Two Really Good Answers to “If you knew then what you knew now” Question

On Iraq Invasion … Answer:

How many iterations do I get? I mean, we know a lot now about what worked in Iraq and what didn’t. If I knew what worked I could alter my tactics and strategy and do it far better the next time. But … that might not get it quite right, can I do another iteration and fix what doesn’t go right the second time? Be kind of cool, run the Iraq war like Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow”. Gosh we could do lots of things if we could replay hundreds of times. Now you can run this both ways from the onset to do nor not to do. But when you have replay ability clearly “do” is the correct answer, because gosh, whenever you say “do” you can replay until you get it perfect. If you “don’t” then there is no action, so no replay. So apparently the question real question at hand is “would you like a perfect Iraq invasion” or “no perfect invasion”. Clearly perfection is better.

Follow-up on this question is to ask the questioner first what thing in his life he’d most like to redo. And perhaps as well, to suggest some of the things you’d start doing differently in your re-do.

That’s the “interesting” answer. Now less “clever” answer but smarter political tack, which was a path not taken, is to turn the question on your political opponents, that is to ask about decisions made by those whom you see as your adversaries whether they’d redo their decisions. Like regarding Obamacare, Libya, or the early Iraq pullout, any “redo” or second guessing there?

 

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48 comments

  1. Boonton says:

    See questions like this are a test of ideological purity versus flexibility. Given clear evidence of failure, will a person continue to stand by the decision to invade Iraq because they cannot process data that conflicts with their world view or because they cannot tolerate to make an ideological ally uncomfortable? Or will they process and learn from mistakes they and others have made?

    So the ‘right answer’ to this question is “No I wouldn’t”. Anything else indicates a failure. The more paragraphs the person uses to answer, the deeper their failure.

  2. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Hmm. That may have been what the questioner was angling for, but it wasn’t the question asked. He asked about “what if you knew now and were making you decision then”. You now have lots of information you didn’t have before. You knwo where Bin Laden is going to hide, you know what worked and what didn’t. This is like the movie. What wasn’t asked was (in fact what Mr Bush assumed was being asked, which was would you make the same decision based on the information they had then), but given all we know now, how would you proceed. Well, a perfectly reasonable answer would be “golly, if I could fix all the errors I made before, and retry, sure. Do it right this time.” Start the “surge” and COIN operations with all the information about how to do it right from day one. In fact, you could use the actual information from the COIN manual to build up the non-armed services infrastructure for reconstruction with the army doing security. You’d know who to trust, who to contact, remember the special forces at the onset were doing “a mission every few weeks”, but at the end were doing 6 a night. You’d start doing 6 a night from the onset. You could be entrenched and in place in Fallujah and Mosul before from day one. And so on. Again, before you start, the entire Armed services (but apparently not the enemy) get to review their mistakes and correct.

    I fail to see your reaction on how “any answer” indicates a failure. I think the questioner would be taken aback and completely surprised by that answer. On the other hand, anyone in the world who plays video games (“saved game restart”) or saw Edge of Tomorrow would understand.

    You on the other hand, see this “only” as a flexibility vs purity test (and apparently lack the flexibility to see the question can be sidestepped). Tell me why this answer “indicates failure”. I don’t see it.

  3. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    And … say you decide “not invade”. 15 years later … things are worse than they are now. Go back and replay? or not? How is that an ideological test? You’ve made far more “decisions not to act” that may or may not be wrong than decision to act.

    This whole “Edge of Tomorrrow”/Saved-Game question thing is not the wonderful ideology vs flexibility test you think it is.

  4. Boonton says:

    Again this falls back to decision making ability and character. The possibilities are complex and nearly infinite but the decision is binary. Either we should have invaded or we should not have and since we have 15 years post invasion data then anyone running for the role of chief decision maker should begin his or her answer with a clear yes or no. After all, there is no other decision challenge that will be as easy since *every* real decision that will be confronted by the next President will not have even one outcome to observe.

    See I think some people like John McCain could easily pass this test. They would answer ‘yes’ and then perhaps explain while the arguments made at the time were faulty (i.e. WMDs) and some post-invasion decisions were bad, they would assert things are in fact better that we invaded than they would otherwise. Most of the GOP candidates are not in that camp yet they are unable to begin their answer with a clear ‘no’.

    The ‘saved game’ analogy is irrelevant to this test. This test is can the person make a clear decision when he is provided with more true data than one can ever get in the real world AND is he willing to set aside his ideological alliances to adjust to the challenges of real life feedback? Long story short, any response that takes up more than a few paragraphs and requires you to read all of them to know if the answer is ‘yes or no’ is a failure.

  5. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    The ‘saved game’ analogy is irrelevant to this test.

    I fail to see why. It is a completely reasonable response to the actual question. Now if, as you claim, the question is just a dog whistle with lots of other unwritten subtexts to which I am unaware. Sorry. You explanation for why “Saved-Game/Edge of Tommorrow” is an unreasonable response don’t cut it. Your argument for why it doesn’t work is that this is some sort of test … based on your assertion that this is a test. That is circular.

    Try giving a non-circular reason for why this is a bad response.

    After all, there is no other decision challenge that will be as easy since *every* real decision that will be confronted by the next President will not have even one outcome to observe.

    Spot on. I agree 100%. This is exactly why this is a really stupid question … and why the best response is to point that it is really just a saved/edge question. That response highlights the stupidity of the question and puts in correctly in the fantasy regime.

  6. Boonton says:

    I fail to see why. It is a completely reasonable response to the actual question.

    Consider these two questions:

    Should we have invaded Iraq to topple Saddam’s regime?

    Should we invade Iran to topple their regime?

    In 2002 these questions might have been the same but today we happen to have over a decade of experience with what ‘yes’ meant with Iraq. Now you could argue that if you could roll the clock back you could opt to again invade Iraq but get a radically different result by making different choices about how you invaded, how you handle the occupation, the transition etc. It is fair to say that the last 15 years could have been very different even with a ‘yes’ answer.

    But what you can’t deny is that we have more information about a ‘yes’ answer in question 1 than we do for question 2. Every problem a President will face will have less information than question 1 since he will not have even one possible outcome played out in the real world to observe. Therefore if you cannot answer question 1 without disengenous rambling and abstractions that leave the audience perplexed whether your answer is yes or no then you cannot address any non-trivial question a President may face.

    Spot on. I agree 100%. This is exactly why this is a really stupid question … and why the best response is to point that it is really just a saved/edge question. That response highlights the stupidity of the question and puts in correctly in the fantasy regime.

    This seems like a cop out to me. You’re saying since an infinite number of possibilities could play out, knowing how it did play out over the last decade provides you with no non-trivial additional information to guide your decision? Really?

  7. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    This seems like a cop out to me. You’re saying since an infinite number of possibilities could play out, knowing how it did play out over the last decade provides you with no non-trivial additional information to guide your decision? Really?

    No. Read my post. I’m saying “knowing how it did play out” gives me a freaking enormous amount of information so much that the invasion and rebuild would be a cake walk. I can correct so so many mistakes that were made on a retry. So of course, we should invade given all that future information. I’ve played my decade and now you’re telling me I get a redo? (which is partly the important clarification is how many redo/retries I get … if I get more than a few, then certainly we don’t invade, and we invade and do retry lots of decisions).

    Therefore if you cannot answer question 1 without disingenuous rambling and abstractions that leave the audience perplexed whether your answer is yes or no then you cannot address any non-trivial question a President may face.

    I don’t think comparing this to Edge of Tomorrow is either disingenuous or perplexing. Everybody understands “replay” from video games. And that’s why the question is stupid. It has no relation to anything in the real world (kinda like video games or EoT).

    Should we invade Iran to topple their regime?

    Consider in 2020 when Iran has nuked New York and Jerusalem. “Should we have invaded Iran?” might have a different answer than the one you think is reasonable, eh? If you think Iran’s regime is both soon to get nuclear weapons and likely to use them … then very likely destabilization is something you should think seriously about.

  8. Boonton says:

    No. Read my post. I’m saying “knowing how it did play out” gives me a freaking enormous amount of information so much that the invasion and rebuild would be a cake walk. I can correct so so many mistakes that were made on a retry. So of course, we should invade given all that future information. I’ve played my decade and now you’re telling me I get a redo? (which is partly the important clarification is how many redo/retries I get … if I get more than a few, then certainly we don’t invade, and we invade and do retry lots of decisions).

    In this case my requirement stands. Given the information advantage you should clearly answer the question with a ‘yes’.

    Although here I think you’ve gone too far in the other direction. Know how it went down might let you address some initial mistakes but as you change history so will all the actors change too. I think the ‘right answer’ here is clearly ‘no’. Esp. as it would be applied to unknown hypotheticals like invading Iran or Syria.

    Consider in 2020 when Iran has nuked New York and Jerusalem. “Should we have invaded Iran?” might have a different answer than the one you think is reasonable, eh?

    Indeed it might.

    If you think Iran’s regime is both soon to get nuclear weapons and likely to use them … then very likely destabilization is something you should think seriously about.

    I did, and I think the answer is no. ‘Destabilization’ indicates something half-hearted. You either invade Iran or you don’t and invading Iran is probably ten times the project that invading Iraq was. Falling short of that with ‘destabilization’ will probably just encourage faster nuke production and even use IMO.

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    I think the ‘right answer’ here is clearly ‘no’. Esp. as it would be applied to unknown hypotheticals like invading Iran or Syria.

    How could you apply “that” (that being retries) to invading Iran or Syria. That’s nonsensical.

  10. Boonton says:

    I think an invasion of Syria or Iran would have the same post invasion problems Iraq did. Insurgencies, unreliable allies, trying to install a gov’t that is both acceptable to our values and ‘legit’ would likely mean a weak government that the population may have technically consented to with an election or vote but not one the people woudl view as their own.

    The ‘retry’ argument is that we may handle some of this stuff better now that we know a bit more about what is involved. No one this time around would say something silly like “all we have to do is give them lots of reprints of The Federalist Papers”. But once bitten twice shy…IMO…is the better lesson to take from Iraq.

  11. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    But why is your answer “no” on the retry question? How many retries make your “no” turn into a yes?

  12. Boonton says:

    I don’t think the premise of the question is really about ‘retries’ in the video game sense. It is more about offering a single retry, not unlimited ‘lives’ the way you can with a video game.

    If your child was killed on the first ‘try’, how inclined would you be to try it again knowing you get just one more shot, not an infinite number of shots?

  13. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    I don’t think the premise of the question is really about ‘retries’ in the video game sense. It is more about offering a single retry, not unlimited ‘lives’ the way you can with a video game.

    Why one and not more? Seems a valid question to me once you’ve opened the saved lives scenerio in the first place. And you haven’t answered the question of how many retries turns you “no” into a “yes”?

    I’m going to ignore the question of casulties, which from a military point of view were incredibly light.

  14. Boonton says:

    Why one and not more?

    That would be trivial. Take raising your kids. If you had an infinite number of tries you would simply use all combinations and then pick the one with the best outcome. The best outcome might be something totally unexpected. For example, suppose you took a baseball bat and clubbed your kid’s knee at 10 years old. Horrible as it sounds maybe in all possible lifetimes that one results in your kids, grandkids, and greatgrandkids living happy, successful and very long lives. So say the number of combinations is fifty trillion. That 1 combination happens to be the most optimal.

    But we are discussing heuristics here, methods to make a decision. That one particular method, clubbing your kid at 10 yrs old, may be the most optimal but it probably sits in a neighborhood of very sub-optimal solutions. I would suspect you would agree most of the time physically assaulting a child produces bad results. Given unlimited replays, it wouldn’t matter. If clubbing your kid at 9 yrs old produces an emotionally devastated lifetime for her and a jail sentence for you, no matter just ‘redo’ and all harm erased. Try again at 9.001 yrs old. Repeat at 9.002 and so on.

    In real life, though, we don’t get redos and we at best get analogies instead of actual ‘redos’. We find cases where people tried something like what you may be considering and we ask ‘how did that turn out’? Most child abuse ends up with harm, so we decide that is a road we should avoid. Avoiding it means we may miss out on a diamond in the rough. The magic most optimal path happens to be a side road just off the child abuse highway. Instead we look at stuff that worked and opt to try that neighborhood. We give up the quest to discover the optimal path but we increase our odds at getting a ‘good path’.

    Another analogy here, consider prudent working and saving your pay wisely. You probably think this is most likely to provide your family with a decent life and financial stability. But consider taking your paycheck and buying scratch-off lottery tickets instead? Clearly you agree most who try that route would end up harming their families. But not if you buy lots of winning tickets! And you know if you buy enough tickets that are really good winners you will be able to provide a much better life with much more financial stability for your family than you’ll ever get doing it the ‘right way’. The odds, of course, that you’ll be the one degenerate gambler with a lucky streak long enough to last a lifetime is very slim. While doing it the ‘prudent way’ doesn’t guarantee you a good result, odds are it will give you a good but not necessary mind blowingly great life.

    So infinite redos IMO is an absurd question. At most you get a single redo in life and that would only be the case of something analogous to the original decision (i.e. invading Syria/Iran using Iraq as the example).

    Infinite redos work if you have a time machine that leaves only you with knowledge of the results (remember, the insurgents in Iraq, Al Qaeda and lots of other players would also like to try ‘redoing’ the Iraq war should the time machine become available). Or more practically it makes sense if you happen to have the computing power to simulate every possible outcome accurately…then you just pick the best outcome (something we don’t have for human behavior but probably do for some isolated problems in applied chemistry/physics/engineering).

  15. Boonton says:

    The picture at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxima_and_minima#/media/File:Extrema_example_original.svg puts this into much fewer words.

    Clearly in that example the choice of 0.2 produces by far the best outcome. However suppose it is difficult for you to target an X value so precisely, say you can expect to land +- 0.1 or so from whatever value you target. Then aiming for 0.2 isn’t a good idea. You are likely to be off and miss 0.2 by just a little and you end up in a very low zone.

    However around 0.6/0.7 you have a nice relative peak and even nicer all the points around that peak are not much lower than the peak. Clearly you should aim there, while you will not do the best possible you will more likely do better than most people who aim anywhere else.

    Now in the context of redos and analogies, you don’t get to see the curve but you do get to see a few outcomes of other choices. Since the absolute peak at 0.2 is but a single point, chances are you won’t see that peak out of a few random attempts that come before you. But the zone between 0.5 and 0.7 is much broader so you are likely to see some of the good results from others who have choosen in that zone. So with a limited # of redos, that is the zone that is most rational to end up in.

    As I said finding the max at 0.2 would require an infinite number of redos in order to map the entire curve (since we are talking about human dynamics here, there almost certainly is no way to discover some underlying function that could map out the curve for you). That would make the optimal choice a trivial exercise of mapping out the curve, finding the highest point and choosing it. But as a heuristic that is almost always unavailable. If you are given only a few shots or you are only able to ‘tweak’ (move the X value a small amount, keep moving if the results increase, move in the opposite direction if they descrease) you are more likely to end up in the local max. instead. Targetting the absolute max. would be foolhardy unless you had some superhuman information or knowledge available to you.

  16. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Actually … no redoes is the only option. If not one, there is no compelling reason for “not 2” … and by induction, infinite.

    Again, as noted, there is an incredible amount of information especially with regards to what works and what doesn’t. You only get to use that information if you redo.

    Infinite redos work if you have a time machine that leaves only you with knowledge of the results

    Didn’t you see the movie?

  17. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Again. I think we learned so so much that the redo makes sense. I also think the context of the question could be diverted to attention of how stupid the question is by transferring attention the popular notions of gaming and EoT. Iraq isn’t a “boss fight”, but a glitch in the road you misplayed.

  18. Boonton says:

    I think you’re confusing things here.

    Infinite redos clearly allow you to find the best possible outcome without regard to how counter-intuitive it may be. We don’t usually have that. Exceptions might be engineering problems where you can simulate every possible combination or where you can use Monte Carlo simulations to randomly play thousands of ‘hands’ to get an approximation of what the distribution of outcomes looks likes.

    “Knowing what we know now” is not the same as video game style redos. It would be like playing a video game where you just get one redo and that’s it.

    This is then a question for analogy. Iraq is not going to be ‘redone’ so the question is really one of judgement (can you admit that things you thought were right then were not) and one of analogy (what has Iraq taught us about what an invasion of countries like Syria, Iran, or Libya might actually entail). Individual mistakes with Iraq (i.e. ‘trusting’ this tribal leader, not watching that force closer) may help with a real Iraq redo but aren’t useful for the discussion. One would have to learn more high level lessons (i.e. keep an eye on what will happen to the men and weapons of a disbanded army).

  19. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Infinite redos clearly allow you to find the best possible outcome without regard to how counter-intuitive it may be.

    Actually it doesn’t. It seems you don’t play video games. No matter how many redo’s you try if you don’t have the stuff to win the boss fight you can’t win the boss fight. The point being infinite redos doesn’t actually give you anything you want. It gives you what is possible. “However, if you make a few twitch errors walking into a random encounter meet a tough mid-level fight, it might take a redo or two to get it. And that is more akin to the situation in Iraq. Fix a few things and we’d probably get it very close to right on the next redo, one or two more and we’d have a winner. Which was the point of my “how many redos” question to you that you doggedly dodged.

    Iraq is not going to be ‘redone’ so the question is really one of judgement (can you admit that things you thought were right then were not) and one of analogy (what has Iraq taught us about what an invasion of countries like Syria, Iran, or Libya might actually entail). Individual mistakes with Iraq (i.e. ‘trusting’ this tribal leader, not watching that force closer) may help with a real Iraq redo but aren’t useful for the discussion. One would have to learn more high level lessons (i.e. keep an eye on what will happen to the men and weapons of a disbanded army).

    If that is your question. Ask that question. Don’t mask it with blatantly stupid redo crap.

    Individual mistakes with Iraq (i.e. ‘trusting’ this tribal leader, not watching that force closer) may help with a real Iraq redo but aren’t useful for the discussion.

    Why are you asking this? I’ve never said that, in fact have repeatedly (!) said that isn’t the sort of information that is useful.

    One would have to learn more high level lessons (i.e. keep an eye on what will happen to the men and weapons of a disbanded army).

    !!!! What the heck is this “love the straw man week?” I’ve now claimed that sort of information isn’t at all the what we learned. We learned methods and tactics. What works, what doesn’t. “keep an eye on disbanded army and materiel” … might be useful but I’ve never suggested or considered it.

    As an aside, it’s also continuing as incredibly strange that after a conflict that proved the basic COIN methods from the Petraeus manual work, that nobody anywhere has actually noted the things that manual suggests to make such operations really far more effective, specifically building effective non-armed services third world assistance techniques, people and methods. You’d think that the Democrats would be all aboard (for non-COIN applications to help with world poverty and such) that. But no. Not at all.

  20. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I think our disagreement here is on how close we were to achieving positive lasting results in Iraq. You think it would take many (or an undisclosed number of retries) and I think we were very close, perhaps the next, or two or three tries and we’d have it.

    One other point, typically while it is true an “infinite” number of retries can find the “best” possible outcome, in my modest gaming experience the first “non-failure/pretty-good” outcome you get and you move on even though the game gives you unlimited retries.

  21. Boonton says:

    In a video game, you are using ‘redo’ to get to the optimal solution. If you do not have the skills to pull off the strokes needed to defeat the boss, that simply means you cannot try the combinations of actions that achieve the optimal solution.

    Video games are a bit different from real life in that the optimal solution is already known, defeat the boss and advance to the next level…just have to figure out how to get there.

    In real life, the optimal solution is unknown. Defeating Hitler in WWII was clearly good, but was it optimal? Would the world have ended up better if the US invaded Eastern Europe rather than Western Europe? The cost of the invasion might have been much higher but ‘free Europe’ during the Cold War might have been much larger. The optimal solution would require infinite ‘redo’s and then measuring how good each set of actions ended up.

    We learned methods and tactics. What works, what doesn’t. “keep an eye on disbanded army and materiel” … might be useful but I’ve never suggested or considered it

    Well one problem here is others have also learned. The type of insurrgency we’d likely see in a post-invasion Syria or Iran would likely be a lot different than the one we saw in Iraq.

    The question here is again two-fold. What type of judgement should we place on the decision to invade Iraq, was it a mistake or not? The second question is what lessons would a candidate take from the example of the invasion we did do. Your answer seems to be to tweak tactical mistakes. My answer is that the invasion of Iraq demonstrated many Middle East nations aren’t really unified units but ‘heaps of rubble’ consisting of numerous groups whose motives are unstable and are very difficult to align into a cohesive whole.

    Invasion then is a bit like hitting a vase with a hammer and then using crazy glue to put it back together again without any seams. In theory that sounds possible but try it only once and you see that it doesn’t work. You seem to have tried it once and figure if you just get another chance you can make it work. I’m skeptical.

    COIN methods from the Petraeus manual work, that nobody anywhere has actually noted the things that manual suggests to make such operations really far more effective, specifically building effective non-armed services third world assistance techniques, people and methods.

    I’m sorry, what exactly is the evidence that COIN works? All that seems to have ever happened in Iraq was a temperory lull in insurgent activity followed by a weak coalition of Shi’ite groups united only in excluding Sunnis….which lead half the country into ISIS’s hands.

    Are you going to respond that COIN wasn’t fully implemented? Why not? Perhaps because things like “building effective non-armed services third world assistance” serve as kind of a magic asterisk. What evidence do you have of effective assistance being done on a national scale by foreign countries from the other side of the world who don’t even speak the language?

  22. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    In a video game, you are using ‘redo’ to get to the optimal solution. If you do not have the skills to pull off the strokes needed to defeat the boss, that simply means you cannot try the combinations of actions that achieve the optimal solution.

    Actually that’s not my experience. Typically if you can’t get past a boss conflict it isn’t about skills, luck, and twitch. You don’t have the levels and equipment. You have to go *way* back and replay the whole level (or restart from scratch) and not face the boss until you have the “stuff” to make it past him. I guess in the context (which was specifically not asked) was to crank the redo back 10 more years so you could get COIN non-army governmental and NGO operations up to snuff.

    Perhaps because things like “building effective non-armed services third world assistance” serve as kind of a magic asterisk. What evidence do you have of effective assistance being done on a national scale by foreign countries from the other side of the world who don’t even speak the language?

    Actually we do this all the time. And you know it. We build schools, assist in setting up hospitals, and provide lots of non-military assistance all over the world. But we don’t do it seriously and very effectively. If we were serious about that (for Iraq) then we’d emerge from that with the expertise and apparatus (skills and people and organizations) to rebuild and get going lots of other troubled places in the world. Which was my point, because nobody read the actual COIN manual nobody (on the left especially) saw the opportunity for getting the stuff to do a world of good all over if they actually followed the manual’s advice. Who do you think is better at installing a power generation station the US Army or GE (pick your preferred company in the industry).

    The question here is again two-fold. What type of judgement should we place on the decision to invade Iraq, was it a mistake or not?OK. Freaking ask that question directly not with stupid redo crapola. And … my question to you (on your “how many redos” … which you still dodge) is how close do you think we were to getting it right?

    Your answer seems to be to tweak tactical mistakes.

    We had lots of tactical errors which we ultimately learned to correct. They would help immensely. We had a few strategic errors one in field on domestic. Our in field errors include primarily not releasing and promoting US economic opportunities be applied into Iraq to help accelerate and promote economic development and embed our interests. Secondly we pulled out too early. Our domestic error was Bush playing hands off on defending his actions and our activities against a hostile press. As an aside, I think the hostile press will have 2nd Amendment consequences in a generation (when the Iraq veterans are not uncommon in our government and places of influence … .and remember the press was hostile and on the enemies side when they were in harms way).

    I’m skeptical.

    Bush assumed all people desire freedom and prosperity. He gave them the first and a chance for the second. Watching liberals run colleges … and seeing your skepticism, I’d offer you disagree with the universality of the desirability of Liberty.

    The type of insurrgency we’d likely see in a post-invasion Syria or Iran would likely be a lot different than the one we saw in Iraq.

    Which highlights the (recurring theme) stupidity of the question. If you want to ask “what should we do in Iran or Syria”, well, ask that. Duh. But he didn’t. He asked about video game redo’s which aren’t a proxy for any of the “good” questions you would like to ask.

  23. Boonton says:

    And you know it. We build schools, assist in setting up hospitals, and provide lots of non-military assistance all over the world. But we don’t do it seriously and very effectively

    We do this on an ad hoc basis but I’m not aware of any country where we literally set up their school systems, health care systems, etc. Perhaps there are limited examples of our post-WWII occupations of Germany and Japan but there both countries already had a decent system of local gov’t providing services to the population. I don’t think there are any examples of true ‘nation building’ where a first world country enters a falling apart country like Somalia and builds it up to a nice place.

    Which was my point, because nobody read the actual COIN manual nobody (on the left especially)…

    And very few people have actually read Das Kapital. Failure to read it doesn’t answer the question I asked you. What actual evidence is there that this can work at a reasonable cost in US lives and money? Previously in your response you hinted that maybe the US should have started NGO work in Iraq 10 years earlier (under the eye of Saddam’s regime?). So are you saying we should start signing Iranians up for US food stamps as part of a long run plan to eventually invade Iran half a generation in the future?

    Who do you think is better at installing a power generation station the US Army or GE (pick your preferred company in the industry).

    Well GE does have a better record of that sort of thing, but it has a good record of building plants for paying, peaceful customers who are focused on improving their power grids. Imagine if GE tried to fulfill a contract to build a power plant in Atlanta in the closing days of the Civil War when Sherman was marching through? Ultimately countries like Syria, Iraq, even Iran have to settle upon what type of nations they will be or even if they will still be nations before ‘nation building’ can happen.

    As an aside, I think the hostile press will have 2nd Amendment consequences in a generation (when the Iraq veterans are not uncommon in our government and places of influence … .and remember the press was hostile and on the enemies side when they were in harms way).

    I think you’re channelling some vietnam silliness here. the Press was remarkably accepting of the Bush administration’s claims and even today suffers a credibility problem because of it. And many Iraqi veterns are not fans of the war and understand more than most the reasons the be skeptical of it. If I were you I’d watch to see how successful the more hawkish GOP candidates end up. (BTW, don’t you mean 1st amendment).

    Which highlights the (recurring theme) stupidity of the question. If you want to ask “what should we do in Iran or Syria”, well, ask that.

    I’m not following you here. You seem to be making a case for the Iraq war on the grounds that it provided the people the opportunities for freedom and prosperity. Wouldn’t that argument work for a lot of proposed invasions (Iran, Syria, N. Korea, Libya….and maybe the dozen or so countries McCain would have us at war with today if he had won the election and we take his statements seriously)?

  24. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Why should anyone read Das Kapital? I can think of good reasons to read the COIN manual, especially if you are in a position to make decisions or want to sound intelligent about, well, COIN operations.

    Well GE does have a better record of that sort of thing, but it has a good record of building plants for paying, peaceful customers who are focused on improving their power grids.

    Well, the actual COIN manual specifies that it ideal if the armed services concentrate on security, while the other NGO and government groups build infrastructure. Failing the infrastructure (as happened) the armed services have to try to do everything, which it points out it is not as good at doing. Speaking of security, you do realize that the death rate in Chicago, Detroit and many other large US cities matched that of Baghdad during most of the post-war period.

    I think you’re channelling some vietnam silliness here. the Press was remarkably accepting of the Bush administration’s claims and even today suffers a credibility problem because of it.

    Not from where I sat during that time. I recall reading an incredible amount of negative press. Here’s an example. How many stories of the Medal of Honor winners did you read in the press (and not on blogs)? Name one mainstream journalists who did any reporting of the sort Michael Yon was doing on blogs. One. Just. One (bonus points if you don’t have to Google).

  25. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Sorry, I was confusing Mein Kampf with Das Kapital. Which I’ll freely admit I haven’t read. But then again I haven’t read Keynes (anything) Mankiw Principles of Economics either. Why should I read Das first.

    I’d add, anyone who reads Das Kapital should also be required to read the Gulag Archipelago too (which I did read).

  26. Boonton says:

    Speaking of security, you do realize that the death rate in Chicago, Detroit and many other large US cities matched that of Baghdad during most of the post-war period.

    Except we can build power plants, roads, new water treatment plants etc. to serve Chicago and Detroit without killing 3K US troops, many more others, and spending nearly $3T.

    We get Chicago and Detroit for free, why are we paying to buy Baghdad?

    Not from where I sat during that time. I recall reading an incredible amount of negative press. Here’s an example. How many stories of the Medal of Honor winners did you read in the press

    What relevance does this have with anything? Does the Iraq invasion become wiser if the troops who fought in it are braver than in other wars? In all wars soldiers on all sides fight and there are always individual stories of honor. You are basically advocating theft here. You would steal honor away from individual soldiers who earned it to shill for a policy that doesn’t merit it.

    Sorry, I was confusing Mein Kampf with Das Kapital. Which I’ll freely admit I haven’t read. But then again I haven’t read Keynes (anything) Mankiw Principles of Economics either. Why should I read Das first.

    Beats me, you’re the one saying everyone should read the COIN manual. I’m asking for evidence that it actually works. You seem to be attempting to respond with the old argument made by socialists…..i.e. that ‘true socialism’ has never been tried so you can’t talk Cuba, N Korea, China, USSR, East Germany etc. when discussing if socialism works.

  27. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Re: Security and Chicago/Detroit and your response. Look you said the reason American companies couldn’t go into there was because of security problems. But … numerically and realistically in US controlled regions security was similar to that in large American cities. Regarding costs in life and specie we’d already dealt with that. The realization of a rapidly improving democratic (or mostly democratic) mostly Arab nation in the Middle East is, yes, likely worth the cost you suggest.

    The relevance of negative press is exactly what I stated, the men and women who served in Iraq in a generation will be America’s leaders in business and politics. They will remember the Press mainly as an organ which hated them.

    What relevance does this have with anything? Does the Iraq invasion become wiser if the troops who fought in it are braver than in other wars?

    Straw man … killed. How many retries do you want. (hint: the point of note telling the most positive stories from Iraq was that there were almost no positive stories at all. Not because there weren’t. But because the press hated the military and the Iraq conflict and did everything including libel and treading at or over the treasonous line in their reporting. Why is this important. See above.

    Beats me, you’re the one saying everyone should read the COIN manual

    No. I’m saying if you want to offer opinions, make judgments, or just plain not sound silly about a COIN operation due diligence would suggest you peruse the actual manual on which the US operations were based.

    I’m asking for evidence that it actually works.

    It did work. We just left before the lessons took and the Iraqi’s were ready to go it on their own.

  28. Boonton says:

    The relevance of negative press is exactly what I stated, the men and women who served in Iraq in a generation will be America’s leaders in business and politics. They will remember the Press mainly as an organ which hated them.

    Conservatives seem to be under the delusion that ordering others to fight a war is the same thing in terms of personal honor as fighting a war yourself. How else can a statement like this make sense where criticism of decisions made by people like Bush and Cheney somehow morph into hatred of troops on the ground?

    No. I’m saying if you want to offer opinions, make judgments, or just plain not sound silly about a COIN operation due diligence would suggest you peruse the actual manual on which the US operations were based.

    So COIN was implemented and it failed. Or are you saying COIN was not implemented correctly so it failed as a result and if only it was ‘done right’ things would be better?

    It did work. We just left before the lessons took and the Iraqi’s were ready to go it on their own.

    And that would have been when? Is it a time limit (15 years instead of ten)? Is it some delieverable metric (so many purely Iraqi divisions made it through boot camp)? You are aware that Obama did NOT accelerate the timetable for US departure agreed to by the Bush administration. Did they forget to consult COIN when laying that out or is COIN premised on indefinate occupation?

  29. Boonton says:

    It did work.

    Evidence? A different reading would be that insurgency subsided briefly when one tribal leader decided to switch sides resulting in a temporary defeat for the Sunni minority. The resulting gov’t, though, only appeared stable on the surface. It did not have ‘buy in’ from the Sunni’s and the Shi’ites had little interest in bringing them into the gov’t as equals given the long history of repressions they suffered under Saddam. History does seem to imply that if a gov’t doesn’t have buy in from the major ethnic factions, it needs to be brutal to force compliance on the population.

    The quick rise of ISIS indicates that the same problem was there all along, not that Iraq was just ‘unready’ to be on its own. This is evidenced by the fact that the Iraqi military and militias do seem capable of stopping ISIS, when they start encroaching on traditional Shi’ite areas.

    This is evidence that before there can really be a ‘democratic Iraq’ several disputes need to be settled with the main one being whether Iraqi’s really want to be united in a pluralistic state (think India) or divided into roughly ethnic factions into different states (again think India and Pakistan).

  30. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Hmm.

    Conservatives seem to be under the delusion that ordering others to fight a war is the same thing in terms of personal honor as fighting a war yourself.

    And it seems that liberals like logical fallacies. This is a two-fer, wrapping the straw man argument with an ad hominem. Cute. But not exactly useful. You need to inspect the voting record for sanctioning action in Iraq. It wasn’t a party line split. It was, alas, almost unanimously in favor of. Before you go to war is the time to dissent. Afterwards it is less useful, counter productive, and when taken to extremes (pointing out weakness, planned strategy, or spreading lies/propoganda helpful for the other side … well that borders on treason, if not technically legally, certainly morally).

    COIN was implemented and succeeded. As I said we left before Iraq had stabilized sufficiently.

    And that would have been when? Is it a time limit (15 years instead of ten)? Is it some delieverable metric (so many purely Iraqi divisions made it through boot camp)? You are aware that Obama did NOT accelerate the timetable for US departure agreed to by the Bush administration.

    Why do you think 10 is reasonable. How many years did reconstruction take in Japan and Germany? Seems to me that was far more than 10 years.

    You are aware that Obama did NOT accelerate the timetable for US departure agreed to by the Bush administration.

    I was not aware that the Democrats put no pressure at all to shorten any timetables. It seems to be they did put considerable pressure to that end. Own it dude. Your team screwed this particular pooch.

  31. Boonton says:

    This is a two-fer, wrapping the straw man argument with an ad hominem.

    No ad hominem here. You equated criticism of the war with hatred of the military. This makes no sense unless you are under the delusion that the men who fought the war were the men who made the decision to start it. Show me a single person who voted for or advocated the war from a high Executive position who was also a medal of honor winner or purple heart winner in that same war?

    It wasn’t a party line split. It was, alas, almost unanimously in favor of.

    I guess this would contradict your claim that the press was also against the war. Or you’d have to revise your claim that the press is often liberal, so the below would have to be rethought.

    But because the press hated the military and the Iraq conflict and did everything including libel and treading at or over the treasonous line in their reporting

    COIN

    COIN was implemented and succeeded. As I said we left before Iraq had stabilized sufficiently.

    Given the reality today that’s kind of like saying reattaching your car bumper with duck tape had ‘stabilized it’ even though it feel off a few minutes later when you pulled out of your driveway.

    If Iraq was stable, then it wasn’t too early to pull out. If Iraq was not stable enough for us to pull out, then COIN did not succeed as you’ve claimed.

    Why do you think 10 is reasonable. How many years did reconstruction take in Japan and Germany? Seems to me that was far more than 10 years.

    Wow, and all this should have been debated and decided in a few months before the war (“Before you go to war is the time to dissent. Afterwards it is less useful, counter productive, and when taken to extremes (pointing out weakness, planned strategy, or spreading lies/propoganda helpful for the other side … well that borders on treason, if not technically legally, certainly morally)”).

    So let me follow this, we decided to go to war to promote democracy, which means the people get to decide once after a few weeks of debate and then are bound to shut up and live with that for maybe two or three generations beyond? It seems to me even electing an absolute king for life would be more democratic than what you propose.

    I was not aware that the Democrats put no pressure at all to shorten any timetables. It seems to be they did put considerable pressure to that end. Own it dude. Your team screwed this particular pooch.

    So the Bush timetable was unreasonably accelerated due to Democratic criticism? Hmmm, so COIN couldn’t even be implemented given our Domestic politics…explain again to me how it can manage the politics of a nation on the other side of the world, that speaks a foreign language and has a culture radically different from our own?

  32. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    You deny the ad hominem? You don’t seem to realize your words aren’t lost. You said

    Conservatives seem to be under the delusion that ordering others to fight a war is the same thing in terms of personal honor as fighting a war yourself.

    I am a conservative with children. I am not delusional, yet you implied I was. (that’s the ad hominem, btw). And the strawman? “ordering others to fight a war is the same thing in terms of personal honor as fighting a war yourself.” This is a strawman. Nobody is either making or defending anything like that.

    You equated criticism of the war with hatred of the military.

    What I actually said was that the Press by their writing during the war treated the soldiers themselves as the enemy. Oddly enough, you’ll find the press did not restrict themselves to criticism of Bush/Cheney. You apparently seem to think there is nothing that could be said that is out of bounds. I disagree. I happen to think that the performance of our servicemen and women met the highest standard of any military deployment at any time in history by any metric you’d like, including casualties, valor, and the treatment of civilians, and so on. But this wasn’t how it was reported. Why not?

    Wow, and all this should have been debated and decided in a few months before the war

    Yep.

    the people get to decide once after a few weeks of debate

    Actually we have elected representatives … perhaps you were unaware that we don’t not actually live in a direct democracy. And “a few weeks” … they took almost a year debating about what to do.

    explain again to me how it can manage the politics of a nation on the other side of the world, that speaks a foreign language and has a culture radically different from our own?

    Read the freaking book. If you want to talk about COIN, read a little about it.

    If Iraq was stable, then it wasn’t too early to pull out. If Iraq was not stable enough for us to pull out, then COIN did not succeed as you’ve claimed.

    Let’s see. A surgeon operates on you. The operation was successful. He tells you you need to avoid exercise for 6 months to avoid re-injury. You play rugby two week later and hurt yourself, and then try to claim that the surgery was faulty. Gotcha. Or perhaps you are just assuming the conclusion and making up reasons for why it is so.

  33. Boonton says:

    You deny the ad hominem? You don’t seem to realize your words aren’t lost. You said

    Yes, let’s review what an ad hominem is:

    You are wrong because you are an idiot.

    You’re argument is so wrong only an idiot would make it.

    The first one is ad hominem error. You may or may not be an idiot, but an idiot could be right or wrong. The second one is not. The statement leaves out why your argument happens to be wrong, but in itself it is not an ad hominem….a bit rude perhaps but no ad hominem.

    The message is ad hominem is not simply an argument that hurts your feelings or appears ‘rude’.

    Anyway, you argued that those who fought in the Iraq war will come home, enter politics and other leadership positions and then express resentment at those who oppose, opposed or criticized the war. This confuses fighting in a war with deciding to go to war. Both are different decisions and can either be honorable or dishonorable.

    Example: Suppose I told you GI Bill landed in Normandy in WWII but started stealing money from civilians, killed some POWs, and raped some peasents before the MP’s caught up to him. He was tried and executed. Was FDR honorable in bringing the US to war against Hitler? Yes. Was GI Bill’s service honorable? No.

    Likewise honorable service by the present members of the military doesn’t accrue to Dick Cheney and George Bush’s benefit anymore than GI Bills bad acts accrued to FDR.

    What I actually said was that the Press by their writing during the war treated the soldiers themselves as the enemy.

    Yea no one else thinks that. The media provided and still provides endless stories of “Brave Solder X is finally coming hom to his/her loving family” as well as “Solder Y took two bullets to save his buddy” etc. etc. There are likely endless stories concerned with the welfare of soldiers (were they getting the proper body armour, are they getting good medical care, are employers not giving them a fair shot at job openings etc.). These are easy stories for the press to assign to reporters since they have human interest appeal and they usually don’t require a lot of work to scoop out and don’t generate much controversy.

    You apparently seem to think there is nothing that could be said that is out of bounds. I disagree. I happen to think that the performance of our servicemen …

    Blah blah blah, You did just argue that we couldn’t criticize Bush/Cheney once the ‘decision was made’.

    Let’s see. A surgeon operates on you. The operation was successful. He tells you you need to avoid exercise for 6 months to avoid re-injury. You play rugby two week later and hurt yourself, and then try to claim that the surgery was faulty

    Except the 6 months as laid out in the timeline initially set up by those who made the COIN manual which you claim is the endall, be all. And it isn’t exactly like Iraq was ‘exercising’. All that was asked of Iraq was that they run their own country. So your analogy would be more like after waiting in bed for 71/2 months, you very carefully stood up and then your leg fell off and your surgeon claims his work was highly successful, just you were recklessly using your leg for standing!

  34. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    The message is ad hominem is not simply an argument that hurts your feelings or appears ‘rude’.

    I agree. But what you said wasn’t that. You claimed that conservatives (and by this you certainly intentionally include me) believe that they acquire valor through valorous actions of soldiers. This is a scurrilous statement, completely based in fantasy, and not a statement like “your argument is so wrong that only and idiot would make it” but that your argument is wrong because you hold horrible beliefs (for which btw there is exactly 0 basis). Look at the structure of your definition of ad hominem. You offer two possibilities:

    1. You are wrong because you have property X is ad hominem. (this is a ad hominem)
    2. Making argument you did is a sign that you have property X. (this is not an ad hominem

    The statement Conservative believe X (where X is stolen valor) is akin to statment #1 above, which you claim is an ad hominem. Your statement structurally was exactly akin to the statement of type 1. Furthermore this statement is utterly without basis. Cite me anything that you interpret as having that plain meaning, that you can see that the speaker “steals valor” for himself, seeing bravery or valor of soldiers imputes bravery or valor to himself. You will fail to do this. An apology would be nice.

    Likewise honorable service by the present members of the military doesn’t accrue to Dick Cheney and George Bush’s benefit anymore than GI Bills bad acts accrued to FDR.

    And I never claimed so. Nobody did. Only very ideologically blinded liberals impute that.

    Yea no one else thinks that.

    Hmm. Don’t read much conservative writings do you.

    So your analogy would be more like after waiting in bed for 71/2 months, you very carefully stood up and then your leg fell off and your surgeon claims his work was highly successful, just you were recklessly using your leg for standing!

    Hmm. You’ve read the COIN manual and can cite why you think the exit plan was planned according to COIN prerogatives or do you think domestic imperatives drove the schedule. Hmm?

    Anyway, you argued that those who fought in the Iraq war will come home, enter politics and other leadership positions and then express resentment at those who oppose, opposed or criticized the war. This confuses fighting in a war with deciding to go to war. Both are different decisions and can either be honorable or dishonorable.

    That’s not exactly right. What I said has nothing to do with honor, dishonor or reasons for fighting. Look. I think that those who fought in Iraq will in a generation be our leaders, because of the crucible and experiences they underwent will have changed them in ways those who stayed home will not have. I believe the Press acted as their enemy. I think they know that. I think in a generation the Press will reap consequences. This has nothing to do with resentment.

    Suppose I told you GI Bill landed in Normandy in WWII but started stealing money from civilians, killed some POWs, and raped some peasents before the MP’s caught up to him. He was tried and executed. Was FDR honorable in bringing the US to war against Hitler? Yes. Was GI Bill’s service honorable? No.

    Not what I’m saying. Suppose GI Bill wasn’t the only GI who misbehaved in WWII. But that the press reported every single person like Bill they could find and 90% of the stories of our soldiers abroad were about guys like Bill and 10% were about marines and pilots at Guadalcanal. That’s how the Press behaved. And it’s almost certain the soldiers know that.

    The media provided and still provides endless stories of “Brave Solder X is finally coming hom to his/her loving family” as well as “Solder Y took two bullets to save his buddy” etc. etc.

    They. Did. Not. “Still provides” Ok. Cite two stories in the NYTimes in the last two months to that effect.

  35. Boonton says:

    They. Did. Not. “Still provides” Ok. Cite two stories in the NYTimes in the last two months to that effect.

    Challenging as I have to dodge the NYT Paywall but not that much.

    http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/?action=click&contentCollection&region=TopBar&WT.nav=searchWidget&module=SearchSubmit&pgtype=Homepage#/veterans/365days/allresults/1/allauthors/newest/

    June 20 Brian Williams apologizing to vets
    June 19 Will Federal VA health care plan hurt the Alaska one?
    June 19 Peer support for depressed veterans
    June 18 Millions of $ for Veterans exposed to agent orange
    June 16 Salute to Veterans air show
    June 12 Database may be able to identify veterans at suicide risk
    June 11 Body of American vet who signed up to fight ISIS returned to family
    June 11 Film at Cannes about vets with PTSD
    June 7 Fight in S.C. over turning an air base into a veterans cemetary

    I left out obits, stories about Congressmen who sit on the VA committee and others. I didn’t see a single negative story along the lines of what you mentioned, however.

    In fact, it was pretty hard to find stuff you claim is common. For example, “US soldier court martialed” yielded just 3 entries in the last year, 2 about a case from 1863. Looking for court martial stories for a whole year ends up with very little if you back out Lt. Bergdahl.

    Now look at searching CNN for ‘veteran’
    http://www.cnn.com/search/?text=veteran

    Get about 7 of the exact types of stories I told you about (backing out other uses of the word like related to sports). None of the type you describe.

  36. Mark says:

    You said many stories of the troops in Afghanistan. You cite 10 articles, alas not one about the troops in Afghanistan. You know stories of the troops, what they are doing, what life is like, what they are accomplishing and planning, who they are operating against and where. Those stories.

    Missing.

    The negative stories were during the Iraqi war. And yes. You won’t find them in the papers today. Tis old news.

  37. Boonton says:

    Your challenge:

    They. Did. Not. “Still provides” Ok. Cite two stories in the NYTimes in the last two months to that effect.

    The ‘effect’ was what I described:

    The media provided and still provides endless stories of “Brave Solder X is finally coming hom to his/her loving family” as well as “Solder Y took two bullets to save his buddy” etc. etc. There are likely endless stories concerned with the welfare of soldiers (were they getting the proper body armour, are they getting good medical care, are employers not giving them a fair shot at job openings etc.). These are easy stories for the press to assign to reporters since they have human interest appeal and they usually don’t require a lot of work to scoop out and don’t generate much controversy.

    But if you want Afghanistan:
    http://www.cnn.com/search/?text=US+soldiers+afghanistan

    I imagine Afghan centered stories will get sparse after April since the US is down to less than 10K troops in Afghanistan, mostly in Kabul to protect the embassies (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Withdrawal_of_U.S._troops_from_Afghanistan#Post-2014_presence_plans)

  38. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Apparently you remember what I do not. I never saw stories in papers about the actions of our troops on a daily basis in the papers. I never saw ordinary heroism and endurance celebrated. I never saw daily accounts of progress and setback in the paper. What I remember were loudest were stories of soldiers perhaps killing a civilian, I remember endless stories about Abu Graib abuses going on for months when all of the stories broke after the actors and those in charge had been tried in court-martial. I remember stories like that. I remember the press and the left celebrating those who suggested assassinating the President (hint: this isn’t “criticism”). I remember a Mr Kerry commenting that those soldiers were over there because they couldn’t get a job at home. You seem to forget all criticism aimed at the soldiers. Selective memory?

    But you remember lots of positive stories about our soldiers and nothing at all negative. Hmm. Was that selective memory for this discussion or has it really been that long.

  39. Boonton says:

    You have you feelings about what you think you remember. You proposed an objective test of the theory you formed from your feelings. Your theory failed the test.

  40. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    You have you feelings about what you think you remember. You proposed an objective test of the theory you formed from your feelings. Your theory failed the test.

    Wow. Just wow.

    Let’s recap. I said during the Afghan and Iraq invasions (George W’s terms) the press was hostile to the armed services and they never covered the armed services actions in the field, conditions and what they were doing and what life was like, but instead harped on negatives (every failure to follow over-complicated ROI, and other examples were given). You responded and said there were still common reports in all the media. I said that was untrue and challenged you to find such reports. You came back with many articles are reports, none of which were actions in the field, conditions, objectives and actions of merit but were all domestic reports. So you failed your test and never tested mine, but having failed to meet my challenge (but pretending you succeed) you say my theory fails.

  41. Boonton says:

    Again you asked for articles posted in the last two months in the NYT. Your assertion was that there would be far too many negative articles about individual soldiers. I argued there would be many positive stories mostly talking about individual soldiers, concern about veterans, and so on. I found positive articles and no negative ones. I extended the search to CNN which has more ‘human interest’ type stories than the more formal NYT and the dominance of positive orientated stories only increased.

    You now seem to be changing your test to include stories about ‘action in the field’….which isn’t very practical since a lot of field action has stopped now that most troops are out of both Afghanistan and Iraq. (anti-ISIS operations seem like they are mostly special forces affairs which would not normally have reporters embedded with them for real time reports) You also seem to be withdrawing from objective tests and retreating to, as usual, pretending your memory and imagination trump objective facts.

  42. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Again you asked for articles posted in the last two months in the NYT.

    No. You said they were still happening. I challenged you to prove it. In my initial comments I referred to articles about soldiers in the field .. and was refering specifically to during the Bush era. I’m not changing. You altered it and now you insist it was my original stance.

  43. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Look. You change the criteria when you suggested there were still the stories I originally talked about were still being posted. Recall what I said. I said that the soldiers who have returned from Iraq remember that the press was their enemy. This is about the press back then. While the press has become less hostile in recent years (Democratic press, Democratic President) … they still do not tell the solider’s story.

    Let me ask a test case. (and I’ll trust you not to google). On military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan how are human wastes disposed? Bonus points if you can name the paper and an approximate date you learned that if you learned it from a paper or MSM new outlet.

  44. Boonton says:

    Before taking yet another test, let me get this straight…you’re saying that a lack of an article about burning off waste at desert base camps would be viewed as the media being very hostile to the military by soldiers in the field?

  45. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I was speaking of a lack of coverage of living conditions. And by which MSM media did you learn that?

  46. Boonton says:

    You said hostility, not lack of coverage of living conditions. I don’t see many articles about what garbage pickup in my town in NJ. I don’t read that as ‘big media’ being anti-North NJ residents.

    I don’t think you have any idea what you are objecting too. 90% of this exists in the collective imagination of the right wing and is immune from any actual attempt to fact check the reality of the claims.

  47. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    I don’t think you have any idea what you are objecting too. 90% of this exists in the collective imagination of the right wing and is immune from any actual attempt to fact check the reality of the claims.

    Your failure to produce what you says is a failure on my part? How? Your failure to remember what happened 10-14 years ago isn’t my problem. My failure to do an academic study counting articles also doesn’t mean I’m wrong. During that time I clearly perceive the press as going past being hostile to the war, they were hostile to the military and the soldiers. It happened. Now it might be that like you, the soldiers to whom this hostility was expressed has been forgotten. That may be and that may be what saves the press in a generation from now. I wrote about it then and the passage time doesn’t change that.

    Look. Your claims that the casualties were high is innumerate and wrong. Your claim that the press coverage during the Bush era is wrong.

  48. Boonton says:

    Again you asked me to cite articles from the last 2 months, not 10-14 yrs ago. I did, and you now want to move around the goal posts. It is not my failure to disprove your assertions, it is your responsibility to establish them as true.

    I never saw daily accounts of progress and setback in the paper. What I remember were loudest were stories of soldiers perhaps killing a civilian, I remember endless stories about Abu Graib abuses going on for months when all of the stories broke after the actors and those in charge had been tried in court-martial. I remember stories like that. I remember the press and the left celebrating those who suggested assassinating the President (hint: this isn’t “criticism”). I remember a Mr Kerry commenting that those soldiers were over there because they couldn’t get a job at home. You seem to forget all criticism aimed at the soldiers. Selective memory?

    Yes. Very selective memory.

    You don’t recall ‘Baghdad Bob’ as the media delighted in his absurd claims of impending victory as US forces encircled Baghdad?

    You don’t recall the stories about hometowns doing fund raisers to buy body armor for troops shipping out?

    You don’t seem to recall Mr. Limbaugh calling soldiers who didn’t support Bush ‘fake soldiers’ but you did misremember Kerry’s quote which had to do not with unschooled soldiers finding themselves stuck in a war but unschooled policy makers getting bogged down in a quagmire (again we see the right rhetorical tick of treating decision making about a war with fighting in a war).

    Even the Abu Graib stories were not all that anti-troop when you consider quite a few people felt the soldiers court martialled were being treated as patsies….which today doesn’t seem that implausible as we watch Cheney defend torture and we know the CIA destroyed the video of their torture sessions. While that doesn’t justify the actions of Jessica Lynch in Abu Graib her actions probably deserve some larger context rather than just depicting her as a ‘bad soldier’.