Other people's war
The cost of war
There's a reason Peter Beinart is despicable beyond words. You can't take the fighting keyboardists seriously, most can't make a coherent argument with help. Their bleating and stammering is little more than the yelping of teenagers in adult bodies. They are not serious people and they have no capacity but to scream louder. As Atrios posted up from a comment on Crooked Timber
But on this Mother's Day, and after reading the heartbreaking stories of those who came home to kill themselves after suffering PTSD, it is important to realize how despicable Beinart and his pro-war apologists truly are.
Over at Crooked Timber:
Talking with Mom and Dad about their personal histories led me to this association: what the war party bloggers have done is recreate the experience of being a child in World War II. They write patriotic essays and make patriotic collages, and get pats on the head and congratulations from the authorities. They watch diligently for the mutant, I mean, for the subversive among us, and help maintain the proper atmosphere of combined courage and vigilance. They are not expected to manage the family books, nor invited into discussion of the nitty-gritty, and it seldom occurs to them that there’s even a possibility there – that’s for the grown-ups, and rightly so.
It all makes sense now.
They are advocating someone else fight the war they endorse. That other people kids leave their homes, their families, and risk their health and lives so he can be proven to be right. He writes some nonsense about the Cold War liberal and omits how most of them saw combat in WWII.
John Kennedy saw WWII from a PT Boat and nearly got killed, George McGovern from the cockpit of a B-24, Daniel Moynihan from a destroyer. They were not sitting in a magazine office pontificating on how other people should die facing the Axis or the North Koreans. John Glenn actually fought MIG's, he didn't discuss the rise of Communist Air Power at a CATO institute seminar.
Beinart wants the imprimateur of a foreign policy expert, or at a minimum, a modern day Joe Alsop, someone quoted by the powerful to justify their policies.
The only problem is that his lack of service will render him impotent in the future.
Saying serious things does not make you a serious person, only doing serious things can make you a serious person and blathering on TNR does not make you serious.
The problem for Beinart's future career is that his peers who will have an increasing voice in such matters will also have a tour of Iraq under their belts. When he talks theory, they will talk fact. 50 vets are now running for Congress, if half of them win, that would be the largest influx of veterans since WWII. The losers are unlikely to fade into the woodwork any time soon.
Military service won't be required for the national debates of the future, but those who supported the failed Iraq war from their keyboards will face a new generation of veteran, with more education and less isolation than in the past.
There are significant differences between this generation and the Vietnam generation. Before and during Vietnam, college was an option, it is now the driving force for enlistment in both the Guard and Regular Army. This is a far more educated force than any country has ever fielded in any war.
The significant number of Guard members, many of whom have both Active Duty military service and college educations, already established in their communities, means a far larger active base of veterans than in the past.
The reason the military would rather take gang members than have a draft is simple: they still have control over who they take. The draft, if called for in 2001, would have been a close call, even if it failed. But now, in 2006, no one wants to die in Iraq, and the Iraq war is the Army's problem.
But Beinart and his keyboard toughguy friends are going to find themselves increasing isolated as Iraq falls apart.
Next, they'll be talking about how we need to divide Iraq, despite the fact that it is a gross violation of international law. The Kurdish solution, which is what it should be called, is going to lead to one thing: the rise of Sadr and a prolonged war against the Kurds. The Shia are not going, after centuries, be told to run a third of a country and accept it.
Take the disaster at Tal Afar and while it may have looked good as part of the Harry McMaster campaign for a star, in reality, it failed and failed badly. When Rick Atikinson is writing the history of the Iraq War, the failure of the Tal Afar campaign will be seen as a turning point, and not a good one
The NYT reports Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who teaches at West Point, as estimating that the US military should have a big presence in Iraq for 5 to 7 years, while partnering with and building up the Iraqi military. So in 5 years the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish battalions will like each other more than they do now? Will be more willing to fight against armed groups from their own ethnicities?Well, maybe the future Gen.McMaster can explain how the Iraqis lied to his face and how he believed them. American pretense that the Kurds don't have an agenda which stars with taking Kirkuk and setting the country of Kurdistan is going to leave them trapped in a civil war. Ignoring the fact that Sadr now owns Basra as well as East Baghdad will also lead to disaster.
My problem with that is that they seem to think that the Tal Afar operation was a success, whereas it is a political disaster, and if they are planning another 5 to 7 years of that sort of thing, then we are doomed. At Tal Afar they used Kurdish and Shiite troops to assault Sunni Turkmen, emptied the city on the grounds that it was full of foreign fighters, killed people and made them refugees, and then only took 50 foreign fighters captive. The Sunni Turkmen, not to mention the Turks in Ankara, will never forgive us. And the press reports show substantial disappointment in the city even among Shiites with the results. The Tal Afar operation is considered a "take and hold" or "oil spot" strategy, as opposed to search and destroy. But you can't just empty out one Sunni city after another, bring in troops of other ethnicities to level neighborhoods, force people into tent cities in the desert or into relatives' homes, and call that a counter-insurgency strategy. Every year the US military has been in the Sunni Arab heartland they have alienated more and more Iraqis.
McCaffrey should be asked exactly who will be in the Army in five years to serve in Iraq. You can only take so many gang members and autistic kids before you have a mob with guns. Soldiers taking Paxil in the field? Are you fucking kidding? How long can that go on? It's one thing to have a stomach battalion, another to have a twitchy, nervous, mentally stressed batallion.
And now the decider wants to send these young men to the border, where already stressed, they will blow away civilians in the weeds at night.
Beinart and friends talk in generalities, about US strength and resolve, while their very existance proves how weak and feckless we truly are. Putin no longer makes nice, because he doesn't have to. Lord Goldsmith demands we close Gitmo, only before the Supreme Court joins him.
It's easy to live in the Beltway fantasy world and imagine empire. Executing it is an entirely different thing and the cost of it is so high, so damaging, that people are ready to walk away.
Unlike Vietnam, because no one has to join the adventure in Iraq, they aren't going to, no matter what cheap words Beinart types out. And they are cheap because they are only words, never backed by action.
Soon, no one will care about his deskbound pontificating.
posted by Steve @ 3:18:00 AM