We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future

From a Rolling Stone article called Back to Leaving Iraq: The Grim Truth a group of national security experts beat Senator Reid to the punch back in March of this year.
Zbigniew Brzezinski: National security adviser to President Carter

If we are willing to engage with all of Iraq’s neighbors — including Iran — in a regional effort to contain the violence, the best we can hope for is an Iraq that is politically passive but hostile toward America.

Gen. Tony McPeak (retired): Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War

Iran’s influence will have been increased geometrically. We’re already the losers in this, and now we become the big-time losers.

And this

The war in Iraq isn’t over yet, but — surge or no surge — the United States has already lost. That’s the grim consensus of a panel of experts assembled by Rolling Stone to assess the future of Iraq. “Even if we had a million men to go in, it’s too late now,” says retired four-star Gen. Tony McPeak, who served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War. “Humpty Dumpty can’t be put back together again.”

When the administration decided to invade Iraq is the same day they guaranteed that Iran for better or worse would have more influence in the region.

Nir Rosen: Author of In the Belly of the Green Bird

There is no best-case scenario for Iraq. It’s complete anarchy now. No family is untouched by kidnappings, murders, ethnic cleansing — everybody lives in a constant state of terror. Leaving aside Kurdistan, which is very different, there’s nobody in Iraq who is safe. You can get killed for being a Sunni, for being a Shia, for being educated, for being part of the former regime, for being part of the current regime. The Americans are still killing Iraqi civilians left and right. There’s no government in Iraq; it doesn’t exist outside of the Green Zone.

Michael Scheuer: Former chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit; author of Imperial Hubris

There isn’t any upper limit to how many people could get killed. Depending on how long the war lasts — a million casualties?

Senator Reid is only wrong if one interprets what he says in a very narrow way. That the war is lost in military terms. Losing is terms of being able to stay in Iraq and carry on a very basic mission composed of policing and killing is possible even for a military that Bush has so abused – We’re still capable of inflicting terrible damage on anyone – which is a good thing when used properly. But that is not the supposed to be the ultimate goal in Iraq. The goal as defined by Bush is to achieve peace and have a U.S. military presence. That scenario is the one that is lost. The political victory. We’re going on year five; are American families willing to continue losing brothers, sisters and spouses to maybe someday turn the situation around in a way that reaches a point where all parties are ready for even an uneasy peace. Is it really in our interest to continue down that path. Will the end justify the means. Are we as a country willing to do things or continue to do things that are morally questionable to achieve those ends. GOP’s Cornyn: Reid’s “War Is Lost” Comment Playing To “Antiwar Left”

CORNYN: I think this is just crass politics. Senator Reid is playing to the worst elements of the antiwar left. That’s part of unfortunately his political base. But I think, you know, we need to be more responsible. We need to try to not make this a partisan issue.

Actually, Reid is expressing an opinion held by pluralities of Americans. It’s not easy to gauge public opinion on this question — because few if any polls ask bluntly whether people think the war is completely lost already — but these numbers strongly suggest that Reid’s position is a far more mainstream position than the one held by Bush and the GOP:

As Greg Sargent and many others have pointed out if Reid is guilty of some kind of treachery (on the subject treachery – we have a president that lied us into Iraq and was so bent on invading that he betrayed a CIA agent) then since most Americans now favor a time table for withdraw and don’t think a military victory can be achieved that makes most Americans traitors by the rabid Right’s definition. Finally let’s be clear about the import of Senator Reid’s comment. It was made in the larger context of how he and most American see what is going on, Media outlets reported that Reid said Iraq war “is lost,” but failed to note his further comments

REID: This war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday.

[…]

I was like the odd guy out yesterday at the White House, but I at least told him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear. And more people have to start telling George Bush what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear. I did that. My conscience is clear, because I believe the war, at this stage, can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically.

Sure the fringe Right war-bloggers disagree, they think that all wars are won by simply continuing to kill until everyone is either dead or tired of killing and dying. Note that Bush and the Right never ever offer up any evidence that that taking a route that is more centered on political, diplomatic and economic solutions will not work. They just keep giving us the Friedman treatment – where we’re always turning corners, every six months its just another six months. Its the WMD and al-Quida story all over again. It is not the reality that matters it is what they believe. If Bush has done such a bang up job and the Right are such experts on “winning” – just tell us how, when and at what cost. In January the voters saw the progress so far and decided it was not that great.

T.E. Lawrence wrote this about England’s involvement in the middle-east in 1920, A Report on Mesopotamia

The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster.

Vatican decides not to believe in limbo any longer. Remember the brouhaha over the liberal blogger that made some remarks critical of not Catholics, but official church policy. How is it that reactionaries like Bill Donohue can work themselves into a lather about that yet has no problem with the Catholic hierarchy condemning unbaptized babies to hell for a few centuries then limbo for a few centuries and finally deciding that OK fine they can go to haven.

The Political Corruption of the Prosecutorial Function

In the period 1933-35, the conservative German legal theorist Carl Schmitt prepared a road map for the destruction of the liberal democratic constitution of Weimar Germany and the insertion in its place of an authoritarian dictatorship. The cornerstone of the Schmitt plan involved the restructuring of the legal profession, the law courts and the prosecutorial service. (I discuss this process in greater detail elsewhere.) A key element in the Schmitt plan was the political subordination of the prosecutorial service. Any notion of professional autonomy and independence was to be destroyed, and the prosecutor was to recognize that he was a tool of the Executive, doing the bidding of the Executive. In short order the persecution of the Executive’s political and social enemies (based on political and social profiling) was the order of the day, and persons close to the center of power were shielded from any prosecutorial inquiry. The rise of a one-party totalitarian state was accomplished in a manner of only a couple of years. And the subordination of the prosecutors – or to use the German term, Gleichschaltung – was a key element in its ascendancy.

History is only a great teacher when we listen, Bush Rebuffs GOP Pressure For Gonzales to Step Down

Bush expressed “full confidence” in Gonzales through a spokeswoman and praised his “fantastic” service, in hopes of quashing speculation that the attorney general would be pushed out.

” We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” George Bernard Shaw

updated 02-23-07