11 March 2007

Sunday Brunch

Slate has posted an article by Jacob Weisberg about The Four Unspeakable Truths that presidential candidates won't say about Iraq. Those truths are:
  • The war was a mistake;

  • Our soldiers are victims;

  • Lives lost in Iraq have been wasted; and

  • We are losing or have already lost.

Now, some of you are undoubtedly confused. I hear you saying, "David, Jacob Weisberg is a fearless truthteller, but I'm confused. Isn't everyone and his brother shouting these 'truths' as loudly as they can? And, for truths, aren't they surprisingly false?" Indeed, you are right. I don't write for an online magazine, but it seems to me that the real unspeakable truths are:
  • The war was the right thing to do both ex ante and ex post
  • In fact, going to war turns out to have been a better idea after the fact than we could have known before hand. After all, we thought we were attacking a nation with stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, when we were really attacking a run-of-the-mill Arab army with weapons systems degraded by sanctions. Apparently, Slate would think the war a much better idea if we had lost 10,000 troops to poison gas during the invasion.
  • Our soldiers are doing what they signed up to do;
  • I wouldn't try telling the troops that they're victims. Even at this late date, with the entire mainstream media constantly repeating Weisberg's unspeakable truths, soldiers are volunteering for their 3rd or 4th tours in Iraq. A truly unspeakable truth is that American soldiers, by and large, like doing what they volunteered and trained to do. During the 1970s, when the Army in Germany was at its lowest point, with rampant drug use, malingering, insubordination and desertion, everyone perked right up for the annual week or two of maneuvers the Army could afford.
  • Lives lost in Iraq have bought us important gains;
  • This truth mostly overlaps with the next, although I'm not conceding that any life spent in a losing cost is wasted. Some fights are worth fighting even if we lose. But here, the fact of our taking casualties alone accomplishes an important national purpose: it proves that we are willing to take casualties. Obviously, the Democrats and the left are doing their best to disprove this fact, but nevertheless we have stayed in Iraq for almost four years while regularly losing troops to bombs. A rational foe will have to decide whether defying us is worth a long war and is bound to note, regardless of what else is true, that Saddam was dethroned, humiliated and then executed.
  • We've already won the war.
  • Saddam is gone, a new government is in place, the sanctions are gone, Al Qaeda is distracted and concentrating on the middle east and we've given our enemies food for thought by carrying through, not giving up (yet) and doing all this at an insignificant monetary cost.

What other truths do we not dare speak about the war?


Duck said...

Hear hear!

Here's another truth that noone will admit to. War is a normal thing. All nations and powers, great and small, have faced the ordeal of war on a regular basis throghout their histories. It is likely to remain so for at least the balance of this century. It isn't a failure to have to resort to war. Diplomatic solutions depend on the idea that your opponents perceive that you are serious about alternative means to acheive their goals. If you are perceived as being serious about going to war, then you will be more successful in avoiding war through diplomacy AND acheiving your goals.

Mike Beversluis said...

As David said, the war was won when Saddam was disposed. The Sunni insurgency and guerrilla civil war was an inevitable consequence of removing his regime.

The state department prefers regimes because they are predictable single actors.

The monetary costs to the US are small. Fighting the counterinsurgency isn't c-blocking universal health care.

Osama is probably dead, but on the tiny chance that he isn't, everyone pretends he's certainly alive.

Susan's Husband said...

That despite the tragedy of death, casualties are remarkably low.

joe shropshire said...

That it is a low-level civil war, in America. Or maybe a campaign in an ongoing civil war.

JR said...

That Iraq is a relatively short, clean, cheap battle in a much greater Long War:.A War in which we will likely fight a longer, bloodier, costlier battle that will make the Realists™ long for the quagmire of today's Iraq.

Peter Burnet said...


Isn't the problem that fewer and fewer people believe in that wider war?

JR said...

Peter: Of course. But it's no less true because of their disbelief, right?

Perhaps I misunderstood David's assignment.

erp said...

Perhaps some of you British commenters can give me a definitive answer to the burning question: is it "here, here" or "hear, hear" and what does it mean?

Ali Choudhury said...

Dear Straight Dope:

When you agree with someone, do you say "Here Here!" or "Hear Hear" ? And what does it mean? What is the origin of "Here Here" or "Hear Hear"? --Tymoma195

SDSTAFF Veg replies:

The correct term is, "hear, hear!" It is an abbreviation for "hear, all ye good people, hear what this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say!"

David said...

Ali: Did you get my email?

erp said...

Thanks Ali, I didn't mean to doubt Peter, but I've seen it both ways. For "here, here," I postulated that it referred to a person asking to be noticed. Of course, the correct answer makes the most sense.