HNN Poll: What Can President Bush Do to Win If Iraq Remains a Mess?





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In a recent article in the Village Voice , Rick Perlstein postulated that President Bush is very much in the same situation in which Richard Nixon found himself on the eve of his re-election bid. Like Nixon, he has a war on his hands he has to get out of in order to win in November. In the passage excerpted below Persltein suggests that one way President Bush can slip out of his dilemma is by changing the standards of victory (which is what Nixon did, he suggests).

Do you agree?

From Mr. Perlstein's article:

George Bush is selling out Iraq. Gone are his hard-liners' dreams of setting up a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic republic, a light unto the Middle Eastern nations. The decision makers in the administration now realize these goals are unreachable. So they've set a new goal: to end the occupation by July 1, whether that occupation has accomplished anything valuable and lasting or not. Just declare victory and go home. The tyranny of Saddam Hussein will be over. But a new tyranny will likely take its place: the tyranny of civil war, as rival factions rush into the void. Such is the mess this president seems willing to leave behind in order to save his campaign....

Once again, as so often in these last few months, an analogy is Vietnam. And, as so often in the last three years, the analogous president is Nixon.

The war was already very unpopular, its prospects none too promising, when Nixon became president in 1969. It had only gotten worse by 1971, when Nixon began thinking hard about re-election. As with Bush recently, his approval rating in the middle of that year was around 50 percent; without at least appearing to quell the bloodshed, he couldn't get re-elected. But failure—a North Vietnamese takeover—could only be held off by continuing to kill. And failure would render Nixon the first American president to lose a war.

The solution he hit upon was to change the definition of"failure," to move the goal line.

The word victory was banned from all White House discussion, in favor of the bland substitute"peace with honor"—repeated more and more mellifluously, with each passing month systematically emptied of actual meaning. By late 1971, the phrase signified nothing more than an absence of U.S. troops on the ground and the freeing of American prisoners of war."Following the President's lead," Nixon's shrewdest historian, Jonathan Schell, has written,"people began to speak as though the North Vietnamese had kidnapped four hundred Americans and the United States had gone to war to retrieve them."

Secretly, and behind the back of the South Vietnamese government, Nixon's emissary, Henry Kissinger, negotiated a face-saving exit with the enemy, one that let the enemy keep troops in South Vietnam—guaranteeing South Vietnamese collapse. Publicly we proclaimed the fiction that our allies were strong enough to get along without us. Actually, Nixon and Kissinger knew they could only hold on long enough for the American people to forget about them. On October 26, 1972, Henry Kissinger announced that negotiations had succeeded, that"peace is at hand." On November 7, Richard Nixon won his 49 states against the Democrat, George McGovern. A weary nation had proved perfectly willing to acquiesce in a political swindle. Nixon had moved the goalpost to the 50-yard line, then awarded himself a touchdown....

Once again a war has gone wrong, and the denouement still must be leveraged for maximum political advantage—or at least to minimum disadvantage. A scary story must be capped off with a happy ending. And for that reason, the Bush administration must make sure certain things are forgotten: namely, the aims it said we were going to war for in the first place. George Bush must keep on moving the goal line, as he has ever since this war's beginning.


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john simmons - 3/10/2004

As a neutral observer i just wanted to let you both know how this posting has played out. You can take my observation or discard it.

Logical argument is interesting, but once it degenerates into ad hominem attacks, the average person could care less who can make the better point. All that matters is who is being more immature. Caleb, you make good points, but the fact of the matter is, you are rude, and no matter how much your argument may be in the right, your immature words blind people from seeing that.

I've been in debate for a very long time, and I can't tell you how many times the guy with the more sound argument lost because he made comments just like "You['re] so cute when you are angry." Just something to remember for next time.


Caleb Bacharach - 2/2/2004

1) "You misquoted the President's statement of 9/17/03. massive conspiracy.
"Here is the actual statement:
"There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaida ties. We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." Is English a second language for you? Can't copy a few words? Did you forget the first half? Or is the subject simply too complex?"

Wow, your ignorance truly is amazing. For the future Bill, just to save you the humiliation, to misquote someone is to claim they said something they did not say. Thus my quote of Bush was, in fact, 100% accurate as you yourself attest to by posting (tee-hee) THE EXACT SAME SENTENCE I QUOTED.

On to the statement. Despite the fact that you do not document this, I don’t dispute Bush said the first sentence (even though I disagree with its implications). However, you have made the claim (and this is what many academics refer to as a "quote"): "Iraq is more directly connected to 9/11 than even Afganistan." President Bush and I say this isn’t so. If you are still scratching your head wondering where you are, look above to the quote you provided… see anything there Billy boy? Like Bush saying that you are wrong?

2) "A published London Telegraph interview is corroboration to most people. The London Telegraph is a newspaper."

I have little intention of sifting through on line papers, when my own (cited) sources tell me that you are wrong. Given your record of denying little things like the fact you are looking at a computer screen right now (go ahead, deny it) I think I will trust my own papers.

Maybe in a few years, when you are a little older, you will look back on this thread and realize that in between your childish rants and blather, you actually cannot refute any of my claims. Others on HNN have done at least that, some actually successfully.

Just to recap:
Bill: "Iraq is more directly connected to 9/11 than even Afganistan
President Bush: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th"
Bill: "You misquoted the President's statement of 9/17/03. massive conspiracy. Here is the actual statement:
"There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaida ties. We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." Is English a second language for you? Can't copy a few words? Did you forget the first half? Or is the subject simply too complex?"

It must be frustrating to know that you are a fool and cannot even follow your own argument. Although it must be comforting to be ignorant enough to not realize that you are a fool.

Have a nice day :)


Bill Heuisler - 2/1/2004

Mr. Bacharach,
One last attempt.
You misquoted the President's statement of 9/17/03. You wrote, "I will leave you with this one fact: President Bush said "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th."

Here is the actual statement:
"There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaida ties. We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." Is English a second language for you? Can't copy a few words? Did you forget the first half? Or is the subject simply too complex?

As to corroboration:
"By all means, Bill, enlighten me. Provide your source for YOUR version of Kay’s quote."
A published London Telegraph interview is corroboration to most people. The London Telegraph is a newspaper.
Bill Heuisler


Caleb Bacharach - 1/31/2004

1) "Citing a CNN/USA article and drawing uninformed opinions from the whole article is inept. Are you too lazy to write down actual quotes to bolster your opinions?"

Uh… what are you talking about? This is simply blather. Do you dispute the articles, that is, are you claiming they are false? I included citation, evidence, and quotes, so I am not really sure what you are trying to say. Or do you define "facts" to mean what you agree with and everything else "inept"?

2) "You counter quotes with other seperate quotes."

Example?

3) "you misquote and you exhibit an abysmal ignorance of history."

Example?

4) "I'm here to debate with knowledgable people, not to educate the ignorant."

Good, because your post contain neither knowledge nor education.

5) "Evidence of ignorance:
1) "The truth is that Iraq had no WMD"

You got me on this one Billy boy. I thought the context made it clear what I meant (as I have little doubt it did to others on this site). Iraq DID have WMD, I freely admit. Allow me to clarify. Iraq did NOT have WMD when Bush said he did and Iraq did NOT have the quantity of WMD that Bush said it did. There you go.

2)"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th"
A quote? There were sixteen words in the sentence. Are the other words inconvenient for you? Quoting President Bush isn't that difficult. Try to get it right."

Amazing… absolutely amazing. Do you have a counter quote to offer me Bill? Do you dispute the quote I offered? Do you believe what Bush really said was "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th. And that is exactly what I would be saying if all those American-hating liberals had there way?" So, basically, if I understand you correctly, your argument seems to be that you disagree with Bush and I so you would rather just ignore the evidence.

6) "For instance, after you read my quote from David Kay in the London Telegraph you arrogantly claimed there was no corroboration and proceeded to produce CNN and USA Today articles which also quoted David Kay on other occasions."

By all means, Bill, enlighten me. Provide your source for YOUR version of Kay’s quote. Instead, this entire post seems little more to me than a rant against what you disagree with on ideological grounds.

7) "Name one fact you've produced. Your opinions might be important to your mother or to unlettered sophomores, but in this case only illustrate density or exhibitionism."

If I wanted to list every fact I offered, I would have to copy every post I ever wrote. Instead, I will leave you with this one fact: President Bush said "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th."
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-09-17-bush-saddam_x.htm

Enjoy!

PS: I am enjoying this exchange, but you have to do better then that. How about actually refuting my evidence with evidence of your own. Or, is that too difficult for you to understand. Let me try it this way: Your rants = ignorance. My facts = evidence. Maybe now we can all be on the same page.

PPS I thought the whole purpose of these new HNN rules was to weed out ignorant foolishness? Oh well, I enjoy it nevertheless.


Howard N Meyer - 1/31/2004

They started doing it even before capture of President Hussein. Now being overdone.


Bill Heuisler - 1/31/2004

Mr. Bacharach,
Citing a CNN/USA article and drawing uninformed opinions from the whole article is inept. Are you too lazy to write down actual quotes to bolster your opinions? Remember, being uninformed doesn't necessarily mean you can't read, it might be you don't understand the relevant subject matter all that well. You counter quotes with other seperate quotes; you misquote and you exhibit an abysmal ignorance of history. I'm here to debate with knowledgable people, not to educate the ignorant.

Evidence of ignorance:
1)"The truth is that Iraq had no WMD"
Halajba? Anthrax? Ricin? School 999? VX?
2)"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th"
A quote? There were sixteen words in the sentence. Are the other words inconvenient for you? Quoting President Bush isn't that difficult. Try to get it right.

I ceased debate with you under your other persona because you constantly spoke past other's posts and points.
For instance, after you read my quote from David Kay in the London Telegraph you arrogantly claimed there was no corroboration and proceeded to produce CNN and USA Today articles which also quoted David Kay on other occasions.

You complete the idiocy with the following:
"Anyone reading this exchange knows full well that I have provided numerous facts to support what I have said."

Name one fact you've produced. Your opinions might be important to your mother or to unlettered sophomores, but in this case only illustrate density or exhibitionism.
One fact...or don't bother wasting any more of my time.
Bill Heuisler


Caleb Bacharach - 1/30/2004

1) "In order to convince you must think for yourself and write original thoughts as apposite others. The thoughts should contain facts in evidence. Yours don't."

Except for the fact that you do not refute a single piece of evidence I offer, and the fact that I included links to the facts that I have stated. You, my friend, are simply ignorant (no offense).

2) "In a (Telegraph) interview last week, David Kay said he had, "uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war...". He further said, "A lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some of Saddam's WMD programme."

Unfortunately, you provide no corroboration to your data (odd, considering the first sentence of your post in regards to my information). In any event, Kay made no such definitive affirmation, speculating only that "There is ample evidence of movement to Syria before the war," but adding that "We simply don't know what was moved" (that is the key point, in case you are wondering).

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/01/25/sprj.nirq.kay/index.html

3) "Iraq is more directly connected to 9/11 than even Afganistan."

"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th"
-- President Bush
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-09-17-bush-saddam_x.htm
http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/07/11/alqaeda.iraq/index.html

Question Bill, why is President Bush and I wrong and yet you are correct? Do you know something the President and I don’t know?

4) "You probably don't like Saddam, but defend him to attack Bush. Fine."

I defend the truth. The truth is that Iraq had no WMD. The fact that you can believe the myth simply because of your partisan loyalties is astonishing even to me. The reality is that if Bush decided to invade Canada tomorrow, you would be trying to explain how Canada was involved in 9/11.

5) "But please dispute my hypotheses with facts"

It is a convenient tactic of the ignorant to accredit his own deficiencies on those he disagrees with. Anyone reading this exchange knows full well that I have provided numerous facts to support what I have said.

Have a nice day :)


Bill Heuisler - 1/30/2004

Mr. Bacharach,
Your style is quite recognizable: ignore opposition, state an opinion and cite media echoes. Doesn't work.
In order to convince you must think for yourself and write original thoughts as apposite others. The thoughts should contain facts in evidence. Yours don't.

You brought up Kay to illustrate erroneous assumptions and made an erroneous assumption due to incomplete data.
In a (Telegraph) interview last week, David Kay said he had, "uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war...". He further said, "A lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some of Saddam's WMD programme."

Iraq is tied to the first WTT bombing. Iraq is the only country in the world that trained terrorists to highjack planes without firearms using an airliner (Woolsley Director CIA). Iraq has direct ties to terrorists through School 999, Ansar al Islam, Abu Nidal and others who've fled to Baghdad throughout the last fifteen years.

Conclusion: Iraq is more directly connected to 9/11 than even Afganistan. Iraq produced weapons to kill multitudes.
Defending the indefensible begs the issue. Even assigning the most attenuated guilt possible,Iraq and most of the Arab world either aided abetted and/or applauded the 9/11 terrorists. Any of the three would be enough for most countries. We'll sort them out, even the Saudis, but to parse and winnow among thugs is to excuse criminal acts. You probably don't like Saddam, but defend him to attack Bush. Fine. But please dispute my hypotheses with facts.
Bill Heuisler


Caleb Bacharach - 1/30/2004

To address your 2 criticisms at the article:

1) "We were attacked on 9/11. Defending America is different from stopping Communism half way around the world."

This is very true. However, like Vietnam, (and even David Kay made this point explicitly to Jim Leher the other day), we went into this war with erroneous assumption about Iraq. We believed that we had to stop communism in Vietnam because it was tied to Soviet expansionism. We believed that we had to fight terrorism in Iraq because it is tied to Al Qaeda’s attack on America. In both cases, we were mistaken.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/01/28/sprj.nirq.wmd.kay/index.html

2) "To believe W would act differently to win in November or use deception to bug out of Iraq or Afganistan is to completely misread the man and also to disregard the political implications of a hasty withdrawal."

In fact, Bush has done exactly that. In the aftermath of military victory, the administration was insistent that we would stay the course in Iraq for as long as it takes. Now however, as the death count of Americans mount, the American public growing increasingly skeptical about the war, and election looming, Bush has given a specific timetable for transfer, despite evidence that the country is still too chaotic.

I make the following prediction: If and when Bush decides to pull out, the same Republicans arguing to stay as long as it takes will stand behind Bush, and try and make excuses for why this about face is in no way politically motivated.

http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-us-iraq,0,3909373.story?coll=ny-nationworld-headlines

"This isn't the first time we failed to understand what is going on as a society...In Vietnam for those of us who started our career sort of -- students of that era or creatures of that era more than students -- we misread Vietnamese society as well."


Andrew D. Todd - 1/30/2004

It didn't format very well.

For each country,
the first figure is population in million
the second figure is percent of population under 15
the third figure is armed forces, in thousands
the fouth figure is boys under fifteen, in millions

the total for "core islamic" is: population,
Armed forces,
number of boys


Andrew D. Todd - 1/30/2004

Here is a little table I worked up. I don't know if it will format properly, but let's have a try. The figures come out of the World Almanac, and are approximate:

===================================
Table of the populations, actual military strength,
and potential demographic base of boys under age 15
of actual or potential combatants in the emerging middle east
war

pct milit demog

populat. u.15 force base

mil thou mil

======================================

united states 278 21.1% 1366 29.33

united kingdom 59.6 18.9% 212 5.63

==================================

iraq 23.3 41.6% 429 4.85

iran 66.1 33.0% 513 10.91

syria 16.7 39.9% 316 3.33

jordan 5.1 37.2% 104 0.95

saudi arabia 22.7 42.5% 126 4.82

yemen 18.1 47.2% 66 4.27

egypt 69.5 34.6% 448 12.02

libya 5.2 35.4% 78 0.92

pakistan 144.6 40.5% 612 29.28

afghanistan 26.8 42.2% 0 5.65

========================================

total 398.1 2692 77.01

core islamic

=========================================

One might keep these figures in mind.


Bill Heuisler - 1/30/2004

Mr. Perlstein did far better by Barry Goldwater when he wrote one of the most readable histories about the birth of Conservative Republicanism I have ever read. His stint at the Nation has evidently curdled his instincts and badly warped his judgement. Comparing President Bush to Richard Nixon is obviously a reach to disparage, and an extremely clumsy one.

1) We were attacked on 9/11. Defending America is different from stopping Communism half way around the world. Afganistan is not at issue any more and Iraq is implicated in the attack on our country in many ways already listed in former posts here on HNN.

2)He misreads the current political situation badly. Rather than, "a war on his hands he has to get out of in order to win in November", President Bush has a war he must win in order for the US to survive. To believe W would act differently to win in November or use deception to bug out of Iraq or Afganistan is to completely misread the man and also to disregard the political implications of a hasty withdrawal. Were W to pull out of Iraq now he would lose the votes of the 60% or so of the Americans who both favor the war and want terrorism defeated.

This hit piece misses by a mile.
Bill Heuisler


Andrew D. Todd - 1/29/2004

I do not think I would compare George W. Bush to Richard Nixon. In 1969, Nixon inherited a situation with half a million men in Vietnam, and immediately commenced an orderly program of "Vietnamization." By the end of 1970, the number of Americans in Vietnam was down to 337,000,. By the end of 1971, it was down to 139,000. In the spring of 1972, the communists launched a major offensive, but the South Vietnamese army was good enough to contain this offensive. By the time of the 1972 election, Nixon had extracted all but about 30,000 troops, mostly advisers and aircrew. Nixon's considered policy was to be stingy with American troops and lavish with airpower. The core objective, "bringing the boys back home," had been met. A fair-minded electorate was willing to judge the president on net results. Nixon was not expected to take political responsibility for entering Vietnam, for the very good reason that Kennedy and Johnson had done so. Americans really do not care very much about foreigners, and it was immaterial whether bombs were still dropping in Southeast Asia, just so long as American grunts were not still walking into Vietcong ambushes. Nixon's evasions about "peace with honor," etc. were not seriously intended to deceive the American people, but merely to allow the American people to save face. Nixon was able to beat McGovern because he had preempted the antiwar issue.
Nixon had time, because he started early, and because he built upon the work of his American and French predecessors. Even if Bush were to follow Nixon's example, starting tomorrow morning, he would still have to do in four months what Nixon did in four years. That seems improbable. General Ky, the leading light of the ARVN's reform wing, for example, was the product of decades of training and experience.

Andrew D. Todd

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