The L Word

Officials at the Defense Department are also said to be "livid," and well aware of the damage that has been done by the incident, according to NBC News' Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski. Speaking on the Imus in the Morning radio/MSNBC program Tuesday , Mr. Miklaszewski said he asked a Pentagon contact about the soldiers alleged to be involved, to which the Pentagon official replied, "You mean the six morons who lost the war?"

That's from Tom Regan in The Christian Science Monitor.

On the one hand, the Pentagon official Miklaszewski cites sticks to the official talking points. The abuse of Iraqi prisoners, he says, was not the result of any official policy or lack thereof, but only reflects the aberrant behavior of "six morons." (This is clearly not the case.)

On the other hand, the official also shockingly employs the past-tense: "the six morons who lost the war."

The L Word — "lost," "lose," "losing" — is popping up all over.

"We are in danger of losing something much more important than just the war in Iraq," New York Times columnist Tom Friedman writes. "We are in danger of losing America as an instrument of moral authority and inspiration in the world."

To avoid losing both, Friedman advocates "a total overhaul" of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. His overhaul begins with firing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and includes President Bush meeting with "the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the heads of both NATO and the U.N., and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria" before whom Bush must, "eat crow, apologize for his mistakes and make clear that he is turning a new page."

It's not clear if Friedman realizes just how utterly implausible such a scenario is. If he is correct that this is the only way to avoid losing the war in Iraq, then the past-tense is appropriate — America has lost.

Following the release of photos from Abu Ghraib, Juan Cole wrote:

I really wonder whether, with the emergence of these photos, the game isn't over for the Americans in Iraq. Is it realistic, after the bloody siege of Fallujah and the Shiite uprising of early April, and in the wake of these revelations, to think that the U.S. can still win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi Arab public?

Tom Ricks, in Sunday's Washington Post, finds the L Word on the lips of top defense strategists inside and outside of the military:

Deep divisions are emerging at the top of the U.S. military over the course of the occupation of Iraq, with some senior officers beginning to say that the United States faces the prospect of casualties for years without achieving its goal of establishing a free and democratic Iraq.

Their major worry is that the United States is prevailing militarily but failing to win the support of the Iraqi people. That view is far from universal, but it is spreading and being voiced publicly for the first time.

Ricks cites:

1. Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who, "when asked whether he believes the United States is losing" said, "I think strategically, we are."

2. Army Col. Paul Hughes, a former director of planning for the CPA in Baghdad, tells Ricks, "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically." Hughes compares the Iraq war to Vietnam: "Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."

3. A "senior general at the Pentagon" says, "It is doubtful we can go on much longer like this" and calls for the heads of Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.

4. Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., a hawkish former Marine, said "We cannot prevail in this war as it is going today."

5. Larry Diamond, a former "senior political adviser of the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq," says the U.S. is not losing — yet, " … we are no longer clearly winning the peace, and … a successful transition to democracy is in doubt."

Unlike the first Gulf War, this war lacks a clear, measurable and exclusively military objective. The enterprise is too murky to easily measure whether America is, in fact, winning or losing, or even to know what "victory" or "defeat" might look like.

Paul Reynolds of BBC News quotes Charles Heyman, of Jane's Consultancy Group, describing what seems the likeliest scenario for the next few months:

"It begins to look as though there is going to be a rather messy political solution to the whole affair, possibly brokered by the United Nations.

"Expect to see an agreement where both sides can claim some sort of a victory, followed by a rather hasty withdrawal of coalition troops at some stage in the next six months."

A messy political solution followed by a hasty withdrawal. That doesn't sound exactly like defeat, but it sure doesn't sound like victory either.

(p.s. — added Roger Ailes link)

  • Chris

    Friedman’s suggestions do have a ring of monkeys flying out of my ass or the Cubs winning the World Series plausibility to them. The idea of Bush apologizing to anyone let alone the hated French is the most ridiculuous thing I can imagine. If it does happen though, can they please televise it?

  • moonbiter

    Bush needs to apologize to the American people for allowing this to happen on his watch. I’m also waiting for him to denounce those who committed the abuse in Abu Ghraib, and allowed it to happen, as evil.
    After all, isn’t this the man who divides the world into good vs. evil, right vs. wrong?

  • Marley

    It all sounds reasonable, but george doesn’t do reality. I doubt he’ll do any of the right things. He knows he has time before the american people and his trusty supporters throw in the towel, so he’ll stall.

  • Reverend Ref

    Bush can’t apologize, he’s never done anything wrong. Said so himself.

  • mark

    First “Bush doesn’t have a clue what’s going on” now “Bush needs to apologize to the American people for allowing this to happen on his watch.”….ok which one is it?

  • blunted

    Ha! Friedman should be advised that there are no mulligans in war.
    This Administration sees apologies and compromise as a sign of weakness. No two ways about that.
    We should have known what we were getting into when Bush said “I’m the commander. See, I don’t have to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation”.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Mark, Bush should apologize for not having a clue when he should have.

  • D Lum

    Thought this would be of interest from the Toronto Star:
    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1084227009939&call_pageid=970599109774&col=Columnist969907626796
    “The United States is an occupying power in Iraq. It is also widely, although not universally, disliked by Iraqis. Its forces are under almost constant attack from small bands of resistance fighters.
    “In such a situation, occupying powers resort to harsh solutions. They need information on their shadowy enemies. But they have few friends among the locals.
    “Those of us born just after World War II recognize it as the Nazi problem.”
    Of course, if according to Fox News the Globe and Mail is considered a leftist publication, then the Toronto Star must be way over the line into outright communism.

  • bellatrys

    What is really relevant that you guys need to read is the Army Times.
    Their lead editorial is all about it. They say that the pentagon is attacking the *wrong* morons.
    They’re calling for Rumsfeld and Myers to go. They have a poll running, which, both, or none? when last week it was who’s more to blame, the officers, the soldiers, both or neither? Check out their previous polls.
    Also, they’re sending out a call for people to tell anonymously if they’ve been given “illegal orders” or think they have.
    They posted the Taguba report and the rebuttal which I never saw anywhere else, the four-page JA document in which Taguba was told that Karpinski was an *excellent* CO.
    They did this when the Pentagon was sending out an internal memo that ordered people *not* to go to Fox’s website and download the report, which sounds like somebody doing FUJIGMO there, and of course someone posted the secret internal Pentagon memo on the internet…where it was immediately blogged and passed around, reaching me via Science Fiction fans.
    Bradbury called it righter than Orwell. The Book People are ahead of the game.
    Army Times isn’t put out by the US Govt – that’s Stars & Stripes – but with Navy Times and Air Force Times, by Gannett. It is, however, read by the military, oooh yes.


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