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March 28, 2003

Talking Points Memo
Posted by Teresa at 11:43 PM *

Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo is on fire, in an I-wish-this-wasn’t-happening kind of way. His latest concerns the administration’s latest piece of complete insanity: actively threatening Iran and Syria. To make things even more bizarre, it appears that Syria’s alleged offense—selling certain bits of military equipment to Iraq—is something we’ve known about for a while now.

Marshall also talks about how our current numbers in Iraq—we’re painfully shorthanded, which is causing real trouble—are four times what Rumsfeld et al. originally wanted to send.

When you’re finished with that one, just keep reading.

Comments on Talking Points Memo:
#1 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 12:30 AM:

Typical. We'll attack Iraq, who, at best, has Mig-29s (outclassed by US F-15s, nevermind F-22s) and T-72s (outclassed by American M60A5s, nevermind M1A1s.) We'll harrass Syria, who's military is basically impotent, and Iran, ditto.

But Saudi Arabia? The country the 9/11 Hijackers came from? No, we won't bother them. Not only do they have oil, they have F-15s and M1A1s. Wonder where they got those.

I'm no longer able to rationalize any support for this country I live in.

#2 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 01:12 AM:

Country is not government.

Now, in the particular case of this administration, considering that they appear to have entirely base motives for everything is pretty much reasonable, but there are after all perfectly good reasons not to attack Saudi Arabia, starting with the presence of the Two Holy Mosques and continuing on to the economic consequences of an interuption in their oil production.

One could even, should one be of a suspicious character, consider that having control of Iraq's oil production might be regarded as a necessary prerequist for an attack on Saudi Arabia, as a means of limiting the worst-case economic dislocation.

#3 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 10:26 AM:

Country is not government.

It is when the visible majority is supporting that government. It is when the standard means of changing that government has been subverted. It is when that Government is flying that country's flag over lands that it is conquering.

Graydon, I live in the land of "You are either with us, or against us." Or US. Either way.

And if you think the presence of Mecca or Medina matters to this bunch, you really need to rethink that. And, you know, if SA oil got knocked offline, why, they'd have to buy Texas oil again!

But that would involve picking a fight with someone who might win. Shrub won't do that.

#4 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 12:07 PM:

The Saudi military is completely dependent on foreign maintenance workers; they are much, much less likely to win than the Iraqis, despite having prettier toys.

#5 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 01:04 PM:

I'm really starting to wonder about that visible majority supporting the government thing. When I participated in the candlelight vigil thing a couple of weeks ago, we had only 2 passesrsby who either didn't support us or ignored us. Of course I haven't discussed this with my family... But I begin to wonder if I don't see signs of the tide turning. Hang on Erik and things may yet turn around. I've picked a Dem. candiate to support and work for in 2004. I think everyone else should too. They've all got web pages where you can go to read their positions. I recommend Dean myself.

MKK

#6 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 01:49 PM:

I'm rather suspicious of those 71% "support" figures myself, in particular since they never cite the exact question people were asked.

I mean, was it "Do you support the war?" or "Now that we've actually invaded and have taken over much of the country, should we finish the job so Saddam doesn't take revenge on all the provinces we invaded?"

The business with Syria and the night-vision goggles is complete BS. You can buy those on Ebay, including Russian military issue, direct from Moscow.

Everytime I hear something like that, I want to kick Rumsfeld in the shins.

#7 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 02:16 PM:

Okay. Power-crazed one-world visionary drums up some pretext for invading an underarmed nation, with ultimate goal apparently of throwing the entire world into war. Have we been here before, or what?

Sometimes I think it would be really ironic if after all was said and done we never did find any weapons of mass destruction over there.

#8 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 03:56 PM:

There certainly are chemical weapons, and I suspect that the poor sods trying to take Bagdad are going to find them in the worst possible way.

War is a process of co-operation; it's a test of the ability of your side to gang up compared to the ability of their side to gang up.

The better you gang up, the freer your choice space is -- the less you have to argue, and the more stuff and *kinds* of stuff you can get done.

In an ideal situation, everyone involved is aware of, personally invested in, and intelligent about The Plan, which includes the belief that they won't be censured from departing from it should the actual (as distinct from the expected) conditions warrant that in pursuit of the objective; it's only deviating from the object that gets you censured.

It's relatively easy to get this in relatively small forces operating in relative isolation; Nelson's 'band of brothers' is the naval example. What you do *not* get is this sort of thing happening in large forces without great and consistent principled (it has to be principled; you have to not censure people who make you look stupid) support for it.

In a case where the actual objective is concealed from public debate and military planners, where the effort of co-operation is disdained as weakness, and questioning the plan is grounds for censure (as it must be, if you don't reveal the objectives), the choice space available is going to be much, much smaller than it looks, _even to the people giving the orders_.

Possession of the predominance of force can still result in victory, but it's going to be expensive, compared to what it might have been if the effort of co-operation -- even within one's own complex of forces -- had been expended.

#9 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 08:57 PM:

Sometimes I think it would be really ironic if after all was said and done we never did find any weapons of mass destruction over there.

The latest right-wing talk radio spin (heard tonight) is that Saddam is hiding them in Syria.

(Or France ...)


#10 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 10:33 PM:

Of course. Between that, and the night vision goggles that Iraq got from (gasp!) Syria (and you can get from (gasp!) any number of electronic surplus stores) we'll be invading Syria next.

Then Iraq.

Then Ubekistan.

Our goddamnd military's being run by someone who's playing Risk. Poorly.

#11 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2003, 04:38 AM:

You've got to get to Baghdad first; and that may well end up liberated as thoroughly as Earth was in the classic story. It's possible this will diminish support for the invasions of Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Saudi, which are all being planned somewhere in the Pentagon right now.

Just one thing. There is no way in hell a British governmetn will send troops for any of those wars, not if it wants to be re-elected. Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary who resigned over the issue, has a piece in today's Sunday Mirror arguing that we should pull out now.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2003, 04:55 PM:

Everything we do will be harder from now on. Before, we had a widespread if not universal rep for being the good guys, and other countries cooperated with us. Before, we had a rep for being darn near unbeatable in war. Those were both enormous advantages, and they've both been squandered.

All we have left are our troops, which are extraordinarily good, and our legendary productive capacity. Our troops can be wasted if they're misused, though; history's full of instances of crack troops that were needlessly sacrificed by blundering commanders. Meanwhile, one of the things our national industrial engine runs on is money, and Georgie Boy and his cronies are screwing up the economy every bit as fast as they're screwing up our international relations and military standing.

That for everyone who said there's no difference between Gore and Bush -- or who thought it would be a good idea to elect a bad President, if it meant some of the voters were thereby driven into the arms of their own little faction next time around.

#13 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2003, 11:21 AM:

When Graydon wrote:

"In an ideal situation, everyone involved is aware of, personally invested in, and intelligent about The Plan, which includes the belief that they won't be censured from departing from it should the actual (as distinct from the expected) conditions warrant that in pursuit of the objective; it's only deviating from the object that gets you censured."

I have to confess, I was unavoidably reminded of the tight-lipped mob of vigilantes in Woody Allen's SHADOWS AND FOG, which I saw again on cable this weekend.

#14 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2003, 02:23 PM:

As I have never in all my days seen a Woody Allen movie, I regret that I have no least idea what you're refering to, there.

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