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Friday, September 24, 2004

Battle Victory Iraq - Challenger - Second Rebuttal

I want to open this rebuttal by saying that I'm genuinely glad I could make Jay laugh. I know he's been going through some tough times and it makes me happy to know that, even when we bump heads, I can bring him a little bit of relief. I hope you get to feeling much better very soon, Jay.

Now for my rebuttal. My esteemed opponent has accused me of a few things in his First Rebuttal. Well, actually he accused me of a lot of things, but there were three big ones: of being a Bush apologist, of paraphrasing his assertions to make them more palatable, of not answering the questions posed by the Chairman.

I'll address each of those, but I want to make a couple points before I do.

First, I have no problem invoking the name of the President in my argument. I haven't done it to this point because it seemed pretty obvious that since I am not only defending what the President has been doing in Iraq but have credited him with victory in one war and of winning another, I shouldn't have to. What other Commander in Chief could take credit for my plaudits? But to make him happy and to fulfill the Presidential Name Quota for my posts I offer this.

President Bush. President Bush. President Bush. President Bush. President Bush.

Second, I'm not at all confused in my argument. I have made it clear, I believe, that we were involved in one war, that we won that one handily, and are now engaged in a second war. The differences between the first and second could not be more stark. In the first, we engaged an enemy organized into an actual army led by a military hierarchy and wearing uniforms of the nation of Iraq. Our goal in that war (roughly) was to defeat the army and depose the leader. In that war not even my opponent can reasonably deny: "Mission Accomplished". In this second war we are fighting a diverse assembly of groups with varying levels of organization, varying levels of funding, various sources of support, and led by not one man but several. This assembly is not a military organization, has no military hierarchy, and has no certain leader to depose. Our goals in this (again, roughly) are to kill them in detail, to secure the areas where they operate, and to ensure that they find no sure footing from which to operate in the future. In this we can say, based on the points I made in my last rebuttal, our Mission is steadily being Accomplished. Or, to put it in the form that answers one of the Chairman's questions: We are winning. But I think that just maybe I said that before.

Jay gives me all the evidence I need to support my assertion that the fight in which we are engaged now is a different war when he says in no uncertain terms that what we face in Iraq are largely foreign fighters. Well, if you have a different enemy from a different place who are funded and dispatched from different countries, then it sure looks like you're fighting a different war, doesn't it? Unless, that is, that Jay wants to claim that these terrorists were already allied with Iraq and fighting for their cause in the first place. But I really don't think he wants to admit that Iraq had such close ties to terrorist organzations, do you?

But let's narrow that down just a little bit. In his first rebuttal, not long after he helps my case by pointing out the large number of foreign fighters in Iraq, he goes on to call the people we're fighting "insurgents". But the fine folks at Mirriam Webster seem to have a different idea of what an insurgent is than Jay does.

1 : a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent
2 : one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one's own political party

These foreign fighters can not be insurgents because: 1) as foreign they aren't revolting against civil authority since the Iraqi government as no authority over them (they're not Iraqi citizens, see), and 2) they're acting in complete agreement with the policies and decisions of their political party - that is, the ruling parties of Iran and Syria.

They're not insurgents. They're an assortment of mercenaries paid either directly or with weaponry whose job is to kill Coalition soldiers, Iraqis, and destabilize the Iraqi government. They are, as I've said before, a completely different foe which is why what's happening now is a different war.

So why did I characterize it as the Unrevealed Phase of the Underpants Gnome Strategy? Well, I admit that was he trying to frame a rebuttal in the terms of Jay's argument. It made my point less clear than it should have been. I tried to rebute a cute argument with another cute argument and it went over like a pole vaulter with a pantfull of lead. Let me be very clear. We are fighting a separate war with a separate enemy and separate goals than the one we won in April, 2003.

I now want to examine Jay's charge that I'm a Bush apologist. How, I wonder, can he actually write a post where he calls me a Bush apologist then castigates me for not actually using the President's name? I know it can be done because I read it. I'm just kind of curious about how he managed to do it without a quarter of his brain leaping out of his ear, running into the kitchen, grabbing a steak mallet, and giving him a good whack across the knuckles with it.

I realize that trying to explain why I'm not a Bush apologist is like answering the question about when I stopped beating my wife (I don't have a wife! Ha!), but let me at least try. I do not agree with every aspect of how the President has fought this current war. There are a few things I very much wish he had done differently. For instance, I wish we had been far more vigorous in cleaning out the vermin who infest Fallujah. But I'm also not so blind to my own ideology that I can't see the successes of his strategy. I can see how, once we handed sovereignty back to the Iraqis and recognized Iyad Allawi as the legitimate leader of that country, we should probably let him actually lead the country and honor their sovereignty. And when he says that he is making things work in Fallujah and elsewhere, we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt. Even if I think we should have flattened the city with a large, Marine-intensive steamroller, I'm inclined to give the Prime Minister the latitude to find a political solution and to believe the results he's telling me. Is that naive? Well, I don't know about all that. I give world leaders the benefit of the doubt all the time. Even the Coalition gave Saddam Hussein 16 UN Resolutions worth of benefit of the doubt for well over a decade before we decided that he needed to be deposed. I'm fairly sure that Jay would not be willing to say in the same breath that the President rushed headlong into war and to say that we should rush headling not to believe the Prime Minister of Iraq, would he? If so, he should let me know first, so I can get that steak mallet safely out of his kitchen. Just in case.

His prime piece of evidence that I'm a Bush apologist is that I "take pride in the idea that we're killing more of them than they are of us, so it's okay". Well, the "idea" tht we're killing more of them is a prety important thing, don't you think? Despite Jay's statements to the contrary, it is an important metric we can use to determine how successful we are in this current war. We do have various means we can examine to see if we're winning or not and I've given not only the one Jay actively disputed, but several others he left largely unmolested. Since this one is the one on which he's seized, I want to stick with it for another paragraph or so.

I have to say that we have fought thus far in Iraq with surprising gentility, announcing our military operations into cities well before we act so that civilians can leave and not act as the human shields our opponents want them for and backing off in hotly-contested areas so that the Iraqi government and others could pursue political solutions. And I mourn the loss of any innocent civilian life, but I also applaud how delicately our military has operated and abhor my opponent's distortion of how many civilian dead there have been in Iraq. If you follow the link he provides to support his "100,000 dead civilians" statement, you'll see that, at most, the counter says that there are less than 15,000 dead because of Coalition military action in Iraq. I should note that those 15,000 people were killed in over a year of military operations are child's play compared Saddam's Hussein's slaughter of the Marsh Arabs (who number 40,000 but used to umber 250,000), or the mass graves he filled with Kurds at a rate of 3000 or 5000 at a time, or the tens of thouseands of people who have just disappeared over the years.

But Jay does have a bit of a point. Those foreign fighters wouldn't be dead, most likely, if we weren't there fighting them. Those poor, innocent terrorists and mercenaries could be spending their time in better ways, I suppose. Maybe they could be building belts full of explosives to blow up school bus stops in Israel. Maybe they could be working for the Iranian mullahs cheering on the hanging of a mentally-retarded 16-year old girl for her "sharp tongue". I don't know about you folks, but I would far rather those hate-filled and evil people try their hand against armed soldiers than against schoolchildren, handicapped teenagers, and restaurant patrons.

Now let's look at my opponents problems with my paraphrasing the things things he believe I chose not to contradict.

  1. The National Intelligence Estimate. Come on, folks. Do I really need to vigorously rebut his use of this as evidence? When he invoked it in his Opening Argument he said,

    Yes, I know that this is the same intelligence community that said selling Iraq's WMD to the public would be a "slam dunk," but they are also the same people who said, prophetically, "Bin Laden is determined to attack the United States," which turned out to be true.

    If he's already admitted that he's willing to believe its veracity based on the case he wants to support, I'm not sure that we should take it all that seriously as good evidence for his argument.

  2. The cost argument. Yes, I used the Marshall Plan as a point of comparison. Do I believe that the rebuilding of Iraq is the same as the rebuilding of Germany after World War II? Certainly not. But I do believe that rebuilding Iraq involves costs that no one could possibly forsee including upgrading tons of equipment neglected to the point of uselessness by Saddam Hussein and rebuilding hundreds of homes and neighborhoods neglected or just razed by the former regime. That takes a lot of money but it's a necessary expense. My point was that what we are spending on Iraq is much less a chunk of our national income than the last time we did something like this. That we can show success without breaking the national income bank reflects well on the President and the Iraqi people.

  3. His ad hominem attacks on the President. Well, I thik they were pretty good paraphrases but if you don't buy how I did that, let me give you the direct quotes.

    "The Bush administration was delusional."
    "There was an utter lack of post-war planning..."
    "The fact that we were lied to is enough..."

    Now let me show you how I paraphrased those statements.

    "...1) the President was delusional, 2) the President was grossly unprepared, and 3) the President lied."

    Now my opponent says that "He rephrases them (there he goes again!) and uses that to glibly dismiss what is truly the most serious part of my Opening Statement."

    I've chosen deliberately not to debate name-calling because, well, Pee Wee Herman said it far better than I ever could. But if those attacks are the most serious points of his Opening Statement, then his argument is in serious trouble.

  4. Iraqi Celebrations. Jay chooses to dismiss the article I posted as "probably Ahmed Chalabi's inner circle". Well, we'll leave that unsupported aluminum foil-cap theory mostly aside and look at a few more articles. Does the child pictured here appear to be part of the Chalabi Conspiracy? How about this article that mentioned street celebrations after the capture of Saddam Hussein? Or the "jubilant crowds" mentioned in this story - are they also on the Chalabi payroll?

    Look, I'm not so foolish as to believe that the day we captured Iraq and won the first war the country erupted in celebrations the likes of which we saw in World War II. But there were most definitely celebrations. I've proven that. But let's face it, folks. That we saw celebrations at all is a small wonder. For the records, I did believe that we wouldn't see what some folks in the administration were expecting, but neither did I swallow the propaganda that the Iraqis would decry us as invaders. I chose the prudent middle ground: that we would be welcomed, but warily. The people of Iraq have a long memory and they recall how we left them to die at the hands of a vengeful Saddam Hussein after the UN and our own State Department recommended that we not depose Hussein or actively support the uprising against him after the Gulf War. They would have been foolish and gullible not to be cautious. But in the last year we have won their appreciation, admiration, and support. At least that's what their Prime Minister had told us. They've also had to endure decades of tyranny, torture and murder and we could be just a little understanding about how that might have affected them psychologically. But daily they find ways to heal and to work hard to improve their country and to honor those countries who have sacrificed to liberate them.

  5. The war's unpopularity. Well, Jay did post an interesting assortment of polls, most of which, by the way, show that the majority support our going into Iraq and our being in Iraq right now. Look at the second survey by the Pew Centre or the third by the CNN/USA Today/Gallup or the fourth by the Ananburg Election survey. All those polls' most recent numbers show support for what we're doing in Iraq. He says I glossed over it. You tell me.

  6. No clear goal. Jay says that I "must agree that there's no clear goal anymore". I must? Really?

    How about if, instead, I tell you just what the goals are. The first goal is to establish security around the country. That's happening right now. According to Prime Minister Allawi,

    Let me explain something which is very important. I have noticed in the media, it have been neglected and omitted several times, in the Western media.

    Iraq is made out of 18 provinces. Out of these 18 provinces, 14 to 15 are completely safe; there are no problems. And I can count them for you, starting from Basra, moving into Iraq Kurdistan.

    There are three areas, three provinces where there are pockets of insurgents, pockets of terrorists who are acting there and are moving from there to inflict damage elsewhere in the country.

    So really few care to look at Iraq properly and go from Basra to Nasiriyah to Kut (ph) to Diala to Najaf to Karbala to Diwina to Samawa (ph) to Kirkuk to Sulaymaniyah to Dahoo (ph) to Irbil there are no problems. It's safe. It's good.

    There are problems in Fallujah. Fallujah is part of a province, the province is called Al Anbar. It's vast, very big. It has many other important towns, such as Anna (ph), such as Rawa (ph), such as Ramadi. There's nothing there. In Anna (ph) and Rawa (ph) indeed there is nothing, no problem, except on a small pocket in Fallujah.

    So really, I call up on the responsible media throughout the world, not only here, to look at the facts as they are in Iraq and to propagate these facts to the international community.

    I am not trying to undermine that there are dangers. There are dangers in Iraq. There are problems and we are facing international terrorist onslaught on Iraq. I personally have received every day a threat. In the last four weeks, they found four conspiracies to kill me. And likewise they are killing people. They are killing officials. They are killing innocent people. But the Iraqis are not deterred and we are not going to be deterred.

    I went the next day and saw a recruitment center for the police after they killed, massacred 40, 45 people. I found hundreds of people coming to volunteer to the police and to the army.

    I had spoke to them. They are all upbeat. They are resolved to beat terrorism and to defeat the insurgents.

    These are facts that one really needs to explain it to you and you need to explain it to the people.

    The second goal is to establish an independent, stable, and democratic Iraqi government. Looks like that's happening also since elections are going to happen in January. Or as PM Allawi puts it:

    I know that some have speculated, even doubted, whether this date can be met. So let me be absolutely clear: Elections will occur in Iraq on time in January because Iraqis want elections on time.

    The third goal is to train an Iraqi security force capable of handling the country once our forces withdraw from active patrolling. That, also, is happening apace (despite the terrorists efforts to kill recruits and discourage Iraqis from joining). Again, PM Allawi says,

    The Iraqi government now commands almost 50,000 armed and combat- ready Iraqis.

    By January it will be some 145,000. And by the end of next year, some 250,000 Iraqis.

    The government has accelerated the development of Iraqi special forces, and the establishment of a counter-terrorist strike force to tackle specific problems caused by insurgencies.

    Our intelligence is getting better every day. You have seen that the successful resolution of the Najaf crisis, and then the targeted attacks against insurgents in Fallujah.

    These new Iraqi forces are rising to the challenge. They are fighting on behalf of sovereign Iraqi government, and therefore their performance is improving every day. Working closely with the coalition allies, they are striking their enemies wherever they hide, disrupting operations, destroying safe houses and removing terrorist leaders.

    These seem to fly in the face of the argument that we've had no post-war planning. Allawi and his government didn't just spring into being thanks to Magic Government Fairies. They exist because the Bush administration planned for them to be there then implemented the plan in June and again in August. Allawi can say that Iraq is mostly secure not because there's are secret terrorist disabling rays keeping the country that way but because we executed a plan for security. Every day the Iraqi people see their lives getting better and their country growing stronger. I again quote Allawi,

    Oil pipelines are being repaired. Basic services are being improved. The homes are being rebuilt. Schools and hospitals are being rebuilt. The clinics are open and reopened. There are now over 6 million children at school, many of them attending one of the 2,500 schools that have been renovated since liberation.

    Last week, we completed a national polio vaccination campaign, reaching over 90 percent of all Iraqi children.

    We’re starting work on 150 new health centers across the country. Millions of dollars in economic aid and humanitarian assistance from this country and others around the world are flowing into Iraq. For this, again, I want to thank you.

    Oil pipelines repaired. Children back in new and repaired schools. Vaccinations for children. Homes and hospitals rebuilt.

    None of this happened by chance. It happened because the Bush Administration has a plan. In fact, in Allawi's speech before Congress, he mentioned the word "plan" nine times.

    Now you may not like the plan. I may not like the plan. But there is a plan.

    And when my opponent tells you that there is no plan, he's misleading you - really misleading you unlike the partisan, tinfoil-hat definition of "misleading" that he and his candidate John Kerry projects onto President Bush.

As I have said before and will say again, we're winning.

I'll conclude by quoting the Chairman's questions and answering them explicitly, so that my opponent won't have that to use anymore and can get onto addressing the facts I've brought into play.

  • "Are we winning the war?" As I've explained, we've won one war and are winning another.

  • "Can we win it at all?" I can only answer that if I believe that we're not winning. I belive I've proven to this point that we are.

  • "Have the President's policies steered us towards victory or disaster?" That one ought to be obvious.

My opponent says, "..it is clear to me that this president's unwillingness to admit error or change course when we are so far from true--these are dangerous characteristics. Dangerous for Iraq. Dangerous for the United States." But do not be deceived.

We are winning.

Thank You,
Jimmie Bise, Jr., Challenger

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