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January 11, 2007


Great post.

I might say that the Democrats have had the facts on their side before, and this hasn't helped, but still... great post.

At this point I'd say that, as big a disaster as the Iraq war has turned out to be, the Democratic Congressional leadership has something even more important to worry about than ending the Iraq war: preventing Bush from starting a new war against Iran.

You think Bush couldn't possibly do something as obviously insane as starting a war against Iran when the US is already struggling with wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia? (Insert obligatory B5 quote here.) You might like to think so. But you'd better ask yourself: how sure are you that Bush will refrain from doing something just because it's obviously insane? What do you think is going to stop him?

Excellent poswt and Jes is cotrrect.

However, one other thing Bush has not said is that he plans on our ever leaving.

Just to repeat what Matt A. said: We're going to war with Iran, and the Democrats still flailing around looking for a response to Iraq isn't going to help.

If and when we're at war with Iran, fine. But we're not at the moment, so I'd prefer to deal with what is happening, not what people think may happen.

I printed out two copies of your post: one for Patty Murray and one for Maria Cantwell. Great minds think alike: some Democrat in Congress is floating the idea of tying Iraq funding to the meeting of benchmarks. I can't remember which one and I can't remember where I read it. I've read a zillion blogs today, so there's no telling. Anyway, very sensible advice.

Acting on this now will help in regard to whatever Bush's planns are about iran. If the Dems act on this, Bush will know that htye will act on Iran. Also if the Dems buck this, it will establich a precedent inn the right direction and give them momentum in toward buckinng him on Iran, too.

The President's plan includes no metrics to measure success, no end state that tells us what we want to see as a result of this surge, and no alternatives if it fails

Oh, there's an alternative when it fails, all right.

I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people.

Most people have taken this to mean that if Maliki drops the ball, we will leave after all - which, of course, is not consistent with Bush's vow to stay no matter what.

What he really means is that if Maliki drops the ball, we'll find someone else to run the government who will get the job done. We've changed the regime once, we can do it again. For students of history, I call it the "1965 Strategy."

Excellent post.

I don't think the budget mechanism works as efficiently as you think. Realize that you are going to create a crisis similar to the budget crisis under Clinton. Congress passes budgets limiting Iraq, and Bush vetoes them. Will Republicans vote to override? Who will blink first as the overall war effort is starved for funds?

There is a lot being written about this, and I have yet to see a clean explanation on how it works.

Setting this number would be done best by holding hearings (real ones, not made-for-TV ones) at which the Democrats ask a number of military experts for help developing a reasonable timeline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.

The only experts who could testify would have to be retired officers -- can any serving officer take the stand and testify to a strategy contrary to that being undertaken by his commander?

I also imagine that this will result in a considerable politicization of the military. Will military officers that support Bush testify to opposite opinions?

Unfortunately, the whole processs is going to be messy and ugly. But the suggestions in this post are great.

I second dmbeaster's comments. This will get way worse first before it gets better (and who said it was going to get better).

And just because Democrats have the majority, doesn't mean they can hold their own caucus together on such an unusual step as Andrew suggested, much less gather necessary Republican votes to override a veto. And even then, when the Decider uses his supposedly unlimited wartime powers to counteract the limits imposed by Congress, can we find 5 Supreme Court Justices to say he can't?

And, I might add, by the time the Supreme Court decides the issue, January 20, 2009 will have certainly come and gone.

In a couple of months we'll know whether the plan is working, according to General Pace and Secretary Gates. Why not wait until then? Currently 7,000 troops are on the way to Bahgdad. The rest won't be coming until months down the line, if it's decided they're needed. I say we wait and see the results. The Iraqi government says they're serious about cracking down on going into shi'ite neighborhoods and cracking down on those shi'ite criminals and militia. Supposedly they came up with parts of the plan. Let's see if it works. And if not, then put pressure.

Although I don't think the Democrats could propose any legislation that could prevent those 7,000 troops going to Baghdad right now. So in a way it's a bit irrelevant if we waited or not.

That includes money for maintenance, for new vehicles like the Cougar and the M1117, other new equipment that would be of use in a future Iraq-style operation, money for medical care (physical and mental), and funds to train the force on its new equipment and doctrine.

As an amusing sidenote, I think the day that I truly convinced my (RL) conservative friends that I was "serious about the military" was when I suggested slashing the budgets for sexy new military systems -- including missile defense, sorry Slarti -- and farming that money into low-key, arguably low-tech, non-sexy systems like next-generation machine guns, body armor, APCs and the like, as well as better training/retraining facilities for fourth-generation warfare. Helped that most of my conservative friends had friends in the infantry, too.

"next-generation machine guns"? Got something in mind, here? Body armor...well, I'd suggest that we need to make it a lot lighter, and consider cooling as well. Pretty soon we'll be in Forever War world, either way.

I'm not really all that averse to cutting missile defense funding, Anarch, I just happen to know a bit more about the subject than the average bear, and because of the rarity of that knowing-more feeling, I like to bask in it when it comes up.

Fleet defense I'd ixnay on the undingcutsfay, because I think it's a mistake to have a fleet and not defend it, and I'd be less than eager to cut funding for theater defense. On the other hand, I'm a little leery of emplacing Patriot batteries all over the world just because we can. Which is all just to say: I'm not averse to discussing reductions in MDA funding.

What I do now, I think is worthwhile, and I'm probably less apt to want to discuss what's good and what's not good. Basically I work on targeting systems that let you see and target things a long way away. Think of it as a sniper scope for a strike aircraft.

Outstanding post Andrew.

I wish I was more optimistic about the chances that the Democratic Congress can do anything to force Bush to do anything he doesn't want to do. Certainly nothing without a Supreme Court showdown, but I wonder even then if Bush wouldn't find a way to weasel out of complying.

Andrew: this is, as everyone has said, a great post. You've probably seen the latest in the Democrats' plans, but if not:


"Rather than try to restrict funds for the troops (which he sees as a political blunder that would delight Republicans), Emanuel instead favors a proposal by Rep. John Murtha to set strict standards for readiness -- which would make it hard to finance the troop surge in Iraq without beefing up the military as a whole. The idea is to position the Democrats as friends of the military, even as they denounce Bush's Iraq policy."


"When he receives the Bush Administration's $100 billion supplemental spending request for Iraq on February 5, Murtha says "they'll have to justify every cent they want." He'll insist that no money be allocated for an escalation unless the military can meet normal readiness levels. "We should not spend money to send people overseas unless they replenish the strategic reserve," Murtha says. He expects to have one hundred and twenty days to act before the Administration deploys the second phase of additional troops to Iraq. "If he wants to veto the bill," Murtha says of Bush, "he won't have any money."

Asked whether Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi supports his plans, Murtha responded: "Absolutely.""

Great post.

"demagogocracy" -- by far the best new neologism I've heard in months. Thanks.

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