1.  We need to leave Iraq because thousands of innocent people are dying.
Of course innocent people are dying.  The awful thing about a decision to go to war is, the decision maker understands that innocent people die in war no matter what.  This is not something the Bush administration overlooked; they just understood that hundreds of thousands were already dying under the Hussein regime, and they figured that a change in regime would result in the building of a more peaceful society.  They have been wrong in the short term, but they may yet be right in the long term.

 2.  We need to stay in Iraq to prevent a civil war from happening.

Really?  There has already been one in Iraq for the past few years, at least on the scale of Lebanon’s.   But for the sake of argument, what if civil wars are a horrible, and sometimes unavoidable, way for nations to establish their ways of functioning?  What if civil wars are normal, and preventing one in Iraq is propping up an artificial system that will never be able to sustain itself without our presence?  Should we have a 5- or 10- year commitment to keeping the various groups in Iraq from doing what they will do anyway after we leave, whenever that is?

 3.  But if we leave Iraq, Iran and the Saudi Arabia will fight a proxy war and the price of oil will go nuts, driving the whole world into recession.

Iran and the Saudis have been at war with us — and each other — in Iraq from the beginning of our effort there.  Yes, if we leave now, there is a good chance that conflict will open up and escalate, and a lot more innocent people will die.  On the other hand, is an artifically lower price of oil worth borrowing another trillion dollars from Asia to fund an open-ended commitment in Iraq?  Given the fact that the Bush administration bases its geostrategic decision making on the loathsome proposition that “The American way of life is non-negotiable,”  wouldn’t a war between Iran and the Saudis force the kind of American changes in energy consumption that the Bush administration is too cowardly to ask of us?

 4.  Life was better in Iraq under Saddam

Yes, if you were Sunni and you were somehow connected to the regime.  But in my year there as a DoD contractor, I never met a single Shia Iraqi who would agree with that statement, bombings and chaos notwithstanding. 

5.  The Bush administration “miscalculated” in their war planning, resulting in a postwar quagmire.

The Bush administration “calculated” rationality, meaning that the Iraqis would respond to Saddam’s removal in ways in their self-interest, and their self-interest is characterized by peaceful coexistence, tolerance, fairness, justice, etc.  How do you formulate a plan based on anything but a self-interested response on the part of the population?

Lots of people have said the Pentagon miscalculated the number of troops needed, the need to close the border, etc., and people making those strategic and tactical criticisms also have the burden of modeling the insurgents’ response to each theoretical change in strategy or tactics.  Not surprisingly, I have never seen a critic include that modeling in their analysis; it’s as if for the critics, the insurgents have a predictable way of responding to everything, and they are incapable of adapting their own strategy or tactics.

6.  The Surge is a failure.

This is a lie by any objective measure, and wishful thinking on the part of people who see bad news from Iraq vindicating their contempt for the Bush administration and everything they represent.  The Surge is a phenomenal success, and will be the source of military doctrine on counterinsurgency well into the future.  If you feel bad about the success of the current strategy because failures in Iraq vindicate your worldview, that is a contemptible sentiment and you should be ashamed.  You can disagree with the war on a fundamental level, and still rejoice in good news from Iraq as it happens.  That’s called adulthood.

7.  Iraq is not as bad as The Librul Media portrays it.

 Actually, get a freaking clue- it really is that bad.  But recent developments have been very positive, and they should be taken for what they are: reasons for very cautious optimism.

8.  The ideal Church arrangement is a three-hour block with guys wearing white shirts and ties.

In Iraq, we had a 1.5-hour Church block attended by men and women in camouflage, with m-16s under their seats.  We sang along with instrumental hymn arrangments from CDs, and there was no music coordinator whose mission in life is to promote obscure hymns that cause people people to want to choke to death rather than sing another verse.   The Iraq version of Church is so very true; I highly recommend it.