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Esmay Wins the War.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

I have avoided picking fights with Dean Esmay lately. Mostly, I just lost interest in his blog. But here he is today:

First, they said we had no plan.

Then, when a new plan was proposed called “the surge,” they said it was the same as the old plan (you know, the one that didn’t exist) and had no real chance of succeeding.

Oh, did they Dean?

When last I heard from Esmay directly, he was spitting curses at me. Calling me names. Fuck this, and asshole that, and so on. Banning me from his site. Ranting and raving that I was a defeatist. His toadies chimed in to tell me how naive I was, what a fool I was, what a dupe of the mainstream media I was.

So I thought you might enjoy one of the last comments I put up at Dean's World before Dean decided I was a tool of the jihad and an enemy of America:

On the list of people who agree with me on this you can add Newt Gingrich to Hagel, McCain and Biden.

You asked for specific criteria that would demonstrate success in Iraq? Here's what I look for, in no particular order:

1) Does Iraq control its borders at least to the extent that the flow of Jihadists is limited.
2) Is Iraq able to pump oil at pre-war levels.
3) Are there more areas of the country relatively secure today than at previous dates.
4) Has the enemy been forced to move off-plan.
5) Do our forces hold the strategic initiative.
6) Do we have a coherent strategy whose end point is victory.

As for a plan to move forward, I put one out on my own blog some weeks back. We need more force. We need more boots on the ground. We are playing catch-and-release with cities and provinces because we lack the manpower to garrison what we take. We desperately need new leadership. And we need to challenge Arab propaganda much more effectively than we do now.

How much of this was predictable? A lot. Shinseki said it and was eased into retirement. We went in with too little force. Occupations For Dummies Chapter One: Place boot firmly on neck. The Powell Doctrine was not exactly a state secret. The possibility off an insurgency was not a state secret. I don't blame Rumsfeld et all so much for early mistakes, but Jesus they just never learn. They never correct. They never fix things. They are incapable of admitting errors and if you don't realize you've made mistakes, you don't make things better.

And once again, that's not just me, that's McCain, Shinseki, Hagel, Barry McCaffrey, Gingrich, Biden and on and on and on. Biden has been to Iraq five times and each time gets the same story from every officer: we don't have enough men to hold what we take. We don't have enough men to guard the borders. The Iraqi training is woefully behind.

As for the press, American presidents had actively hostile, vitriolic press opposition in virtually every war we've had: 1812, Mexico, Civil War, Spanish, to some extent in WW1 and to some extent in Vietnam. The major exception is WW2, but it was the exception not the rule. Lincoln had press calling him a baboon, an incompetent, a traitor, a tyrant. The rule has been wildly partisan media with some lauding whoever was in power as a new Alexander while the opposition attacked them as Satan. In the context of history calling this media hostile is just laughable.

You can cheerlead all you want, Dean, and you can rail against the media, but the problem here is one of strategy. Until we have a realistic plan, and apply sufficient force to succeed in that plan, we will be unlikely to prevail, not even if 100% of the American people were enthusiastic to the point of giddiness. It really is not about cheerleading. It really is about strategy. It's about taking turf and killing bad guys and limiting the enemy's resources.

The date on that is August 20, 2005.

That's three years ago, when, according to Dean, the only problem in Iraq was that the mainstream media didn't see how wonderful everything was. Three years ago, and by that point I'd been saying it all for two years.

I am deeply sick of the same fucking people who used to tell me what an idiot I was for believing that we had no strategy, (now accepted wisdom,) for saying that we had insufficient forces, (um . . . the surge?) for demanding new leadership, (I know, how about general Petraeus?) now crowing that they were right all along.

No. They weren't. They enabled Rumsfeld. They denied there was a problem. They attacked anyone who suggested that maybe things weren't going too well. They were full of shit and they made matters worse when some of us were trying to make matters better.

Dean in response to my suggestion that we fire Rumsfeld:

We certainly shouldn't fire Rumsfeld, who is quite brilliant and has done a superb job.

Where the hell do these Rumsfeld sycophants get off taking credit for what's been accomplished? Getting rid of that incompetent ideologue was step one in succeeding in Iraq.

Don't rewrite history, Dean. You were an enabler of a failed and stupid strategy. You did all you could to intimidate those who spoke the truth and demanded the changes that have now brought a great measure of success in Iraq.

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