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Actually, President Bush said from the outset that this was going to be a "lengthy campaign" (speech to congress, September 20, 2001). And while I mourn every one of those 4,000 deaths, compared to every other way in history, it is virtually nothing. Compare this to the deaths in Vietnam, or the tens of thousands killed on the first day of the D-Day invasion. The problem with war today is that America has become so risk adverse that we are unwilling to risk even a single life in protection of our country.

Finally, no one has ever said we are going to occupy Iraq forever, nor do I believe we will. Have troops present in the country does not mean occupation, it means we have a strategic foothold in the region. Just as with the troops that have been in Germany and Japan for the last 60 years, and in Kuwait since the end of the first gulf war.

So while your question makes a nice bumper sticker, it glosses over a larger discussion and trivializes the gains that have been made in Iraq.

Let's try it a different way; do you think that five years ago anyone could have predicted that Saddam Hussein would be executed, Iraq would hold multiple elections, Shia and Sunni would work together in the Iraqi police force, Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan would be seriously crippled, and it would cost fewer American lives than any other war in American history?

There have been many mistakes made in this war, but a country has been liberated from a mass-murdering dictator and is well on it's way to self rule. I think that is something to be celebrated.

One more thought; Obama's campaign has been trying to make a big deal about McCain's statement that we would be in Iraq a century. Anyone with half a brain can read what he said and see that what he meant was maintaining troops in Iraq much the same way we do in dozens of other countries (Germany, Japan, Italy, the Philippines, etc.) But Obama's own military adviser said pretty much the same thing five years ago.

[Q:] Is Iraq the last country we confront in the Middle East?

[McPeak:] Who wants to volunteer to get cross-ways with us? We'll be there a century, hopefully. If it works right.

While I agree with most of what Frank has to say, I have to disagree with the assertion that this is a "war."

In a war, you have the goal of destroying the enemy's will and ability to fight. What have we done since the fall of Baghdad and the capture of Saddam that falls under that rubric? In what way do holding elections, rebuilding infrastructure, and refereeing the endless internecine strife of Islamic factional violence constitute war-making?

What we're in now is a holding position. Either it gets "better" (i.e., less violence) or it gets "worse." There is no victory because we aren't even fighting.

Overthrowing Saddam was probably a good thing; he was an evil man who ruled with an iron fist. However, we should have gotten out as soon as we toppled his government, leaving behind the message that we'll be back if your country threatens us again. Let them figure out how to rule themselves--the internal affairs of Islamic nations are not our concern.

One three-week war every 5-10 years would cost us much less, in lives and treasure, than the interminable occupation of Iraq. It would serve as an object lesson to other countries, like, oh, I don't know, maybe Iran?

I am not one of the many calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. My parents taught me "if you break the window, you fix the window." On the other hand to comment on a few of Frank's points: 5 years ago Al-Qaeda in Iraq did not exist. We made that possible. Saddam Hussein was a legacy of our post-WWII policy of supporting strongman dictators as long as they paid lip service to being our allies. We are going to need some new models to get out of this mess. If no one will admit what a blunder this was at least let's declare victory and start working on the next stage which doesn't include a bunch of 22 year old Americans who don't speak Arabic functioning as the visible face on the street of the government of Iraq.

Frank's an 'effin genius. What he said.

Oh, and Wally read Jeffery Goldberg's piece in Slate where he points out, what others know as the truth:

"I believed that Saddam was a supporter of terrorism. The report on Saddam's terrorist ties released last week by the Joint Forces Command confirms this (not that you would know it from the scant press coverage of the study). The study, citing captured Iraqi documents, indicates that Saddam's regime supported various jihadist groups, including Ayman al-Zawahiri's, and including Kurdish Islamist groups, about whom I have reported. But read the study for yourself; it's actually quite an achievement of translation and analysis."

Granted, the dude would believed in the Saddam - Terror link prior to the invasion, but the report which has been met with broad approval from the anti-war crowd actually draws the link. Zarqawi's group was closely affiliated with Al Quaeda, and became Al Quaeda in Iraq. Any attempt to draw a distinction is just a tortured exercise in denial my friend.

Link here:

Our government has a responsibility to preserve our safety and security, hence our maintainence of armed and police forces.

The safety and security of other countries is their responsibility, not ours. If other countries threaten our safety and security, they should expect to pay the price. If the people of a country do not wish to suffer the results of a US military intervention, they should not support leaders or policies likely to cause us to act against them.

Unlike any nation in history, after we utterly vanquished our enemies in WWII, we did not make those people our vassals. We did not take their lands or their treasure. In an unprecedented act of magnamity, we spent more money on those countries and helped to rebuild them.

This is generally considered to have been a good thing (though given the anti-Americanism rampant in modern Europe, some people may have second thoughts). It can be argued that rebuilding Europe and Japan was in our interest. The mistake is in trying to apply the Euro-Japanese model to the Islamic-Arabic-Kurdish-Chaldean (etc.) mishmash that is the artificial state of Iraq.

First and foremost, Germans and Japanese are governable peoples who will do as they are told. In contrast, Arabs are ungovernable, mainly because they will not do as they are told. Germany and Japan had high levels of education and literacy, and experience with democracy before WWII; none of these can be said of Iraq in particular or the Arab world in general.

Japan and Germany were nations before WWII. Iraq has never been a cohesive, organic nation; it has had to be held together by force. We had a hard enough time trying to build our own nation. Is it not the height of hubris to assume that we can build someone else's nation for them?

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