July 25, 2008


Marc Comtois

Many in the press have recognized that the surge in Iraq has worked. USA Today (no right-wing paper), for instance:

Why then can't Obama bring himself to acknowledge the surge worked better than he and other skeptics, including this page, thought it would? What does that stubbornness say about the kind of president he'd be?

In recent comments, the Democratic presidential candidate has grudgingly conceded that the troops helped lessen the violence, but he has insisted that the surge was a dubious policy because it allowed the situation in Afghanistan to deteriorate and failed to produce political breakthroughs in Iraq. Even knowing the outcome, he told CBS News Tuesday, he still wouldn't have supported the idea.

That's hard to fathom. Even if you believe that the invasion of Iraq was a grievous error — and it was — the U.S. should still make every effort to leave behind a stable situation. Obama seems stuck in the first part of that thought process, repeatedly proclaiming that he was right to oppose the war and disparaging worthwhile efforts to fix the mess it created. Hence, his dismissal of the surge as "a tactical victory imposed upon a huge strategic blunder."

The great irony, of course, is that the success of the surge has made Obama's plan to withdraw combat troops in 16 months far more plausible than when he proposed it. Another irony is that while Obama downplays the effectiveness of the surge in Iraq, he is urging a similar tactic now in Afghanistan.

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Obama likes people to think he is spontaneous,but he really isn't.every single thing he does and says when he knows the play is very minutely planned.When he is on non-preplanned ground,he is surprisingly shaky and seems to lack the confidence to risk a mistake.More so since his huge gaffe in San Francisco.

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 25, 2008 12:43 PM

Here is how your surge "works"... it doesn't-- tell me what "winning" with the surge is--- here's an example of another good soldier- from the lower 50% of the economic pile- WHO DID NOT HAVE TO DIE. None of them had to die. No soldier died in Iraq doing anything which frees us in the US from terror.
You bloggers who love the surge, love the war, love Christians killing non-Christians- you are needlessly killing our troops. And Obama will win because you are arrogant. Please read about the Lost Generation of Britons in WWI and understand our 25K killed & wounded are our Lost Generation. Lost because YOU sent them to die. Read:

Army Spc. William Timothy Dix, 32, Culver City
Soldier found dead at base in Kuwait
By Jason Felch
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 27, 2008

William "Timmy" Dix grew up hard, living off welfare in a small trailer with his mother and brother.

Life offered few options in South Hill, Va., two hours west of Virginia Beach. After graduating from Park View High School in 1993, Dix worked at Pizza Hut for a time. He skateboarded, listened to Cypress Hill and Green Day, and dreamed of faraway places.

"We'd been waiting to go to California our whole lives," said Christopher Dix, who is four years younger than his brother. "Our only way out was to join the Marines."

So the Dix brothers both signed up and made it to California. Timmy went to Camp Pendleton in 1996. Christopher followed, ending up at Twentynine Palms.

Timmy Dix spent his four years doing "WestPac" tours, shipping out to a distant base and working his way back with stops at exotic places: Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Bahrain, Qatar.

It was on these travels that friends learned of Dix's unusual habit: Wherever he went, he would send home photographs of road signs. No people. No scenic view. Just a sign naming his current location.

"He was taking pictures of his life," his brother said, "showing that he came from nothing and now he's been around the world."

When his tour with the Marines ended in 2000, Dix settled in Los Angeles and made a go at civilian life. He worked at Barnes & Noble in Westwood and started taking classes at Santa Monica City College. He rented an apartment in Westwood and, later, in Culver City and drove around in his beat-up burgundy Nissan 300ZX.

Dix was frugal but struggled to save money, said his older sister, Stephanie, who left home when she was in her teens. His only splurges were clothing -- khakis and a nice dress shirt were like a civilian uniform for him -- and electronics to play the hip hop and techno he had come to embrace in California.

Stephanie lived in Los Angeles at the same time, and the two got to know each other as adults for the first time.

Over dinner at his sister's house, they drank and laughed about their childhood back in South Hill -- about the time Stephanie cut his head with a can of Pringles, or how he smothered her during pillow fights, which Stephanie swears to this day is why she's claustrophobic.

But Dix found civilian life hard; after three years in a big city, he was still scraping by.

To make a few extra bucks, he signed up for the Army Reserves; he thought it would be easier than the Marines, his brother recalled. On the paperwork, Dix listed his hometown as Culver City. A few months later, he signed up for active duty.

In late 2004, his battalion was sent to Iraq. As a private first class with the "Rugged Brothers" -- the 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, I Corps based at Ft. Lewis, Wash. -- Dix had the job of driving Iraq's roads, spotting and disarming improvised explosive devices. His work saved countless lives, his battalion mates later said.

It would be his last tour, Dix told his brother. The two talked about getting a house together back in California, maybe going into real estate.

But months later, Dix decided to sign up for six more years. The Army had made him an offer he couldn't refuse: reenlist in a war zone and get a $20,000 tax-free bonus.

"My brother was all about coming up, same as me," Christopher said.

Dix's fellow battalion members remember his sense of humor and upbeat spirit, no matter what the circumstances.

During down time, he could inevitably be found wearing headphones and flailing away to some silent rhythm in his bunk area, Capt. Cobey Warren recalled in Dix's eulogy.

"When I asked him why he danced so much, he just said with that big smile of his, 'That's how we roll in Cali,' " Warren said, according to remarks released by Ft. Lewis.

On April 27, Dix and his battalion were at Camp Boering, Kuwait, awaiting deployment to Iraq later that day.

Dix missed the 8 a.m. muster. The Army told his brother that his body was found two hours later, alone next to his service rifle.

At services in Dix's honor, his superiors said he had taken his own life.

"Why he did it, we do not know," said Lt. Col. Pete Hemlinger during a memorial service in Kuwait, according to a copy of his statement released by Ft. Lewis. "Beneath his quiet and well-intentioned demeanor, he was fighting an inner battle. About what, we may never know." Dix's death remains under investigation.

In the meantime, his family is still looking for answers.

"M-16s go off all the time," Stephanie said. "Who's to say he wasn't stomping bugs and it went off?"

"He wouldn't do something like that," Christopher said of suicide.

At a closed-casket ceremony in South Hill, Christopher said he insisted on making sure the body in the coffin belonged to his brother. Dix's head was wrapped, his brother said, but there on his right biceps was the tattoo of a chain with a dangling smiley face.

It was Timmy, all right.

Spc. William Timothy Dix, 32, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in May.

In addition to his brother and sister, Dix is survived by his mother, Barbara Moore Dix, of Palmer Springs, Va., and father, Wilhelm Dewey Dix, of Florida.


Posted by: Richard at July 27, 2008 6:06 PM

"love Christians killing non-Christians"

Well, there's no point in taking up a conversation with you, it would seem.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 27, 2008 7:19 PM

Probably not much point. I could see myself debating all kinds of politics issues with you Justin, but when things veer into the religious I would ber uncomfortable. I was raised in the liberal Protestant trsadition of tolerance, interest and respect for all religions. Despite this being ingrained in my psyche, I have great distrust and dislike of the very small minority of religious uber-believers who feel that "the others" are dangerous, who express a belief that "the sexual revolution" and the acceptance of contraception in the 1960's are at the root of all evil. These views are so extreme, intolerant and outside the mainstream I find it hard to advise you where to live to be comfortable- maybe an isolated conservative hill town in Sicily? Where they don't even ackowledge that Paul VI and JP II were popes, because they seem too human.

I can accept your views on religion and social life, as your own views, and can accept your right to bring those views to your children. but I strongly object to your attemps to legislare your narrow view of morality on the rest of the country.

Maybe we can never have a true dialogue, but I will not let you state your extreme views without posting to let you knows you live in a moral world where those views are not welcome.

Posted by: Richard at July 27, 2008 8:04 PM

I'd be much more comfortable with your response, Richard, if you gave any indication that your reservations are based on my own views, rather than a cliché that leaves you affirmed in your own radical views.

I have great tolerance, interest, and respect for other religions, provided I may reserve the right to show their followers the respect of pointing out where I think they err. Your style of fluffy tolerance is the tolerance of ambivalence.

In fact, I reject your claim to tolerance. You are intolerant in the worst way: quick to dismiss that which you do not like (or do not understand) as outside the bounds within which toleration is conceivable. You cannot comprehend my views on, say, contraception sufficiently to understand how a reasonable man could think such things (one hint: evil has many roots, and humans often stumble on them with the best of intentions, often pursuing goals that would be laudable were they differently implemented), so you make a point of making people of my views feel uncomfortable.

The frightening irony is that your ilk will chase down such views as mine from coast to coast, insisting that only your narrow morality is adequate for the construction of civic society, whether in Rhode Island or Mississippi or Montana. You clearly think me among the "dangerous others," and you're already contemplating other regions to which I might be happy to be deported.

I'll end with a line that I withheld (out of respectful prudence) from my previous comment, but that now appears to have greater merit: Be sure to spell my name correctly when they ask you to name anybody who ought to be taken away for reeducation. Beware your search for fascists through the glass; you might find that you're not looking out the window, but into a mirror.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 27, 2008 8:38 PM
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