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March 16, 2007

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I am deeply pessimistic about that. Given the high number of stab-in-the-back editorial cartoons in reputable media outlets and the constant verbal hum accompanying it, I doubt a positive net effect. I fear it will again be "The American people don't like war but they even less like admitting defeat*".

*or supporting those they are told have brought on that defeat by defaitism etc.

So long as human beings exist there shall be war. Even the lowest forms of life practice it. War is in the genetics of life. There are many things humans find distasteful that are the result of millions of years of (gasp!) evolution. These feelings and compulsions exist for very good reason and shall not be overcome for any successful results. War is how the creatures of earth deal with territorial fight in a competative world. It shall not pass away. Learn to win.

Pablum and cliches are not a substitute for cogent argument, Blane.

Yes, Congress can stop the war. And you yourself say how:

"...the only way to end the war is to force the people who support it out of office, or to scare the bejesus out of them."

What I disagree vehemently with you on is that the result of this tactic won't be seen until the next election. One year and eight months is a LONG time, even for this long war, and Democrats have only begun the process of boxing Republicans into a corner on the war. It seems incredible to me that Democrats in October of 2008 are really going to be making arguments based on votes in early 2007, as if that's the last the Senate will have to say on the war. And besides, things are going considerably faster in the House. That means that it's only a matter of those vulnerable Senate Republicans deciding they want to save their asses for some real action to get done in Iraq.

Publius, I'm afraid that you're just being entirely too pessimistic here. Unless you believe that there is some chance that the surge could succeed, I'm not sure why you think it'll be January of 2009 before the war can be ended. It won't succeed, and in six months (that's September of this year, not November of next) Republicans will have nowhere left to turn.

I don't believe Congress can end the war now, or even this year. But they most certainly can end it next year, and before the mid-terms. But as we've seen, they need our encouragement on that.

Gee Blane, I guess we should just give up on this whole 'society' thing, then.

Just a quick post in agreement with Xanthippas. Or if I may put it into the shorter version.
In order to save the lives of our soldiers, me must make the incumbent Republican Congressmen fear for their political lives.

I'm skeptical that this will lead anywhere very much worth going. I was wrong about the outcome of the 2006 election and would be happy to be wrong again, but this looks to me like wheel-spinning.

I can't speak for publius, but I believe that (a) the "surge" has very little chance of succeeding, and (b) the fact that six months from now it won't have succeeded will not force the Bush administration to end the war.

There are just too many rhetorical moves the Bush crowd will be able to use in September '07 to justify trying one more thing, and waiting another six months, before admitting failure. They will say it's too early to say whether the "surge" is working, since by then the military will only have been at full strength for a little while. They will say that we should try plan B (ignoring the fact that we have already tried plans B, C, D, E, and F through M).

I'm afraid I don't see much prospect for ending the war while Bush and his gang are still in power.

I'd like Xanthippas to be correct, but I'm afraid I'm with Bruce and Matt in thinking there's no reason to believe that the administration has run out of corners to turn or that Republicans in Congress have exhausted their capacity for mouthing criticisms of the administration without ever following through on them legislatively. Bush is really, really committed to leaving Iraq as a problem for the next president to deal with.

I'm less impressed, as my analysis is not made primarily from the p.o.v. of what's most beneficial for the Democratic Party's prospects.

Harry Reid announced/introduced his binding resolution about a week ago, to highlight Democrats' legislative initiatives for withdrawal while the House caucus worked on the funding bill. Then, late Tuesday night, he reached a deal with McConnell in which a) the resolution would require 60 votes for passage (a Republican condition for having a vote) and b) it would be considered alongside a Republican resolution disavowing defunding as a method of forcing withdrawal.

The vote-to-vote, a vote for cloture, took place late Wednesday morning, 89-9 (the result of McConnell's deal). This came as a surprise to most antiwar organizations and many Democratic Senate staffers. When asked at midday Wednesday, they assured me that the debate would last for several days, and that a vote before next week would be unlikely.

Instead, a further deal was clearly struck, because the final vote came only a bit more than 24 hours after debate began.

There was no time for antiwar lobbyers to generate pressure on potential swing Senators. It's clear to me that such an outcome was actually undesirable for Reid and company.

This coming weekend is the fourth anniversary of the invasion. There will be demonstrations in Washington, more than a thousand vigils and demos around the country, hundreds of events at Congressional offices on Monday, and a lot of press attention to the issue generally, including editorials.

If the Dem leadership had any serious desire to get as close to the required 60 votes as possible, rather than a vote that most clearly distinguished Dems from Republicans, they would have scheduled the vote for the days following the 4th anniversary, and they would have enlisted the help of organizations mobilizing pressure on potential swing Senators.

To those who agree with Publius' analysis: doesn't HRC's "some troops in Iraq forever" position muddy the supposedly clean message, particularly given the timing of her statement?

Nell: Nice analysis. HRC and timing – Yeah, I think she is getting a little frazzled and maybe even desperate. She thought this was going to be a cakewalk and now Obama has rattled her. She has to stand out somehow.

I hereby declare war on "Blane Burns." I suggest he take steps to defend himself, as I intend to practice Total War.

What kind of a victory will this be? Are the Democrats helping us win in Iraq - do they believe that by preventing the surge our troops will be better rested and equipped, leading the United States to victory? It may be they are helping the United States by forcing an earlier withdrawal - though this would not be as great a victory as finding a way to get something out of Bush's war despite him. Nobody should expect political hay from this victory - there's no evidence Iraq will get better after we leave.

To those who agree with Publius' analysis: doesn't HRC's "some troops in Iraq forever" position muddy the supposedly clean message, particularly given the timing of her statement?

It does, and it is a classic triangulation move as has been so much of her Iraq posturing. Which is why so many are tepid in supporting her (or hostile to her) -- what the hell does she believe in anyway?

what the hell does she believe in anyway?

I am loving that, from across the aisle. Seriously, that gives you integrity in my book. (I know, that and $1.35 will get you a cup of decent coffee…)

Certainly Sen. Clinton's stance has taken her irrevocably off my list of candidates I might support in the primaries. If she were to win the nomination, I would still support her in the general election, but...not gladly, just in the spirit that it's necessary to get the Republican machine as out of office as possible, even at the price of letting too many of their Democratic allies and wannabes stay in.

Honestly, I'm getting kind of creeped out. The will of the country at large is quite clear, and only gaining in strength. Why exactly are so damn few Congresspeople willing to do what large majorities are asking for? (I know, I know. I'm just saying that when you step back even a bit from the minutiae, the picture is unusually screwed up.)

So long as human beings exist there shall be war. Even the lowest forms of life practice it. War is in the genetics of life... It shall not pass away. Learn to win.

Indeed, Mr. Burns. Further, there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other. Broad and general as is this assertion, it is fully borne out by history. This is not the proper occasion, but, if it were, it would not be difficult to trace the various devices by which the wealth of all civilized communities has been so unequally divided, and to show by what means so small a share has been allotted to those by whose labor it was produced, and so large a share given to the non-producing classes. The devices are almost innumerable, from the brute force and gross superstition of ancient times, to the subtle and artful fiscal contrivances of modern. I might well challenge a comparison between them and the more direct, simple, and patriarchal mode by which the labor of the African race is, among us, commanded by the European. Learn to be the winning race.

Honestly, I'm getting kind of creeped out. The will of the country at large is quite clear, and only gaining in strength. Why exactly are so damn few Congresspeople willing to do what large majorities are asking for?

Two obvious reasons come to mind. First (and less important), the will of the mob is fickle. Do what they want now and they're likely to blame you when they see the result.

Second, the FBI has traditionally worked hard at getting blackmail material on legislators. No reason to think it's different now. It would probably be fun to look at the various scandals and guess what each legislator was about to do that the administration didn't like, but I don't have the time. Offensive email to male pages. Every other legislator who has something to hide may have re-learned from that example -- don't stand out in any way about bucking the trends. They won't get you for going along with what will happen anyway, but they'll make another example of you if you get toward the front half of the crowd.

Blane, when Catsy says "Pablum and cliches are not a substitute for cogent argument, Blane." She's merely pointing out that your thoughts and opinions are pablum and cliches, hers are cogent thoughts. And you'd think that Charles, the token 'conservative' would support you in some small way, just remember his pact with the devil that allows him the privilege of being a poster here.

And look at this little ping pong: "...the only way to end the war is to force the people who support it out of office, or to scare the bejesus out of them." and "In order to save the lives of our soldiers, (w)e must make the incumbent Republican Congressmen fear for their political lives."

Isn't that just what you want from your Congressman?

"Why exactly are so damn few Congresspeople willing to do what large majorities are asking for?"

Because they fear for their political lives?

And back to publius' pablum: this endless war will not end if we cut and run. This endless war will/has engulf(ed) us whether we stand and fight or run away. This war has been smoldering for 30 years, and will continue on for another 30 - in Iraqi markets and your local neighborhood Wal-Mart. So call a loss a win, and black white, and day night. It's here, deal with it.

You know, I've been to my local Wal-Mart, like, six times since I moved into my house two weeks ago, and I'm pretty sure I would've noticed if there was a war occurring there.

It seems to me that the democrats should avoid taking the bait by trying "to end the war" Whoever "ends" this war will be blamed for what follows. The democrats should bang two drums: 1, the need for the for the country to understand how we allowed ourselves to get into this (failure to understand history, ethnicity, culture, our own as well as the rest of the world, etc.) and 2, what a stable Iraq will look like, eg, Biden's position of a confederation of 3 major ethnic interest groups with a "national" framework for international issues etc. Our own beginings sought to balance local and national interests with the "articles of confederation" which demonstrates the necessity, sometimes for a temporal compromise to allow room for eventual change as trust grows. Meanwhile, with the Democrats focused on getting us to understand the past and to prepare for the future the current administration is required and responsible to deal with the present and bring this war to an acceptable end, or admit that they cannot do it. sss

@stan smith: Tell it to the Marines. That is, the ones who'd like to get the hell out of Anbar province and not be sent back.

I've got to go with Nell's initial post. Giving up the power to de-fund is essentially saying that you value your party winning more than you value trying to end the war sooner. No money, no war (e.g. Vietnam). Not Democratic control of gov't, no war.
Which doesn't mean that I'm fully pessimistic; I do think that we'd get out of Iraq with more Democratic victories in '08, I'd just like to see us not kill another two or three hundred thousand Iraqis in the meantime (and, of course, American soldiers, but the numbers are really catastrophic on Iraq's side).

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