Interesting War-Related Reading This Sunday

There are some brutal stories being told in the major newspapers this weekend.

The NY Times Magazine has a frank account of a Marine unit battling its way into Baghdad. For all the talk of precision in warfare, it often comes down to the same old thing… killing as many of the enemy as you can.

The Washington Post has an interesting look at the 3 battles that turned the tide of the war.

And reporters at Newsweek and the LA Times were standing around in front of a government ministry in Baghdad when a man came up to them with a sack full of documents and told them to tell the world what had happened under Saddam. It’s chilling reading, but it gives you some hope that at least some good came from all the carnage.

3 battles that turned the tide of the war from one where a small advanced force would steamroll a primitive, unwilling and disorganized army, to a war where a small advanced force would steamroll a primitive, unwilling and disorganized army.

What a shift in momentum. I mean really, the outcome was in so much doubt. Larry, Moe and Curly were epic battles that truly turned the tide of the war, much in the same fashion as Stalingrad, El Alamein and Midway.

Right you are Jakub. Just like we kicked ass in Somolia and Vietnam and how the Russians kicked it in Afghanistan. Right you are Mr 20/20 hindsight, right you are.


Russians weren’t wanted in Afghanistan any more than Americans were wanted in Vietnam. Different situation here - and it was apparent by the time these ‘turning points’ came around. As for Somalia, that was a political setback, not really much of a military defeat.

My point is that Larry, Moe and Curly were fought so late after things were clearing up that it’s like suggesting that Okinawa decided the fate of the Pacific war.

Yes, things could have gone wrong and prolonged the war. No, the outcome was never in doubt. Or have you been listening to the panic mongers on the news too much? Or perhaps you’ve forgotten that this isn’t OMM and you can’t ignore the remaining 90% of reality to focus and make fun of one small point?

My bad, didn’t realize you had a crystal ball.

I mean it is obvious how loved we are now in Iraq. And hell if a major loss of life in a battle would have happened, than surely in no possible way could have changed anything in the war. Hell seeing the American’s defeated could not have maybe had the people think, we better fight on Saddam’s side since he has a chance, and lead to an intense block by block taking of the capital that could have bogged down the advances.

NOPE! COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED!! 100% without a doubt.

The south vietnemese didn’t want the US protection? huh, I did not know that. I also did not know that Somolia was not a military defeat - I see your point, after all we defeated the warlord, freed the people and made sure aid got thru - right?

So who are you saying I watch? O’Reilly? Fox? The Daily Show? When you run out of logic or ideas to back your point and you just want to try and insuate something about me based on my TV vieiwing, I suggest you stick with an episode of the simpsons for me.


An Article discussing British Intervention in Iraq, White Mans Burden, and our own future as an Empire.

A second piece on Empire America - We are imperials, and we need to realize it if this is going to work at all.

Awww Chet, are you upset?

I’m sorry.

I just feel so bad pointing out that Larry, Moe and Curly occured AFTER there were signs of support for American troops and we’d been getting reports of the Republican Guard and even paramilitary groups dissolving. My point isn’t that you’re watching the Daily Show. I know you were watching BBC, CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC. They were the cautious ones about it. It was they who sounded like they expected a popular rebellion any minute, or the Saddam Fedayeen taking a cue from the Fedaykin, rising up out of the sand and slaughtering American forces in the dead of night. The way they kept harping about every single cut and scrape a soldier got, pointing at those grievous bruises on the shoulder and calloused trigger fingers - and all but yelling “and this is just the start of what’s to come!” … I mean really, did the media sound at all optimistic about this war?

Sure the author took plenty of literary license to make events seem more tense, so he can have a pet story to peddle, but that doesn’t mean you have to believe him.

Somalia wasn’t a military defeat. If you consider every time a force accomplishes its objective a defeat with higher than expected casualties, you’d never win a battle. As it stands though, given that the US forces had something like a 10:1 kill ratio, achieved their objective and came back to talk about it - it’s a win. That the battle was messed up due to political bungling, and the force was pulled back because of political pressure over the casualties - that makes this maneuver a political defeat.

No, we weren’t wanted in Vietnam. We supported an unpopular dictator against a popular dictator, all because the first paid lip-service to western philosophy while the other espoused communism as a way to gain support against the French.

I don’t disagree that certain matters were in doubt - when the war started. We didn’t know if Saddam would flood the river plains, if he’d use chemical weapons or if Iraqis or other Arabs would unite with Saddam to resist allied forces. Yet unless this would have been a truly massive popular revolt, then nothing would have stopped the attack.

Saddam Hussein was doomed from the start. It’s not that it would take an Act of God, a small miracle or even a bit of luck for the US to win. It would have taken a full-fledged, angry Old Testament-scale Act of God for Saddam to stay in power.

So please, identify for me the momentum shift, the point at which American forces were threatened with defeat, where the campaign was stalled and we needed a breakthrough to turn things around. Just when, exactly, did the US shift momentum? They rolled in and rolled through. There was unexpected resistance in Umm Qasr and a few rag-tag guerillas attacking supply convoys, but did this even slow down the campaign? At what point did the Iraqis have the momentum, for it to be shifted in a Stalingradian fashion?

Please Chet, enlighten us here. We’re dying to know just where you think the momentum shifted.

(FYI, if you look at my past posts there’s nothing ‘hindsight’ about this, so you can blow that out your ass too.)

You go girl.

Really, I have no other point I wish to respond to you with - lest you think i am “upset” by responding to your post. So please, take your crystal ball, walk out in the 7th inning of every baseball game because it is decided, skip the fouth quarter of every football game because it is decided, and make sure to leave the opera during intermission, because in your magical eyes, it is always over before the fat lady sings.


You have no point period, Chet, because you can’t explain to me how I’m wrong for mocking the writer’s suggestion that the three battles marked a turning point in the war.

That’s it - that’s all this comes down to. You’re wrong.

Keep up with the crystal ball remarks, btw. They’d really add a lot of weight and credibility to your arguments… if this was OMM.

And please keep mentioning OMM more, I think that is proving some point past your ability to capitalize the letters O - M - M. Since you can see into the future and are infalliable with regards to knowing the outcome of that future, and since you keep stating this ability as if it is simply a known fact and I am the only person in this world incapable of this, just curious, if it is not a crystal ball, is it tea leaves?

Also what will I watch on TV tonight to become misinformed? From your list, I imagine everything but FOX - the one true source?


Great argument, Chet. Really and for true, you’ve completely smashed my statement that there was no momentum shift. I’ve never stated that I can see into the future. So don’t put words in my mouth - like I keep reminding you, this isn’t OMM.

My favorite characteristic of the “war is/was a terrible idea” position is that it keeps on mutating to support the new facts on the ground. It can never be proved wrong. For example…

Position A: “The pitched battles in Iraq demonstrate the power of nationalism that we totally underestimated. We didn’t bring enough forces and now Rumsfeld’s hubris is costing American lives. We have entered a quagmire.”

Position A2: “This war was a terrible idea because we steamrollered a primitive, unwilling army. Clearly this was unnecessary force.”

Another example.

Position B: “If we invade, we will only trigger the use of chemical weapons within Iraq.”

Position B2: “Since there was no chemical catastrophe and we’ve yet to find any caches, there must not be any chem weapons in Iraq. Thus the war was unjustified.”

Another example.

Position C: “There will be no uprising in Baghdad because citizens will either be cowed by Saddam, cowed by U.S. force, or see that they have only exchanged one dictatorship for another.”

Position C2: “The looting and anarchy in Baghdad is indicative of just how little control the U.S. exerts over the citizens of Baghdad.”

So you can see that whether there are pitched battles or walkovers, whether there are chemical catastrophes or no WMD at all, or whether there is calm in Baghdad or looting in Baghdad, the oppositionist “argument” is always proved right by the facts.

I can’t conceive of a set of circumstances under which the oppositionist premise can be proved wrong – a condition which meets any philosopher’s definition of an irrational proposition.

Now if any pair those contradictory propositions were ever held by the same person you might actually have a point.

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a single person – let alone a person who subsequently held the opposite positions – maintain your positions A2, B or C, which makes your post appear rather silly.

Jakub, seriously. WTF? You are like a little woman, did I say something once to you so now your circle my name on your social studies notebook and draw daggers through it? I have no idea what OMM has to do with any of this, but you really seem stuck that it is some kind of checkmate to whatever I say. So here, I will beat you to the punch OMM! OMM! OMM!!

You say the outcome was never in question - this either means it was fated? You had travelled in time? had a crystal ball? Nothing in this world is a 100% sure thing, you can never say anything was a a sure thing until it is over, and even then. Go ask some VETS on D-day if they knew they would crush hitler since it is so obvious now for all of us smarties - but go ask.

So I have no idea what to say to someone who insists that you can state the outcome of any event 100% in advance without question, that there were no moments in this war, that if played out differently would not have changed the outcome. Am I to assume the soldiers were never bogged down? That everything went 100% without a hitch? The momentum shifts don’t have to be dramatic as us being pushed back to kuwait - but obviously, there can be zero shifts, because for you it was one long easy ride from kuwait into Saddam’s palace.

You want to say you never said that? You can’t have it both ways.


Wake up man! This happens ALL THE TIME. There are entire busloads of columnists that just do THIS EXACT THING for a living! Take Johnny Apple, the New York Times columnist for starters.

If you have never seen this, then your head is buried in the mainstream media’s crapper. You need to check out some blogs.

Hello!? McFly!


Chet, same kind of ‘wtf’ question: What in the world does a crystal ball have to do with this discussion? About as much as OMM. You accuse me of arguing from hindsight and suggesting I predicted all this, I accuse you of arguing one point to the exclusion of all else. In fact, my OMM comment actually has more merit than your crystal ball, come to think of it. Because you are just focusing on a non-existent comment of mine in an attempt to discredit whatever I said. Laughs all around.

I don’t pretend to know how the war would turn out. I’m just saying that there was no “turning of the tide” or “change of momentum.” The allied forces had initiative and control from the start and maintained it. They pressed on relentlessly, they won every battle they fought in and always had momentum. So a pompous ass suggesting that the tide of war had turned at 3 small engagements is ridiculous. The battles might have cemented an allied victory, but they didn’t change the direction of the conflict. That’s it. That’s all I’m saying. So stop putting words in my mouth in order to pretend you actually have a point.

Get it through your head. There was no turning of the tide, no change in momentum, and that’s all I’m saying.

I guess I just need to watch fox news more? Where do I get my news from again? I need to write it down so I know what to watch tonight.


ps. For more on crystal balls and their relevance in discussion about predicting the future, visit your local library.

OK Chet, again, great way to not make a point.

I still don’t know why you keep assuming I’m acting like I predicted the outcome of the war.

I seem to recall at least one battle involving 30 Apaches that went poorly for us. And apparently the supply truck convoy that Jessica Lynch was in put up quite a fight in a losing effort.

But I actually agree with you in this. There are pivotal battles, and then there are pivotal battles, so to speak. You need to win battles to win a war, but a war as lopsided as this one can’t be said to have battles as crucial to the outcome as, say, Midway or Guadalcanal was to the Pacific theater in WWII. Now, if the Iraqis had managed to win one of those, and then parley that victory into political or millitary momentum, THEN we could say that the battle had been elevated in importance and was crucial to the outcome. But everyone expects the bigger guy to win the fight, and it should come as no surprise when he does.

Now if any pair those contradictory propositions were ever held by the same person you might actually have a point.

I take it you don’t read many political op-ed pages.

But everyone expects the bigger guy to win the fight, and it should come as no surprise when he does.

I recall no shortage of “plausible” disaster scenarios awaiting coalition forces prior to the onset of the war. They included, and this is a partial list:

–Pre-emptive chemical/missile attack on massed forces in Kuwait.
–Pre-emptive Scud attacks on Kuwait, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
–Flooding of the Euphrates river valley by demolition of dams.
–Use of chem/bio weapons against invading coalition forces.
–Urban fighting inflicting 10-30% coalition casualties.

That was all just before the war. Once the fighting started, these scenarios grew to include:

–Guerrilla warfare by irregular forces.
–Suicide attacks.
–Effective anti-tank missile ambushes (after the loss of two M-1 tanks).

Before the war, there were literally hundreds of oppositionist columnists scenarizing potential military disaster. Only post-facto are these same educated opinions claiming easy victory was a foregone conclusion.