Thursday, June 16, 2005

Re: Tom Friedman’s Latest Bloviation

June 16, 2005


Re: Tom Friedman’s Latest Bloviation.
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

I can hardly wait to see the Letters to the Editor in tomorrow’s New York Times. For if form holds true, that might be the day when The Times will publish letters responding to and, my guess is, deservedly intellectually assassinating yesterday’s suggestion from one of the kings of continuously globetrotting, self aggrandizing, self important bloviation, Thomas Friedman.
Friedman supported our invasion of Iraq and still supports it, but is deeply disappointed, even horrified, at how wrong it has all gone. He also claims, as he did yesterday, that "this [war] is still winnable" if only we will adopt the right strategy. But if we don’t adopt the right strategy, everything will fall apart for good and all.

So what is the right strategy, according to this author of best selling books and columns whose writing is heralded by so many? Well, an important part of it is to correct the wrong strategy. The wrong strategy is that we went into Iraq with far too few troops to do the job -- "Our core problem in Iraq," Friedman says, "remains Donald Rumsfeld’s disastrous decision -- endorsed by President Bush -- to invade Iraq on the cheap." (Emphasis added.) Well, because this plainly was a major problem (and was said by many to be so at the time), let us ignore the extremely debatable claim that it was the "core" problem (rather than the fundamental problem or problems equally being one or a combination of additional matters, such as making a stupid decision to invade for false reasons in the first place, misjudging the nature and views of the Iraqi people, misjudging the ability to create democracy in Iraq and, grandiosely, throughout the Middle East, and so on and so on.

As I say, let us accept as a major problem, because it is a major problem, that we invaded Iraq on the cheap. What, then, is Friedman’s view of how to now cure this? Well, "[m]aybe it is too late," he says, "but before we give up on Iraq, why not actually try to do it right? Double the American boots on the ground" (while "redoubl[ing]" diplomatic efforts to bring Sunnis into the Iraqi political process).

"Double the American boots on the ground"?? Double the number of Americans in Iraq to about what, 200,000 or more? Give me a break. Much of the world, and middle easterners in particular, have already come to despise us for what we have done in Iraq and in our prison camps. Support for the war in America itself is going down, maybe even is beginning to drop like a rock. More and more Americans are beginning to realize, and many millions already know, that this war was based on false statements and was in several ways a big mistake. Month after month the army and marines cannot fulfill their enlistment quotas. Soldiers and marines are being impressed into two and even three terms in Iraq, and overall military readiness apparently is declining. Not just Democrats, but even some Republicans in Congress are beginning to sign onto the idea that we need a timetable for withdrawal; that is to say, even some Republicans, who previously mimicked the disastrous Democrats of 1964-1966 in supporting their President’s war because he was their President and they did not want to weaken him, are now saying enough is enough. Yet, despite all this, Friedman -- again mimicking the disastrous period 1964-1966 -- wants us to double the number of soldiers we have in Iraq? Wants us to put 200,000 men there? What has this guy been smoking? Is their absolutely no limit to his self important bloviation?

You know, in the actual situation of Iraq, the rest of the Middle East and the United States, there may be, there probably is, utterly nothing we can do at this point to save a disastrous situation. In all likelihood, the only thing that might even stand a chance of salvaging something at this point is an idea that has been rejected from the beginning by all government officials, by all major media and pundits, and by all writers (with only a tiny number of totally ignored exceptions). That is to divide Iraq into three nations, corresponding to the geographical areas in which its three major population groups (Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds) respectively are largely concentrated apparently. But it is probably too late for this idea as well, and, in any event, this idea -- perhaps because it is simple and once was probably right, and because it is not the kind of complex work of supposedly staggering genius that our nattering nabobs like to discuss -- will almost surely remain a non starter, as it always has been until now.

The truth is that at this point there probably is no practicable solution whatever for America in Iraq, other than the "solution" of setting a timetable to get out -- which our government resists, as it did in Viet Nam, on the (likely correct) ground that a timetable for our departure will succor the enemy. The only "solution," that is to say, is the completely phony but nonetheless only available one pioneered by Senator George Aiken with regard to Viet Nam forty years ago: declare victory and get out. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much what Nixon eventually did.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.
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