Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Gains in Iraq

General Petraeus is back in the USA shilling for his version of the Bush "stay the course" policy in Iraq. His argument before the Senate Armed Forces Committee was that there have been gains as a result of the surge but that they are "fragile" and "reversible" and so we cannot, as promised, be reducing the number of troops in Iraq. This is a thoroughly Orwellian statement for it can be argued that gains that are fragile and reversible aren't gains at all. This reminds me of gambling. If one goes to Las Vegas, plays poker and wins $1,000, you and I know that that this gain is fragile and reversible should one play poker longer. So, if your intention is to play poker longer, have you actually won $1,000?

Recently the leader of Iraq, without consulting the American military until his military plan went down the tubes and his troops needed rescuing. Why did he do that? Probably because he didn't want to explain to the American officers why he wanted to engage in this battle. It was probably politically or personally motivated. Of course, he might have wanted to display to us and his people that his government was on top of things in Iraq.

In the most amazing testimony I have heard or read about by an American officer to the Senate can be found at the Washington Post's web site
Asked repeatedly yesterday what "conditions" he is looking for to begin substantial U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq after this summer's scheduled drawdown, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said he will know them when he sees them.
Now, though it makes no sense in fact, we let people get away with saying things like "I can't define pornography but I know it when I see it." The reason we shouldn't take even that sort of claim seriously is that reasonable people differ in what they say is pornographic. We damn sure shouldn't take Gen. Petraeus seriously. In academia we call this "hand waving." I think it should be likened more to the General showing his middle finger to the Democratically led committee.

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Blogger concerned citizen said...

I like how you use gambling as an illustration. Since reason tells me gambling is illogical in the first place. & I suppose this is why Mr.P has to use words like "fragile" and "reversible" when talking about the U.S's own gamble in Iraq.

Could you expound more on what you mean by "hand waving" though? Are you saying that Mr.P is engaging in something as shallow as prom queen tactics?

3:15 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

I think hand waving has to do with shrugging off criticisms of a position with a little wave of the hand. Something like that.

8:30 PM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

Looking at the links, I think I get it. These military guys are stalling until the Bush Administration ends. That's why he says, "I'll know it when I see it"

2:05 AM

Blogger Ben said...

It's stupid to compare conditions to withdraw to pornography. Determining whether a picture is pornographic or not requires looking at it. Determining whether or not to withdraw requires a complicated analysis of millions (or whatever the order of magnitude is) of variables that change every day.

I am in the military, incidentally, and there's something known as "battle patience"; the best way to sum it up would be the phrase "don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes". (The concept applies equally well to withdrawal as it does to assault.) Yes, there's a plan, but there's also an enemy that is doing their damnedest to foil that plan, which is why you shouldn't confuse plans with promises. So the plan has to change and you're not going to know what it will be at the end until you get there. Look at the turning point of any war, no one knew that it had passed until historians analyzed it in hindsight.

I think it should be likened more to the General showing his middle finger to the Democratically led committee.

He's not, though they deserve it. They've been doing their best to screw us from the start, all for some cheap political points. Fuck them.

3:06 PM

Blogger Ben said...

BTW, I haven't completely read the "as promised" link, but does this sound even remotely like a promise to you?

Our experience in Iraq has repeatedly shown that projecting too far into the future is not just difficult, it can be misleading and even hazardous," Gen. David Petraeus said at a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. "The events of the past six months underscore that point."

The left has plenty of valid points about the conduct of the war, but GEN Petraeus has been a straight shooter from day 1.

3:24 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

The general may be as straight shooting as he could be given that he works for a liar (I mean the Prez, not the Sec. of Defense or Joint Chiefs). Does he really believe that our progress warrants a continuation of the war or not? The problem the citizenry faces is that they are easily frightened and Bush has played that card until it is so war one can barely read it. But the fact is that if we cannot win -- install a regime that can maintain order inside the country -- then there is no point in staying another day. My belief is that this is unattainable and if the Gen believes this he should say so overtly and be fired or resign his post. That would be the honest thing to do. Remember The Saturday Night Massacre . That is what integrity looks like at the level of the cabinent. Why doesn't the military act that way?

8:17 AM


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