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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

If Joe says it, it comes with a presumption of regularity

Our guest and my friend Fernando has had to fend off tough (and sometimes rough) questions from some of our faithful commentators, but I thought I'd share this report from Senator Joe Lieberman, which was in yesterday's Opinion Journal.  (Disclosure: I'm a big fan of JL and his family, and, shhhh, he was at the wedding of a close friend and blogger; I don't always agree with JL, but I do more often than not.  He's wise and a mensch.)  Here's what he says of the situation in Iraq, which I think gives substantial succor to the position of holding tough there, even if the whens and whys of how we got there are debatable.

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn. . . .

Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.

Hat tip: InstaGlenn.

Posted by Administrators on November 30, 2005 at 12:20 AM in Law and Politics | Permalink


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Tracked on Nov 30, 2005 8:44:46 AM


You were wrong on this one, Dan, but not about much. Miss you. (Thought of Dan today re "presumption of regularity").

Posted by: Bart Motes | Jul 25, 2017 11:17:58 AM

Interestingly enough, this very article was apparently what started ole Joe down the road to political self-immolation.


"criticism from the left has intensified, particularly after he published a Wall Street Journal article last year headlined 'Our Troops Must Stay' that chided Democrats for criticizing Bush on the war."

I guess the displeasure that I felt at Lieberman's antics in that article were felt by many. And now that he has denounced primary voters as waging a "jihad" (surely a "Joe-had") against him and decided to run as an independent to hedge his bets, he's persona non grata as far as I'm concerned.


Posted by: Bart Motes | Jul 5, 2006 5:53:53 AM

Oh, yes, and lets not forget what happens if Joe gets his impressions from the Iraqi newspapers.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Dec 1, 2005 2:29:11 PM

oh dear. I forgot to close a link tag. Sorry.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Nov 30, 2005 10:02:40 AM

I also question the sources of Lieberman's data. Personal observation, of course, is unreliable indeed because of the "well-managed junket" factor. The Iraqi polls are similarly dubious because polling in a country plagued by insurgents is highly unlikely to select its sample from a population that includes the poorest, most disposessed, or most endangered groups. Thus, while I haven't been able to find the specific poll that Lieberman relies on, I think its statistical validity is likely to be dubious.

To the extent it is possible to conduct a poll with any kind of worthwhile sampling technique in a war zone, at least one British poll suggests very widespread opposition to the occupation, including a large minority supporting the insurgency and a huge majority wanting the occupation ended. From the article reporting those results:

The survey was conducted by an Iraqi university research team that, for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be used by coalition forces. It reveals:

• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

The opinion poll, carried out in August, also debunks claims by both the US and British governments that the general well-being of the average Iraqi is improving in post-Saddam Iraq.

(The article then cites a 2004 BBC poll with contrary results.)

Also, contra Lieberman's claims, "the poll show[ed] that 71 per cent of people rarely get safe clean water, 47 per cent never have enough electricity, 70 per cent say their sewerage system rarely works and 40 per cent of southern Iraqis are unemployed."

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Nov 30, 2005 10:01:44 AM

See, this is why I love blogging--and having my student Bart read the blog. Good and fair points. That's why I said what JL says comes with *only* a presumption of regularity...

Posted by: Dan Markel | Nov 30, 2005 1:45:48 AM

You forgot to add the response to Lieberman's sunny description of the situation in Iraq by Michael Ware, the Baghdad bureau chief of that notorious left-wing magazing TIME:

"I and some other journalists had lunch with Senator Joe Lieberman the other day and we listened to him talking about Iraq. Either Senator Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he's completely lost the plot or he knows he's spinning a line. Because one of my colleagues turned to me in the middle of this lunch and said he's not talking about any country I've ever been to and yet he was talking about Iraq, the very country where we were sitting."

Posted by: Kevin | Nov 30, 2005 1:04:12 AM

Lieberman's comments gave me some pause but sadly I don't think what he says is more than wishful thinking. He cites, for instance, the notion of embedding U.S. troops within Iraqi units. Have there been many Iraqi units trained? Isn't the fact that U.S. troops will be embedded within those units proof not of a happy situation but of their intrinsic unreliability? And Lieberman's bracing "Courage!" close with the General strikes me not as a sign not of resolve but a well managed junket. (Less well managed junket: http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2005/11/27/build/nation/33-congressmen-hurt.inc )

Martin van Crevald, the Israeli military historian, couldn't have a starker or more different view. Maybe he's crazy, maybe Murtha is crazy, maybe Peter Galbraith (writing in the New York Review of Books) is crazy, but if they aren't.....



Posted by: Bart Motes | Nov 30, 2005 1:02:01 AM

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