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April 23, 2007

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I suspect he will be wrong on the second point.

So do I, but we have our math -- the math used to decide elections. Rove has THE math -- used to convince Republican dead-enders that he hasn't run their party into the ground.

There are people who understand that the suicide bombers in Iraq or Thailand or the Philippines or Israel are the same kind of persons that would kill a bunch of innocent people at Va Tech. And then there are other people who think that that is OK, because it is a blow against "rich kids", American values, our civic religion, etc, You cannot have it both ways. If you want to have Al Qaeda in Iraq take over, if you want to have the mullahs take over, like the Communists did in Vietnam, like Pol Pot did in Cambodia, then we will reap the whirlwind. Nancy Pelosi does not think that the fact that Syris keeps assasinating Lebanon's leaders is enough reason to stop diplomatic relations. The Democrats clearly want the United States to lose, witness Harry Reid's recent staements. Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry clearly wanted America to lose in Vietnam. Democrats simply hate America and our idea of freedom. They were against freeing Eastern Europe, they want Castro and Chavez to have dictatorial communist regimes in Central and South America.

It is what it is.

Why is that I can read sensible positions (like Krugmans) from Hilzoy and other blogs, but rarely do you here from the politicians. Why aren't they saturating the media. Surely they could learn a little something from the reprehensible republicans.

I assume the idea of a veto would be to force the Congress to back down and gain political capital by looking strong (which is slightly different than your second scenario). There's certainly a perception out there that said backing down would happen. Kos jumped on Obama the other day for (disputedly) playing into the RW spin on the issue. The advisory bit instead of something real is already nearly an admission of a bluff.

Dave C is frothing at the mouth again. While it's not an attack on specific named individuals who post here, or a violation of profanity rules, I think it's morally an obscene assault on a whole contingent of posters. Can anything be done to rein him in already?

>>Democrats simply hate America and our idea of freedom.

Yup: that's why we're the ones leading the fight to suspend habeas corpus, to give the president unchecked powers, to expand the cloak of secrecy around internal government actions, and to strip the rights of privacy from citizens. Man, we sure do hate freedom!

Jeez, DaveC, leave a little in the bottle for the rest of us.

DaveC, that flame fairly clearly belonged on TIO, and you have the posting keys. Why don't you post it there and people can respond to it there?

Moving on...

If Bush vetoes and the Democratic Representatives remain determined, doesn't a veto work out as a win for Congress? Because Bush cannot prevent them from producing a second funding bill (hopefully, one without the pork, and with a definite withdrawal date rather than an advisory one). And a third funding bill. And so on. Bush can keep vetoing, of course, but if Bush keeps vetoing funding for the troops (will these be his only vetos?) surely only Fox News could spin this as "The Democrats are denying funding for the troops".

But it does become clear that this is an elaborate game of "chicken": Bush is betting American military lives (and Iraqi lives, since the more planned and structured a withdrawal, the better it will be for Iraqis who need to leave Iraq before the US military withdraws) on Congress cracking first.


> The Democrats clearly want the United States to lose

Bullshit. Odious stinking bullshit.
I'd like to see SteveC say that to Murtha's face. Or Webb's.
Or mine (Democrat, US Army veteran.)

However, it makes no difference.

Victory in Iraq is now clearly unattainable, and the ratio of positive results to horrific bloodletting is dwindling to near zero.
No matter what the US does or does not do at this point, we cannot "win" in Iraq, whatever winning might mean or once have meant.

But the reality is worse than that.
Bush will hold on, "stay the course", justified I suppose by "thinking" like DaveC's, and the narrowly-Democratic Senate will let him.
But before Bush leaves office, the Iraqi resistance will drive the criminally over-extended and undermanned US armed forces out of Iraq, with loss of life and equipment that dwarfs anything we've experienced so far. Despite anything anyone in the US can do, short of an actual national mobilization and general military draft.

And then Bush will really have created the permanent legacy by which history will best remember him: the destruction of the US Army as an effective combat force.

If any historic precedent holds, it will be the Democrats blamed for "losing" Iraq. The stab-in-the-back propagandists are already at work full time and we will probably see the nasty results in a few years. It worked in Germany after 1918 and in the US after Vietnam. It will work again.

The "hostage" scenario analogy hits the nail perfectly imo.
I just hope (with not much base in reality) that Bush will lose this game and that he and his enablers/accomplices will pay dearly for the rest of their lives.
Let's do a belated revival of Nuremberg for this admin! (alas, vain hope dies last).

Bullshit. Odious stinking bullshit.
I'd like to see SteveC say that to Murtha's face. Or Webb's.

The possibility has been raised over at TIO that it's a driveby troll using DaveC's handle intending to derail the thread.

I have written repeatedly about Bush's peculiar insistence that Congress' enacting a bill that it likes is an act of political petulance, whereas his willingness to veto that bill because he doesn't like it is simply an unalterable fact of life; and also about his puzzling insistence that if Congress votes money for the troops and he vetoes the bill appropriating that money, it is Congress that is denying funding for the troops.

It's not all that peculiar -- this kind of projection, wherein everything that happens is the fault of somebody else despite one's own direct actions in causing it, is part and parcel of the 21st century GOP. It's what they do.

I got this far;"I have written repeatedly about Bush's peculiar insistence that Congress' enacting a bill that it likes is an act of political petulance, whereas his willingness to veto that bill because he doesn't like it is simply an unalterable fact of life; and also about his puzzling insistence that if Congress votes money for the troops and he vetoes the bill appropriating that money, it is Congress that is denying funding for the troops. That's just not true."

Its true if he makes it true.

Bush believes his own propaganda, that the Democrat(sic) party has no real beliefs. And so far it he has been right about that.

Even if Congress passed a bill with a hard date, he'd just laugh and break the law. Why shouldn't he? There are never any consequences for him. Personal responsibility is for lesser creatures.

If you want to have Al Qaeda in Iraq take over, if you want to have the mullahs take over, like the Communists did in Vietnam, like Pol Pot did in Cambodia, then we will reap the whirlwind.

Right, just like we did in Vietnam and Cambodia. Oh, how I toil under our ruthless Southeast Asian masters, and how I weep for all those American allies trodden beneath the Communist boot. If only we had not been so foolish as to leave after a mere decade of war.

Darn that crafty John Kerry, killing the enemy in order to help him win. What a ruthless tactic. A mere genius might be fooled by it. Fortunately, we have DaveC on our side! Evildoers Beware!

"Oh, how I toil under our ruthless Southeast Asian masters, and how I weep for all those American allies trodden beneath the Communist boot."

I guess you must not be in danger of having your job outsourced.

Frank is onto something. The same refusal to recognize that the executive branch answers to Congress is on display in the politicized Justice Dept. lollapalooza. David Swanson sums it up neatly:

On Tuesday, Gonzales refused to comply with a committee subpoena for documents related to the attorney firings. But do we need more documents to know that George W. Bush's Attorney General breaks the law and violates the Constitution, including by refusing to comply with subpoenas?

... Both judiciary committees have approved, but not yet dared issue subpoenas for Karl Rove, Miers, and other key White House players. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has already asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice four times to appear or be subpoenaed, but has not dared subpoena her. The fear is, no doubt, of delays and of a Supreme Court now made up, in part, by people [appointed by Bush].

... Who, appointed by George Bush and Dick Cheney, would obey and enforce the law? The answer is simple enough: Nobody.

Fortunately, our Constitution does provide a solution. It's called impeachment, and on Saturday, April 28, there will be an event near you demanding it.

That trumped-up trial by noise machine in the second Clinton term just keeps on paying dividends...

If that theater of garbage truly has put impeachment out of reach, then there had better be a lot more Congressional courage on display wrt subpoenas, and in the politics of these face-offs. Otherwise Bush runs out the clock, and it will all happen again. The machinery will stay in place. The same vampires will be back in power in less than a decade.

DNFTT.

>Oh, how I toil under our ruthless Southeast Asian masters, and how I weep for all those American allies trodden beneath the Communist boot."

I guess you must not be in danger of having your job outsourced.

Those dirty commies, now they're beating us at CAPITALISM, too! Aieeee!

I used to very strongly oppose impeachment of Bush because it would poison American politics for years afterwards. I'm starting to come around, though. Impeachment in this case would serve one important purpose. It would thoroughly discredit the fringe elements that have taken control of our governing apparatus and are attempting to make their policies ingrained in our society. There would be a huge backlash but keeping the recycled crazies out of government might be worth it.

Any impeachment proceedings will be painted as a coup d'etat (Pelosi's plot to become the first female president without even campaigning*) and I doubt that the process will/would be finished before the next elections. In a less fouled up reality Bush and accomplices would be behind bars or below ground already for years. The main reason to get rid of them by impeachemnt would be the prevention of pardons in my view.
And, let's face reality, even now there is no sufficient majority to oust Bush.
That does not mean doing nothing. It means to now prepare the case for 2009 to sent them into legal hell and inferno the moment they step down and to do it so thorougly that there will be no revival a decade from now**.

*That would be one of the main claims even if she vowed to not seek (re)election in 2008.
**And I demand that Cheney to be properly staked and exorcized, so he can't do another incarnation!!!!! ;-)

remove the 'that' from the last (**) sentence

Bush knows the Democrat's opposition to his having carte blanche in the war is actually his best tool for motivating the Iraqis to step up and move things along ("they're gonna make us withdraw unless you meet these benchmarks"), so all this bickering is simply theater. Bush needs the Democrats to oppose him in this way.

What irks me most about this are the Republicans asserting the Democrats are somehow less than patriotic through it all, but why would we expect them to do what's best for the nation when they can do what's best for their party?

Edward_: Bush knows the Democrat's opposition to his having carte blanche in the war is actually his best tool for motivating the Iraqis to step up and move things along

....I'm speechless.

"The Iraqis" are already motivated to "step up and move things along". As we see in the news every day.

Nell- You are too kind. But I think it is worse than you see. I predict that the Bushies are more likely to expect the Congress to answer to the Executive than vice versa.

I also think DaveC is misunderestimated here. He is preaching a sermon that the Republicans are predisposed to believe, and we should be glad it isn't all echo chamber in here.

"The Iraqis" are already motivated to "step up and move things along". As we see in the news every day.

I guess it depends on whether you feel leaving Iraq and seeing where the chips fall is the best plan. I never have, but that's me. I know we have to get out of the way sooner rather than later, but I'm convinced if we simply pull out, the chance for violence in Iraq to increase and spill out into neighboring countries is too great at the moment. Obviously, I'm no expert, but I can't sign on to abandoning Iraqi's to the militias or Al Qaeda without giving them a fighting chance. There's no easy way forward, I know, but washing our hands of the situation is unacceptable to me.

I do like the idea of pulling back, fighting only insurgents (leaving the civil war to rage on without our involvement to the extent possible), but still being there to help the Iraqi government if they say they need it. I very much suspect they will (if the bombing in the Parliament lunch room is any indication).

But there are benchmarks they've set for themselves designed to reconcile Sunni and Shiites that they are not meeting. We can't do that for them. Perhaps if we pull out they'll move more quickly to do so, but perhaps that will simply blow the civil war wide open, with Saudi and Iranian weapons pouring in. I find it irresponsible to take that chance.

Edward, I think you ned to consider that noone, or at least very few are calling for an immediate pullout. I get the feeling that that is what you are responding to. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I also don't see any way our departure would abandon Iraqi's to al Qaeda. If anything, our departure would probably hasten the end of al Qaeda in Iraq.

If we say we are going to pull out in 12 months, or 18 months, with a gradual lessening of number of troops there, then I think the Iraqi's may get their act together. I think both sides view the US as a form of protection which allows them to sit back and do nothing.

My primary concern is how we help those that want to leave get out of Iraq. Anyone who has worked for us in any capacity should be offered asylum for them and their families.

I just don't think the post-Iraq narrative is going to look anything like the post-Vietnam narrative. You no longer have a highly visible counterculture that you can credibly blame for the anti-war sentiment; opposition to the war in Iraq is broad-based and it's epitomized not by hippie protestors in the street, but by your friends and co-workers at the water cooler.

Most Americans are done with this war. They're not suddenly going to forget that a couple years from now and say "why did those hippies make us withdraw?" They know where they stand.

Oh, and I think Edward is right, although I'm basically going along with the elite consensus which says it's a good thing to signal to the Iraqis that we don't intent a permanent occupation. Everything we do to indicate that we might be packing up soon provides a signal that the reconciliation process needs to pick up the pace.

Er, I meant to say that I agreed with Edward's claim that the Iraqis could use a little more motivation towards reconciliation. I don't really have a position on his call for a limited pullback, because it's sort of a "pony" plan that is not on the table. The only two choices are Bush's plan, or cutting off funding and ending the war; tragically, we don't get to simply assume that we have a better President and continue to pursue the war in a smarter way. Except in our private fantasy worlds, the only alternative to withdrawal is going along with whatever Bush wants to do.

My primary concern is how we help those that want to leave get out of Iraq. Anyone who has worked for us in any capacity should be offered asylum for them and their families.

I second that. Unfortunately, history suggests that most will be spurned by the erstwhile occupying power, and left to a grim fate.

Edward,
I don't see how we stay out of the civil war, but still fight 'insurgents' and support 'the Iraqi government'. If we have a civil war on our hands, then each of those groups will be affiliated with one faction or another (or several factions, since 'insurgents' takes in disparate groups). Fighting would be taking part in the civil war, regardless of how we label it.
Or, are you saying that we fight up to the point of civil war, but after that we walk away? Im not clear on your position.

I'm basically going along with the elite consensus which says it's a good thing to signal to the Iraqis that we don't intent a permanent occupation. Everything we do to indicate that we might be packing up soon provides a signal that the reconciliation process needs to pick up the pace.

It pains me to appear to agree with this administration on any point, but I do happen to think that disastrous results will ensue once an exit date is announced. It seems much more likely to me that, with the end of the occupancy in sight, the factional war will intensify rather than abate. I feel like examples from the decolonization in Africa, especially in the former Portuguese empire, are a much more appropriate point of reference than, say, Vietnam.

On the other hand, since that outcome may well be inevitable, it could be argued that we would be better off pulling out the arrow now rather than letting the wound fester.

It's because they understood that there wouldn't be any promising options that most specialists vigourously opposed the war back in 2002.


Yes, Mr. Byrningman, the policy choice we now face is one of choosing a disaster now or choosing it later. Two factors support the latter choice:

1. The desperate hope that, "if we just keep hanging on, something good will save our necks." This did work for Frederick the Great in 1756 (1757? 58?). But you simply cannot base policy on desperate hopes; you have to base it on the most likely outcomes.

2. Passing the buck to the next Administration. "If we can just hold things together for long enough to hand it off to the Democrats, then the blood will be on their hands." It's nonsense, but when people are desperately trying to justify something dictated by pride rather than reason, they tend toward such nonsense.

OT - oh goody, Publius' 4/18 post just got linked by Bizarro World (whose front page now has a poor photoshop of Harry Reid's face over Bin Laden's, lovely).

The problem all along with the widespread assertion that GWB is a moron has been that it undercuts the ability to determine any rational cause for his decisions. So, other than faux-Texas stubbornness, what's GWB got on the table?

Stalling out the troops as long as possible means the areas they control will become that much more hardened. As long as there are manifestations of American power in vital centers of Iraq (near holy sites, the seat of government, & of course oil facilities), American capital can work its will in many ways.

The Administration intends to draw down its military when, & ONLY when*, American energy companies have signed contracts that guarantee direct American access to Iraqi oil reserves.

There's no way this war can be ended now with a treaty...that's so Old Century. The CEO President figures he can settle for a rich deal for his friends on the Board(s) as long as (A) he isn't seen pocketing any cash and personally (B) there is NO OTHER viable definition of "American success".

Because I'm as distrust any opposition as much as I distrust The Administration, I'll speculate that members of Congress whose constituents use oil are already primed to accept (B).

*"when, & ONLY when" s/b "if, & ONLY if".

I repeat, the iraqi government can't credibly negotiate with the insurgents (or anybody, really) while the US government has a veto on any agreement they make.

While they lack control over US troops or iraqi troops in the trouble spots, how can they make promises?

Allawi announced an amnesty. We said he couldn't. He promised he'd stop US airstrikes on iraqi cities. We made him back down. Iraqis know that their government has no power over us, and so has no power over anybody else either.

The latest is the current prime minister has said no walls to split up baghdad. The US military has announced it will "reconsider".

The iraqis have no chance to reach an agreement until we leave.

Unless, perhaps, we put the US military in iraq under iraqi control. If we announced that Petraeus will take his orders from the iraqi prime minister who can if necessary fire him and appoint a successor, then it might work.

I don't know what I think is best actually. I'm simply a stubborn ass who refuses to accept that walking away from the mess we made is the honorable or even American thing to do. We promised the Iraqi's we would provide a stable government of and by the people. I cannot advocate anything short of living up to that promise. It was the only ray of light I saw in this whole freakin' mess from the beginning, and I refuse to let the criminals who pulled this invasion off walk away without delivering something of real value to the Iraqis in return. They have to fix it dammit. I know there are those who think the longer we stay the more Iraqis will die, but I'm not sure that's the case. And walking away now...I don't know. It offends me on so many levels.

Yeah, on an emotional level, I agree withh you, Edward.

I don't think that "criminals that pulled this invasion off" can fix it.

I wishh that Congress annd thhe Democrats running for President wouud make an issue of aide for thhe refugees and rescue efforts for those that have to leave. I don't see why we couldn't be airlifting people out right now. Convoys of Iraqis cross thhe derst to Syria righht on chartered buses. I don't see why we couldn't be protecting the convoys. Well, I mean I can see why those actions would be opposed by thhe Repbuicans who are in denial of the seriouslnesses of thhe situation,, but I don't see why the Democrats couldn't push for it.

It was immoral to create this mess. I does feel really really bad to leave the mess. I am so ashamed of the behavior of thhis administration. I don't know how we can ever make up for it , but I wouuld feel a little better if we were at least committed to help those who nneed to escape to get out.

it was hubris on Bush's part to think we could make something good of it to start with. it might be hubris on our part to think we can fix what Bush has broken.

> They have to fix it dammit.

Edward, everyone wants that. Really.
And a pony.

It's just no longer _possible_.

Maybe some honorable outcome was once attainable, but all we're doing now is protracting the agony without any achievable goal -- really without any defined goal -- actually without any detectable goal other than staying in Iraq just to avoid the loss of face in pulling out.

We have all the troops we'll ever have.
They're probably doing as well as we can expect right now, and they can't even secure the Green Zone.

How is that honorable or even American outcome we all want to be obtained?

We promised the Iraqi's we would provide a stable government of and by the people.

OK, not in Iraq, but if you wanted, why not give every Iraqi that wanted it an American passport, a resettlement grant, and the fare to America?

This wouldn't be hugely expensive, at least not compared to fighting a war on the other side of the world.

And, compared to trying to stay in Iraq, it's eminently practicable.

America could go to the EU and say, in return for us eliminating farm subsidies, will you help by taking in refugees from Iraq? I suspect the Europeans would do it.

There are all sorts of things that could give some of the Iraqis that want it a functioning democracy. Maybe not in Iraq right now, but there are limits on the powers of the US. Maybe not all of them. But quite a few of them.

The US isn't doing any of them.

Edward_: I guess it depends on whether you feel leaving Iraq and seeing where the chips fall is the best plan.

It isn't a plan at all. It's just the only thing that the occupation can now do. Staying just means more Iraqis die.

There was something useful the occupation could have done in the first year or two, but none of it got done - Bush & Co weren't interested in doing any of it.

And for what it's worth, I'm so angry with Tony Blair/the Labour government for facilitating this that I will spoil my vote rather than vote Labour while the current crew are in power.

We promised the Iraqi's we would provide a stable government of and by the people. I cannot advocate anything short of living up to that promise. It was the only ray of light I saw in this whole freakin' mess from the beginning, and I refuse to let the criminals who pulled this invasion off walk away without delivering something of real value to the Iraqis in return.

Yes, I respect that. But the first time American soldiers killed Iraqis who were holding a peaceful demonstration for the end of the occupation and for free elections in Iraq, that should have been your clue that this was never going to happen. (Fallujah, April 28, 2003) We could go on hoping, and I did, too - for six months or so that the occupation would accomplish something, for a year and a half that Bush would get kicked out - but there isn't anything to hope for now from the US occupation, and hasn't been for over two years. It's just a question of when it will end.

America could go to the EU and say, in return for us eliminating farm subsidies, will you help by taking in refugees from Iraq? I suspect the Europeans would do it.

We allready have more per capita.

Edward_, I don't know if you read Cernig or Matt Yglesias, but Cernig wrote a post (Take Away The Arsonist's Matches) elaborating on a comment Yglesias made that sums it up: "Any real plan has to begin by locking up the arsonist. That can't be done, so the next best bet is taking the aronist's matches away from him - which is why congress should take the step of defunding the occupation."

Marbel: We allready have more per capita.

You have more per capita then we do, too, and the way we treat asylum seekers is shameful.

OK, not in Iraq, but if you wanted, why not give every Iraqi that wanted it an American passport, a resettlement grant, and the fare to America?

Wait till Rush hears about that one.

"They want to give *every single Al Qaeda member a US passport?!!*"

Practically the only reason war supporters have left for the occupation is to kill al qaeda members, and they prefer to kill them there than here.

I'm simply a stubborn ass who refuses to accept that walking away from the mess we made is the honorable or even American thing to do.

We could give the iraqi government $15 billion a month for 3 years or as long as they last.

Probably they could spend it for their country better than we do.

If they divided it evenly among their people that would be around $600 a month each, double the princely sum we pay to iraqi army recruits.

Think about it, we spend more in 2 months as the iraqi government budgets in a year. We spend more in 2 months than we originally estimated iraq needed for their complete reconstruction.

They would probably have more use for the money more than the occupation.

J Thomas- I think I saw a proof recently that we were spending over $1 million for each dead Iraqi.

I gather the total cost to the US taxpayer is half a trillion dollars, and we know from the Lancet report that around 800 000 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion. So it's probably more like $625K spent by the US for each dead Iraqi.

OK, not in Iraq, but if you wanted, why not give every Iraqi that wanted it an American passport, a resettlement grant, and the fare to America?

J Thomas beat me to it, but if you think that the people who supported this war -- and, more importantly, the dead-enders still supporting it -- are inclined to want a bunch of [bloody ungrateful Arabs/terrorists/terrorist sympathizers] settling in over here, you're crazy.

Phil: J Thomas beat me to it, but if you think that the people who supported this war -- and, more importantly, the dead-enders still supporting it -- are inclined to want a bunch of [bloody ungrateful Arabs/terrorists/terrorist sympathizers] settling in over here, you're crazy.

To partially refute that, I am very much in favor of immediately providing asylum to those Iraqis who helped our forces and who are now in danger because of that.

Jes: You have more per capita then we do, too, and the way we treat asylum seekers is shameful.

I ment we Europe ;)
Unfortunately the way the Netherlands treats asylumseekers is horrible too. Possibly more so than you guys, it really is embarrassing.

OCS, it's been a week now, but I'm not sure how long the anthrax screeing is taking these days. Shall we start calling?

CharleyCarp: I’ll try to work it in this morning or tomorrow morning at the latest.

And Germany is about to remove the official refugee status from Iraqis that have fled their country, so they will only be "tolerated". That means that they could be deported on a whim, aren't allowed to work, their children could go unschooled etc.
Hasn't been done yet but the right is putting pressure on the left in the coalition on that.

I'm simply a stubborn ass who refuses to accept that walking away from the mess we made is the honorable or even American thing to do.

I don't think our national self-regard is the biggest issue here. If continued military occupation isn't fixing the mess, and if the current administration is capable of nothing else, then maybe sucking it up and admitting our limitations is the most honorable choice we have.

I don't really have a position on his call for a limited pullback, because it's sort of a "pony" plan that is not on the table. The only two choices are Bush's plan, or cutting off funding and ending the war;...

Similarly, we don't have much choice about how to rationally debate this thing here at home. The Bush supporters are dominated by thinkers such as DaveC who has contributed his illustrative rant above.

Efforts to try to rationally discuss what to do are going to be consistently met with hate filled and false rhetoric.

I'm simply a stubborn ass who refuses to accept that walking away from the mess we made is the honorable or even American thing to do.

Unfortunately, large factions of the Americans responsible for this mess are dishonorable and will prevent us from finding a decent and honorable end to this thing.

I am very much in favor of immediately providing asylum to those Iraqis who helped our forces and who are now in danger because of that.

Do you have a plan how to figure out which iraqis have helped our forces and which of them are double agents working for our enemies?

My immediate guess is that if we think they're on our side but they don't spend 100% of their time under vigilant armed US protection and they're still alive, then they're double agents.

But I don't know how to sort out the ones who have been under our continual presence. Some of them might actually deserve our protection.

It would be good of us to bring home the widows and orphans of the people who've died for us. But I don't know how we'd organise that. Unlikely that we know where many of them are.

As an example of dishonorable Americans preventing rational discourse and blocking the means to try to resolve this matter, Tom DeLay claims Reid and Pelosi are "very, very close to treason" because of their anti-war position. From TPM's "The Horse's mouth, which also has a good run down of other crazed Republican rhetoric on the subject -- DaveC is just repeating the Republican talking points.

As for using the threat of harm to innocent bystanders to win your point, I am reminded of this from South Park:

Ms. Crabtree: All right! (she opens a box and pulls out a revolver and a rabbit) Everybody shut up or the cute little bunny DIES!!
(everybody shuts up)
Stan: She's always trying to get us to shut up by threatening to kill that bunny, but do you think she ever would?
Kyle: Oh she would dude, she would.

"very, very close to treason"

For traitors like Delay, Xeno's Paradox comes in handy. One likes to keep an infinite number of rhetorical steps between threatening one's enemies and actually taking constitutional steps to prosecute them. Next week, Delay will pronounce Pelosi and Reid as "treading the fine line between very, very close to treason and closer to treason than can be measured by a godless scientist's mass spectrometer."

Delay needs to plug the bunny.

Bring it on, Hammer. I make a good rabbit cacciatore.

Incidentally, over at Brad Delong's place the decorated veteran of 35 missions over Europe during WWII, Sen. George McGovern, takes out Dick Cheney's bridges, dykes, munitions depots, runways, railroads, Ministry of Horses--t, highway infrastructure, the watchtowers at the prison camps, a sanitation facility, and the sorry little duck blind from whence the heavily-camoflaged Vice President aimed his toy anti-aircraft popgun.

If al Qaeda follows us home from Iraq, I suspect they'll take one one look at D'Souza, Hannity, Coulter, Cheney, Delay, and company and quickly register as Republicans.

I think that the Americans who are eithher in Iraq nnow or were there earlier in the war have a pretty good idea who worked for us and could make a list.

I also don't think the logistical problems involved in helping them escape are insurmountable. After all, we are talkinng about people who will probably die if we don't help them.

Paradoxically, "Xeno" is spelled "Zeno".

"My immediate guess is that if we think they're on our side but they don't spend 100% of their time under vigilant armed US protection and they're still alive, then they're double agents."

I think this might be a little too cynical, specially since I am pretty sure that we haven't given that much protection to Iraqi civilian employees.

"Do you have a plan how to figure out which iraqis have helped our forces and which of them are double agents working for our enemies?"

Perhaps, in order to be really honorable that's a chance we have to take.

J Thomas beat me to it, but if you think that the people who supported this war -- and, more importantly, the dead-enders still supporting it -- are inclined to want a bunch of [bloody ungrateful Arabs/terrorists/terrorist sympathizers] settling in over here, you're crazy.

I don't think they'd want a bunch of Iraqis settling in the US. But every time someone says ``I supported this war because I wanted to give Iraqis peace, democracy, and apple pie'', and then says ``I just think they're all a bunch of scum who I wouldn't want to let in the country, not even to save their lives,'' it shows up the hypocrisy just that little bit more.

Furthermore, I fail to see why protecting the US from terrorists should be the prime concern here. Surely, providing for the victims of an entirely voluntary war should be the first concern, not the possibility of exposing an office worker in Texas who voted twice for Bush to risk. He had a choice. The office worker of Baghdad or Basra? Not so much.

I don't mean that we should ignore such concerns. But as far as I care, they're at pretty low down on the list, when compared to the needs of the Iraqi people.

This is also why I don't think wars of choice should be waged when the aggressor isn't willing to sacrifice hugely for the ``benefactors''. When all America is willing to do to give people democracy, and freedom is to shoot some of them, then America shouldn't bother trying.

To piggyback off john miller: Sometimes honor requires risk. As does living wisely.

"My immediate guess is that if we think they're on our side but they don't spend 100% of their time under vigilant armed US protection and they're still alive, then they're double agents."

I think this might be a little too cynical, specially since I am pretty sure that we haven't given that much protection to Iraqi civilian employees.

Exactly. And a fair number of them have been killed. Why haven't the remaining ones been killed? Maybe -- just maybe -- because they've worked out a deal withi the people who'd kill them.

I think that the Americans who are eithher in Iraq nnow or were there earlier in the war have a pretty good idea who worked for us and could make a list.

There was a scene in the basicly-home-movie Gunner Palace where they found out that their translator was working for the other side. He was standing there looking like "Oh shit, they're going to kill me now" and they started arguing with him. It was like they didn't understand that absolutely everything they'd done up to that point was wasted. He'd been telling them who to detain, who to let go, everything had gone through him. And he was on the other side.

How many iraqis are in a position to influence us or learn our secrets? 30,000, maybe? Why would any of them be loyal to us, unless they think there's no way they'd be forgiven for working for us so they have to hope we'll pull them out?

Multiply the Gunner Palace story by 30,000 and how much good are we doing?

Hilzoy - if you missed it, Robert Pinsky was on the Colbert show, running a Metaphor-off between Colbert and Sean Penn.

Sorry, some of the arguments above about alive and dead Iraqis reminds me of the despicable way to smear Holocaust survivors. "You are alive, that means you either worked for the Nazis or the Holocaust didn't happen. In both cases you are not trustworthy." That doesn't mean that there are no double agents/fakes/terrorists in refugee disguise but to put all alive Iraqis under general suspicions for still being alive is not my idea of civilized discourse.

Hartmut, what it reminds me of is the medieval reasoning behind floating a woman to see if she's a witch. If the woman drowns, she's not a witch, give her Christian burial: if she floats, she's pulled out alive and burned, because surviving means she is a witch.

That doesn't mean that there are no double agents/fakes/terrorists in refugee disguise but to put all alive Iraqis under general suspicions for still being alive is not my idea of civilized discourse.

Exactly.

According to Dahr Jamail on Tomdispatch, Syria estimates that about 1.5 million Iraqis are by now inside Syria as refugees. With Syria having just about 19 million 'normal' inhabitants that's like the US taking the whole population of Iraq as refugees. The number of US visa granted to Iraqis according to the same report is currently 200 and will, maybe, be expanded to 7000.
[snark]
I am more and more in favor of reintroducing medieval "mirror punishments" for people that cause that type of situation (their tongues pulled for lying, their bodies torn like the country etc.)
[/snark]

CharleyCarp: Just got off with Gilchrest’s office. Snail mail is still running about 3 weeks due to screening. They promise to be on the lookout though (of course).

Some positive news: They told me that S1104 and HR1790 have been introduced to raise the number of visas for Iraqi and Afghan translators from 50 to 500 (500 per year for 3 years). The Senate version has been approved and HR1790 is in the Judiciary Committee now. I can’t link them directly on Thomas but they are both there.

It is something anyway.

Hartmut, what you consider a despicable argument about Holocaust survivors is true in its premises. Concentration camp inmates didn't survive unless they cooperated a whole lot, and a number of them have said that no one survived without stealing food from the ones who did later die.

Where it fails is in the conclusion that they cannot be trustworthy later, in better circumstances.

Similarly, the likelihood that most of the people we think are cooperating with us are actually working for the insurgency does not mean they wouldn't make good US citizens if they moved here. (Though the al qaeda ones probably wouldn't.)

My concern is that the US public would start to think this out if we actually did allow a significant number of iraqis to immigrate. They would of course want to stop it.

And my more important thought is to point out that there are essentially no iraqis we can trust to help with our occupation of iraq, and that our operational doctrine reflects that. And that once you think that out then it isn't at all obvious what it means to be undefeated there.

Anyone wondering whether we owe something to the people who worked with and for us should set aside a half hour to read the excellent (and depressing) George Packer piece CharleyCarp pointed me to a few weeks ago.

Certainly we need some kind of screening to keep out any obvious bad guys – but for the rest we need to expedite getting them out of the dangerous situation we put them into. They worked for us, certainly most of them faithfully. Now we are discarding them, leaving them to their fate.

J Thomas, The collaborator argument is aimed (in my experience) mainly at those that avoided the camps by hiding (of course a few of those worked as informers but they were usually known and became outcasts). Against the camp inmates it is usually the "can't have been that bad, if you are here today to tell the story". The problem is that even Jews are liable to fall for the first part (i.e. camp survivors suspecting those that survived outside).
Back to the Iraq situation, the mutual distrust between the Iraqis (that the US is not actually diminishing by favoring different groups at different times) plays quite a role in my opinion. If everyone believes or suspects that the others are the US stooges...

The collaborator argument is aimed (in my experience) mainly at those that avoided the camps by hiding [...].

Well, that's silly. It made sense for Stalin to assume that POWs who escaped were all german agents. He didn't need them so why take the risk they were? And they'd usually be in poor health. Ship them to siberia and use fresh troops instead. But what good does it do to assume that no fugitives successfully hid from the nazis?

Against the camp inmates it is usually the "can't have been that bad, if you are here today to tell the story".

That's silly too. The concentration camps started out as labor camps where the inmates were slowly worked to death. Some of them stayed that way. Even if they'd been worse than they were, even if only one in a thousand had survived, that would still leave over thirteen thousand survivors. I can believe that everybody cooperated to an extent, and pretty much all the survivors stole from the dying -- because there wasn't enough food and anybody who only got his share starved. But saying there couldn't have been any survivors is taking the myth of the superefficient nazis too far.

Back to the Iraq situation, the mutual distrust between the Iraqis (that the US is not actually diminishing by favoring different groups at different times) plays quite a role in my opinion. If everyone believes or suspects that the others are the US stooges...

Yes, they have a far better chance to resolve their issues when we aren't involved.

Certainly we need some kind of screening to keep out any obvious bad guys – but for the rest we need to expedite getting them out of the dangerous situation we put them into. They worked for us, certainly most of them faithfully. Now we are discarding them, leaving them to their fate.

If we're going to maintain any pretense that our strategy for victory might work, we have to pretend we aren't going to leave no matter what. As soon as we make plans to pull out our loyal iraqi stooges, they will become useless to us. They have no incentive to risk their lives for a lost cause after we offer them a strong chance at survival in the USA or Chad or wherever we put them.

As soon as we admit we're planning to pull out, our effectiveness in iraq is gone. Our soldiers will be demoralised, our allies will pull out immediately, and collaborators will *run*.

Attacks on US forces will drop. Why waste your life attacking colonialist losers who've already admitted defeat? Iraqis will tend to ignore us and concentrate on people who'll have power after we're gone.

So we can't admit to any plans based on defeat until we're ready to carry them out. Chances are Bush has forbidden our military to make any such plans, and so any withdrawal plans have to be kept secret from the SoD.

So the path of least resistance is for us to prolong the agony until 2009. Then we'll make plans to withdraw. Say it takes us 6 months to make and implement the plans. We can perhaps hold off another 6 months to get the collaborators out first. During that time if things go right the violence will die down (particularly since we won't be promoting it), and the various iraqis will make deals they can live with, and we can actually declare victory before we leave around January 2010. Assuming we don't get significant military losses before then....

It seems to me premature to talk about how to get our collaborators out. Bush insists that we aren't going to withdraw while he's President. For all I know McCain might win in 2008 and we won't withdraw until 2012 even if it means a draft. We could be heading for a debacle where we don't even have the resources to get our own troops out, much less iraqis. A lot can happen before 2009.

We aren't in any position to come up with an ideal withdrawal plan. If we force Bush to withdraw it's going to be his withdrawal plan. If we impeach him and Cheney then what?

Oh, the memories. I guess it was spring of 1985. I was sitting outside a paris cafe and a beautiful communist frenchwoman was telling me in her perfect british english how she disrupted political meetings. "To stop undesired progress, you must ask how we can make it fair. Whatever they propose, you must find someone that it is unfair to. Point out the unfairness and insist we must make it fair for them." Her eyes flashed with her grin. "How could it possibly be fair for everybody? The important thing. It must be fair for the Teacher's Union."

Of course the argument is silly (although silly would imply harmless, which it clearly isn't)! It is usually (almost exclusively) used by Neo-Nazis/anti-Semites/people-I-do-not-want-to have-anything-to-do-with-if-it-can-be-avoided.
I brought it up above because the Iraq arguments began to creep towards something similar. I do not think that someone here actually tried to establish that position consciously and that it was just a case of fuzzy wording/thinking but heated discussions have unfortunetaly a tendency to let people defend dug-in positions that they normally wouldn't have taken at all (cf. threads on gun control or abortion or the nature of the Bush administration).

The US have not actually a good tradition of taking care of the "expendable" stooges when "running away" (terrorists in US pay are something different of course). My bet is that the US will leave (=abandon) most of the Iraqis that helped them at the mercy of the ones taking over and that the withdrawal from Iraq will not be that well-ordered (whenever that will be).

Nice analysis by both you and Krugman. I agree both on Bush's petulance and his mistaken political reading. It's really painful that such power is wielded by such a stubborn, inadequate person.

Hartmut, I will try to make this clear.

I don't believe we have any friends left in iraq.

We're very convenient to the kurds, but we've betrayed them repeatedly before and they don't expect any different this time. There are various tiny minorities that are glad for our protection, who see that we won't reliably protect them. And then there are big areas of the country that are peaceful, where we mostly don't go. They are peaceful because we aren't there. Some of them might not think that badly of us because they haven't had much contact with us.

That's as close as we get to support.

It's a basic thing. When our armor drives down their streets we point our guns at them. If anybody is driving a car that we start to overtake, they know we'll kill them unless they get out of the way fast enough. They know it's because we can't tell them from suicide bombers. But emotionally it's just real real obvious that we're not from round there. We're foreigners who don't speak the language who point guns at people and shoot them whenever we choose to.

Imagine the chinese army was occupying your town and behaving like that. What would it take for you to want them to stay? We're a heavily-armed uninvited guest and nobody can find a polite way to tell us to go away.

We pay collaborators a whole lot of money. Why don't they get killed for it? Some of them do. Of course if one of them has money it makes sense to kidnap his son for ransom. Back in the early days there were reports about iraqis getting killed for doing US laundry. I didn't hear how that turned out, did the iraqi launderers find a way to pay sufficient protection, or did we bring in paks and filipinos to do our laundry onbase?

We have made very little effort to protect our collaborators, except for the ones we let stay onbase all the time. We have left them to make their own arrangements with our enemies. It's predictable that the large majority of them have made such arrangements.

And isn't it predictable that each of them has thought seriously about how to manage when we go? The obvious approach is to get fake ID and be ready to run. Fifty miles from home you're just another refugee.


But this isn't an argument that we shouldn't help our collaborators. Of course we should. Further, we should help iraqis generally. Ideally when we pull out we should give them $100 billion or so for reconstruction, maybe spread over 4 years in something like the ratio 40 30 20 10. We should send them lots of medicine and medical supplies etc. We probably ought to send them food in case they get so disorganised in the short term that they can't buy enough. And we should provide insurance policies to engineers etc worldwide who offer to go help the iraqis rebuild. It might be dangerous; we should at least give money for the ones who get killed. And we could provide experts to help get rid of minefields, both ours and others. And get rid of unexploded ordnance.

But we won't. How could the US public support our sending reparations to our enemies? If they don't want us in their country why should we help them at all? It would be a christian thing to do, but very few of us practice christianity.

No major dissent here, JTh.

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