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Ph.D.’s In Iraq February 11, 2007

Posted by gordonwatts in politics.

We are doomed! Doomed, I tell you! 🙂 I saw this headline in the Seattle Times today:

Petraeus’ Iraq staff armed with lots of Ph.D.s

WASHINGTON — Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who takes over today as U.S. commander in Iraq, is assembling a band of warrior-intellectuals in a crucial effort to reverse the downward trend in the Iraq war.

Members include a quirky Australian anthropologist, a Princeton economist who is the son of a former U.S. attorney general and a military expert on the Vietnam War sharply critical of its top commanders.

Petraeus is the new commander in charge of Iraq and implementing the surge and, well, bringing the country under control.

I like the headline: calling out a stark difference between the usual behavior in the Bush whitehouse (avoidance of science and other over-educated people).  But when it comes down to this sort of thing I just hope these people with lots of education also have lots of experience. Iraq needs both a good deep background (i.e. education), experience, and the ability to be flexible. All three of these things have been missing from the Bush administration: the people he often appoints are political appointees — people who have little experience in their assigned task, frequently have not been schooled in the task at hand, and, like him, stick to a plan long after it is obvious it isn’t working well.

I wish this group good luck. I don’t see that there is a good outcome here, just less bad ones. And I hope that if it does fail, instead of looking for the latest scapegoat, Petraeus, we’ll remember that it is a long history that got us here full of mistakes and unaccomplished missions. I wish him best of luck. From the comfort of my sitting chair this seems like an almost impossible task.

… Which begs the question: had we had a good group in charge of Iraq from the start, would the idea of fostering a democracy there have ever had a chance? I suppose we’ll never know, and I sure as heck hope that we don’t try to repeat the same exercise in another country anytime soon.



1. Christos - February 12, 2007

“… Which begs the question: had we had a good group in charge of Iraq from the start, would the idea of fostering a democracy there have ever had a chance? I suppose we’ll never know, and I sure as heck hope that we don’t try to repeat the same exercise in another country anytime soon.”

Fostering a democracy?! Oh, is this why you guys went into Iraq? I naively thought that you were just making another military basis in the middle east, so you can pull the troops out of Saudi Arabia, and closer to Iran. And, since we are it, how were you fostering (any) democracy when you were arming Saddam against Iran in the 1st place?

The fact that people as smart as you, Gordon, talk about “fostering democracy in Iraq”, as opposed to impeachment, is a pretty good indication that you will “repeat the same exercise(!) in another country” very soon.


2. gordonwatts - February 13, 2007

Gee, Ghristos, good to hear from you! 🙂

Impeachment would be great, but at this point would be a waste of time and would paralize the country for two years. Should he be held accountable? Yes. But we can’t take the time to take him down and let Iraq and other places drift. So, thought I’d like to see it, I don’t seriously consider impeachment as an option.

As far as your other comment. Point taken. I should rephrase what I’m saying here: given that we had pulled Iraq down, was there something we could have done differently to make it come out “better”?

BTW, I do think it is in the USA’s interest to foster democracy around the world. I do think it is a good form of government, and I do think it and a free press are closer to an ideal way of running a country than many other forms out there. I’m not saying it doesn’t have its warts! And I’m definately not in favor of doing it the way our current government has done it.

3. Christos - February 13, 2007

I’ll tell you what. You will make a list of countries where US “fostered democracy”. Say, in the last 50 years or so. And I will make a list of countries where US orchestrated/organized (or supported) dictatorships. [Hey, guess which list my country would go to!] And according to these two lists, we can assign a probability for the real reason behind the same “exercise” in the next country (coming up really soon).

Yeah, I don’t really think that impeachment is very likely. However, crimes that go unpunished are bound to be repeated. Plus, it would imply that the US gives up their right to “be fostering democracy” around. We can’t do that…

I will stop vandalizing your blog, because I have to go to work.

Good to hear from you, too. 🙂

4. gordonwatts - February 14, 2007

No problems vandalizing my blog.

When you talk about “fostering democracy” in quotes I assume you are talking about like El Salvador, Panama, etc. — places where we proped up a dictator or the like. That isn’t what I meant (and I think you knew that). There are much better ways to do it, and we’ve often tried it — but the approach is “soft” and its success is much less spetacular than our failures (I’d like to think that US help got Europe off its feet faster that it might have on its own after WWII). Further — it really only works when the people want it; I suspect you can only sit back and nudge until people want your help.

As much as some people both inside the US and outside it would like it, we can not withdraw our foreign policy. The US has many to many economic ties with the outside world and so will have to maintain and grow political ones. Every country is trying to do this and the ones that sit still will wither away. As I said above, I hope we have learned from the current disaster.

I agree with you about impeachment. I wish there was a good way to hold him accountable without shutting down the US process for 2 years (or more). This country is very much split. There are signs of us realizing how much damage the split has caused — but I don’t think the whole country has realized it yet. At the moment, an impeachment would be cathartic — but only for a bit more than half the country. The other half would be hopping mad and would shut things down. That would be awful. It seems like enough people are now pissed to greatly limit Bush in what he can do (Iran is the hot topic right now) — and I can only hope that is the case.

Do we go after him when he leaves office? What kind of a case would it be? We’d definately need the person that replaces him to be willing to let a lot of dirty laundry out. And not the petty stuff (i.e. what happend with Clinton — we have to get past those sorts of dirty tricks). At the moment we all suspect people in the administration lied to us — but you could still plausibly say it was group-think that did it. Ugh.

Time for bed. 🙂 Excuse the mis-spellings, I’m too tired to spell-check right now.

5. discount meridia - March 5, 2007

discount meridia

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