Exchange with Ted Rall

Since some readers regularly e-mail me samples of his work, I thought there might be interest in this piece that Ted Rall sent me yesterday, and in the brief exchange we had on the subject. I think he was hoping I would buy the piece. He doesn’t know I’m not in a buying mode. In fact, he has my sympathy because fewer and fewer papers are likely to be in a buying mode.

Anyway, my initial reaction to the piece was as follows:

Actually, Ted, the only way we’re going to win is if it DOES become "boring"
enough that al-Zarqawi can’t get coverage any more. He can’t win, except by
demoralizing the American public to the point that it just wants to quit. And he
can’t do that without coverage.

But rest assured, Katrina will eventually fade into the background enough to
return to the daily suicide bombing being repeated over and over on the 24/7
boob tube news. And al Zarqawi will be a happy man, and won’t have to try so
hard to depress us.

Mr. Rall responded thusly:

It depends on whether we view al Zarqawi as the leader of a movement or just one more personality heading up one particular pyramid of insurgent cells (guess which one I think it is). I think the Iraqi insurgency is intrinsically undefeatable, first and foremost because the US isn’t willing to commit the half million troops that would have been needed to enforce total domination and law and order.

To which I responded,

I cite him as the guy taking credit for the biggest recent attempt to get our
attention. He and al Qaeda are indeed but one of the factions hoping we’ll just
get demoralized and go away…

Mr. Rall is right that we (if he means our leaders) have never been willing to commit enough troops. And he’s right that the terrorist attacks over there haven’t garnered the same kind of overplay in the U.S. media to which the terrorists are accustomed (due to Katrina). But he’s wrong about the rest. The various insurgents — al Qaeda, other assorted foreign jihadists, Sadr’s people, never-say-die Baathists, and so forth — can’t defeat us. Not unless we become so demoralized that we decide to let them.

13 thoughts on “Exchange with Ted Rall

  1. Mike C

    Ah, the troops thingy again. Rall’s timing is impeccable.
    It’s likely that if the US wasn’t willing to commit the half million troops because our military thinkers believe that:
    – we’d have to maintain a force that size for a decade or more
    – it would dissuade the Iraqis from making the tough political choices / accommodations necessary to form a stable government
    – it would remove the urgency of building effective police forces and capable military units.
    UN and NATO peacekeeping operations of a scale large enough “to enforce total domination and law and order” become eternal. Normal political development does not take place, the society remains stunted. The Sunnis — 20% of the population — will retain their fantasy of regaining control of Iraq for a bit longer until one day they get wise and decide to stop bleeding and start cooperating.
    Call me Pollyanna, but that day is coming soon. Katrina distracted us from the good news about operations along the Syrian border; we’re killing and capturing the leadership thanks to information supplied by local Iraqis. You can see an animated summary here.
    US and Iraqi forces had great success in Tal-Afar. As it turns out, we’d been mounting small operations in and around the area, gradually constructing a box in which to strike a decisive blow. The US commander’s account is riveting. Few got away:

    We had some very heavy fighting on the 5th and 6th of September, during which we killed many of the enemy, who engaged us from their forward defensive positions. And it was at that point that the enemy shifted their approach again to essentially running away from the area. They gave the word to retreat. They did everything they could to blend in with the civilians who were evacuating from this dense urban area to protect them, and we caught them. We were integrated with the population. The people were pointing out who the enemy was. We had Iraqi army who was very good at sensing something isn’t quite right when this man is walking down the street with children, and the children look very nervous. This one man in particular was a beheader who had beheaded over 20 people. And we were able to capture him as the children fled, as we came up to talk to this individual, and the children related to us this man said that they had to walk with him or he would kill them. We captured five of the enemy dressed as women, trying desperately to get out of the area. Just yesterday we captured 104 of the enemy in these outlying areas.

    Okay, these are just a couple of battles, but there are some other indications indications that al Zarqawi’s recruiting problem is greater than the US Army’s, forcing him to start up the draft.
    Our involvement in the region is more important today than it was when we started. Rall seems to think that the war has left the public eye forever. Just because the public today does not view the war as important as it did last year doesn’t mean that it’s not important and will not be important next year; polls are like that, and of late we’ve been immersed in the weather.
    That will change, as will the price of gas. I say $1.85 per gallon of premium on June 1, 2006.

  2. David

    At best, Rall is delusional. At worst, he is an idiot. He theorizes about “high” unemployment, the indictment of Karl Rove, I mean – what rock is this goober living under? From people who have been to Iraq and observed (not Rall), you now have close to 90% of that nation living in peace. Schools are open, businesses are thriving, roads are being built, waterlines activated, newspaper competition, consumers buying CDs and electronics, i.e. a lot like a normal democratic society. In 10% of this nation, a mafia like force continues in desparation to disrupt and ravage the enemy. Who is their enemy? How about anyone other than this mafia like group. This group is now so despised that even the Shia cleric Al Sadr has threatened to drive them out. How long can a mafia last without a safe house?

    The W administration is on the verge of a huge and momentuous success story in Iraq. 50 million people liberated from a brutal dictator and turned into freedom loving capitalists. Imagine if Bill Clinton had done that – my bet is the Nobel Peace prize would be renamed the Clinton Peace prize for starters. However, be that as it may, since military loving Republicans have accomplished the near impossible, and a highly proficient and reputable company called Halliburton (which by the way employs thousands and thousands of decent honorable Americans) has helped to make this all happen, the Ted Ralls of the world only want to moan and cry about how all is lost. The sky is falling, breaking news from Ted Rall.

  3. Preston

    David- “Freedom loving capitalists” is a ridiculous stretch at best.
    Also, the population estimate for Iraq by the CIA for 2005 is just over 26 million. Let’s please try and stick to facts rather than gross exagerations.
    All is not lost, but all is not as you say.

  4. David

    Preston, you are correct. I had seen a reference to liberated people which included the 25 million in Afghanistan. So, I was close, give or take 25 million. hahhaha
    Anyway, what is ridiculous about freedom loving capitalists? Iraq certainly isnt selecting the communist system.

  5. Joel B

    The W administration is on the verge of a huge and momentuous success story in Iraq. 50 million people liberated from a brutal dictator and turned into freedom loving capitalists.
    So… when this happens, exactly how will America be any safer?

  6. Mike C

    Joel B –
    There’s a notion that free countries don’t attack other free countries. If it’s true, there are 50 million more folks who are not America’s enemies. That would make the US safer.
    If it’s not true, prepare for invasions from France, Germany, and Canuckistan. Get details here. Should you require further wisdom, and it appears that you do, take this advice.

  7. Mary Rosh

    Yeah, we’ve gone through all the “should be’s,” what we need now is an “is.”
    Calling Afghanistan and Iraq “liberated” is dishonest, because it fails to address the actual situation there now. We toppled the Taliban, and they have been replaced by – what?
    We toppled Saddam, and his regime has been replaced by – what?
    You show once again your total lack of integrity in failing to address the “what” in any meaningful way.

  8. Mike C

    Mary –
    I gotta admit, you hit the bolt square on the head with that mighty logic hammer of yours. To continue, we liberated the French, Belgians, Dutch, and others in defeating Hitler and got nothing in the bargain except for a BusHitler of our very own. Europe is a mess — they hate us — and we wasted all that money during the Cold War.
    We should have done nothing. The lesson clearly is that we should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, just like we did with Viet Nam. After we left, Southeast Asia prospered. We should have let Saddam keep Kuwait too. And what the heck were we thinking in 1776? I don’t even like tea.
    On the other hand, don’t you think it’s rather nice that the folks in Afghanistan and Iraq have at least a small chance — a fighting chance — at liberty?

  9. Mary Rosh

    Again, you show your lack of integrity. Again, you fail to address the question of what is actually going on in Afghanistan and Iraq now. High-flown talk about “liberty” is meaningless, and talk about a “chance of liberty” is even more meaningless, because such talk fails to describe the actual situation and the actual prospects. Don’t talk about a “chance of liberty,” talk about the actual present state of affairs, an actual prospective state of affairs, the likelihood of achieving that state of affairs, and the steps needed to achieve that state of affairs.
    Talking about “liberty” is simply an excuse for you to avoid talking about what is actually going on, because talking about what is actually going on would undermine your position.

  10. Lee

    Those against fighting terrorism have their peculiar fantasies about “what is going on in Iraq” – they think evil America is brutalizing innocent people.
    We do KNOW what was going on before we invaded:
    * Saddam was murdering tens of thousands of Iraqis and Kurds with poison gas.
    * Saddam was running training camps for Al Qaeda and helping plot the 1993 WTC bombing, and other terrorist acts.
    * The French, Germans, Russians and 250 top UN officials were getting rich through kickbacks from Saddam to permit his black market sales of oil, while starving 1,000,000 women and children to death. UNICEF itself condemned the thievery.

  11. Mary Rosh

    Lee, the fact that you have to resort to dishonesty to make your point demonstrates its weakness. People who oppose the war in Iraq aren’t “against fighting terrorism.” They are against picking a fight against a country that posed no threat to us (and then losing the fight!), while diverting resources away from an organization that poses a genuine threat to us, and at the same time generally weakening the country.
    It is you, in fact, who is “against fighting terrorism,” because you support a diversion that has made terrorism worse and reduced our ability to fight it.

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