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June 27, 2005

Comments

My son turns 16 in the Fall. I dread the future.

Punishment must be meted out. Impeachment, jailtime, a death penalty or two.

I also think it is imperative that this administration set aside its usual modus operandi and actually consult with congressional leaders of both parties.

Though I regret it, I will lay you 10:1 odds that this does not occur, that Tuesday's speech will rather be more of the same "stay the course," and "it's hard work."

ral: I won't take that bet, unfortunately.

I missed this gem while I was writing:

"Rumsfeld defended Cheney's recent statement that the insurgents are in their "last throes," saying there are many ways to measure their strength.

"If you look up 'last throes,' it can mean a violent last throe," Rumsfeld said on ABC's "This Week." Violence may escalate, he said, because insurgents "have so much to lose between now and December." he said."

So I guess it all depends what the meaning of 'throe' is. -- And you all did see the marvelous press briefing in which McClellan was asked about this, right?

Slightly O/T: Phil Carter is being deployed to Iraq.

The negotiations are in their opening stages. We'll need to wait and see how that works: of course the opening stages are a bunch of demands that neither side expects to be met. The next couple of months are what's important.

If one is looking (even if perhaps only for the sake of argument) for an assessment of Iraq---what's gone well, what's gone wrong, and what to do now---by someone who is:

(1) on balance, for staying the course in Iraq for the indefinite future,
(2) honest about the problems to date and the possibilities of failure in the future,
(3) actually an expert analyst with field experience,

then I doubt one could do better than to check out this speech by Dr. Anthony Cordesman---longtime Middle East military analyst and sometime foreign policy adviser to Senator McCain. He completed a 2 week tour in Iraq at the behest of the Departments of State and of Defense in early June, and he spoke publicly about his assessment at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Thursday, June 24:

Archived Audio at CSIS here.

Archived Video at CSPAN here.

Further comments and along with a full transcript I personally made of his opening statement can be found on my blog here.

(Summaries of his diagnosis, prognosis, and suggested course of treatment are to come on my blog in the next 1-2 days.)

how prescient that you should post an in depth analysis of Hagel's position and remarks in light of the slander against him perpetrated by our new Tricky Dick, Dick Cheney, as found in dailykos:

Cheney Slanders Hagel: Worse Than You Think
Sun Jun 26th, 2005 at 18:09:32 PDT
(From the diaries -- kos)

The Bush Administration's effort to silence Iraq critics by rewriting the history of 9/11 has reached new levels of desparation.

On national television, Republican Vice President Dick Cheney resorted to slander -- yes, outright slander -- when responding to Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who recently criticized the Administration's handling of Iraq.

Here's what Cheney said this week on CNN in response to Hagel's Iraq comments:


Since 9/11, we've had people like Chuck Hagel and other politicians and we've had people in the press corps and commentators who've said we can't do Afghanistan.

(For video, go here and click on link to Part I of the Cheney interview. When the video box comes up, click on "More Politics Video" and open Part II of the interview. The quote comes slighly less than halfway through Part II).


*

Cheney then proceeded to go through various things that were accomplished in Afghanistan, and said that the doubters "were all wrong." In the course of his discussion of Afghanistan, the only two people named by Cheney were Hagel and New York Times writer R.W. Apple.

Cheney then turned to Iraq, and went through a similar argument about how the Administration's successes have repeatedly proven the doubters wrong.

Cheney finished his discussion with this quote:


"[Washington has] got a lot of people in it who were armchair quarterbacks or who like to comment on the passing scene. But those who have predicted the demise of our efforts since 9/11 -- as we have fought the war on terror, as we have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan -- did not know what they were talking about."

In its write-up of the Cheney interview, CNN.com focuses on this last statement when discussing Cheney's response to Hagel. And it is indeed noteworthy that Dick "Five Deferments" Cheney would deride the highly decorated Hagel as an "armchair quarterback" who does not know what he is talking about.

But it is infinitely more noteworthy -- and legally significant -- that Cheney would begin his response to Hagel's comments by falsely accusing him of saying "we can't do Afghanistan."

I think the US has already lost. I've been meaning to do an update on my outline of 18 months ago, but frankly it depresses me.

I don't see how, at this point, the Bush administration could turn things around in Iraq: but the point is moot, since it seems clear that no one in the Bush administration has the political will to do so.

In short, I believe that the US, having opted for Bush for a second term, is doomed to stay in Iraq till 2008, wrecking the army in the process, accomplishing nothing useful, and indeed making matters worse the longer the occupation lasts.

I would wish otherwise. But even by the end of last year, the occupation was such a devastating mess that I felt only a new administration would stand a fair chance of being able to turn it around - but also the old administration plainly had no wish to make any of the changes necessary that might turn the occupation around.

In response to those who may ask "What?", two examples:

-Funnelling money directly to Iraqis, rather than to American contractors;
-Treating torture as a serious crime, responsibility for which must be punished to the highest levels, whether committed by Americans or by Iraqis.

Neither one is going to happen under Bush.

I see Armando at DKos and Trevino at Red State are at it again with the Draft talk.

No. The less than human creatures in this Administration do not kill and maim any more kids.

One hair on my son's head or his friends' heads is harmed by these corrupt liars, murderous dreamers, and draft-dodging cowards and God will wreak vengeance on them through me.

Republicans like pledges of no tax hikes to pay for death and pledges of virginity for all (think of all the dead virgins we're going to have, legs and arms and heads missing but hymens intact and 72 hours of sperm unspent).

Now I have a pledge.

Have a nice week everyone.

hilzoy, I liked Wonkette's take on the whole "last throes" thing:

Cheney went Clintonesque:

CHENEY: No, I would disagree. If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a, you know, a violent period, the throes of a revolution.

Have to give the veep this one. We looked up "throes" in the dictionary and, indeed, no time period is specified. That's why the word he should look up in the dictionary is "last."

Heh.

It's a good thing Hagel doesn't have to run in 2006, or we'd already be hearing about the super-conservative Republican that would surprisingly be running against him, backed by the Administration. Now that he's off the reservation, they will make it a mission to destroy him.

the word he should look up in the dictionary is "last."

Today Rumsfeld specified that this particular "last throe" could potentially last for 12 years. A sort of long, drawn-out throe; but final!

I'd support a draft on one condition and one condition only: Bush's and Cheney's kids, nephews, and neices are the first in line for combat positions in Iraq.

Otherwise, all we'd be doing is giving those bland butchers more of our citizens' lives to throw away on their vanity war.

It's good to see Americans in general are turning against the war. A day late and a dollar short, but if the poll numbers plummet to the 30% support range and stay there, it'll be harder for the GOP to pull off another compromised election. That's important, because nothing short of a complete housecleaning is going to stop this ongoing obscenity.

These guys are all ex-MBA types. Events that will happen 1-2 years from now are in a vague, nebulous future that may require some adroit management someday, but not now. The cheapest thing that they can do in the short term is more PR, so that's what we'll get tomorrow. Even the people criticizing now, like Hagel, aren't actually doing anything substantive yet. Nobody actually wants to derail the gravy train until they have to.

Events that will happen 1-2 years from now are in a vague, nebulous future that may require some adroit management someday, but not now.

but they can see clearly 12 and 40 years ahead, when they put on their Social Security Privateer hats.

The underlying problems are pretty intractible. See, there's a reason the US doesn't have a vast overseas empire, though we prop up various people when it benefits us (or some company that gives a lot to the right politicians): it's not worth it to most of the American people. It's not lack of firepower or resources--we can *conquer* just about anybody who can't retaliate with nukes lobbed at our cities. But holding that territory down requires a willingness to spend lives and resources, and a willingness to be horrifyingly ruthless, that we just don't have.

And this is quite reasonable, because running a vast overseas empire full of hostile natives doesn't pay; the likely benefits aren't in line with the costs. We can buy the oil we need (propping up dictators as needed to keep the oil flowing) far more cheaply.

The common line here is that we're going to go fix the middle east so it doesn't make anymore terrorists, but this is a dream. We aren't going to fix "the root causes of terrorism" for the same reason we didn't manage to fix "the root causes of crime" in our own society. The root cause of crime is that crime pays, at least in the short run. The root cause of terrorism is that terrorism is effective at accomplishing certain goals, at least in the short run.

I can see nothing good coming out of this. And the fact that Bush and so many of the Republicans are fighting so hard to avoid admitting that things are ugly and getting uglier is really terrifying--it implies a willingness to not take what actions could be taken to minimize losses now.

--John

No, Casey, the Bush and Cheney kids should not be murdered to pay for the sins of their corrupt patriarchs.

No way any kind of responsibility for drafting anyone is placed in these people's hands.

Bush and Cheney and everyone they have put into place in the government must be removed right down to the line positions in every government agency.

Swiftly. If the government is destroyed in the process, so be it. The government is now a syndicate dedicated to death abroad and privation for the disadvantaged at home, with the middle class now being fed into both maws feet first..

The only moral choice is to remove it, root and branch, as the draft-dodging coward and virgin gambler William Bennett used to say.

John, if there's going to be a draft, the only way it won't be the same kind as in Vietnam (with the privileged able to get perpetual deferments, a la Cheney, or posh TANG slots, a la Bush)is if the offspring of the people in charge of the war have to go fight the war. Actually get sent into combat.

I'm sick of the war's architects, lying bastards to a man, getting their gloryrocks off on a pile of other peoples' kids' bones.

"virgin gambler William Bennett"

But does he use masturbands as chips at the gaming table?

actually consult with congressional leaders of both parties.

Except for it's clear that Bush is the R's congressional leaders, and why would he want to talk to the D's congressional leaders, they're agents of the enemy after all.

The U.S. army is an army of liberation, not occupation.

What it comes down to is continued disaster, with the only possible mitigation (not a fix) being if the Democratic Party picks up 5 or more seats in '06. That win, combined with a year and a half of additional insurgency 'death throes', would put some small brake on Bush. Then, possibly, things might be held together long enough to put a Democratic president on the throne for '08.

Given the GOP holding the Senate in '06, it'll be more of the same old same old. I don't think that they *can* change; there's something far too corrupt in them to change.

Dantheman: See, what I love is when snark describes the real world down to its most subtle shading.

It happens that Bennett's wife ran or runs an organization which, as far as can tell, funded a tasteful, effective effort to counsel young women, mostly teenagers, to forego sexual activity until more mature choices or marriage could be entered into. A worthy goal, without the invoking of "young mothers in shorts leaning over to get their kids out of car seats" by the hopelessly tumescent romantics* chronicled by Hilzoy.

So, Bennett, by frittering away his family's money on his sweaty little slot habit, denied his wife and her worthwhile organization millions of dollars. Think of all that virtue money directed into the hands of the Atlantic City kingpins and probably into the hands of some very expensive hookers in very expensive suites.

So, yes, he in fact did use "masturbands" as chips at the gaming tables.

* What would Jesus do in this case? Offer to the help the young mother to lift her child from the back seat of the car, or turn away, adjusting his robes to hide his engorgement?

Oh man, I hope Phil Carter gets through the war alright. I don't know the man personally, but my heart leapt through my throat when I read his post. (BTW, hilzoy's link is bad, if you're unregistered there; go to the main site and scroll down.)

I don't object to the military trying to use settlement talks to obtain intelligence on their opponents.

I do object to the fact that we are this far into this war and STILL have no idea who we're fighting.

Hagel's performing a limited, but useful, service in being blunt about the disaster. But even the usefulness of that is limited by his failure to deal with the reality that the war itself was wrong, was never 'winnable', and was fought for reasons that are still not sayable. (Hence there's no way to measure 'success'.)

And, as someone else points out above, he is no more offering constructive suggestions than any other politician.

I saw the Cordesman talk on Friday night and recommend the links Martin Kaminsky offers above. Cordesman is scathing about the corruption, waste, and futility of just about all the economic "aid", and that we have to take it out of contractors' hands and place it into Iraqi hands. Got to agree with that.

He said: "We need to state quite clearly that when Iraq is ready we will not have bases and we will not maintain a presence, that we are not seeking our strategic advantage. And we need to explain as part of the changes in the economic aid process that we are turning this money over to the Iraqis, that there will be no effort to give special advantages to American oil companies or contractors." Check.

But here's the catch: Cordesman believes that it will be possible to create effective Iraqi security forces over the next two to three years. (That's the 'ready' he refers to above.) But he never addresses the reality of resistance infiltration into the Iraqi police and army, which is a crucial and extremely difficult problem for any counterinsurgency. It's an impossible problem when there is popular support for resistance.

That said, for any Dem not willing to call for troops out now or very soon, Cordesman's conditions for success are vital to articulate: Renouce bases, make it clear we will leave completely, renouce contractor spending, renounce U.S. oil claims, and support every effort to build up Iraqi self-defense forces and Iraqi self-government.

Oops, sorry, that's Bill Kaminsky, who has performed a service for which I'm very grateful in transcribing the Cordesman talk. Part 1 is up now at his blog; the quotation in my post above is from my own transcription from the C-SPAN audio and comes from the very end of the talk.

The Q&A is as worthwhile as the main statement, so I encourage checking out the C-SPAN links even once Bill has put up Part 2.

Renounce bases, pay Iraqis rather than Halliburton and give up the oil? Nell, you must be joking - what do you think the war was *for*?

Nope, I reckon the Republican grownups will renounce "spreading democracy" instead, in name as well as intent, and look for a new Iraqi strongman.

They're learning that imperialism is very expensive.

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