The post is short, so I quote it essentially in full:
Is the "everything was done wrong" an unpatriotic claim? Constructive criticism in time of war is not unpatriotic. But so much of the criticism is not constructive but intended for partisan aims. While helping in its primary (partisan) objective it also serves to aid the enemy. It is a calculated (or not!) strategy that hopes the aid to the enemy will be less damaging than the "hoped for" restorative that getting the opposition party back on top would effect. How fair are criticisms of actions done 2 years past, when 2 years ago the opposition did not propose better (or any) alternatives? Is aiding the enemy for partisan reasons patriotic? Certainly there are those on the way out radical left wing are strongly anti-American (while living here and reaping the benefits of its position in the world), but how about the more reasonable? Do the left wing bloggers review their posts and act themselves if they are aiding the enemy and reconsider? Do the MMSM journalists do the same? How about the knuckleheads in the opposition party in Congress?
Looking at some past wars those who complain, so many of their criticisms seem well unfounded. "Mistakes were made" is a completely disingenuous and ahistorical claim. Please, I'd ask those who complain that the Iraqi campaign was not managed well, to point out one war that was!
I'm afraid I haven't seen a "mistakes were made" claim being made that was either supportable or constructive. Have you?
As a member of the "it was done wrong" bloc (and I know that Mark knows I identify as such), I'm shocked at the imputation of partisan motives for what I consider to be an almost boneheadedly obvious criticism. I'd like Mark to imagine my writing the following:
Is "stay the course" an unpatriotic claim? Supporting the status quo in time of war is not unpatriotic. But so much of the support is not based on a genuine faith in current policies, but intended for partisan aims. While helping in its primary (partisan) objective it also serves to aid the enemy [by refusing to change policies that have inflamed the insurgency and weakened our position in Iraq and the world community]. It is a calculated (or not!) strategy that hopes the aid to the enemy will be less damaging than keeping the current party in control (or keeping the opposition out). How fair are criticisms of liberal complaints or alternative strategies, when our current plans are failing now? Is aiding the enemy for partisan reasons patriotic? Certainly there are those on the way out radical right wing are strongly anti-American (while living here and reaping the benefits of its position in the world--see Bill "let San Francisco die" O'Reilly and every member of the Christian Right who said Katrina victims were punished for New Orleans' sins), but how about the more reasonable? Do the right wing bloggers review their posts and act themselves if they are aiding the enemy and reconsider? Do the MMSM journalists do the same? How about the knuckleheads in the congressional leadership?
I'd imagine Mark would be outraged, justifiably so. This is true despite the fact that there are indeed die-hard partisans who wouldn't dream of supporting the current policy were it not Bush leading them. It's true even though the administration clearly has prosecuted this war and the entire war on terror with an eye for political gain. And it's true despite the fact that the enemy gets far more tangible aid from incompetent war planning/prosecution than it does from whatever Atrios posted today. That last part is what the dark voice in my head always whispers whenever I hear the "Democratic faint-heartedness emboldens our enemies" line. "You know how to really aid an enemy? Refuse to plan for the war and then stick with policies proven to fail!" If I were an insurgent I'd be overjoyed if someone told me we were going to stick to the same policies that have let my movement flourish over the past 24 months. I'd be considerably less concerned hearing that Dennis Kucinich wants to withdraw, and I'd be downright worried if someone said America was going to overhaul its tactics an fix those "mistakes [that] were made."
It's probably too much to say that there are no partisan motives floating around for any critics/supporters of the Iraq war. Undoubtedly, Republicans are more inclined to support the President's policies because it's this specific President, and Democrats are more likely to oppose them for the same reason. Need proof? Look at what Republicans said about our far more justifiable (and I say this as a war supporter) intervention in the Balkans during the Clinton years--it reads like dKos on steroids. However, I think that by and large average people discussing Iraq do so with the best interests of their country, not party, at heart. It's demeaning and wholly unwarranted to suggest otherwise.
Mark also mischaracterizes what the critique I and my cohorts make actually says. It's not merely that "mistakes were made." As Mark notes, mistakes will be made in every war. Rather, it's that this war managed to screw up in virtually every category on virtually every issue--and that isn't something one found in WWII or any modern American war this side of Vietnam. And again contra Mark, it isn't like people didn't point these issues out. People asked for pre-war planning; the Bushies didn't do it. They asked for more troops in the early stages of the campaign(doesn't anybody remember Eric Shinsiki?); the Bushies ignored them (and fired the advocate!). We asked for more efforts to build international support; our diplomatic strategy for the first year or two was essentially "f*** off." We asked that the US work quickly to build democratic institutions in Iraq; instead they dilly-dallied with a bogus "caucus" system designed to install American flacks (which, as few recall, was the original spark that gave the insurgency national currency). We requested that the US move quickly to restore order in post-liberation Iraq; we saw Donald Rumsfeld acting as if mass looting and chaos was no big deal. We asked that American troops above all present themselves as models of what a free, stable, and democratic Iraq could look like; we got an administration that is now trying to redefine "torture", detains (and, oh, also tortures) people they know are innocent, and tried to cover-up and minimize Abu Gharib. Wesley Clark just wrote an excellent outline for succeeding in Iraq where Bush has failed. Is it perfect? Probably not, but it's a far cry better than what we have now. The New Republic has been prolific in providing sensible, necessary plans for long-term solvency in Iraq--one's that don't involve cutting and running but don't involve wishful idiocy either. When it comes to "what we'd rather do," I think we've more than fulfilled our burden Mark.
Ultimately, I think it's important to discuss these issues fully and rationally. We both know of persons on both sides who clearly are looking at this just as political strategists. They should be ignored with extreme prejudice. But we do discourse no favors by painting the entire opposing side with these broad strokes. It's unfair, inaccurate, immoral, and in this case, quite personal.