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Below is an interesting piece sent to me in a newsletter from an group of investment analysts called Investor Insight (http://www.investorsinsight.com/). I can't vouch for any of the info they quote and I don't have a web site for the article itself but I thought it might generate some good conversation.

BTW - It was a bit too long for a single post but rather than edit it, I posted it as two parts.

Acrobat


What We Now Know
Week of 11/17/03

*** CAN THE U.S. WIN IN IRAQ? ***

Dissecting the U.S. deployment of 133,000 troops on the ground in Iraq, Edward Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies recently calculated that only 28,000 are actually in the field at any given time.1

To put that number in perspective, Luttwak points out that the New York City Police force has 37,000 police officers - yet U.S. Coalition forces are being asked to keep control over a nation of 28 million, including the urban hotspots of Baghdad with its 6 million inhabitants, Mosul with 1.7 million, Kirkuk with 800,000 and Fallujah, a Sunni stronghold with a population of 250,000.

That's just 28,000 soldiers to interdict insurgents and jihadists coming over the borders with Syria and Iran, to patrol all the cities, protect all the oil fields, pipelines, banks, and utility infrastructure... and to provide cover for the U.S. military bases, airfields and convoys.

It gets worse: the latest plan proposed by the administration cuts U.S. forces to just 104,000 troops, with an increasing share being National Guard and Army Reservists who, rather than playing their usual supporting role, are this time headed for the front line - because when it comes to Iraq, it's pretty much all front line.

To give you some sense of the danger, small arms are so abundant that $10 will buy you, retail from a street vendor, an AK-47 machine gun and all the ammunition you can carry.

Which brings us to the question addressed in this special WWNK feature, can the U.S. win in Iraq?

We ask the question for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it is very likely that, as the war in Iraq goes, so will the 2004 Presidential election. For another, it is our tens of billions of hard earned tax dollars being appropriated in the attempt to recast Iraq in our own image. Any chance of success? This feature will be longer than usual for this publication, because the issue at hand warrants it.

First, A Historical Benchmark

Every day now the news from Iraq tells of another 1, 2 or 17 U.S. soldiers killed, increasingly leading the media to make comparisons to U.S. war against Vietnam. We think a better comparison is the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: while the Vietnam war started as a fight against guerrillas, it ended with set piece battles against the North Vietnamese army. In the case of the Soviet involvement with Afghanistan, other than some very limited initial engagements, it was all guerrillas, all the time.

So, how did the Soviet's make out? Over the ten year conflict approximately 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed2 - an average of about 4 soldiers KIA per day. Subtract casualties related to illness, a very high number due to poor sanitation, and you come up with about 39,000 wounded in combat and sundry injuries (equipment crashes, etc.) or about 10.75 per day.

How does the U.S. involvement in Iraq compare so far?

As we write, the U.S. troops KIA in Iraq is at 417, an average of about 2 per day since the start of the war. So, we compare favorably by about half to the Soviets. However, when you look at the largely under-reported wounded in combat and other non-illness related injuries, we are already at 4,451, or about 19 per day -- a rate nearly twice that of the Soviets. Why is our KIA ratio so much better and our wounded ratio so much worse? Credit it to the high quality of personal protective gear (flak jackets and helmets) worn by the U.S. soldiers - otherwise our fatal and non-fatal casualties in Iraq would likely parallel those suffered by the Soviets. Not to put too fine a point on it, the war is not going well.

Is the sacrifice worth it? Put another way; is there a reasonable chance for a military or political success in Iraq - whatever that might mean?

Winning Against Insurgents

For help with the answer, we turn to a useful list of the conditions which must be present in order for an occupying army to succeed against an insurgency such as we are faced with in Iraq. The list was assembled for the Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education by General (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan & LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army. In the interest of space, we excerpt the list here, and include some commentary.

"A guerrilla war is not a war of technology versus peasantry. Rather, it is a contest of endurance and national will. The side with the greatest moral commitment (ideological, religious or patriotic) will hold the ground at the end of the conflict."

WWNK: In a recent survey of Iraq's population by Zogby International3, some 50% of those surveyed thought the U.S. would hurt more than help their country over the next five years, and some 43% had either a favorable or very favorable opinion of Osama bin Laden. Embedded in this segment of the population is a sizable minority who think the U.S. should go and, as witnessed by the suicide bombings, believe in their point quite strongly.

Because of the gross under-deployment of coalition forces and the constant attacks against those forces - up to 35 a day - U.S. soldiers are understandably reluctant to mingle with the population, which is generally sullen and uncooperative anyway. So winning hearts and minds is out of the question.

On the question of morale, while the insurgents and their philosophical allies are visibly cheered by each successful attack, U.S. morale is beginning to flag badly. Ask yourself the question, "If I, or a member of my family, was a U.S. soldier, whose stay in Iraq has likely been extended far beyond what was originally promised, how willing would I be to trade an arm, leg or even a life for victory in a war the purpose of which is now unclear?"

How would you answer that question when members of the Administration are beginning to waffle on the evening news about the duration of our commitment? Clearly, the morale, will power and commitment factors favor the insurgents.

"Secure logistics and secure lines of communication are essential for the guerrilla and non-guerrilla force. Security missions, however, can tie up most of a conventional force."

WWNK: With 28,000 soldiers in the field at any time, U.S. Coalition forces are hard pressed to protect themselves, let alone protect anything else. Point to the insurgents.

"Weapons systems, field gear, communications equipment and transport which are designed for conventional war will often work less effectively or fail completely on rugged terrain."

WWNK: The U.S. force has the world's best military equipment, bar none. But all of the smart bombs in the world will not do you any good against a lone Iraqi sneaking through the night with a Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG). Put another way, unless you are pursuing total war, which is something we are simply not prepared to do, nor should we be, all that high-tech weaponry is pretty much useless against guerrillas, as opposed to a conventional army. And fighting against well coordinated pockets of insurgents embedded in urban terrain is rugged terrain indeed. Again, point to the insurgents.

"Tactics for conventional war will not work against guerrillas. Forces need to be reequipped, restructured and retrained for fighting guerrillas or for fighting as guerrillas."
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Part 2: CAN THE U.S. WIN IN IRAQ?

WWNK: In the opening stages of the Vietnam War, U.S. search and destroy squads were actually quite effective against the irregular Viet Cong, effectively defeating them as a fighting force before the entrance of the North Vietnamese regular army - coupled with political restrictions on the limits of our combat -ultimately lost the war there. In the case of Iraq, search and destroy missions by small and ruthless groups of anti-insurgents may be the only way to win this war militarily, but each incursion into the slums of Baghdad or other cities risks turning more of the population against us. That's not hard to do considering, according to the Zogby poll, 30% of Iraq's citizens said they had lost a family member, neighbor or friend in the U.S. attack. Of course, they lost a lot more to Saddam's thugs - the poll says 50% - but the memories from the U.S. war are still fresh.

Because of the under-deployment and the nature of the terrain, the odds of the U.S. using small groups of soldiers fighting guerrilla-style to successfully track down a significant number of insurgents are long indeed. That leaves us in more or less fixed positions, vulnerable to continued attacks at the time and choosing of the insurgents.

"Tanks have a limited utility for the counter-guerrilla force, but can serve as an effective reserve on the right terrain. Infantry fighting vehicles and helicopters can play an important role in mobility and fire support."

WWNK: In the case of Iraq, because U.S. forces are so widely dispersed, the helicopter is especially important. Unfortunately, in the words of a professor of military history at Washington's National Defense University, "Choppers are very vulnerable. They fly low and slow and they're excellent targets. They can be brought down by Stingers, RPGs and small arms fire." The Iraqi resistance obviously knows how to take out helicopters - and their success on that front to date limits the usefulness of this critical battlefield support component.

"Journalists and television cameramen are key players in guerrilla warfare. The successful struggle can be effectively aided when championed by a significant portion of the world's press."

WWNK: The world's press and increasingly our own, is almost entirely unified against the Iraq operation.

"Domination of the air is irrelevant unless airpower can be precisely targeted. Seizure of terrain can be advantageous, but is usually only of temporary value. Control of the cities can be a plus, but can also prove a detriment. Support of the population is essential for the winning side."

WWNK: Historically, success by occupying forces against insurgents occurs only if the insurgents can be geographically and/or politically isolated, and then systematically eliminated. Because the Iraqi insurgents are embedded in the cities, geographic isolation is unlikely, leaving political isolation the only hope.

The only way that is going to occur is if we publicly ally with the Shiite majority against the more troublesome Sunni minority - the feeding stock for the insurgency. This strategy would, in effect, call for deliberately creating a vicious religious war, the end result of which will almost certainly be an Iranian-style theocracy that will not thank the U.S. for its help, should it succeed. We would rate the odds of such strange bedfellows as Bush and the Ayatollahs to be slim to none and Slim just left town.

The bottom line: On virtually every point, the battle goes to the insurgents. Consequently, the signals now coming out of Washington that we are preparing to cut and run, painful as it may be from the perspective of national pride, makes sense. This is a war we cannot win.

As for the Iraqis and their smoldering cities -- their future will be up to them. If the U.S. invasion has provided them with nothing else, it has provided the country with a break from its totalitarian past and in so doing, an opportunity to take a new path. They can collectively choose to reconstruct a polite society from the ruins, or squander their future by rolling over for the next hard man that comes along, maybe even welcome back Saddam. They might also opt for a good old fashioned religious civil war. The reality is that Iraq was a human rights mess before the war, and its citizens can use the U.S. intervention to do better. Or, they can revert to oppression and hopelessness. That would be a damn shame, but not our damn shame.
 

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All we need is the WILL to win. There is no argument about us having the capability to win. The real war is being fought right here in the US House and Senate, between those that would protect our country and its people, and those who would exploit tragedy and fear, for reaquisition of political power. That's the bottom line. All other discussion of tactics, numbers bla bla freakin bla is irrelevant, if you are not first willing to achieve complete and unquestionable victory, at all costs.
 

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I'd be interested in what others think.

I voted for George Bush. I still think he's likely better than what we would have got with Al Gore.
I have tried to support his policies even as they've become more and more transparently, disingenuously self-serving and crony-boosting.

It's MY opinion that the "war" in Iraq is a TREMENDOUS waste of human and financial resources, with no defined end or clear objective in sight.
You can't win a war without a defined end. (Propaganda from Bush-administration pundits aside.)
And all this when TONS of folks are unemployed in this country!

Complete destruction of Iraq (or for that matter, Saudi Arabia), would not result in any significant decline in terrorism, IMNSHO. There is no such thing as a "War on Terror" (obviously; what a ridiculous misuse of the language!) or even a "War on Terrorism". You can make war on a people or government, not on an idea or ideology.

I believe were wasting resources over there.
Just by the way, I'm politically conservative, neither Republican or Democrat. I'm no "peace-nik", and I have the highest respect the military and for authority in general (though not blindly).
Anybody else share these concerns?
 

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Forstr's correct

We don't need to worry about 'who's winning' in Iraq. We are. The attacks have been in a relativly small portion of this country, where Saddam's supporters are strongest.

What we need to do is re-establish the Iraqi Military and Police organizations. That will solve the 'manpower' issue, which does exist. This is happening, slowly but surely.

What we CANNOT do, as Forstr pointed out, is loose faith. WE WILL WIN. Saddam's loyalists think that by killing Americans (and they can do that effectivly by bringing down Helo's, which they have discovered...) they can lower American morale. That's their plan, lower our morale and get us to pull ourselves out. We can't play to that.

BTW, the Financial impact of this is not something that we should consider. The aftermath of the first Gulf war had the potential to become another Korea, not another Vietnam. Compare the Iraq bill with the costs of keeping 30-40,000 troops in Saudi for the next 50 years... this is a bargain.
 

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I have tried to support his policies even as they've become more and more transparently, disingenuously self-serving and crony-boosting.
Self-serving? How bout serving the memories of a few thousand people murdered, and to prevent another 911?

It's MY opinion that the "war" in Iraq is a TREMENDOUS waste of human and financial resources, with no defined end or clear objective in sight.
No defined objective? How bout getting rid of those who would seek to kill us, and have proved capable and more than willing?



And all this when TONS of folks are unemployed in this country!
COME ON!! Are you suggesting we give money directed to national defense, to people who are out of work or poor? That is the craziest thing I've ever heard. Take your pick: Thousands out of work, or thousands killed by islamists in a 911 magnitude attack.

There is no such thing as a "War on Terror" ... You can make war on a people or government, not on an idea or ideology.
You can ABSOLUTLEY make war on an idea or ideology. You just kill the people who practice that ideology (in this case, the destruction of Americans and Jews). What do you think the cold war was? Hint: A war against communism...



I have the highest respect the military
Then show it by climbing on board, and supporting our efforts to put these people in check, or in the ground.

p.s. I am in no way flaming here: It's just that this is exactly the kind of arguments our enemies are hoping for, in the public debate. They want us to lose the WILL to win, and go home, so they can resume their efforts of planning more cohesive attacks, without us in their hair. Hell, it is the ONLY way they can win. They are sure as hell not gonna beat us on the battlefield!
 

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Forstr said:
All we need is the WILL to win.
First you have to agree on the definition of "WIN", and what price is reasonable to acieve whatever is set forth as "WINNING".

If we define winning as:

1) establishing a democracy that enjoys widespread support among the people in Iraq

2) is strong enough that it is able to defend itself from the destabilizing efforts of external Islamic fundamentalists without being propped up by US forces permanently stationed there

3) being able to accomplish the above without generating a massive level of hatred towards the US and being viewed as a foreign imperialist

I would say the chances are about as good as winning the lottery.
 

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Forstr said:
p.s. I am in no way flaming here: It's just that this is exactly the kind of arguments our enemies are hoping for, in the public debate. They want us to lose the WILL to win, and go home, so they can resume their efforts of planning more cohesive attacks, without us in their hair.
With all due respects, they are not morons. Criticism of this war and every other war is a constant. What has given the insurgents new life and precipitated a major escalation was Rumsfeld's idiotic memo stating that we had no way to know if we were winning and that we were outspending the other side by billions of dollars and that the Pentagon could not change quickly enough to adapt to the new war. I didn't make that up, he said it. You think that didn't give a nitrous oxide boost to their engines? Let's put the blame where it belongs on that one.

Another major shot in the arm occurred this week when our government officially agreed to the ruling council's demands for how and when the power would be transferred, after we had REPEATEDLY refused prior to that. This was widely interpreted as a neon sign saying that the US was on the gas pedal to get out as quickly as possible.... and anybody with a living brain cell knows that it needs to be wrapped up just in time for the next election.

The enemy is not stupid. He knows these things as well as we do, and blaming citizens who are speaking out against lies from their government for "encouraging" the enemy flies in the face of reality.
 

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SAWBONES said:
It's MY opinion that the "war" in Iraq is a TREMENDOUS waste of human and financial resources, with no defined end or clear objective in sight.
You can't win a war without a defined end. (Propaganda from Bush-administration pundits aside.)
And all this when TONS of folks are unemployed in this country!
I agree with you and so do some others but (from what they say in PM's) they refrain from being shredded by the locals. It's become painfully clear that the Bush siupporters have become so blinded by rhetoric that they can never accept that this war was a blunder and will justify it regardless of the outcome.... and despite the fact that the official "reason" for the war changes once a week.

As for the defined end, I shudder to think of it. One likely scenario will be "Viet Nam II" where we train and arm some forces and pull out leaving them to be slaughtered. The other scenario will be "Korea II" where we have to maintain a large standing force until hell freezes over and defend against constant attacks. Believing that a puppet democracy which won't even have the support of most Iraqis will be stable over the long haul is a fantasy.
 

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Folks seem to often take disagreements with the current presidential administration's policies as tantamount to treason.

In fact, I believe that George Bush has merely turned out to be the lesser of two evils in our choice for the presidency this time around. ('Twas always thus, and all too often we seem to get the greater of two evils rather than the lesser!) Of course, I don't believe, from my knowledge of history, that we've had a truly moral, ethical, honest president since Theodore Roosevelt, and I may be wrong even there. JMNSHO. The folks who aspire to high political office are demonstrably NOT very often the best ones for the job; they're just the ones with the money, political connectedness and "will to power"!
Does ANYBODY think that any of our recent presidents have been paragons of virtue? If so, you need to learn a little more detailed American History!
Anyway, this poor country has deteriorated steadily over the years since its founding as a republic, and we now have ever-increasing national debt (mostly attributable to intrusive, ill-advised, unwarranted, and ultimately-useless Federal spending), and ever-diminishing personal freedoms as aspects of both the causes and the effects.

I believe implicitly in the principles upon which this country was founded. There's no other country in the world, in all of history, founded on such CORRECT principles.
Trouble is, those principles are being, and have been, eroded by politicians who value their own power and wealth and position more than our freedoms!
"Hell, ain't nuthin worse than a politician, 'cept maybe a child-molester"! (humor from the movie Extreme Prejudice)

It's not treasonous or anti-patriotic to recognise the TRUTH, that Mr. Bush hasn't turned out to be the brightest (or most ethical) bulb in the box.
I recognise that he and ANY and ALL American presidents have had amazingly difficult and complex jobs to do, and that many American presidents have accomplished many good things, sometimes at tremendous personal cost. I wouldn't and couldn't do such a job. I support the president, of whatever party. Those of us who pray, pray for the president. None of that means, however, that everything he does is right, and I believe he's WRONG in positioning us in Iraq, this way, at this time, at the unjustifiable cost in American soldiers' lives, at such INCOMPREHENSIBLE expense, all for no concrete benefit, and for no certainly-limited period of time!

'Course, I also believe in things like capital punishment, and in employing resources to aid in assassinating Al Queda figureheads and operatives, and in no abortion-on-demand, and other such non-politically-correct ideas. Maybe I'm naive. I probably am.



As far as unemployment in this country goes, SOME sort of work program, analogous to the WPA during the Depression, could be considered as an option to provide more jobs. That would benefit folks here at home, and would hopefully even accomplish some definable good public works.

Best.
 

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Sorry, in a huge rush right now. I'll address this lunacy soon. Until then, stay safe.
 

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SAWBONES said:
Folks seem to often take disagreements with the current presidential administration's policies as tantamount to treason.
Technically its sedition. Not treason.

Im not particularly in the mood to rehash this one so soon. We went over it pretty in depth recently. My opinion is we can and we are winning. Questions like should we have gone are too little too late. Everyone knew we were going to Iraq after 9/11 happened.

I think its good tactics personally. Puts the fight on their turf instead of ours. If its difficult to fight a counterinsurgency action how much more difficult would it be to do it in Michigan or Pennsylvania rather than the Sunni Triangle? Whats more likely to severely limit your liberties?
 

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First of all, This will proabably be my last post on this Like Mus said, it has been beaten to death. Just a few last comments though:

To BH:

As for the defined end, I shudder to think of it.
Yeah, you and a few million other people who love to preach doom and gloom, and choose not to stand behind our leaders during an obvious struggle to gasp! actually defend the most important part of the constitution (the part that says the govt's primary responsibility is the keep its citizens safe from things such as terrorist attacks). It's a good thing that we have people who can't shudder to think....:eek:

And BTW, anybody who isn't willing to post their views in the open is either (1) insecure in their own views, or (2) only willing to talk to people who share their views. Either way, their opinions aren't worth hearing if they are not willing to be asked to back them up.

To SB:

I believe implicitly in the principles upon which this country was founded. There's no other country in the world, in all of history, founded on such CORRECT principles.
As far as unemployment in this country goes, SOME sort of work program, analogous to the WPA during the Depression, could be considered as an option to provide more jobs. That would benefit folks here at home, and would hopefully even accomplish some definable good public works.
Which is it? If you believe in what this country was founded upon, how do you then endorse New Deal-esque social programs? These statements are diametrically opposed: The country was founded on the assumption that no man was "owed" anything but his God given rights, and the opportunity to achieve anything, limited only by his own motivation and persaverence(sp). I hate to admit it, but I work for a municipality, and let me tell you, the LAST thing we need is a damn program that provides more public service jobs. Truth is, my city could contract almost every aspect of public works out, and achieve superior efficiency and cost effectiveness. Just for kicks, drive around your area and find a highway dept road crew: you'll see one or two guys working, and five more sitting there watching. YOU are paying them to do next to nothing. DOes that make us better off? Hell no.

Anyway, this poor country has deteriorated steadily over the years since its founding as a republic
Wrong: This country didn't start to deteriorate until we started adopting socialist policies (shortly after the depression).
 

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I agree with Mus on this one. Every bad guy we kill in Iraq is one less bad guy to worry about coming to the US. I can't see any good reason for us NOT to be there because Iraq is, in fact, a danger to our national security. Does anyone really believe we had nothing to worry about from Sadam prior to Iraqi Freedom and that we would have nothing to fear now if we just pulled out?
 

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Originally posted by Forstr
And BTW, anybody who isn't willing to post their views in the open is either (1) insecure in their own views, or (2) only willing to talk to people who share their views. Either way, their opinions aren't worth hearing if they are not willing to be asked to back them up.
There are over 16,000 subscribers to 1911forum.com. Of those a very, very small number choose to take part in discussions like this one. It may be that when some folks throw terms like (e.g.) "lunacy", "sedition", and "lefties" at those who disagree with them, that tends to put other folks off.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks LenB,

You are absolutely correct. When I posted this article I considered it both thoughtful and well reasoned. That's not to say I agreed with it!

I was hoping for some intelligent and considered discussion but instead we dropped into the same old jingoist vs liberal vs libertarian vs whatever bullying. I'd hoped for something new.

For those just joining this thread, the article did give me something new to think about. Like fewer soldiers in field than NY has cops on the beat and full auto assault rifles (the real ones) available at corner markets for $10 including all the ammo you can carry.

What a stupendous challenge for our GI's. And do any of us really trust the Iraqis training as police to be any more effective than our S. Vietnam friends were or any less corrupt than they'd been under Saddam?

Acrobat
 

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Discussion Starter #17
E4MC said:
I agree with Mus on this one. Every bad guy we kill in Iraq is one less bad guy to worry about coming to the US.
Apparently Al Queda has the same though so they are sending their fighters from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Syrian and who knows where else to fight the Jihad on Iraqi soil. These creeps may be crazy but they are not stupid.
 

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SAWBONES said:
I have the highest respect the military
If you don't support or respect what we are doing then you DO NOT support or respect us ......... PERIOD !!!!
 

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LenB said:
There are over 16,000 subscribers to 1911forum.com. Of those a very, very small number choose to take part in discussions like this one. It may be that when some folks throw terms like (e.g.) "lunacy", "sedition", and "lefties" at those who disagree with them, that tends to put other folks off.
If the shoe fits...
 

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LenB said:
It may be that when some folks throw terms like (e.g.) "lunacy", "sedition", and "lefties" at those who disagree with them, that tends to put other folks off.
So what? All of those words have meaning. I believe that in most situations those words, when they are used, have been used fairly accurately, and not just thrown at "those who disagree." Look sedition up in a dictionary Len. We are at war my friend. If you want to challenge what you believe is a mischaracterization of your politics or your position then do so. But to suggest that the opinions of those who are so easily put off from a passionate debate have any great value is less than honest.

Acrobat said:
Thanks LenB,

You are absolutely correct. When I posted this article I considered it both thoughtful and well reasoned. That's not to say I agreed with it!
I question the wisdom of constantly comparing the situation to Afghanistan or Vietnam the way our media is doing. You dont win wars by turning your own mass media into a propaganda machine for the enemy.

Acrobat said:
I was hoping for some intelligent and considered discussion but instead we dropped into the same old jingoist vs liberal vs libertarian vs whatever bullying. I'd hoped for something new.
Glad to see that you are above it all Acrobat.

:rolleyes:

Same old hypocritical BS.

"Stop labeling me a seditious lefty you jingoists!"

:biglaugh:
 
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