chaos we were still fighting republican guard elements when the looting started. Even minimal troop committments may have cost American lives.

    4.As far as this Abu Ghraib scandal:
    a. Bush has never been there.
    b. those people were dealt with quickly and justly
    And under what scenario do you believe that Bush and Rumsfeld micromanaged some prison in Iraq? Do really think Bush sent memos from the White House saying “make sure you mistreat some prisoners and take some pictures of it while you’re at it.

  13. nigel says:

    I forgot to speak to the issue of Chris’ post. Again you question people’s motives. Allawi was a puppet,Abazaid is a subordinate, no one with any actual expierence is trustworthy. However you would rather get your info from CBS. Well listen, I’ve got Microsoft Word, I can fax you some memos that prove things are going okay in Iraq. I just need to get Kinko’s.

  14. Chris says:

    I’m just saying that one has to be cautious about those with an obvious self-interest in persuading you. It is especially easy to fall into the trap of accepting less than acceptable information if one is already predisposed to believe it because of your political beliefs. So I ask that you self-consciously adopt the stance of informed skepticism, especially if you sense you want to believe what you see. Don’t dismiss the source out of hand, but say to yourself that you will believe that source only when you are reasonably convinced it is credible (or, could convince a reasonable skeptic).

    Motive is in fact important to consider as a basic criterion for establishing credibility, as indicated in my earlier post. There is no way around it. As I want to help you out and be as clear as I can with what would constitute acceptable information, find someone with experience who has nothing to lose or gain by reporting. Abazaid and Allawi would absolutely lose by offending Bush, so they are not acceptable sources by themselves. Reporters generally cannot concoct stories without seriously risking their professional reputations, so they might be a good place to start. Again, you should be discerning here. Reporters who travel with the troops will report what they see, but it is easier for commanders to restrict or control what the reporter sees. Independent reporters, IMO, are better. And don’t just be satisfied with cherry-picking a single bit of good news out of a stream of bad news (or vice versa) but observe the overall tenor of the reporting from reliable sources. Anyhow, I hope that gets you off on the right foot. I’m looking forward to what you come up with.

  15. nigel says:

    I believe what we’re discussing now is the polarization of the media. People are getting their news from different outlets basing on their political beliefs. You get your news from CBS. I get my info from Drudge and Fox news because these type of outlets get the stories correct. You may see these as conservative outlets but, maybe for a moment, you should consider that the “mainstream media” (i.e. CBS) has an agenda, a liberal agenda and that anything that was more balnced than them would be so-called conservative. I believe liberalism is wrong for this country, therefore a so-called “conservative” outlet would get it right more often. What you call independent I call leftist, what you call mainstream (again CBS) is in fact a just another wing of the democratic party.

  16. Chris says:

    I’ll only be able to post a brief and incomplete reply, as I’m on my way out of town for a few days for a conference. You’ve raised some good questions that I hope someone else can help with.

    Something to think about, if you have the time. If you really want to learn whether a media source is biased, I’d suggest looking at the political party breakdown of viewers and readers (where available). While owners and editors may have political agendas, the media, is first and foremost, ratings driven. And most viewers, like you, naturally don’t want to see or hear anything that would offend–you would just turn the channel. In short, it is reasonable to think that the media’s reporting will tend to be slanted in the direction of the political party breakdown of its viewers. So, if a network’s viewers are exclusively liberal, then it will be fair to say that the network presents the kind of stuff that liberals will like. Otherwise, they would watch their news elsewhere. If the network has a diverse audience, then I don’t think it is reasonable to assume the reporting is slanted any particular way–otherwise, it would drive viewers away and ultimately the breakdown would be generally one-party viewership. Put FOX to the test, and see what you come up with.

    On a side note, I’m not sure why you keep insisting that I watch CBS. Have I somewhere indicated that I have? Is that assertion some kind of ad hominem attack, or was there some substantive point to it? I try to get my information from multiple sources, for what it’s worth. I don’t think it’s possible to be an informed citizen by allowing oneself to be pandered to and just told what one wants to hear.


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