Monday, December 05, 2005

Howard Dean: "US Can't Win"

Howard Dean told WOAI radio in San Antonio that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." Dean went on to compare Iraq to Vietnam, and to say that US troops should be brought home immediately.

But don't question his support of the troops. Telling the troops that there's no way for them to win (in the face of the widespread belief among the troops that they're doing just that) and that they need to come crawling home in defeat - yeah, that's pretty darn supportive, right there.

The Democrats should keep one thing in mind. It is possible, though despicable, to use a failed war in the past as a springboard for political achievement. I do not believe it possible to openly advocate for the war's failure, to do one's best to ensure that it fails, and then to turn around and use the springboard. The springboard technique depends on convincing the electorate that you would have done it right. You can't convince people who just saw you orchestrate a defeat that you're the guy to bring victory next time. The American people aren't so stupid as to fall for that.


Richard said...

"Telling the troops that there's no way for them to win (in the face of the widespread belief among the troops that they're doing just that) and that they need to come crawling home in defeat - yeah, that's pretty darn supportive."

Telling the troops they can win this war while you know it's not true, is lying.

What we should be discussing is not who supports the troops or not. We all support the troops, they are our own blood. We should be discussing: Can we win this war, or not? If the first is true, we stay. If the latter is true, we leave.

Luke said...


A couple of points for you:

1. This Iraq War is over. This mopping up process, getting bogged down by IEDs, insurgency, corruption in the new Iraqi government is not the "Iraq War", but a police action. I agree completely that we should support the troops without question. I do not agree with lying to them (bad intelligence) or telling the public everything in under control, when it clearly is not. We will have troops on the ground in Iraq long after the police action is over.

2. One thing that we should be able to discuss, all the while being in support of the troops, is whether or not this war was sold to the public, and the world, under false pretenses. Powell's lowest point was going to the UN, baring his soul, trying desperately to convince the world (and himself) that a mobile home was a biological weapons lab. Rumsy wanted to go after Iraq, not because of terrorism, not because of Saddam's intolerable rule, but because the PNAC wanted to have a definitive strategic presence in the middle east. It has been the goal of the PNAC to install a pro-Western society government in Iraq for some 10 years and when Bush got into office, himself a part of the PNAC, it was not a question of if, but when.

3. The question of "Can we win this war?" is subject to a great deal of debate (see point 1). I am on the fence here. I have yet to see a firm plan. It seems the goals that have been set by BushCo are arbitrary, not firm, and can be used to argue either way, context depending. Yes, ultimately, I feel we can effectively "win" but it will take a lot of time, and require the Iraqi's to give up a life of corruption, something they are quite used to.

nobody.really said...

Richard beat me to it. The question is, What is more important than truth?

I don't ask rhetorically. I mean, sure, candor is great. Robert's great appeal is a propensity to tell truths even when they conflict with popular sentiment. The greater the dissonance, the greater the insight.

But does sentiment trump truth under some circumstances? After all, do we really expect the coach to tell his team in the locker room that they have virtually no chance of winning, even if it’s true? I generally expect a coach to be dedicated to winning (within the rules), not dedicated to candor. There will be time enough for candor after the season is over.

So now we’re at war. Assuming that the appearance of success actually promote success, is the White House justified in saying that we’re succeeding regardless of the truth? And aren’t we justified in condemning Dean for speaking up, even if what he says is well within the bounds of truth? Isn’t this the one great occasion when we should all embrace popular sentiment?

Perhaps, but perhaps not. Alas, the temptation to deceive in the interest of some greater good is always present. And the Bush Administration has demonstrated an unswerving loyalty to loyalty over truth, even when relatively inconsequential issues are at stake.

I share Robert’s inclination to view Dean’s remarks as reflecting a political calculus. Perhaps unlike Robert, I regard the Administration’s pro-war statements in the same light. And again unlike Robert, I don’t anticipate that there is a lot of political upside to being the bearer of bad news, ESPECIALLY if true. You know the adage: If you want to make people mad, lie to them; it you want to really piss them off, tell them the truth. The truth may make you free, but it won't make you popular. Jeremiah never won any elections.

During the Viet Nam war, Sec. of Defense McNamara maintained the position that the US would win the war, but in “Fog of War” he concedes that long before the war’s end he had abandoned hope of winning. If we characterize Dean’s remarks as “come crawling home in defeat,” I guess we could characterize McNamara’s as “never come home.” Which man demonstrated greater support for the troops?

Believing the nay-sayers, Private Joe declined to re-enlist for Viet Nam and now tells of the bitter taste of defeat he has endured since then. Believing the yeah-sayers, Private Bill re-enlisted and has been in a VA hospital since then, although his head wound prevents him from grasping that we lost the war. What is preferable - enduring a bitter truth or maintaining a sentimental delusion?