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August 16, 2005

Comments

"2. President Bush should also commit an act of political bravery: He should stand up, face the nation, and state that troops will remain in Iraq at (or above) current levels so long as they're needed to combat the insurgency. And that may be a long, long time."

This would be an act of political bravery? You are kidding, right? Having Bush stand up and say "we are going to stay the course", for the three thousandth time, would require political bravery on his part?

He has already said that they will stay as long as necessary and not any longer. That was pretty hopelessly vague. So is this.

Look, I completely agree with you that the prospect of losing in Iraq involves horrendous consequences. And I agree with you that it is too early in the day to be certain that all is lost. And I also agree with you that drastic actions are necessary.

So how about some real political bravery?

1) Security comes first, and that is simply not possible without more troops. If Bush has any sincere desire to win this thing, he is going to need to institute a draft.

2) Improvements in living conditions come second. Forget going to Mars: Bush needs to announce a crash, 3-month program to get Baghdad's electrical grid up and running. I don't care if it involves looting every power-generating station in Ohio and carrying the generators off on barges: we can do it. It is not impossible to provide basic services to the Iraqis, it will just take a serious national effort. Oh yeah, and political bravery.

3) Justice for Abu Ghraib comes third. Bush should immediately announce the firing of Rumsfeld, Myers, Gonzalez, and everyone else whose finger-prints are on those episodes. They should be turned over to the Hague, along with all of the relevant documentation, for speedy prosecution.


Look, the Iraqi insurgency feeds on three things: chaos, horrible living conditions, and anti-US prejudice. Improve the security, improve the living conditions, and begin wiping off the horrible stains of institutionalized torture, and you will have a chance of drying up the insurgency.

All it takes is for Bush to display some political bravery--which means *not* "staying the course".

I'm not sure that you're suggesting that the President do anything at all different from what he's doing right now.

It seems to me that there are plenty of good reasons to believe that our presence in Iraq is a factor that strengthens the insugency, by uniting factions that would otherwise be adverse. Do you disagree? Why?

If I'm right, then more of the same will produce more of the same.

But let's skip to the endpoint. What does victory look like? Must the Iraqi central government be so strong that extremists cannot live in any part of the country? Would, say, the Iran-friendly version of Pakistan that we are building up be considered a victory? is our presence really required to get to that point?

Um, other than increasing the size of the army (which should be noted was a proposal of the President's opponent last year, and not the President), what are the new and better things which will enable us to turn the worm?

The rest of this post reminds me of the comic book cliche where the superhero says "I will do it, because I must". Proclaiming that you really want it badly is no substitute for actually taking steps needed to do it.

BTW, the word is "utmost", not "upmost".

If you undertake a project without a schedule, you fail. Period. If you ever want the support of the over half of the country (including me) that thinks that Bush has already irretrievably screwed the pooch in Iraq you need a lot more than platitudes at this point.

Look, the Iraqi insurgency feeds on three things: chaos, horrible living conditions, and anti-US prejudice.

Don't forget that we also have probably hundreds of thousands of people with every reason to look for blood revenge on Americans for the rest of their lives.

Once again, this all hinges on the ability of the president to realize there are serious problems that demand accountability. I've seen no evidence that he is even remotely capable of such actions.

Great. Now the whole post is messed up. Sigh. I hate TypePad.

don't let typePad get you down, von.

You can do new things. Maybe even better things. Be true, unbeliever; you need not fail.

And it's your content we read you for, not your formatting.

Tad Brennan: I don't care if it involves looting every power-generating station in Ohio and carrying the generators off on barges: we can do it

Being from Ohio, I have a few issues with that...

Seriously though, Von those are nice thoughts but:
1. How do you propose to continue funding the war effort without bankrupting our economy?
2. How do you propose to continue the war effort and still provide adequate security in the US?

Until I get some coherent answers to those questions (from the Bush Admin, not you...although your comments are welcome), I'm going to believe immediate withdrawal is the only option that'll keep us "solvent".

Platitudes about staying the course are going to continue falling as flat as ever on my ears until then.

We could fix the infrastructure pretty quickly if he started fining Halliburton for nonperformance. Of course, this would involve admitting an error and exercising political courage, so I'm not exactly holding my breath.

Parenthetically, I see no reason that we have to stay until there is no insurgency. There may never be no insurgency -- even Saddam Hussein's reign of terror didn't wipe out the Kurdish insurgency. How about staying until the Iraqis can handle the insurgency as well as we can, which judging from our performance thus far isn't saying much? That should take a couple of years, while they finish training troops.

Thanks, DTM. (I think that's the first time I've used "utmost" or "upmost" in a sentence.)

Sadly, further replies will have to wait until after billing hours.

(Re) read Hobbes' Leviathan. Heck, read modern Poli Sci. Democracies do very poorly at sustaining limited wars over prolonged periods.

President Bush can do all of those things and it won't make a bit of difference. He can say we will be there for 1000 years and it won't make a lick of difference as to what happens in 2008 because anything he does can be undone in 3 years. As such, it is not any sort of political bravery, it is a useful hedge--last for 3 more years and whatever happens is Someone Else's Problem. He gets credit for a long-term success and takes no blame for a long-term failure.

What we are talking about here (drafts, multi-cabinet occupation, etc.) are not things that the President can do. All he can do is initiate. If they are things which can be accomplished, but not in 3 years, then he has to get people involved and sell it to the voters because we are the ones who must do it, not GWB.

How much will it cost, long-term? What will that do to the economy? What happens if another security crisis threatens us from somewhere else?

These are the things he needs to communicate, not just "Stay the course. No money down. No payments until 2008."

You need success in the short term (1-2 years)or else support will vanish (assuming that the economy doesn't crumble beneath the war debt as it is).

I suggest Bush also demand a pony as well. Everyone likes a pony.

There may never be no insurgency

Peter Galbraith makes this point in the latest NYRB.

"For most of his thirty-five-year rule Saddam Hussein faced guerrilla warfare from Kurds or Shiites—and sometimes both. Even the most brutal of tactics could not pacify communities that did not accept Sunni Arab rule. Today Sunni Arabs reject rule by Iraq's Shiite majority. It is unrealistic to think the American military—operating with a fraction of the intelligence of the Saddam Hussein regime and with much less brutality (Abu Ghraib notwithstanding)—can quell a Sunni Arab resistance that is no longer solely anti-American but also anti-Shiite."

Be true, unbeliever; you need not fail.

As I recall, a beggar delivers this advice to Covenant. Which makes it especially relevant here where beggars might ride if wishes were horses.

This ship sailed a year and a half ago. Best to cut our losses (which is what Rumsfeld is pushing, under severe reality pressure from the brass).

Would, say, the Iran-friendly version of Pakistan that we are building up be considered a victory?

Pithy. This is exactly what "staying the course" represents. That is why "we must stay no matter what" rings so hollow, since what we are sacraficing so much for sucks.

Other points:

Whether the Constitution takes a few more days or our troops must be committed a few more months or years, we will stand by the Iraqis.

No, this means we will stand with the Shia in their conflict with Sunni and also Kurds (whose desires for autonomy are now hostile to our interests). It also means that we hope that they can resolve their differences pursuant to the Constitutional process that the CPA imposed, but if they cannot... (which seems very likely)? Then we are providing the muscle for the Shia point of view, and hoping that the factions can make amends.

As Senator McCain has remarked, "[t]he day that I can land at the airport in Baghdad and ride in an unarmed car down the highway to the green zone is the day that I'll start considering withdrawals from Iraq."

Which means that we will not withdraw for years, if ever. The security situation is worse now than at any time -- our current force levels can never achieve McCain's goal. So this sentiment is a pipedream unless troop levels are substantially increased.

Would a doubling of troop strength at this time help? As you say, there are things that we've done which cannot be undone; there are errors of execution and judgment that can never be taken back. The security mess is one of them -- the Iraqis are going to have to take it back -- not American troops which are now stirring up as much trouble as they quell. The point is that the Iraqis hate us.

"Staying the course" with the same inadequate force level equals condemning thousands more Americans to be killed/maimed in a futile cause. That is criminal. Anyone who advocates "staying the course" without also doing what is necessary to finally commit the necessary force levels is a complete hypocrite.

If Iraq fails as a state, the terrorists will have a launching pad against the US and its allies for years to come. That cannot be permitted to happen.

Iraq is already a failed state -- the question is whether or not it can be grown into something less chaotic, and whether our presence helps or hinders that process. What you ignore are the powerful arguments that our continued presence has as much to do with creating chaos as lessening it.

What is sad is that the only decent argument for maintaing troop strength is to prevent a potentially even greater disaster -- there is no upside. That is a pretty sorry reason to ask someone to risk their life.

As I recall, a beggar delivers this advice to Covenant. Which makes it especially relevant here where beggars might ride if wishes were horses.

Actually, it was God (or, in the parlance of "The Land," The Creator), who had taken the form of a beggar.

I'm guessing withdraw 50,000 troops in time for the 2006 elections, withdraw everybody else to bases, issue no further speeches, and start blaming the Iraqis through surrogates. Deflect attention by recycling tough talk from 2002 for Iran.

I mean, America's already against the war.

It will be difficuly to maintain the current troop levels for much longer. Where are we going to get the troops? Do you think Bush has the stones to actually ask for a draft?

I could take it or leave it with Typepad. Scoop is better. We agree, von, but with one wrinkle. We should try to grow our military personnelwise, but we should focus on incentivizing--not drafting--prospective soldiers. That's where I depart from trevino, and yourself apparently. In today's political climate, a draft is doomed to fail, which I believe is what liberals want anyway. Most of the energy from the anti-war movement in the Vietnam era centered on the draft. Once the draft was removed, amazing how the number of anti-war protests diminished. Liberals need a draft to more effectively protest the war effort. That's why guys like Rangel were trying to pass legislation for it.

Charles: you might want to re-read some recent history re the claims you make in your 4:44 post: take it from one who lived through the era: the draft was only one of the issues that fueled anti-Vietnam protests back in the day. The very fact of the war was the principle objection: the mechanics of it were generally considered secondary. The draft was certainly a sore point: the idea of getting killed and/or wounded in the prosecution of what came to be seen as a fruitless and unwinnable conflict was bad enough: it was even less attractive when getting "sent over" really wasn't your own idea! Anyway, the old Selective Service Act had a "sunset" provision, and needed to be re-authorized every two years: after massive protests in 1969, and a near-miss non-renewal in 1971, the Nixon Administration, IIRC, agreed to finally let the draft act die (and go an all-volunteer military) in 1973: by which point the conflict in Vietnam had been pretyy much woound down (from an American standpoint). So in that case, it was more a matter of dimishing anti-war protests removing the draft, not vive versa.
(That said, I think Cong. Rangel's last attempts to revive the issue were astoundingly anachronistic and foolish - even for Congress!)

"Once the draft was removed, amazing how the number of anti-war protests diminished."

Suggest you graph conscription demands against troop numbers on the ground in Vietnam before you make this assertion. Nixon was withdrawing hard before and during the gradual end of the draft.

"today's political climate, a draft is doomed to fail, which I believe is what liberals want anyway"

Have you read the comments to Trevino's posts on the draft? Only liberals would oppose a draft? Ken White vehemently opposes a draft over at Tacitus. This is grotesquely uninformed, since I would never accuse you of dishonesty or deliberate distortion. Suggest you hie yourself to archives.

He should stand up, face the nation, and state that troops will remain in Iraq at (or above) current levels so long as they're needed to combat the insurgency. And that may be a long, long time.

I think it's even more than that though. Should he choose this route (and personally, I think he'll limp along until 2008 makes it someone else's problem), should he choose this route he'll have to actually do more than stand up and declare this. He'll have to sell it.

Now, as slimy as I think he is, I'd support Rove putting his dark powers finally to some good in helping Bush sell the need to not abandon Iraq to certain civil war.

A 60 cities in 60 days type effort at the very least.

There's only one thing the administration said before the invasion that I knew to be true and that was that if we break Iraq, we would own it. We own it, folks. We cannot not just pull out. The number of innocent Iraqi's killed so far would be nothing compared to those murdered should we leave. Not to mention the most important selfish reason, as von pointed out, then what would stop them from distributing WMD to folks willing to use them here (oh, the irony of having to re-invade the country we just built).

Someone on a right-wing blog had the gall to suggest we needn't pretend that Iraq's security was our responsibility. It shakes my faith that that person wasn't struck dead by lightning.

Charles:We should try to grow our military personnelwise, but we should focus on incentivizing--not drafting--prospective soldiers

Great idea Charles! Why don't you start crafting a post on how we're supposed to pay for incentives that'll double (conservative estimate) the number of boots on the ground in Iraq. At least that's the number of troops I've heard it'll take to even begin providing security there. Be sure to factor in the expense of supplying them with adequate provisions.

Bonus points if you can do it without a tax increase. Otherwise, this is just as meaningless as "stay the course" and "we can't afford to not win" rhetoric.

Double bonus points if you can figure out a way to do it and blame liberals at the same time...

Sorry Von, this war’s lost. It’s been lost for some time now. Hindsight shows we failed to plan appropriately. Hindsight also shows us that our leaders failed to take into account many of the lessons our prior mistakes have taught us.

Firing Rumsfield, Gonzales, and indicting Bush will have zero impact on the current atmosphere our troops enjoy in Iraq. I acknowledge that such a move may repair our status within the global community. Unfortunately the insurgents, terrorists, whatever you want to call them are not fighting Rummy, Gonzales or Bush. Nor are they influenced by our standing within the global community. They are fighting against our interests in Iraq because we are there and they loath what the US represents. Putting a new face on the same package does not substantially transform its contents.

Staying the course for the sake of a better nights sleep is no more viable an option than leaving tomorrow. So where do we draw the line in the sand?

today's political climate, a draft is doomed to fail, which I believe is what liberals want anyway...

And you say only liberals are eligible for a Karnak...

Charles:

In today's political climate, a draft is doomed to fail, which I believe is what liberals want anyway. Most of the energy from the anti-war movement in the Vietnam era centered on the draft. Once the draft was removed, amazing how the number of anti-war protests diminished.

Uh, your dear leader ran in 2004 on a pledge that the draft would not happen -- Bush has already taken it off the table. Seems to me that you had the same position back then. Funny how its now so convenient to forget that and just blame liberals. You are being hypocritical -- your own ideology creates the political problem that now prevents the draft from being implemented.

And once again, your knowledge of Viet Nam war history is lacking. First, there were at maximum over 500,000 troops in Viet Nam. A draft was necessary to fight the war. And the draft never ended during the course of the war -- the last draftees were inducted in early 1973. The Paris peace accords were signed in early 1973, and the last US troops left Viet Nam in 1973. The draft was never removed during the course of the war, resulting in the abatement of anti-war protests. You statement is fictional.

Second, most of the anti-war protest was directed at the war -- not the draft. People also protested being forced to go fight and die for crap, but the protest was inspired by the lack of justification for the war effort.

You can hypothecate that no one would have protested if there was no draft, but that is a meaningles hypothetical since the war could not be fought without the draft.

Have you read the comments to Trevino's posts on the draft? Only liberals would oppose a draft? Ken White vehemently opposes a draft over at Tacitus.

Ken White doesn't affiliate with any political parties but he is clearly right-of-center, bob. Trevino is a lonely minority on the conservative side.

"Trevino is a lonely minority on the conservative side."

Getting more troops to Iraq is going to be very hard. Billmon says impossible. The Republican Congress, in an election year, is not going to be in a mood for a draft or gor massive War related spending. Even under the table, going to DeLay and asking for 5 billion for Iraq electricity...DeLay:"What happened to the last 6 billion?" WH:"Don't ask." Even under the table, we are reaching our limits.

Bush tried his best, and I actually thought he would do better, but got nowhere, absolutely nowhere, on Social Security. The man can't even sell anything that doesn't sell itself, tho his history should told us that. He isn't going to sell a draft.

One possibility is to change the "conditions" with a surprise pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran. I think a draft becomes feasible then, but at the cost of WWIII and who knows what. Not recommended save for high-stakes gamblers and dudes with callouses on their hearts.

There has been a plan floating around to pull back to selected areas. Forget about the borders and Triangle, protect the electrical grid, oil infrastructure, Shia and Kurd areas, build the economies and infrastructure and security and slowly expand. Only attempt to control those ares you can actually control. I don't know if that is militarily viable. I know the military won't like allowing the enemy to build up unmolested. But it is about our only option.

" Liberals need a draft to more effectively protest the war effort."

Aha! So the liberals are advocating a draft, so that they can protest a draft! Now there's a cunning plan--truly worthy of the intellect of a Baldric.

But surely different liberals are advocating it for a variety of reasons? (We're so *bad* on message control!) Some of the TNR types have been advocating national service for some time, for social engineering reasons, and without reference to the current troop short-fall in Iraq. Others (e.g. me) would just like to see *any* realistic plan to turn around the mess in Iraq.

But suppose that the vast majority of liberals have exactly the nefarious intentions you attribute to them, Mr. Bird.

Why should Bush care? He doesn't govern by listening to the polls--and a fortiori, he doesn't listen to what *liberals* think.

And he shouldn't. If a draft is right for the country, he should do it, no matter what the liberals are going to do. And if it is right for the country, he can count on the country coming along with him, no matter what the liberals do.

So: is a draft right for the country, or not? If it is, it will be up to Bush to show true leadership, no matter what the liberals do.

If it is not--well, do you have any realistic plans for stabilizing the security situation without one?

If America was to completely pull out of Iraq by the end of the year what is the worse that can happen? And why should we care?

If you claim that America is somehow less safe because Iraq falls into chaos I say prove it factually. The time for fearmongering is over. Many Americans fell for that once, I doubt if the smart ones will fall for it again.

"... Those false and nonsensical stories ... are already tottering and without a doubt are doomed to fall."

from: George W. Bush de la Mancha

Yes, a draft is necessary to win. The current number of forces cannot secure the country. It can't secure Baghdad. They were enough to topple Saddam's weak army in a stand-up fight, but are inadequate to put down the insurgency.

But the President won't be able to muster support for the draft. Even if he tried, he'd bring on electoral ruin for his party. So it won't happen.

The President lost the war before it started. The Powell doctrine - that the US should use overwhelming force if it gets into a fight - was ignored.

He went into this war half-prepared, half-hearted, and half-assed. When it went wrong he did nothing.

He's still doing nothing. Only now, it's too late.

bob m., I have to agree with billmon on this.

I don’t think recruitment incentives are going to be that appealing. You can’t, after all, spend that fat bonus check when you’re 6 feet under in Arlington.

The soccer moms know this, so you’re not going to see many young adults receiving encouragement to enlist. That's probably been sealed with the smearing of Cindy Sheehan. At least I haven’t heard of any military recruitment rallies started by parents.

The draft is never going to fly. The Republicans don’t have the political will and the Democrats don’t have the votes (or the political will).

Even if all of the above is somehow overcome, we don’t have the equipment to supply them and it’d take months to even begin getting them trained (I’m not a veteran, so I have no idea what the exact training period would be). Do we even have the human resources to get that many soldiers (I’m assuming we’d need at least another 100,000) trained within the year? I suspect not, given the prior (lack of) planning.

So that leaves what? I’ve got it! Give us more empty platitudes about increasing troop strength. I’m sure they’ll be just as effective as the platitudes about “staying the course”.

Wallerstein ht Wolcott, scholar dude says war is lost, reminds us all of the last years in Vietnam, in which the withdrawal was defended with airpower.

Ain't easy to move divisions around, with one risky airport and one road south and no naval bases. We will bomb Iraq into the stoneage on the way out, or we will lose divisions. Something for you liberals to look forward to.
...
The "war" is not lost. Maybe we are like at the beginning of the cold war 1946-52, with the loss of China and Eastern Europe, Russia getting the bomb, war and partition in Korea, brutal ideological division at home. Except without the post-war build-up, the strengthening of innternational alliances, the Marshall plan, the call-up of reserves for Korea, the general preparation of the country for a generation of sacrifice and struggle.

To say the party in power should be embarrassed is a bit of understatement, isn't it. No divided gov't, no one to share the blame. We are likely to withdraw from Iraq, if possible, and then reboot the War.
If possible. We may just take a few more hits worse than 9/11, and shake and quiver, for the GOP won't admit failure. We gotta disband it, for they will start tossing nukes.

"Trevino is a lonely minority on the conservative side."

For those who think I am over the top, ask Charles and the commenters to Trevino's post or Powerline of LGF what happens with another sizable defeat or loss.

All those conservatives are much firmer than the liberals.

No draft. No tax increases.

So exactly what would the response be to further 9/11 level events or the loss of two divisions? DenBeste said it years ago. Nukes.

I wanted a WWII or cold war level mobilization years ago for a reason, dammit.

Gives an eerie sort of resonance to Saddam's claim that, door to door, street to street, in Iraq the US would encounter the "mother of all battles"... no?

I measure sincerity in dollars.

Increase my taxes now to pre-2001 levels or I will be incentivized to oppose further efforts in Iraq, oppose a draft, and oppose post-war aid to Iraq.

I say "Yes", but I bet you say "No"! I get it now. A stable democratic government in Iraq is not worth a tax increase because it might make the U.S. Government larger.

In which case, the hell with both governments.

while I cannot find the cite (work and all that), Intel Dump had a series of posts on increasing the strength of the Army. Factoring in all the costs, each soldier costs about $100,000 per year, iirc. So, an additional 300,000 troops would go for the low, low price of $3 x 10^10 or $30,000,000,000 or $30 billion per year.

chump change.

not.

If America was to completely pull out of Iraq by the end of the year what is the worse that can happen? And why should we care?

Well, let's see.. the worst that could happen.. Iraq collapses into full-scale civil war. Hundreds of thousands of people are killed or driven from their homes in ethnic cleansing. The Turkish army smashes into northern Iraq to squash any independent Kurdistan. The southern portions of the former country become a Talibanesque theocracy, quite possibly under Iranian control. Hoards of desperate refugees and triumphant jihadis spill out into the other nearby countries, including Saudi Arabia. The global oil supply is disrupted, and/or falls into the hands of militant Islamists who despise the US. The current Pakistani government goes down, leaving those same Islamists in control of nuclear weapons. Anything I've forgotten?

Mea culpa:I qualify. von, Sebastian, and Tacitus have explicitly called for an increase in resources, and been willing to pay for them. Somehow my memory or goodwill wants to give Slart the benefit of a doubt and I will let Charles speak for himself. But obviously my generality does not apply to each individual Republican or person sympathetic to them.

OTOH, I am haunted by history, and not motivated by spite only.

IIRC, the Phillipine negotiated settlement of 1913 was in part driven by budget concerns
Resistance to war in the early teens
Isolationism of late teens and 20s
Ditto in late 30's
Resistance to Marshall plan and other spending in late 40s; partly causing the forty year Dem domination of Congress
Nixon's surrender in Vietnam, so phrased in order to be nasty or to initiate a discussion over whether "Vietnamization" was actually viable. Relevant.
Whatever Reagan's rhetoric, it was a Democratic Congress that authorized the military buildup.
I don't remember any corresponding call for massive military spending 1994-2000, with a Republican controlled Congress

And finally, our current situation, where the Republicans aren't actually willing to alocate the necessary resources for a frigging war, but are putting it on the Visa card for the kids to pay off.

Thesis:Despite their often nationalist or bellicose rhetoric, Republicans and/or more conservative elements of the American polity have most often been unwilling to actually allocate the resources needed to defend America.

Possible refutations: by refuting my admittedly lightly researched examples, or providing counter-examples.

Or by claiming history is bunk.

Bonus points if you can do it without a tax increase. Otherwise, this is just as meaningless as "stay the course" and "we can't afford to not win" rhetoric.

No, bob, because yours is just another example of the troubling liberal-left "can't do" attitude that I'm seeing more and more of. If spending on increasing manpower is a priority, it can be done by various means.

Trying to blame the liberals for the failure of the war by claiming that we want a draft to opppose has got to be the silliest thing I have ever read at ObWi.
I'm a liberal. I honestly don't know what I think about a draft. On the one hand war is a moral issue and people shouldn't be forced into killing or dying; perhaps a war should not be fought if people can't be convinced that it is worth fighting. On the other hand a draft is an equilizer (or should be), making everyone ( in a certain age range) vulnerable to the effects of the politicians they vote for. That's a good thing.
Do you want a draft, Charles? Do you think women should be drafted? What about college exemptions?
I'm inclined to think we should stay in Iraq, and tag our troop pullouts to specified Iraqi accomplishments rather than time or domestic politics. Of course we will have to raise taxes and seek more troops from somewhere. (Eat crow and beg NATO or the UN?) The problem the Republicans face in dealing with the war is that they want to handle it without being honest, politically brave, or responisble. They don't want to discuss real problems or costs. The Bush administration wants to win by spinning and staging media events. If that doesn't work, like Charles, they will look for someone (liberals) to blame.

I'd like to see some means that have a good chance of clearing this Congress and Presidential approval, Charles, and I don't mean that sarcastically.

"because yours is just another example of the troubling liberal-left "can't do" attitude that I'm seeing more and more of."

Oh, I am a "can-do" kinda guy. Hillary Clinton will not say so on the campaign trail, but if elected will call for increased military manpower and the taxes to pay for it. A majority of Democrats will support her, but a majority of Republicans will resist. She will possibly strike a deal involving large entitlement cuts in order to make victory in Iraq possible.

Her base will hate her, and she will serve one term, but the country will be defended. That's Democrats for ya.

I think the GOP Congress and the GOP President would be very happy to defund the EPA and HHS altogether.

OTOH, deficit spending doesn't bother them, so why not just add another few hundred billion to the tab?

"Why don't you start crafting a post on how we're supposed to pay for incentives that'll double (conservative estimate) the number of boots on the ground in Iraq."

I don't have time to root around in the archives, but I'm quite sure I did propose such a thing.

And the initial funding could come from stupid farm subsidies--but that is wishing for a pony! :(

another example of the troubling liberal-left "can't do" attitude

This notion may be the most worrisome thing about conservatives. Life is not all about willing it so; an awful lot of it has to do with logistics and pragmatic priorities. It is precisely this sense that if we believe hard enough, what we want will happen, that gets us in to messes. Hope is not a plan, as the man said.

Once upon a time, Republicans knew this; once upon a time, it was practically their battle cry.

Charles: it can be done by various means.

By all means, lets hear these ideas. You can blame my "defeatist" attitude all you want, but until a workable alternate is proposed, that quote is nothing but hot air. Here's how I'm seeing the math so far...

Current plan=failure
Proposed draft=DOA
alternate=???

Please feel free to fill in the variable. My proposal is immediate withdrawal. Yes, we may have to go back in and, if so, it'll be much harder. But, what choice do we have with no reasonable alternative? At this point, I think things are so FUBAR we just need to pull back and regroup.

Bob M. had it pegged earlier when he said the strengthening of innternational alliances, the Marshall plan, the call-up of reserves for Korea, the general preparation of the country for a generation of sacrifice and struggle. That's the difference between this and the cold war.

It's also not something I think we're going to be able to do on the fly when we're already overextended and pouring money down the toilet at an accelerated rate.

Your idea is some sort of nebulous grand incentive that's going to bring in recruits by the boatload (and can't we honestly agree it's going to take a LOT more troops to have any sort of security).

The "offer more incentives" plan has been in effect (and sweetened) since the start of the personnel problems. What sort of incentives are you proposing that'll make any sort of substantive difference? "Whatever it takes" is not an answer, it's another platitude. And to reiterate, even if we can get all these recruits, are we going to be able to get them trained and on the ground in less than a year? Call it defeatism if it pleases you. I call it realism.

Sebastian: I'm quite sure I did propose such a thing

..and I'd support anything that was reasonable and didn't feel like another regressive tax scheme where the disadvantaged have to sacrifice disproportionately.

That still doesn't mitigate the recruitment problems and the issues with capacity for handling the additional troops. Unless your proposal dramatically increased the funding in Iraq, would it allow us to do more than continue treading water? Is there enough excisable pork to dramatically increase funding?

Those questions fall back to the political will of the parties in charge and, as I mentioned earlier, I don't think either party has the stones to follow through.

"Those questions fall back to the political will of the parties in charge and, as I mentioned earlier, I don't think either party has the stones to follow through"

The Democrats are a pretty miserable crew, alright--no direction, no organization. The party has practically ceased to function as an entity.

So the question really falls back to the political will of the *party* in charge. Only one.

The Republicans have their president, and Bush has his war. And he has a completely free hand to conduct it exactly the way he wants. There is no one stopping him from doing whatever he wants to in Iraq.

Unfortunately, his foreign policy has been imitating a deer in the headlights for several years: frozen in stunned incomprehension at the unexpected turn of events. No ability to adapt, a completely passive agent in the complex Sunni/Shia struggle he led the country into. He isn't even playing catch up anymore; he has just ceased to respond at all. Of course, on the ground our soldiers have to respond; the insurgents act and our guys react. But in the ME as a whole, he has been idling while the Iranians plot their moves a whole chess-game ahead.

That's what I admire about deer. When they are caught in the headlights, they are so consistent, so admirably consistent. And so resolute. They never change course. Sometimes the truck does, not often.

Meanwhile, the Bushist dead-enders continue their schizophrenia about whether we are facing World War IV, or something so trivial that it couldn't possibly warrant a tax-hike, a draft, or a shortened vacation. It could engulf the entire Middle East, and Pakistan, if we lose it; but we're not going to actually, say, fight *harder*. We're not going to, say, send more troops over, or provide them with adequate resources. C'mon--it's no big deal.

So, whipsawed between apocalyptic warnings and blasé brush-clearing, the country is schizophrenic as well--I know I am, for heaven's sake. What will the consequences be? Huge? Or trivial? Some days it seems clear to me that we should mobilize like it's 1941. But then I learn that the Republican Senate's first priorities are brain-dead women in Florida and giving tax-breaks to the richest of the rich. If they don't think it's a big deal to lose the war in Iraq, maybe I'm wrong to think it would be?

And so the country slides over another cliff, staying the course.

geo, if we to pull out of Iraq and Turkey invades northern Iraq, then so what? Turkey is a democracy and one of the good guys. If Iran takes over southern Iraq then so what? They already have oil and a nuclear program. Having a little more territory is not going to change anything. Sadia Arabia and Pakistan have large enough police forces along with a complete lack of scuples as to how they use them to keep any jihadists who flee Iraq under control.

Seriously, without fear mongering, what harm can possibly come to us if we pull out of Iraq right now?

ken: with respect to the Kurds, Turkey is really, really not one of the good guys. They are improving a bit, having recently gone so far as to acknowledge that they had done some things wrong (like not just outlawing the Kurdish language but claiming that it is a sort of hick version of Turkish, though how a version of a Turkic language should turn out to be Indo-European is a bit of a mystery; detaining and torturing people without trials; razing villages; one could go on and on.) But the good guys they are not.

Seriously, without fear mongering, what harm can possibly come to us if we pull out of Iraq right now?

Define "harm... come to us", please.

If this National Assembly does not have the mindset required to produce a meaningful Iraqi constitution, then it is best to dissolve and re-elect the assembly than settle for a prop. It is more important to get it right, than to get it “right now.”

As Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari noted, “We should not be hasty regarding the issues and the constitution should not be born crippled.” The constitution must be meaningful – a living, breathing document that can be a foundation for the long road towards a real democracy in a united Iraq.

"Right idea, poor execution" won't wash. Poor execution was utterly predictable. Troops who speak the lingo are useless as cops, let alone troops who don't speak the lingo. Shinseki was right about numbers. Post-invasion planning was non-existent because of loony-tunes post-invasion expectations. Ideology trumped analysis. These leopards can't change their spots.

"whipsawed between apocalyptic warnings and blasé brush-clearing, the country is schizophrenic"

i like this analysis a lot. [no, i don't.] {hey, get back where you came from. no one asked you.} [no way, dude. bush like totally rocks.] {that's it; i'm increasing the dosage.} [help me! i'm melting . . .]

well, some of me liked that post a lot. [yes, as a comedian i make a great lawyer. but this thread is just absurd. we are not going to have a draft. the iraqis will simply have to muddle along without us.]

bob mcm -- On the "can do" issue, Hillary's already spoken on raising troop levels, and she won't/can't avoid it on the campaign trail. Ari Berman, in his widely heralded trashing of the Dem foreign policy establishment, Strategic Class, aims special wrath at Clinton and Biden.

The Democrats' speculative front-runner for '08, Hillary Clinton, has offered similarly hawkish rhetoric. "If we were to artificially set a deadline of some sort, that would be like a green light to the terrorists, and we can't afford to do that," Clinton told CBS in February. Instead, she recently proposed enlarging the Army by 80,000 troops "to respond to threats wherever danger lies."

Of course he lumps every thinktank denizen in with the Senators, together with the sort of Beinart "muscular democracy" quasi-neocons, as if they were all "hawks". Doesn't talk about what any of the members of the establishment actually believe about what we should be doing -- just that they're out of touch with the public (by definition) and have been proved wrong, wrong wrong.

But hey, the Clintons and Bidens are going to get trashed from all sides for, in this case, not being political opportunists but actually advocating what they believe is needed to minimize the mess we're in. Although of course one of the things they'll be trashed for is being opportunists, just bad opportunists. Ain't politics fun.

No, bob, because yours is just another example of the troubling liberal-left "can't do" attitude that I'm seeing more and more of.

Please -- this is at the "nanner, nanner, nanner" level of discourse.

Or should I say that what is troubling is that your reasoning is another example of the conservative fantasy approach to reality and policy that I'm seeing more and more of.

nadezhda--

I clicked on your name to follow the link, and read your "Out on a Limb Redux" of August 15.

Very interesting analysis. Anyone who cares about this thread, should read what you say there.

President Bush should also commit an act of political bravery: He should stand up, face the nation, and make the mother of all mea culpa speeches. Followed by a frank discussion of what failure would entail, why we must not allow that to happen, and real plans for preventing it. He should convince us that sacrifice is necessary, and then ask for sacrifices.

Done well, he could get them.

Most likely it won't be done at all. Given the stakes then, Republicans will have to choose - Bush or country.

A year ago, I was sure of how that would play out. Now it's just cognitive dissonance. I don't know where we're headed.

BTW, von, was this intended to be the answer to the question asked in the Second Time as Farce post as to why Rumsfeld and not Bush should be held accountable for the failures in Iraq? If so, and if you believe your post represents a list of things Bush should be doing but isn't, I do not see why Bush shouldn't be held accountable for not doing them (as well as for a lengthy list of wrongheaded things already done, responsibility for which he generally shares with Rumsfeld, IMHO).

You are being hypocritical -- your own ideology creates the political problem that now prevents the draft from being implemented.

Wrong again, dm. I subscribe to Milton Friedman's argument that the best military is one that is voluntary, not conscripted.

You can blame my "defeatist" attitude all you want, but until a workable alternate is proposed, that quote is nothing but hot air.

There are various means, bobz, and immediate withdrawal is declaring defeat, which I in no way accept. Above, Francis wrote that 30,000 more troops can be had for $30 billion. That is much less than 10% of the Defense budget. One or more of the following can be done to pay for it:

- Deficit-spend the increase.
- Cut spending or kill programns in other areas, defense or non-defense. I'm all for whacking out chunks from the farm or highway bill.
- Freeze certain tax cuts. It may be Republican sacrilege, but I'm all for ending the cuts on incomes over $200K.
- Move troops from other off-shore bases.

Whether Bush will cotton to any of the above, who knows. We haven't even tried to increase manpower because Rumsfeld is holding the line. I think he should be fired so we can get a Defense Secretary who will infuse new ideas and actions and be more flexible with personnel. There are plenty of ways to incent prospective soldiers without even getting into discussions about a draft (which I oppose). If it truly gets to a point where a draft is the only recourse left, then we really have lost.

It is precisely that political realities won't allow for a draft that demonstrates that we've lost. Those realities are a good proxy for how important we, as a country, believe this war to be. And the answer is - not very. We really don't care enough to pay the costs for a liberal democracy.

Leaving Iraq (which I actually think would be bad) wouldn't be "cutting and running." It would be an admission that we're bored, more analogous to getting off the couch to cancel extended cable b/c the channels are crap than to admitting we were unable to oppose our enemies.

but I'm all for ending the cuts on incomes over $200K.

More support for Kerry's program from the Bush wing of ObWi.

Tad B -- Many thanks for your interest. I suddenly got a flood of visitors from ObWi and now I know why. A veritable Instalanche. The power of the ObWi link!

Charles: I think he should be fired so we can get a Defense Secretary who will infuse new ideas and actions and be more flexible with personnel.

What makes you think that if Rumsfeld is fired, the new Defense Secretary won't also do exactly what Bush wants him to do?

The person you need to fire is Bush, if you want "new ideas and actions". Shame you didn't do that when you had the chance.

Tad B -- Many thanks for your interest. I suddenly got a flood of visitors from ObWi and now I know why. A veritable Instalanche. The power of the ObWi link!

FWIW, I wish we could guarantee you more hits. You're definitely worth it.

"but I'm all for ending the cuts on incomes over $200K.

More support for Kerry's program from the Bush wing of ObWi."

I think you are missing a key step. Kerry was all for increasing taxes for doing lots of things. Charles and I are for increasing taxes with the specfic purpose of increasing the size of the military with the specific purpose of making more troops available in Iraq. Kerry made crystal clear that he was not interested in putting more troops into Iraq at any post-election point.

Sebastian: Kerry made crystal clear that he was not interested in putting more troops into Iraq at any post-election point.

Then presumably you can point to the speech or the policy paper or whatever in which Kerry said: If I win the election, I will never send any more troops to Iraq. Source material, of course, not rw-distorted quotes from or explications that this is what he "really" meant.

Point me to the statement Kerry made in which he actually said he wasn't sending any more troops to Iraq if he won the election.

I doubt you can do it, because my distinct recollection is that Kerry declined to commit himself to any definite policy for dealing with Iraq, on the very sensible basis that he'd need to make the decisions on the information available to him at the time, if he were President. But go ahead: make me eat my words. Cite Kerry's definite statement on Iraq policy: or quit claiming what isn't there.

It's pointless anyway: like it or not (and it's evident you don't) the US is stuck with the disaster-area Bush till 2009, and therefore stuck with an administration that made a disastrous mess in Iraq and has either no idea or no intention of trying to fix it.

"Point me to the statement Kerry made in which he actually said he wasn't sending any more troops to Iraq if he won the election."

He did so in the foreign policy debate.

I wrote about it at length at the time, and I don't think this is the quote I wrote about, but:

Ask the people in the armed forces today. We've got Guards and Reserves who are doing double duties. We've got a backdoor draft taking place in America today: people with stop-loss programs where they're told you can't get out of the military; nine out of our 10 active duty divisions committed to Iraq one way or the other, either going, coming or preparing.

So this is the way the president has overextended the United States.

That's why, in my plan, I add two active duty divisions to the United States Army, not for Iraq, but for our general demands across the globe.

Here he is saying that the military can't handle Iraq, and that he wants to add two divisions but not for use in Iraq. This fits well with his concept about near-immediate troop draw down in Iraq (which was always ridiculous). It doesn't fit well with a troop increase in Iraq. It also makes no sense. If Iraq is where the need is, why create new troops and specify that they won't go to Iraq?

The Administration's choices are self-limiting because the interests of the principals must be preserved above all other considerations. IOW Rumsfeld is not going to be fired. Bush is not going to apologize for Abu Ghraib or anything else. And there's no chance for significant withdrawal for several years.

Within their prescribed limits, the Bushites could adopt face saving strategies. I'd recommend the Gavin-Kennan recommendation that the US withdraw to fortified coastal enclaves (in Viet Nam) (in 1966). If the US pulled its troops back to those planned four big bases, they'd be less obvious and vulnerable targets for the NVA errr terrorists. The Iraqi govt would have to pull more (but not all) of its weight as the Vietnamization eerr democratization program proceeds. There'd be fewer body bags and most importantly fewer Gold Star mother traitors bugging Bush at his ranch.

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