« It's A Puzzlement | Main | Requiem: Update »

December 18, 2005

Comments

Good one! OK, I admit it, von: Republicans can sometimes be funny, too.

The speech reads much better in print. I listened to the President on radio and found it hard to hear him; the speech seemed so rote when he spoke it, even though the transcript reveals some different political and diplomatic positions.

This is serious business, folks.

Well, I can't tell from these remarks. Sounds like you're more interested in attacking domestic enemies. That might make you feel better, von, but it won't make anyone any safer.

yet, certain Democrats give the appearance of delighting in every purported setback (real or perceived)

Certain Republicans give the appearance of delighting in torture. What'll you have, von, a neck or a thigh?

It's a good speech, there's no question about that. He says a lot of the things he has needed to say for a long time, and he deserves credit for saying them. I suppose it's too much to ask that he acknowledge and take responsibility for the deliberate mendacity his administration engaged in during the war's run-up, and the head-in-the-sand state of denial in which they have spent so much time refusing to acknowledge so many of the things he finally said here.

And yet it could have been so much more. Bush acknowledges that progress in Iraq will depend on a series of milestones, but still remains maddeningly vague about what those milestones are. The meaningless pablum about "victory" makes a return. And while it is appropriate that he has finally deigned to answer some of the criticisms of his policies that exist, and acknowledge that some of those criticisms are sincerely felt, it would help if he responded to actual criticisms instead of erecting straw man after straw man out of the left's arguments so that he can knock them down with feigned ease.

So yeah, it's progress, in the same way that it's progress when your uncle finally admits that having a drinking problem is challenging and assures you that he's taking steps to make things right. But in the meantime, he's still a drunk and his car's still wrecked.

"It's worth noting that the pressure is now on the Democrats."

Say what? Democrats have zero influence on the outcome in Iraq. Zero. Should Zarwahi(Zarqahi?) whomever even think of awaiting a policy change in 2006 or 2008 due to a change in power it would not be a very safe bet.

Nobody in America or Iraq (which does have satellites and is connected to the Internet) cares what Pelosi thinks about Iraq. John Murtha, who should have the maximum influence of any Democrat, was a one-week-wonder.

Von, if you are still trying to blame any past or future setbacks or failures in Iraq on Democrats, you are allying yourself with a pretty disreputable crowd.

Yeah, I know it's going to get repetitive, but what exactly can a good speech (assuming it was good; I didn't watch it) put pressure on Democrats to do? Give a speech explaining why winning in Iraq isn't important? Give a speech explaining why the most helpful thing we can do for the Iraqis at this juncture is a withdrawal? It can't be anything other than give a speech, can it?

I admit to not reading the speech. Did the president call for a draft, full funding of support services for troops and their families, an independent audit of spending related to the war backed with an independent counsel's authority to prosecute waste and fraud, publication of the key documents governing White House practice with regard to torture and surveillance, and an immediate reappraisal of the planning done before 2002 on post-war needs? Did he apologize for how often he, the vice-president, and their administration have insulted the patriotism, intelligence, courage, and basic decency of those who disagree with them on points of policy? Did he reaffirm his oath of office to uphold the laws of the land, including the treaties and statutes he might find inconvenient at the moment, as the living demonstration of what democratic government is all about?

Did he do any of those things?

If not, is there any reason the rest of us should care? I have no burden to keep tossing solutions at someone who demonstrably isn't serious about it. When the president has done some significant fraction of what's in his power as chief executive, then I will feel a burden to try to help bridge the remaining distance. I'm ready and willing, but I'm not able until he starts.

I skimmed. What's new, other than the sporty new "no, really, I don't live in a bubble" tone? That's a welcome development but it's a PR development. Where's the new substance? Honestly confused.

Was too busy wrapping up my Christmas shopping to catch the speech. What'd I miss?

Von is absolutely right. The ONLY thing preventing a flowering of democracy, freedom, and fucking apple pies in Iraq is the Democrats, who have deployed their stormtroopers througout the Middle East in order to foil freedom.

Jesus, Von, do you have any idea how ludicrous this is getting?

Here's a told you so: "George Bush is flaming moron, surrounded by ideologically blinded fools. If this war was EVER winnable -- something I heavily dispute, given any reasonable definition of "win" -- it certainly isn't in the hands of these fools."

Pretty speechs pull the wool over your eyes nicely, I note. Getting desperate for that turning point, eh? Given we've turned the corner so many times we're back where we started, I'm not surprised you've ditched reality in favor of the gently glowing fantasy land Bush lives in.

"Iraq is a fight that we cannot afford to lose...."

Well Bush has had everything he's asked for all along for this war. He should put up (win it) or shut up (stop whining).

His "Mission Accomplished" moment was years ago, yet he has to plead with the American people to accomplish the mission. It's ridiculous. Finish the goddamn job.

Oh -- and as an addendum -- I suppose this also makes all that torture and illegal wiretapping "Okay". Only enemies of freedom would be against it.

Heh.

Isn't that always the way it goes - the conservatives start a fight they can't finish and call on the liberals to bail them out.

Well, this time the answer is no.

The republicans need to put on a helmet and practice that "personal responsibility" they crow on and on about instead of blaming others for their troubles.

von: It might make you feel better to dispense your "told you so's." But it won't make us safer.

Nor will eating chocolate chip cookies make us safer. But they are yummy, so I will throw caution to the wind.

"It's worth noting that the pressure is now on the Democrats."

Honestly, do you really believe that? The Republicans control the Executive and
Legislative branches and have at least a tie in the Judiciary, they asked for this war, they got the authorization from a good number of Democrats, they've railed against the patriotism and legitimacy of any who criticized them in any way, they've run the entire operration their way with no input from anyone else, yet it's the Democrats who are on the spot? Where's the personal responsibilty? Maybe if Bush admitted how badly he's screwed this up and asked specific Democrats for help, that would put some pressure on them.

Look, Bush wanted this war in the worst way, and Republicans lined up virtually in lockstep behind him. To now say that the Democrats are liable for the issues we now face, or have any responsibility for how thing have turned out is just Republican partisans merely being afraid of (rightly) being assigned responsibilty for this clusterfuck.

Anyone can have elections under a military occupation. When the government changes hands peacefully in an unoccupied country, you'll have something to be happy about.

I don't think von is anti-Democrat and I don't think he is thinking about this war in a mindless cheerleading way. He wants us to try to achieve some kind of positive result there. That's a responsible, humane attitude.

I think it is naive to expect anything responisble or even competent from Bush, however.

By the way, the number one has to type in order to post is almost impossible to read, at least for me. I've tried unsuccessfully twice now. The background distorts the letters.

Really, who can say I prosecuted the GWOT perfectly? So what if Bush has not. Where has ANY of his opposition said, "Here is something you can do, that you may not have looked into." ? My answer is that John Kerry in the debates stated that shipping containers could be checked more rigorously. Aside from that, I've seen NOTHING but complaints. There are damn few politicians out there that could handle the criticism, both warranted and unwarranted. At least they could read the intelligence reports, and not leak them.

I don't think von is anti-Democrat and I don't think he is thinking about this war in a mindless cheerleading way. He wants us to try to achieve some kind of positive result there. That's a responsible, humane attitude.

Then what, exactly, is he? Living in an alternate reality where Democrats control the levers of power? Or when where Democratic operatives are seeded through insurgent groups? Or perhaps one where the insurgency -- like some demented Playstation game -- waxes and wanes depending on how for or against the war the Democrats are.

Interpreting Von's remarks as a purely partisan assault fueled by desperation is the charitable view.

I mean, let's face it -- Von either believes or is claiming to believe -- that it's the Democrats somehow standing between us and victory here.

Looking for an explanation of that view leads me to conclude he's either ignorant, flamingly partisan, or insane. He seems to have enough grasp on the basics of US politics to be aware of who has total power over the war -- the GOP in general and Bush in particular. He claims he's not flamingly partisan.

So that leaves "living in an alternate reality".

By the way, the number one has to type in order to post is almost impossible to read, at least for me. I've tried unsuccessfully twice now. The background distorts the letters.

I've always suspected that lily is an automated robot ;^)

(Your Typepad defenses have recently proven to be inadequate!)

Where has ANY of his opposition said, "Here is something you can do, that you may not have looked into." ?

how about the entire Department of Homeland Security ?

Oh, good, the President gave the speech Von's been waiting for. Victory is now in sight!

Why on earth anyone of Von's obvious intelligence attaches the least importance to anything Bush says is a mystery. I can guess only that, compared with his deeds, Bush's words are all his supporters have left.

It's worth noting that the pressure is now on the Democrats

to do... ?

Iraq is a fight that we cannot afford to lose; yet, certain Democrats give the appearance of delighting in every purported setback

yawn. really. if this is a fight we cannot afford to lose, why is Bush doing the bare minimum (less than that, it can be easily argued) to win it ? why did he not saturate Iraq with US troops three years ago as soon as the insurgency started ? not enough troops. no draft? no political will.

woah.. did i just use the word "political" ? i couldn't have, because that would imply that Republicans are putting domestic partisan politics into their calculations about the war. and if they did that, people would think they weren't really serious when they say things like "Iraq is a fight that we cannot afford to lose".

shorter von: only Republicans should be allowed to inject politics into this war.

DaveC, can you point at three instances on which Bush made a significant change to a major administration policy based on comments from anyone outside the administration?

As for specifics...Congressman Murtha offered a four-point proposal:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

The administration response was to ridicule him, associate him with Michael Moore, and ram through a vote on a proposal that Congressional Republicans claimed was his but wasn't.

Other Democrats have been asking for nothing more remarkable than a clear set of benchmarks and regular reports on progress toward or retreat from them, and gotten ridicule and worse for it.

DaveC, there were plenty of people who thought invading Iraq prior to complete victory over AQ was a mistake, and said so in 2002.

I get to see some small parts of what should be another front in the WOT at closer range -- and I've got a ton of ideas how it could be done better. These ideas are widespread in circles I travel in, and the administration is utterly uninterested in anything. They are doing what they want, and don't want suggestions, even when it's clear that they're making mistakes as they make it up as they go. (Stomping on the Koran is a perfect example. There are a couple of ways in which stomping on the Koran in the presence of a prisoner might provide some small advantage, some scrap of information. If the whole WOT was a confrontation between one prisoner and one guard, you could see how it might well make sense to have the guard stomp on a Koran. However, since there are a whole lot of other people involved, it turns out that stomping on the Koran gets you more trouble than information. You think they want to hear from me that they should stop stomping on Korans?)

Since Lily has more than once talked about her vision problems, I wish there were some way she could have a less annoying Turing test. She's been around for awhile and has always seemed like a mensch; what say the powers that be to rig up a pass for her?

I suggest this knowing full well that on my own Blogspot sites I have to pass tests in order to comment. Is there any other way? On www.aqoul.com, commenters are asked to type the name of the image they see, which has always been a cat. I don't know what software they use, or what their exposure to spam is, but this model seems to work for them.

And, yeah, since I've also failed the test more than once, I feel a personal interest here.

DaveC: Leaving aside my ever-helpful self -- I have been making suggestions all along, yet oddly no one pays attention -- let me recommend this speech by Wes Clark. (See "Number Two: What do we do now?", about a third of the way down.) It's from Nov. 2003, so a lot of it wouldn't work now, but it was, I think, very good advice at the time.

It was a sermon, well rehersed and delivered in the usual hard-working fashion. [No immediate 'analysis' on NPR.] Here's my impression: (There is no live audience for this speech.)
The devil struck Sept 11 2001 but America (not the Coalition so much)is gradually (the Iraqi forces are up to 150 battalions with an additional 50 battalions leading the fight)[ so, the larger segment is alongside or dragging the fight, rear guarding maybe?] and mightily making Progress. We shall prevail no matter what the politicians in Washington say. Democracy is worth it. And importantly, America is not a loser.
That was the sermon. This detail sands out:
W is fond of looking people in the eye to discern the depth of their character and God knows What. It is his trade mark tool that sets him apart from just about everybody. From these oracles, the mothers of fallen US soldiers, we learn that if it takes more lives, it takes more lives.
I think it may have ended with "God bless America" or "amen" but that was revised at the last minute. Not a bad sermon really, and maybe pretty effective at getting some of the sheep back in line.

Jackmormon: I don't think we can do that. I have no idea what triggers the Turing Test, other than posting comments in quick succession, but I have to take it, and I have never been able to figure out how to tell TypePad that it can trust me.

You want a reason to delight in purported setbacks?

"..as my friend John says, it's increasingly clear that quagmire in Iraq is the only thing that has saved us from a police state under these guys. We should give thanks to the Iraqis."

http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003288.html

You, sir, are objectively pro-Stalin.

Fuck you.

First, I agree with Von that he would have made his life a lot easier had he given this speech a year ago. A perfectly reasonable explanation that would have nipped the whole "Bush Lied" meme in the bud. "We all thought he had WMD. He didn't, but after 9/11, better safe than sorry. Plus he was a really bad guy." I'll bite. Or I would have (though I still might). At this date it just looks political.

As for the whole thing, he almost had me this time. On the WaPo site, the story is on three pages, I was nodding my head through the first two...and then he called out the 'defeatists' without a word for the 'triumphalists'. I can't say it better than this, so I'll just quote:

I also had a visceral reaction toward Bush's barely veiled partisan swipe at "defeatists who refuse to see anything is right." He proclaims that such people only make such claims for "partisan uses." Obviously, there are people who fit into this category. However, it is fall smaller than him and his flacks have previously made it out to be. Partisanship cuts both ways here--Bush can't expect me to take his complaints about "defeatists" when nearly any criticism of his policies in any manner, form, or respect has landed the speaker into this category (his token nod to "honest critics" notwithstanding). But more importantly, it says absolutely nothing about those commentators who, one might argue, "refuse to see anything is wrong." Such speakers are nearly endemic amongst the Republican right. Presumably, their triumphantalism is as harmful to the war effort as the defeatists, as it obstructs necessary policy changes and paves the way for the continuation of failed strategies. What is needed is neither defeatism nor triumphantalism. What is needed is a clear-eyed perspective, one that does not proclaim doom at every setback, but is not blind to clear errors either. If President Bush was truly serious about placing this war beyond currents of partisanship, he should have repudiated that branch of his own party. But by exempting his boosters from criticism even while assailing Democrats for similar sins, he shows that he himself has not transcended his view of Iraq as little more than a partisan game.

My predictiction: Tel Aviv nuked by Iran in 2006. Politicians in the US, the UN and internationally have opposed any measures that could have prevented this, even though both Iranian presidential candidates have said that they would support wiping out Israel (Look around for a picture of the Iranian president in the "World Without Zionism" conference last week). This didn't happen because of a flawed Newsweek story.

But NOBODY, NOBODY at ObWi or the newspapers or TV News or Newsweek gives a rats ass about the Iraqi elections, either, so I shouldn't be surprised.

wcw: the posting rules prohibit profanity.

And von: Oddly enough, most of us do not delight in purported setbacks, etc., etc. Lots of people say that we do, but the actual delighted people are, as best I can tell, few and far between. It's very annoying to have to keep r[proving this again and again, despite the fact that (as best I can tell) the idea that we are delighting in setbacks owes a lot more to conservatives' assumptions about liberals than to any feature of liberals themselves.

I mean, I could start saying that the onus is on you to prove that you're not an authoritarian proto-fascist jackbooted thug blinded by your love of Bush, or something, but what on earth would make me that uncharitable towards you?

If I had wanted Bush to fail, I would not have opposed going to war. I mean, I believed that it was very, very likely that he would fail if he did, and that's one of the reasons I was dead set against the war. (I mean, I share your view about the horrible consequences of defeat, though not your views about the availability of alternatives.)

I very much want to be wrong about this. I think almost all of us (on this site) do. So even if I could make any sense out of the idea that the pressure is on a group of people who have no power whatsoever, I really don't see who, of your likely listeners, you take yourself to be addressing.

DaveC: FWIW, I didn't write about the Iraqi elections in large part because I was writing for both ObWi and Kevin Drum that day, and Shakespeare's Sister got there before I did.

DaveC: Did you not bother to check your claim, or were you deliberately making a false claim?

But NOBODY, NOBODY at ObWi or the newspapers or TV News or Newsweek gives a rats ass about the Iraqi elections, either, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Geez, what channel do you watch? I saw plenty of coverage on election day. And you can bet that once the result is known, there will be plenty more. The WaPo had coverage. NYT also. Juan Cole cited a LA Times story today on how your man Allawi seems not to have done very well.

But NOBODY, NOBODY at ObWi or the newspapers or TV News or Newsweek gives a rats ass about the Iraqi elections, either, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Bringing democracy to Iraq is a social welfare program, pure and simple. Are you aware of any Republican on the face of the earth who would support a $70 bil./yr social welfare program to revitalize our inner cities? I'm not. So I don't think there's any chance that the Republicans see this one through. Iraq will go to some for of brutal strongman (at best) because Republicans have not in the past, and will not in the future, care enough to spend what is necessary to make a different future. Brutality is, if nothing else, efficient.

And Democrats know that. So everything in Iraq is, at best, massively contingent on things breaking right. At worst, it's a lost cause that Republicans will blame on liberals and Iraqis who didn't "want it enough."

I found this Thomas Barnett post, (and one of his others which he links to from that one) on the mistake of taking the Iranian's anti-Israeli rhetoric seriously, enlightening. By not taking it seriously, I don't mean that they don't seriously hate Israel, but that they don't seriously plan on acting on that hate.

Also, while I think the liklihood of Iran using a nuclear bomb in 2006 on anyone, especially a nuclear power like Israel, is vanishingly small, I don't know what purpose, if any, that prediction is meant to serve in an argument about the War in Iraq.

My predictiction: Tel Aviv nuked by Iran in 2006.

In which case, Israel will drop a lot of its 82 nukes on Iran. End result: maybe 50K Israelis dead, 10 mil. Iranians dead, and no US resources spent. Israel survives, Iran is no longer a problem, and we're fine. Efficient solution.

Of course, Iran knows this, and is therefore unlikely to pursue this course of action.

leek..."likilihood" should be "likelihood".

My predictiction: Tel Aviv nuked by Iran in 2006. Politicians in the US, the UN and internationally have opposed any measures that could have prevented this, even though both Iranian presidential candidates have said that they would support wiping out Israel

This post by Matt Yglesias has a key insight towards this, which is short enough to put here.
One key swing constituency in this whole standoff is the Arab world. The regimes in the Gulf and beyond the Egypt are not very excited about the prospect of a nuclear Iran which they naturally see as a threat to their own standing in the area. But the Arab public is pretty sympathetic to the Iranian position on this. If Teheran can successfully frame its nuclear program as directed at Israel, rather than the Gulf monarchies, then it becomes extremely difficult for the Arab regimes to support an anti-Iranian policy even though they'd be inclined to do so. In that sense, I worry that the tendency of western diplomats to explicitly link the Israel and nuclear issues every time Ahmadinejad launches one of these tirades is a mistake.

Pity that Bush has made it totally toxic to support the US. (lest this be interpreted as 'blaming Bush', let me point out that it is not a question of who is to blame, it is a question of undercutting the other guy's policies. Everything Bush has done has been aimed in the opposite direction like 'drunk rednecks on a duck hunt')

washerdreyer wrote:
Also, while I think the liklihood of Iran using a nuclear bomb in 2006 on anyone, especially a nuclear power like Israel, is vanishingly small, I don't know what purpose, if any, that prediction is meant to serve in an argument about the War in Iraq.

When all else fails it's fire and brimstone and eternal damnation.

In the end, it's always "the threat".

It's the axis mundi of the reactionary right

von: In all seriousness, why in God's name does a pretty speech from the Bush Administration mean a single goddamn thing to you? Why are you investing it with the slightest bit of credibility or determining power?

If Bush actually effects some of these ideas in a coherent manner, and if the resultant strategic picture improves after a causal fashion -- and God forbid, if this actually coheres enough to be a meaningful plan -- sure, I could see your relief. I'd be pretty damn relieved too. But this... seriously, what are you thinking?

...and why on God's green earth are you inveighing against the Democrats? Your point about defeatism is well-taken insofar as the MSM and the GOP successfully and continually lie about Democratic defeatism -- we're generally convinced that we're going to lose because Bush is incompetent and the war was a stupid idea, not revelling in the inevitable failures and calamities that have ensued -- so why not try to set the record straight and act as a genuine centrist counterbalance to the BS being hurled in the Democrats' direction?

Or has "They're not traitors. They're just on the other side." completely slipped your mind?

Why are you harshing on Ally McBeal? It was the most accurate representation of the legal profession ever shown on prime time.

"The only question we have to answer is what to do now to give us the best chance of winning (or, at least, not losing) Iraq."

von, with all respect, the answer to this question has been apparent for some time.

a. More troops, and more money spent on them. The rub here is that it will require a draft and raising taxes. Will the Administration support that?

b. Repairing the diplomatic rifts with our allies so they will lend a hand. The price for this will be a lot of bitter pill swallowing on areas of concern for other nations (start with the International Criminal Court, climate change, and replacing Haliburton with foreign companies in the no-bid contracts for reconstruction). Is Bush ready to pony up there?

c. reaching out to people in our country who support the vision but due to some intentionally divisive actions taken have been painted as less than loyal. This may require reversing the party line on prior actions such as making Homeland Security exempt from Civil Service laws, attacking organizations like Amnesty International who point out our flouting of international laws and standards of justice, etc. Is the White House ready to set its media lapdogs in reverse to make up to the people whose support is now needed?

In simpler terms, the White House's isolation on Iraq is the result of its deliberate choices. What is the White House going to do to repair the rifts it chose to make, beyond making speeches not worth the sound waves they are uttered on?

Bush is the white O.J. Simpson.

Now, von....now that you helped to get O.J. off, you wish to spend billions searching for Nicole's "real" killers?

After getting O.J. Bush off, you now think justice is possible?

Hilzoy:


DaveC: FWIW, I didn't write about the Iraqi elections in large part because I was writing for both ObWi and Kevin Drum that day, and Shakespeare's Sister got there before I did.

So much time spent on researching your posts, but you are almost always able to find an excuse why you don't write in support of your country, its troops or President.

You may not be pro-AQ, but certainly you both try to use the resources at hand to make the the country, troops and President look bad.

FDR used Stalin. It was a necessary evil of the time. But FDR eventually got out of bed with him. We both know that in 2008 Bush is gone and a Democrat is just as likely to get elected as a Republican. Why the dire need to align your attacks with AQ? Maybe your strategic attacks and AQ's will diverge paths in 2008, but it sure looks ugly right now.


Maybe your strategic attacks and AQ's will diverge paths in 2008, but it sure looks ugly right now.

Yeah, you shouldn't have had Al-Zarqawi do that guest blog spot. Even though the riff on 'how many legs am I holding up?' was pretty funny, I'm sure you'll regret it later.

If Iraq slips into chaos, we and our children will suffer. You will suffer. And your wise words, smart remarks, and deep insights won't matter at all.


To be honest: I doubt that very much. When Lebanon slipped into chaos, I didn't suffer. When Somalia collapsed, I didn't suffer. When Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war, it had no effect on me whatever. When the Congo collapsed into a terrible haze of blood, my life was completely unchanged. The fact that 20% of young adults in Botswana are HIV positive is really not hurting me that much. For much of the 1990s I lived two hours away from bona fide concentration camps and mass graves, and my life was pretty well unchanged.

If Iraq turns into a great big Lebanon, I won't suffer. I'll care, but I won't suffer. Iraq is not an existential issue for any country not bordering on Iraq, and arguing it is simply makes the argument hysterical and unbalanced.

Why the dire need to align your attacks with AQ?

pathetic. sickening.

Why the dire need to align your attacks with AQ?

The benefits. We really need healthcare reform.

Von: "It's worth noting that the pressure is now on the Democrats. Iraq is a fight that we cannot afford to lose; yet, certain Democrats give the appearance of delighting in every purported setback (real or perceived). This is serious business, folks. It might make you feel better to dispense your "told you so's." But it won't make us safer. "

Von, you claimed to have voted for Kerry, and have taken offence at my earlier criticism of you, as a case of waging intra-Dem warfare (IIRC, you claimed that Dems lost because we'd attack people like you, and alienate them).

Now, considering the fatuousness of Bush's speech, in relation to his policy for the past five years, and your post above, why should I believe you? Why shouldn't I class you with Slartibartfast and Charles Bird?

Why shouldn't I class you with Slartibartfast and Charles Bird?

As what, may I ask? Human? Male? Rebel scum?

zzz: You'll find that basically all of us supported the war in Afghanistan and continue to support the idea of a much more thorough reconstruction than Bush is interested in. It is because we are serious about bringing justice to those who attacked our country that we objected to the war in Iraq. The actual guilty parties are still out there, still launching attacks on innocent people throughout the world, and our country is busily stuck in an avoidable mess. The real help to Al Qaeda is Bush's enthusiasm for the Iraq war; a president who was serious about Al Qaeda could have swept them up.

Von, you claimed to have voted for Kerry, and have taken offence at my earlier criticism of you, as a case of waging intra-Dem warfare

FYI, I'm not (and never have been) a democrat. I was a founding member of my campus Libertarian party, and I'm currently best described as a liberal Republican.

Why shouldn't I class you with Slartibartfast and Charles Bird?

I'd be honored to be so classed.

If Iraq slips into chaos, we and our children will suffer. You will suffer. And your wise words, smart remarks, and deep insights won't matter at all.

Most failed states find it very hard to mount an invasion. And they find it hard to build nukes also.

I think the posting rules should include some reference to two word or less posts. It's not that I mind short posts, I just want to be sure who's gettin' their jammies jerked.

Words are important, but action trumps words. The presidents actions rarely follow his words, excepting his stay the course words. If, of course, stay the course means nothing more than staying in Iraq.

Katrina and NO are ancient history. Lots of words, no follow thru. Uniter not divider - no follow thru. We will capture or kill OBL - not yet, and off the radar, apparently. I will fire anyone who was part of outing Plane - uhhhh, not so's you'd notice.

Bush is long on talk, short on deeds. Except going to war. He's good at going. Not so good at winning. Maybe if he could define it, he could go it. But he's not long on definitions, either.

Jake

Why the dire need to align your attacks with AQ?

Please find an argument that's not riddled with fallacy and stick with it. Is your argument that hilzoy is incorrect, or is it that she's correct and ought to keep quiet about it? If the former, please tell us why you think she's wrong. If the latter, then you really have no argument.

It's offensive even to the conservatives here. To this one, anyway.

I may be looking in all the wrong places on the interwebs, but I haven't actually seen any firm numbers as to who actually won the Iraqi elections. Do we know yet who will be ruling Iraq, or are they still counting?

Von:

I think that, among anti-Iraq war Dems, there is more play on the issue of whether to remove troops or not than you might think. But there is a deep reluctance to trust this Administration with anything. They haven't earned it. They need to sell a specific plan to trusted politicians. That doesn't include Lieberman. Increasingly, that doesn't include Clinton. Tell them to go knock on Feingold's door.

I liked what Laura Ingraham said on her radio show this morning: After defeating the Patriot Act in the Senate, Harry Reid was practically doing the Snoopy dance.

Dems and their progressive friends seem to do a lot of that nowadays, whenever our national security takes a hit.

"certain Democrats give the appearance of delighting in every purported setback (real or perceived)."

who, exactly? on what occasion, exactly? I hear this kind of thing all the time from war supporters, but I honestly don't know of a genuine example of the purported behavior. Is this supposed to refer to people like Kerry and Murtha? In that case it is laughably false. But then who are you talking about? Serious people, please, not some commenter on DU or something.

There is a huge difference between 'delighting' and grimly pointing out, again and again, that various reports of 'progress' are BS, or fantasy-based, or the nth repetition of a tired PR formula. Nobody is delighted about it.

The Sanity Inspector,

Seeing as how Harry can't get anything defeated without support from his colleagues across the aisle, I don't think the Patriot Act is universally viewed as necessary to national security, even by Republicans.

It certainly isn't viewed as necesary by me.

Jake

In the midst of all this "big picture, We Must Win" talk, Von, for once - ONCE - I'd like you to say EXACTLY how we're GOING to win. Not just "more, more, more," but an explanation of where "more" is going to come from - that is, are you or aren't you calling for a draft - as well as an explanation of how "more" is going to help rather than just escalate the deterioration we've seen over the last three years.

To say that the onus is now on Democrats is laughable. Republicans control all three branches of Congress. A Republican president is commander-in-chief. He's offered no new solution to the mess we're in, and neither have you.

Do we know yet who will be ruling Iraq, or are they still counting?

It's supposed to take a couple of weeks.

When Lebanon slipped into chaos, I didn't suffer. When Somalia collapsed, I didn't suffer

US lack of response to Lebanon and Somalia convinced Bin Laden that the US could not effectively respond to a direct attack.

Why shouldn't I class you with Slartibartfast and Charles Bird?

von wants to be more like Jon Henke, I think.

The Sanity Inspector,

If you care so much for America, why is Bush still President?

You can't support an irresponsible leader, like Bush, then claim you care for America.

"If Iraq slips into chaos, we and our children will suffer. You will suffer."

Yes, hordes of Mohammedans bearing scimitars are poised to overrun our country and enslave us. OK, that's unfair, but I do get more than a whiff of that kind of fear-mongering from Bush & co.

Interesting how at least here, 'succeeding in Iraq' = 'not letting it slip into chaos,' since the danger of it slipping into chaos is due entirely to our actions in the first place. 'Success' = somehow avoiding the natural consequences of our own incompetence.

So Von, when do you sign up for your tour of duty in Iraq?

NeoDude: You can't support an irresponsible leader, like Bush, then claim you care for America.

I know it is hard for you and me to understand why someone would think Bush is anything but reckless, but it is clear to me, and should be clear to you, that folks such as The Insanity Inspector do hold that view. Please bear this in mind before you make comments such as the one above.

I think von has a valid point about the ball being in our Democratic court. The party line from the Republican leadership is that they want to win and the Democrats want to lose. It doesn't matter if there is any truth in this or not. It's their narrative and they will say it over and over and over. The ball IS in the Democratic court to counter this narrative or we will be labelled losers.

The problem with discussing the Iraq war is it isn't as simple as "for it or agin it". A person could have opposed the original invasion but feel a sense of obligation to try to be construtive now. A person could have supported the original invasion and feel that we have no choice but to leave now given Bush's lies and incompetence. A person could conclude that we can't do anything positive there or that we can, within limits, still have a positive effect, and of course there are all kinds of definitions of positive effect. Bush has never honestly stated his goals so there really isn't any way to define winning or losing. Also, there is disagreement amongst well informed people about the effects of a gradual pullout. Some people think withdrawal could help bring stability, others the opposite. The whole debate is further confused by the discrepancy between what politicians say for domestic spin and what they really mean.
Anyway I don't think von falls in the catagory of people who just mindlessly chant "We must win!" out of nationalistic vanity.
I think a lot depends on the outcome of this election and I am anxiously awaiting the results.

Hal: So Von, when do you sign up for your tour of duty in Iraq?

This is uncalled for and counterproductive.

zzz: "You may not be pro-AQ, but...." in reference to Hilzoy.

Must you dance around this point? If Hilzoy is pro-AQ, let's get it in precise terms, so the U.S. Government can take her into custody. I mean, she might be casing the Brooklyn Bridge as we speak.

After all, you may not be whatever is I'm thinking you are right now, but you sure use the resources at hand to appear that way.

C'mon, say what's on your mind. Coy gets old.

The nice thing is, if Von is pro-torture and Hilzoy is pro-AQ, that puts me in the moderate middle. Who knew?

I suspect if Von were pro-torture, he would tell us. In fact, I think I'd be chained to his basement wall at this moment, yelling through my hood. But I'm not, so rest assured. Von is no more pro-torture than DaveC is racist, sadistic, and whatever else he reads or doesn't read in the papers about himself.

Von likes Bush but didn't vote for him last time. Von can't stand Kerry, but wouldn't torture him, and voted for him last time. This I can live with.

zzz, I'd like to point out that, over at Redstate and other places of the same ilk, you can get support for the President, the troops, and our country 24/7 and be banned for any deviation.

Oddly enough, I charge many of the denizens of the those sites with being pro-AQ as well, in a funny sort of way, given that Al Qaeda is the best thing that's ever happened to George W. Bush and the Republican Party's view of, well, everything. There is something very Gordon Liddyish about the entire Al Qaeda phenomenon. You know, that something so evil could be so good for a certain segment of the American population.

I do wish that, however, that someone would give a Dem or two some credit for George W. Bush's recent public relations condescension.

Lily: The thing is, having a viable plan, both likely to solve Iraq's problems and obtainable within the constraints of current American politics, wouldn't get the Democrats any respect or consideration from the Republicans. Truth doesn't matter to Bush, or to those who guide his campaigns and policy-making. Anything will get the treatment that Kerry got, that Cleland got, that Murtha got, that anyone and anything that might be inconvenient to them gets. They're willing to make alleged pederasts out of people who help orphans, after all.

If they ever wanted to get help from outside, then yes, there would be a big Democratic burden to provide it. But not until they are.

von, I keep rereading your post, and there is something I just don't get - what are the consequences to the US of "losing" in Iraq? These are your words:

'All in good fun, I suppose. But here's the rub: it's not just another talking point to say things like "we can't afford to fail in Iraq." It's the truth.'

I don't get the "It's the truth." part. I don't even get what our exposure is, but I surely don't get what you believe to be the truth. I think you need to explain that part. Or at least point to someplace where you expand your statement. An assertion of "truth" doesn't transmorgrify a belief, even a strongly held belief, into a fact.

Jake

"I may be looking in all the wrong places on the interwebs, but I haven't actually seen any firm numbers as to who actually won the Iraqi elections. Do we know yet who will be ruling Iraq, or are they still counting?"

Posted by: ThirdGorchBro

Please note that the winner of the elections won't necessarily be rulling all of Iraq; the Kurds have their section, the Shiite militias/parties have theirs, and the Sunnis are conducting a war.

They're willing to make alleged pederasts out of people who help orphans, after all.

What, looking into a UN scandal! is suddenly proof that Truth doesn't matter to Bush???

DaveC, we're talking about Karl Rove, and his history of political scumminess.

"I disagree, and not just because it sounds like a stupid idea."

Probably the dumbest sentence I'll read today. If you're going to question-beg - wait, sorry - when you question-beg, you might as well do it less obviously.


"The only question we have to answer is what to do now to give us the best chance of winning (or, at least, not losing) Iraq. Some say that pulling out will give us the best chance of victory."

Here the switch from "not losing" to "victory" is a slightly subtler beg and more successful rhertorically.


"We have to succeed in Iraq."

Unfortunately repeating the beg only makes it weaker. The reader has an extra chance to say to himself or herself, "Hey, isn't it actually correct to say we have to do as well as we can with the resources we have but not make things worse or throw good money after bad? Isn't good leadership more important than reaching an outcome acceptable to von? Is a face-saving result there more important than all other issues facing this nation put together?"

If Iraq slips into chaos, we and our children will suffer. You will suffer. And your wise words, smart remarks, and deep insights won't matter at all.

Funny how this applies to your post and Pres. Bush's remarks in spades -- since neither you nor Bush has expressed anything rational on how to get out of this mess.

His "long awwaited" speech is full of nonsense and baloney. It is Bush's policies for the last three years that have pushed Iraq to the brink of chaos, and it is his refusal to do anything meaningful about it that is guaranteeing failure. What is also guaranteeing failure is the empty-headedness of Republicans who, like lemmings, simply follow his nonsense over the cliff. Trumpeting Bush's remarks is simply making yourself a cheerleader to nonsense. Blasting those who point out the illogic of Bush's posture is third grade stuff.

Von -- you have yet to engage realistically the substantive criticisms of Bush's posture and "strategy." (hint -- there isn't one).

Blubbering about how your critics seem to want failure is a repeat of the cheap rhetoric of Bush, who advocates fluff and empty platitudes, and then chides his critics who point out the obvious as allegedly being against "victory." Again, third grade stuff.

It seems you have joined those who prefer this rhetorical spin for domestic political advantage over any serious discussion in how to resolve the giant mess, which by the way, is the result of three years of vacuous political manipulation by Bush instead of serious analysis of these issues.

Why are you against victory, Von?

Bruce, I know the truth doesn't matter to the Republican leadership. I thought I said so. The Democrats still need to assert themselves so that they are not labeled as the losers. Spin is as important to Democrats as it is to
Republicans.

And, of course, spin is different than policy. I don't know what our policy should be and it doesn't matter to me that the Democrats don't have a unified policy. I do think Demcrats should be unified in condemning the initial invasion and Bush's conduct of the war. I also think Democrats should be unified in seeking a result that is satisfactory to most Iraqis, if we are still able to influence events there. I realize how vague that is. I like the legislative initiative put forth by some Democrats and Republicans which asks the Iraqis to set a time line for our withdrawal.

This point needs elaboration.

Let's imagine, for a moment, that some Democrat came up with what is in objective terms a brilliant, solid plan for achieving a peaceful, free and democratic Iraq. The rub here is that their plan departs dramatically from Bush's. It involves a phased withdrawal on no specific timetable, keyed rather to specific, well-defined milestones of accomplishment--but makes it clear to the Iraqi people that we /are/ leaving and that we are doing so when we're discharged the debt to them that we took on when we shattered their country and toppled their government. Moreover, it lays out concrete plans and preliminary budget numbers on the new allocation of resources, involves targeted spending cuts and repeals of tax cuts in order to pay for these, and does away with all no-bid contracts in Iraq in favor of employing, whenever possible, native Iraqi professionals who may not be as efficient as large multinationals, but have the benefit of pouring hard-earned capital into the Iraqi economy and providing work and pride for its people.

It's not like these are new ideas; if you look hard enough you can find every single one of the things I've mentioned above laid out in detail by one liberal or another on the web. You can find each of these elements in the Iraq position papers of various Democratic politicians. So let's imagine that some Democratic Congressman, or the 2008 Dem presidential nominee, came up with something like this. What do you suppose will happen?

The Republican slime machine will swing into action. Because these positions differ from Bush's stay-the-course-to-victory pablum, and in fact are in direct opposition to many of the stances his administration has wedded themselves to, they will be attacked. For proposing a phased withdrawal and publicly defined milestones, they'll be attacked as cut-and-run Defeatocrats. For cutting out Halliburton and other such MNCs in favor of local Iraqis, they'll be attacked as parroting the anti-Halliburton, MoveOn.org/Michael Moore lines, and not willing to give the Iraqi people the best service they can have for the sake of ideology. The spending cuts would undoubtedly be in areas the Republicans would not want (many of our spending priorities are simply different), and repealing the tax cuts would instantly demand that the Pavlovian response of railing against "tax hikes".

So no, Von--no, thank you. You want the Democrats to come up with a viable plan for victory in Iraq? Help elect Democrats to Congress and the White House. Because until the GOP chokehold on our government has been broken, even the most brilliant Democratic plan for Iraq will be used by the GOP as fodder for electoral maneuvering simply because it came from the mouth of a Democrat.

This is hilarious, there is a long front page post up on redstate right now purporting to defend the President that starts out with accusing leftists of not reading the constitution and then notes that, if you actually read the constitution, you will apparently find:

it's important to understand that the Constitution explicitly states (Article 1, section 9) that the President has the right, in cases of "Rebellion or Ivasion" or "when the public safety may require it" to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus. In other words, the President is Constitutionally authorized, under certain circumstances, to allow the federal Government to throw you in jail without even explaining to you why you are there.

I'd correct him but I'm not allowed to post there anymore.

And I'm sorry, that last comment was off-topic.

Lily: What I mean is, the Democrats will be labeled as losers by the Republicans whatever they do, and the press's "X vs. Y" format will get that label out without meaningful challenge. There's outreach to Republicans willing to admit that Bush has made ghastly, fundamental errors that greatly diminish the chances of getting to his declared goals, as well as gravely damaging the division of labor intrinsic to the Constitution...but if they're not willing to say "yes, there's a big problem", then again, I'm not sure what my solutions can do.

It's hard to help people who don't want help.

DaveC:

Really, who can say I prosecuted the GWOT perfectly? So what if Bush has not.

Translation. So what if Bush has prosecuted the GWOT like a complete moron.

Just another lowering of the bar moment -- it reminds me of the old Monty Python skit about "upper class twit of the year," in which the twits have to leap over a line of matchboxes. If Bush can do that, I guess he's OK and should win the twit of the year award and declare victory in the GWOT. Who are we to disagree?

Hilzoy: I responded in kind to von's own profanity in his update I. You can cite all the rules you like, but when a post's author himself defiles the discourse, it rings utterly hollow. Catchall strawman ascriptions like his deserve nothing less than the measured "fuck you" he received from me.

More to the point, Laura Warandpiece's interlocutor is correct. In a universe in which Iraqi reconstruction really was a flower-and-sweet-strewn cakewalk, not a soul would have paid attention to Russ "the only vote against the PATRIOT Act" Feingold when the latest police-state monstrosity came down from the executive. For 300 million Americans, 1936 would rapidly be approaching. What's more important to you -- the freedom of your three hundred million fellow citizens, or the mealymouthed necessity of "victory"?

I'll take liberty, please. You can keep the circumscribed discourse of the Soviet apparatchik all to yourself.

wcw: somehow, I don't see the choice between liberty and respecting the posting rules as one I have to make. I can, and did, respond to von's first update without violating them. Since you feel it's forced on you, and strike another blow for liberty in your latest comment, I'm responding in my typical mealy-mouthed apparatchik-like way.

Well yes, you are right, we will be labeled as losers no matter what. In fact I think the increase in "Democrats are losers" talk is an inadvertant admission that the Republicans are expecting to lose and they want to blame us.

"upper class twit of the year,"

Enough of them to go around on both, on all sides.

I try to keep this in mind:

History, as we know, is always bias, because human beings have to be studied by other human beings, not by independent observers of another species.

Link

without reading the comments...pressed for time, unfortunately, but compelled to respond to Von.

I was working while the president spoke, but stopped cold when he addressed those of us who opposed the war. I appreciated that he did so without questioning my patriotism, something many of his supporters should do more often.

I also appreciated his more humble tone and his (finally) taking responsibility for his mistakes.

I don't think it was quite enough yet...we have to see this tone and stance continue throughout the coming months...but overall I would hope this is a much needed first step in uniting Dems and Repubs in the effort to restore peace to Iraq and work toward an eventual, sensible withdrawal.

"Victory" is totally irrelevant to me at this point. It's a hollow, ludicrous spiking of the football in the endzone when there are multiple penalty flags back on the field. If there's one thing I think the president should still do it's tone down the "victory" talk.

In the realworld sense, it's ludicrous to imagine the US would feel compelled to celebrate a military "victory" over a third world country. In a unifying sense, declarations of "victory" often tend to make those who supported the war feel they were justified all along, erasing a good deal of their memories about why it was such a fiasco along the way and teaching us nothing.

The President I saw last night might have been more of the same choreographed theatrics I've been taught to expect, but he looked perhaps like a much wiser man than the one who ordered the invasion.

I hope so...but I'm a long way from taking that on faith.

As far as Democrats fighting the "loser" label....Democracy Arsenal has a post on this subject that is worth reading. Also DailyKos has been tracking the races of nine "fighting Democrats", Iraq vets running on our ticket. I used to tithe monthly to animal causes but since Oct. my tithing has been going to various Fighting Dems.

But here's the rub: it's not just another talking point to say things like "we can't afford to fail in Iraq." It's the truth. It remains the truth regardless of whether the decision to go to war in Iraq was stupid, smart, or somewhere in between. If Iraq slips into chaos, we and our children will suffer. You will suffer. And your wise words, smart remarks, and deep insights won't matter at all.

Apologies in advance for (1) piling on; and (2) playing my old familiar song. But this is almost exactly what was said about Vietnam, and it was flat wrong.

We can debate - and I'd be happy to, if anyone wants to play that game - whether we could ever have "won" in Vietnam (my position: no), or whether the world would have been better or worse if we had got out sooner or "stayed the course." But the fact is that we did get out, the "worst case" scenario followed (as far as official US policy was concerned), and the US survived, with no large-scale "suffering" arising from the loss. For that matter, Vietnam survived, and has now joined ASEAN and is encouraging tourism and foreign investment. Not the most wonderful country - though worth a visit, IMHO - but not an absolute hell on earth, or a successful center of subversion of the entire region, either.

So why - other than the evident sincerity of von's assertion - that "losing" Iraq would be any more devastating to us? So devastating that it requires us to continue fighting indefinitely, presumably pouring even more resources (including personnel) into it if needed? So devastating that any opposition to such continuation can be condemned as treasonous?

von: vis a vis your updates, I'd like to pose a simple question that, AFAIK, has not yet been asked of you:

For what reason or reasons do you believe that the path to victory in Iraq does not begin with the impeachment of President Bush?

Please confine your responses to known policy positions of the Bush Administration or reasonable extrapolations thereof, as well as realistic scenarios in Iraq and elsewhere. And be as explicit as you can.

This isn't a trick question, btw, nor am I claiming by its posing that victory has as its prerequisite the impeachment of the President. [I don't think we can "win" in Iraq irrespective of who's President, as I've mentioned previously.] I'm just trying to ascertain what exactly you think victory is going to entail and, concretely, why you think the President is going to succeed in enacting this.

Edward: "In a unifying sense, declarations of "victory" often tend to make those who supported the war feel they were justified all along, erasing a good deal of their memories about why it was such a fiasco along the way and teaching us nothing."

This is one of my biggest fears. I truly hope that out of all this mess there emerges a unified , democratic Iraq. The Iraqi people deserve a good outcome after what we have done to them.

Yet, I fear that it will be seen as justifying our initial invasion and occupation and all the wrong-headed things we did during the process.

However, it would not do any of those things.

Our incursion would still have been wrong, period. Legally, morally and national security wise, it was wrong. But I very much fear all that would be forgotten.

It does not, von's statement aside, make me derive any joy at any set-back. If anything, it makes me even more sad when such setbacks happen, knowing they could have and should have been avoided either by our not being there in the first place, or at the least, being there in a competent way.

Last night, Bush stated that the process is more difficult than expected. I am assuming that he is referring to about 5 or 6 people, including himself. Most of the world, including the State Department, the CIA, the other countries in the Middle East, Europe etc, knew it was not going to be a cake-walk. Yet that is the only thing they planned for.

I think the phrase is "criminal negligence."

We can debate - and I'd be happy to, if anyone wants to play that game - whether we could ever have "won" in Vietnam (my position: no)...

Clio was wearing a mini-skirt today, huh?

Lily: Gotcha...and looking back after a couple more exchanges, I see that I agreed after all. Thanks for being willing to keep at it, and graciously. Very much appreciated.

I was so going to misquote von as "We have to succeed in Vietnam" above, but why argue about something we disagree on using an analogy to different event we disagree on?

Final pile-on question, since von points out his opposition to torture - what if we have to torture to succeed in Iraq? Or support torturers?

"Why shouldn't I class you with Slartibartfast and Charles Bird?"

As what, may I ask? Human? Male? Rebel scum?

Magically delicious.

I may be looking in all the wrong places on the interwebs, but I haven't actually seen any firm numbers as to who actually won the Iraqi elections. Do we know yet who will be ruling Iraq, or are they still counting?

This is from the Grauniad but even modulo that, this doesn't bode well: "Suspected polling violations on voting day last week far exceeded the number in Iraq's first election in January, local and international monitors said yesterday...."

A few commentators ask why I think that losing in Iraq will unquestionably be a net bad for the US. Here's why:

1. An unstable Iraq will be (and already is) a harbor and breeding ground for terrorists. Think Afghanistan, but on a much larger scale.

2. An unstable Iraq may destabalize friendly regimes (such as in Jordan) and putative allies (Saudi Arabia), and create a power vacuum for Iran to fill.

3. A loss in Iraq provides AQ a strategic victory, emboldens our enemies, and sends the wrong message to our partners in the region.

4. A loss in Iraq increase the risk to Israel, making a confrontation between Israel and its neighbors more likely. Given that Israel is already nuclear-armed, and Iran may soon be as well, this would carry dire risks for the region.

5. A loss in Iraq would cause immense human suffering, largely bourne by ordinary Iraqis.

hilzoy: the difference between the US and the old USSR is that the law in the US, while written by and for capital, is and has been very evenhandedly enforced. The old Soviet laws, whose elegance and idealism practically sparkled, were an ugly joke due to their systematically capricious enforcement.

Not only haven't you banned von for his profaning the discourse, on this comments thread alone I note at least one commenter's use of that deadly threat to reason, the f-word, without his being banned.

I can only conclude that you think the word "apparatchik" is a profanity. Please ban yourself from posting.

Oh, wait, sorry -- don't. I prefer that prove true my critique of your systematically capricious enforcement of elegant and idealistic rules.

Schmuck.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad