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Monday, June 20, 2005

But seriously folks

Posted by: Hammer / 8:32 AM

Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones and Dennis Kucinich have sponsored a House resolution to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Smilin' Norm Coleman dubs the resolution "absurd" and "a joke". Sunday morning, Condoleeza Rice suggested that the U.S. has a "generational commitment to Iraq".

The good folks at Think Progress remind us that Rice's statement flatly contradicts everything the administration has said to date. But if it's true -- though Rice isn't known for truthfulness -- that we're going to have troops in Iraq until Little Sister Hammer goes to college... I'm just wondering, Sen. Coleman. How funny is that?

10 Comments:

I think more to the point, it's a funny that people think we can put a timetable on this campaign.

To do so is counterproductive and would be pure guesswork at best.

The fact that some people still persist in thinking we can lay out a timetable is what is funny.

By Anonymous Kevin, at 9:15 AM  

Yeah. Like Dick Cheney (March 16, 2003: "weeks rather than months"). And Donald Rumsfeld (February 7, 2003: "six months"). Ha ha.

That said, simply writing down "have all U.S. troops home for the 2006 elections" does no good. We can't withdraw American troops until Iraqi security forces are fully trained. That's the goal. it's up to policy makers to determine the number of trained Iraqis necessary as well as a reasonable period to complete the training.

The Bush administration opposes such goals because it fears failure more than it expects success.

By Blogger Hammer, at 9:33 AM  

Come on, Hammer. Neither of those quotations were about troop withdrawl. They were about the initial invasion, which routed the Iraq forces and took most major cities in about 4 weeks. Obviously resistance continues to this day, but that's not what Cheney & Rummy were talking about when they said "weeks."

Furthermore, the Cheney quotation 1) was prefaced by "[W]e can't count on that" and 2) he went on to say "The really challenging part of it to some extent may come in the aftermath."

Rumsfeld was hardly laying out a timetable when he said "It is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks, I doubt six months."

From the wealth of available quotes from the aministration, those are the two you (or rather Judd at Thinkprogress) picked?

By Blogger Joseph, at 12:18 PM  

You're right, Joseph, I just grabbed the quotes from the linked article. I didn't independently research the quotes. I offered them as evidence that leaders on the right had no problem offering timetables before the war. It just happened that the timetables were...

Well, even accepting your interpretation, I think the timetables were grossly & intentionally misleading. I don't recall a single Bush official saying, "Look, this invasion is going to be a 4 week cakewalk, to be followed by a insurgency lasting several years."

You can slice it two ways. One, the Bush administration expected a long insurgency and deliberately misled the American people about the duration of the war. Two, the Bush administration did not expect a long insurgency. If the second is true, I 'm not willing to give the administration any credit for its ignorance.

Thanks for the context on the quotes.

By Blogger Hammer, at 1:24 PM  

Both of those quotes are regarding the INVASION. So I don't see that they are misleading the public at all.

They specified how long the invasion would take and their guesstimation was roughly correct. In fact it probably went quicker than they would have expected.

And to imply otherwise discredits your whole argument, and demonstrates you are willing to lie/mislead to prove a point.

Disappointing to be sure.

By Anonymous Kevin, at 10:41 PM  

No, those quotes were not lies. But they weren't the whole story, either. Does that make it okay?

We made, or allowed the President to make, a momentous decision based on the belief that we knew what we were getting into and why. We didn't. With extended tours of duty, National Guard involvement, the Stop-Loss Program... people want answers. For Coleman to belittle that frustration and the desire for a plan as "a joke" is upsetting.

By Anonymous Mrs. Hammer, at 8:14 AM  

Let's take a step back. I took Kevin's original post to mean that it was futile to put timetables on the military campaign in Iraq. I copied the quotes from the ThinkProgress post, which showed the administration had not previously had any difficulty offering timetables.

Joseph and Kevin draw a distinction between the timetables about the invasion and a timetable regarding the insurgency. All military planning requires timetables. You need to know where troops will be and when in order to feed them. My use of the quotes was to demonstrate that the Bush administration is happy to provide timetables when it is convenient and useful for them to do so.

I see quite a different distinction regarding the quotes. The Cheney and Rumsfeld quotes came before the war started and were part of a vast effort by the Bush administration to push the country into war.

Here's Rumsfeld's quote in the longest form I can find: "It is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." Rumsfeld said this to soldiers who were on their way to Iraq. I'm sure they appreciated the distinction. Rumsfeld might've mentioned the long, hard slog after the initial invasion to the troops who would be doing the fighting and dying, but it doesn't show up in the news reports.

Cheney's quote is more instructive.
Cheney said: "I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . (in) weeks rather than months."

So, Cheney is really saying two things. The invasion will go quickly and that the end of the invasion would be the end of the conflict. After all, the American soldiers were going to be greeted as liberators.

Joseph adds "The really challenging part of it to some extent may come in the aftermath" to Cheney's comments. I can't find a complete transcript to put it all in context. I suspect that Cheney was talking about the difficulty of rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure rather than an insurgency.

For his part, Kevin is disappointed in my lack of clarity, but happily links to a Drudge report claiming that Bill Clinton raped Hillary to conceive Chelsea.

By Blogger Hammer, at 8:22 AM  

For the record, here's the transcript for the Cheney interview on Face the Nation.

The Rumsfeld quotation is from a "Town Hall" meeting at an Air Force base in Italy; here's that transcript.

By Blogger Joseph, at 10:31 AM  

Thanks, Joseph. Here's Cheney, in full:
CHENEY: Clearly, the president's made it -- made it abundantly clear to everybody, if the UN will not deal with this problem, then the US and our coalition partners will have no choice but to take action and that's clearly a possibility.

SCHIEFFER: If we do have to take action, do you think it will be a long war or a short war?

CHENEY: My own judgment based on my time as secretary of Defense, and having operated in this area in the past, I'm confident that our troops will be successful, and I think it'll go relatively quickly, but we can't...

SCHIEFFER: Weeks?

CHENEY: ...we can't count on that.

SCHIEFFER: Months?

CHENEY: Weeks rather than months. There's always the possibility of complications that you can't anticipate, but I have great confidence in our troops. The men and women who serve in our military today are superb. Our capabilities as a force are the finest the world has ever known.
They're very ably led by General Tommy Franks and Secretary Rumsfeld. And so I have great confidence in the conduct of the military campaign. The really...

SCHIEFFER: Par...

CHENEY: ...challenging part of it to some extent may come in the aftermath once the military segment is over and we move to try and stand up a new government and turn over to the Iraqi people the responsibilities to their nation.

While Joseph originally raised a very fair and constructive point, I think Cheney's comments on the aftermath were solely political observations, not military observations.

By Blogger Hammer, at 1:39 PM  

More from Rumsfeld:
"We don't talk about deployments in the specific, but we have brought a good many Guard and Reserve on active duty. Fortunately, a great many of them were volunteers. We have been able to have relatively few stop losses. There are some currently, particularly in the Army, but relatively few in the Navy and the Air Force. And it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.

After that, we have a responsibility as a country that if force were to be used and if the United States did have to go in with its coalition partners -- and there are a growing number of nations that would be participating in a coalition of the willing -- we feel an obligation to see that what is left after that regime is gone becomes a state that does not have weapons of mass destruction, and that would be part of our responsibility; that it would be a state that would not threaten its neighbors and launch Scuds into it, or use chemical weapons on their own people or their neighbors, as they have in the past; that it would be a single country and not broken into pieces; and that it would be a country that would be setting itself on a path to assure representation and respect for the various ethnic minorities in that country.

The number of people that that would take is reasonably predictable, and the only question would be what portion of that total number would be U.S. forces.

So I would see this buildup going up, lasting for a period, and the last choice is war, but if that is necessary, a period where that takes place and then a drawdown. And you would find people moving back out and some residual number staying there, with the -- undoubtedly the forces of many other nations."

I see absolutely nothing taken out of context regarding the Rumsfeld quote. Rumsfeld is talking about the "conflict" in Iraq, not the invasion. He's talking about the conflict being over in six months, at which point there would be a drawdown of forces. If only that had been true.

Still, at bottom, I think Joseph is giving Rumsfeld and Cheney too much credit for ignoring the potential for an extended guerilla war.

By Blogger Hammer, at 1:49 PM  

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