September 5, 2006

Iraqspeak Translation

Doesn’t it bug you that whenever someone suggests that the current approach isn’t working in Iraq, neocons scream the phrase “cut and run?” And continuing on this ruinous course is considered “staying the course.”

I object to “cut and run” because the phrase is intentionally chosen to make it sound like we’re going to get out in the least responsible way possible. I’m not an expert on how to extract ourselves from this situation, but since the current course does not seem to be leading to peace, it’s clear to me that it’s time to stop occupying Iraq and come up with another solution that might have a chance of working. It’s also clear that as long as this administration stubbornly insists that it has a good course (never mind the fact that they don’t even appear to have a discernible course), they are not open to alternatives which may improve the situation.

So, let’s brainstorm some alternatives to “stay the course” that describe what that really means. Hint: staying the current course in Iraq means occupying an increasingly inhospitable country as the sectarian violence convinces more and more people that a civil war is taking place. It means losing more troops over a mistaken approach to foreign policy. If it can be phrased to sound more like what it is, maybe opponents of this Iraq policy will actually have something to say in response to “cut and run.”

So, here are my suggestions to start us off. “Stay the course” really means:

  • “Stay and die”
  • “Spend and die”
  • “Go down with the ship”
  • “Close our eyes and pray”
  • “Kiss our hindquarters goodbye”
  • “Beat ourselves with a dead Iraqi horse”
  • “Bite the IED
  • “Throw more troops on the fire”
  • “Let’s stay distracted”

I put it to my creative readership. Come up with some better phrases.

Posted by James at September 5, 2006 3:31 PM
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  • Stay the course = Pray, of course.
  • No refinery left behind.
  • Continue mining the populace for goodwill.
Posted by: Mike at September 5, 2006 4:05 PM

The essential problem in Iraq has been a failure to recognize and avoid actions that would have created an insurgency (thank you Bremer, you fuckhead), then a failure to recognize that there WAS an insurgency, and finally a failure to understand how to defeat an insurgency.

Historically insurgencies are not something that the US handles well, and a study of insurgencies which were successfully defeated is a real eye opener. Given multiple possible courses of action, much of our military in Iraq has made the worst possible choice over and over again with respect to winning against an insurgency.

There's still a possibility of success in Iraq, as our military begins to approach an insurgency with a winning strategy. Tom Ricks quoted a senior commander in the armed forces as saying "a third of my officers get it, a third are trying to get it, and a third don't get it." Hopefully that situation will improve.

Whether or not we should start drawing down forces in Iraq really depends on exactly what we want to accomplish there.

IMHO, America committed itself (like it or not) to building a stable Iraq the moment we invaded that country. In order to defeat the insurgency there all commanders must recognize that the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people are the prize. If we want to win the war, the locals will have to trust us more than the insurgents, and that is going to require a timespan measured in decades. Victory is certainly not going to come while Donald Rumsfeld remains at his post.

This opinion puts me in neither camp. Because a large portion of the "stay the course" crowd also fall in the "don't get it" crowd. Shows of force and big battles do not win insurgencies. Given the responsibility thrust upon us by the dildo-in-chief, I feel that drawing down the troops would also be disastrous. Winning this war is going to be expensive, and I believe we owe it to the Iraqi people and the world to step up and do what Bush has committed us to do.

If we care about defeating the insurgency and creating a truly democratic Iraq, the last American troops will be leaving the country sometime around 2025. At best.

Stay and Pay.


Leave and Pay.

Not a great choice really. Thank your sitting President.

Posted by: Chuck S. at September 5, 2006 5:41 PM

I just heard that another Marine from my little blue state was killed in Iraq (second in 2 weeks) Instead of Bushian slogans we -- Jesus, it kills me to say this -- should start quoting John Kerry: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Posted by: Steve at September 5, 2006 6:37 PM

The people in charge got us into this mess, and have shown themselves resistant to self-examination.

Why should we trust their vision for Iraq, when their vision has failed us so spectacularly thus far?

I can't view our troops as expendable just because this administration made a mistake. We owe them something, not the other way around.

Posted by: James at September 5, 2006 7:05 PM

I appreciate what you're saying, but are Americans more valuable than other people? Because if we leave Iraq, the Iraqis are going to suffer for years to come. We have a responsibility to our troops, but we also have a responsibility to the people of Iraq. It shouldn't be our problem, but it is, thanks to Bush.

The fact that we don't like our President's decision isn't really worth a hoot to people suffering in Iraq, folks who just want their water, electricity, and security back.

I don't see any realistic option but to stay and pay the price. I suspect that if we draw down the price will be that much higher in the long run.

Posted by: Chuck S. at September 5, 2006 9:13 PM

Damn the casualties, full speed ahead!

Posted by: soxfan at September 5, 2006 9:53 PM

Stay the course = Follow the road onto the bridge in spite of the 'bridge out' sign.

A little wordy, perhaps...

Posted by: briwei at September 6, 2006 1:16 AM

I really like "let's stay distracted."

This works well with the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which has already generated many many speeches on terrorism and how we were right to invade/liberate/conqer Iraq.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 6, 2006 8:33 AM

Put the president in a round room and tell him there's a dictator in the corner.

Not a slogan, just a suggestion.

Posted by: Julie at September 6, 2006 9:14 AM

follow the yellow brick road
somewhere over the rainbow

Since Bush is obviously living in a fairytale I say we use quotes from fictitious stories

Posted by: Hooligan at September 6, 2006 10:02 AM

Chuck, I'm not basing my opinion on a higher value of American lives. I'm basing it on not sacrificing American lives based on bad plans or (as you put it) suspicions.

"Stay the course" at this point almost sounds like we're sacrificing lives in some morbid sort of penance.

Iraq is currently a free-for-all, with Sunni fighting Shia, Shia fighting Sunni and everybody fighting us. Exactly what are we supposed to be doing there? Whatever it is, we're not doing it. And I disagree that an actual date exists (like 2025, as far away as it is) where we finally declare victory using Bush's "plan."

What I am arguing against is the status quo. This is part of the debate that frustrates me. Any discussion of a change in our Iraq policy is "cutting and running." That doesn't mean I'm arguing for sudden withdrawl. So, I'd better decide what I'm arguing for, eh?

It seems to me like what happened is that we've been suckered into handing Iran all the power in the region. Daddy Bush left Iraq the way it was for a reason, and I think that reason was (in part) Iran.

If we were to withdraw now, the Shiites of Iran would basically take Iraq and be breathing down the neck of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. A disaster.

Either we need to suddenly have the military power to subdue and occupy Iran, too, or we need to find some political solution that Iran will agree to. The expense fo fighting Iran, I fear, would make Iraq seem like the cakewalk that the neocons originally promised.

Bush's way is to keep spending money and lives holding the line with no improvement while he fritters away his remaining years in office, leavign the problem for the next administration. I want Bush to take responsibility for what he's done and start working on a solution now. Get help from the Sunnis. Swallow some fucking pride. Do some damn thing other than bleed more money and lives in what is the stupidest-ass war I've ever heard of.

Bush has made fools of all of us. And when his term is over, HE gets to cut and run. And we are left holding the bag.

Posted by: James at September 6, 2006 11:45 AM

Well said, James.

Posted by: Julie at September 6, 2006 12:03 PM

I respect Chuck's opinion about staying in Iraq until the country is relatively stable. I think it flows from a deep sense of personal responsibility, which far too many people lack.

But a sense of responsibility alone won't solve the problem, and the truth is that we can't possibly own this problem.

If we are in there, screwing things up and making them worse, then our first responsibility is to fix *that*. That is within our power to fix. If, at the same time or later, and hopefully with the help of other responsible and involved countries, we try to help the people come to a peaceful form of government, then that would be ideal.

I'm tempted to say that it is arrogance to claim ownership of this problem and the authority to solve it.

Posted by: Maggie at September 6, 2006 12:44 PM

I had been saying that we needed to stay because we're the ones who destabilized this region, but lately I've begun to wonder if our presence isn't making things worse.

This is what happens when you take action based on lies--whether they're the ones told to you or the ones you tell to yourself.

So much for Bush being a Christian (lying sack of shit).

Posted by: Patti M. at September 6, 2006 1:26 PM

BTW: It should go without saying that I respect Chuck's motivations. He's one of the most compassionate people I know.

Posted by: James at September 6, 2006 2:18 PM

I hope you don't think I meant that! Your reply was very respectful. I was just saying I respect what he thinks, I think I understand where it comes from, but I don't think it's the right way to look at this situation.

Posted by: Maggie at September 6, 2006 5:07 PM

Nope, just clarifying because I wouldn't want Chuck to think I have anything but respect for him and his opinion.

This situation is so screwed up now I think there is a hell of a lot of room for reasonable and caring people do disagree wildly. All the alternatives are bad.

Posted by: James at September 6, 2006 5:11 PM

Not to worry, I don't feel disrespected by any of you, and I appreciate your opinions greatly.

The administration is a problem, no doubt, but our military is not the administration. Field commanders have a certain degree of latitude, and although serious mistakes have been made at the Bremer level and up, there is a large contingent in our military which is trying to change what has been done wrong. This is why Tom Ricks' book "FIASCO" has received a lot of praise from military officers.

I think, given that we're in this mess now, it's worth it to take a shot and see if we can't straighten it out. I think we owe it to the Iraqis. It's horrible that our enlisted men and women have to suffer the consequences of Bush's decision. It's horrible that the Iraqis have to suffer those consequences.

But the only path toward alleviating that suffering that I can see, entails American forces remaining in Iraq for a long time. I don't see any viable alternatives at present.

Either way, I don't get to make those decisions. Which is good because this isn't a decision I'd want to make.

Posted by: Chuck S. at September 7, 2006 9:24 AM

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