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June 04, 2007

Comments

von - I believe it's Scowcroft not Snowcroft. Also you've got a posting rules violation in there (batsh!t).

Djerejian has been on fire these last few days.

Djerejian isn't fair to McCain, who has repeatedly warned of the dangers of Iraq-on-the-half-ass, and who himself is trying only to salvage the best from a series of bad options

I'm not sure that's being unfair to McCain. McCain is advocating an option -- more troops -- as a "solution" when he most certainly knows those troops aren't to be found.

Unlike Bush, he doesn't even have a "bubble" to blame for his remarks.

McCain seems to be no more in touch with reality -- or no more willing to tell the truth -- than any other major Republican candidate at this point.

Wow, that was one impressive rant. He should really do that as a podcast…

I only wish Bush were half as "insane" as Putin. Maybe he wouldn't be a total reverse Midas.

You gotta feel sorry for Bush: grasping at a missile shield because he thinks it will make him look Reaganesque.

Slightly OT, I thought this on the US/Iran talks from Gary Sick, via Steve Clemons was fascinating

"Djerejian isn't fair to McCain." Von: I hear you, and it pains me to criticize the man, for whom I have much respect. But something changed these past 6-12 months, and I have lost confidence in his judgment.Was it the going along on the CIA carve out on torture, despite being a noble anti-torture voice generally? Was it the cheerleading of the surge, despite having been a strong critic of Rumsfeld back in '04? Not sure, but knowing that in a McCain Adminstration some of the neo-cons won't be totally cleared out (the Kagans will appeal to his 'national greatness' Teddy R side), and so we won't be on safe ground in terms of restoring more of a Scowcroft/Eagleburger/Baker/Schultz type foreign policy, I'm afraid I believe we need a wholesale house-cleaning (meaning HRC or Obama), and thus my Kipling snark. But McCain has had a proud and storied life, and yes, it does pain me (especially as a heretofore Republican, at least until the madness of the Bush years), to criticize him. In short, he's a good man, but his strategic posture now I believe is rather deeply flawed.

von, since you are a Republican (are you?) can you give a read on which candidate you think is the most rational on Middle Eastern affairs? I think they are all quite literally nuts, but I'm a Democrat. Thompson scares me the most because he seems to me to be the most like Bush. I'm thinking in terms of character (lack thereof), and style of governance.
Or don't if this question isn't interesting to you.

Djerejian isn't fair to McCain, who has repeatedly warned of the dangers of Iraq-on-the-half-ass, and who himself is trying only to salvage the best from a series of bad options.

What Morat20 said.

Von, McCain might have wanted to do Iraq with 400,000 troops from the get go, but since that wasn't possible, it amounts to magical thinking. Explain, if you could, under what circumstances McCain could have gotten the "full ass" contingent of troops, and kept them in Iraq for years. If you can do that, and show that McCain endorsed the set of policies necessary to enable such a deployment, then your defense of McCain would be credible.

Otherwise, it's just one man's version of a unicorn. A pretty unicorn, but a unicorn nonetheless.

McCain's had four years to make the case that we needed more troops. the press adores him, so it's not like he doesn't have a forum to make that case. but somehow he's managed to keep his "biggest critic of the war" status to himself.

i would've voted for him, in 2000, if he had the nomination. but after 7 years of him snuggling up to Bush, defending Bush's greatest blunders, and now insisting that we just needed to wade into the quicksand up to our nipples, and not just our waistline? he's shot every milligram of credibility he ever had, IMO.

It's one thing for the "Man on the Street" to opine that what Iraq needs is more troops.

But for McCain? A sitting Senator, a Presidential candidate -- he actually sees the readiness reports. He knows the score, in a way that the Average Joe doesn't (mostly because Average Joe isn't paying close attention).

McCain can advocate "more troops" until he's blue in the face -- but until he actually breaks down and says where he plans to get them -- it's meaningless.

It's worse than meaningless. He's putting forth a plan he knows is unworkable, just because it sounds good. Either he's lying, he's deluded, or he's just pandering.

None of the three is anything we can afford in a Presidential candidate. It's not 1999 anymore. We're not sitting on a budget surplus, a decade of peace, and a happy world anymore. We can't afford delusion, stupidity, or pandering on what is -- in it's truest since -- a matter of life and death.

I used to be really enthusiastic about a McCain candidacy, maybe even Presidency. That was in 2002. For me, the bloom has been long off the rose, pretty much for the reasons elucidated above by, well, everyone.

Greg writes: "I'm afraid I believe we need a wholesale house-cleaning (meaning HRC or Obama),"

I suspect HRC would just mean replacing AEI of Green Lantern Foreign Policy with the Brookings/Saban Center for Power Ranger Foreign Policy, ie, trading Reuel Marc Gerecht for Ken Pollack, which is no change at all.


McCain was the first politician I ever contributed money to, back in 2000.

I didn't know if I'd vote for him over Gore, but I loathed Bush so much I wanted an actual choice; Bush v Gore was no choice at all, because there was only one rational choice (Gore, not Nader).

Now, I wish I could have that money back.

trading Reuel Marc Gerecht for Ken Pollack, which is no change at all.

Pollack has consistently advocated the grand bargain with Iran. RMG, less so, as far as I've followed his opinions.

"Pollack has consistently advocated the grand bargain with Iran."

News to me. I'm quite wary of him, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was giving different counsel in private, or if he's toned down his advive temporarily due to Iraq, but would ramp up the belligerence if he got the ear of a president.

"RMG, less so, as far as I've followed his opinions."

RMG is the type who a few years ago would have told you that Iraq was developing tactical antimatter weapons, but now that he wants a different war, says Iraqis are incapable of building shaped charge weapons, a ww2 technology. So they must come from Iran!

Funny how that works.

You're right Ugh, of course (re: Snowcroft -> Scowcroft). Have you ever had a moment in which there seems to be some kind of disconnect between your brain and what actually comes out of your mouth (typing fingers)? I've been having that moment all week.

I'd like it to end.

Also you've got a posting rules violation in there (batsh!t).

I couldn't think of a better word.

Von, McCain might have wanted to do Iraq with 400,000 troops from the get go, but since that wasn't possible, it amounts to magical thinking. Explain, if you could, under what circumstances McCain could have gotten the "full ass" contingent of troops, and kept them in Iraq for years.

Eric, it was perfectly possible to enter Iraq with 400,000 troops, but it would have required a longer lead time. You're correct that 400,000 troops were not sustainable for an extended period of time absent significant changes to the army.

von, since you are a Republican (are you?) can you give a read on which candidate you think is the most rational on Middle Eastern affairs? I think they are all quite literally nuts, but I'm a Democrat. Thompson scares me the most because he seems to me to be the most like Bush.

I'm never was a very good Republican, and I'm an even worse Republican these days. FWIW, my view is that no candidate - Democrat or Republican - is best on ME affairs. McCain will be fine, because it seems clear to this long-term McCain watcher that, should the surge fail, McCain will embrace a more pragmatic alternative. Thompson scares the dickens out of me, for the exact reason you note: He has the potential to be Bush all over again, but with better sound bites. Romney will likely be fairly good because he's a dealmaker without many principles in the area, and his panders to the base ("we should double Guantanamo!") are so obvious. (Think Nixon: domestic warts aside, Nixon was truly impressive on foreign policy A near-total lack of convictions can be an advantage in foreign affairs.) Giuliani has the potential to be a disaster, but, since he's the kind of Republican whom I'd like to see more of, I am hesitant to criticize him.

von,

"McCain will be fine, because it seems clear to this long-term McCain watcher that, should the surge fail, McCain will embrace a more pragmatic alternative."

What is this based upon? Everything I have seen about McCain suggests that he is even more committed to continuing the fight in Iraq, regardless of the chances of success, and regardless of the damage done to our military and our foreign relations, than the President is.

Perhaps a dumb question, but why would a country's foreign policy, except around the edges, change much from administration to administration, unless that change was cosmetic, for change's sake, for domestic consumption and political advantage.

A nation's essential interests don't really change with the seasons.

Eric, it was perfectly possible to enter Iraq with 400,000 troops, but it would have required a longer lead time. You're correct that 400,000 troops were not sustainable for an extended period of time absent significant changes to the army.

Agreed. But that bolsters my point. Entering with 400,000 would have meant little if you couldn't keep them there for enough time to do the job.

Even then, 400,000 would have required the lead time that you suggest (and some rather creative shuffling of the deck), as well as a more honest reckoning with the public about the resources, assets and time required for this little project. Not too many war boosters wanted to discuss such things at the time for fear of queering the deal. So those that knew bit their lip or, like Shinseki, got slapped down for their temerity.

I find McCain's position to be what Morat20 described in his second comment.

Davis X., a nation's essential interests don't change, but our leaders have often differed wildly on what those interests were, and how best to get them.

Which is why I'm less enthused than Von about finding a foreign policy "realist." In theory, it's a good idea; in practice the realists have justified siding with Saddam, Noriega, South Africa's apartheid government and Guatemala's ethnic cleansing. We needed them to stop the communists and anyone who thought we should consider their human rights records or object to their crushing democratic movements was "unrealistic," an "idealist."

For some reason, I think most "realists" have the idea that instead of the BMOC who can have any date they want,we're the ugly girl at the prom: "Oh, gosh, Saddam's so evil, but if I don't let him use chemical weapons, he'll never kiss me!"

Yes, we should be very careful not to simply bounce back to a Kissinger position only because the neocons are idiots. I see this attitude all around and find it quite scary. Others react by proposing isolationism, which simply won't work.

on the topic of McCain, here's a nice little article describing his recent ethanol flipflop. the guy's pathetic.

"Have you ever had a moment in which there seems to be some kind of disconnect between your brain and what actually comes out of your mouth (typing fingers)?"

Every few seconds I type.

Also you've got a posting rules violation in there (batsh!t).

I couldn't think of a better word.

It's unclear why anyone should take time again on community-building duty of gently noting the posting rules to a newcomer, when a blog-owner blows them off this way.

"(Think Nixon: domestic warts aside, Nixon was truly impressive on foreign policy A near-total lack of convictions can be an advantage in foreign affairs.)"

Nixon at least had had the experience of eight years as Veep, making foreign trips, and dealing to various degrees with issues of U.S. international policy, as well as his time in the Senate and House. For all that a lot of his efforts were highly destructive, including the entirely perverse exercise of making it impossible for any U.S. politician (except for one) to ever advocate opening relations with China, he did get experience.

Romney? Not so much. But at least he didn't help get us into the Bay of Pigs, or get stoned in Caracas, or advocate war with China over Qemoy and Matsu, or bomb or invade Cambodia and Laos (impressive foreign policy ideas!)

"Giuliani has the potential to be a disaster, but, since he's the kind of Republican whom I'd like to see more of, I am hesitant to criticize him."

I'm assuming you mean something like "tolerant on social policy," not "insane, with fascist tendencies, an intolerance of criticism, horrible judgment, and a love of bullying"?

Uh, yeah, Von, what *do* you mean like that? You got something against ferrets? What?

In my experience, there are two types of Guiliani supporters.

The people who only know Guiliani's image, in which case they're voting for pure PR fluff and will hopefully react with horror faster this time when they find out they just elected a totalitarian.

The people who know Guiliani's actual background, and think Bush's problem was that he wasn't fully exerting the powers of the Executive office to crush the other two branches of government.

Seriously, Guiliani is probably the last person -- out of the entire GOP and Democratic field, including vanity candidates -- any sane person wants as President. He'll be everything Bush was, but worse, because he's smart enough to concoct semi-believeable lies.

I mean tolerant on social policy (re: Rudy).

And Gary's point about how better practices involves me not blowing off the posting rules is noted and accepted.

on the topic of McCain, here's a nice little article describing his recent ethanol flipflop. the guy's pathetic.

Actually: no. What they didn't quote was him talking about ethanol from sources other than corn; I seriously doubt McCain's an expert on energy policy, but he at least gives some appearance of realizing that corn-only ethanol is a net energy sink.

We didn't just need 400,000 troops. We needed 400,000 peacekeepers. MPs, MDs, Communications & Logistics specialists, etc. Throwing more guns into Iraq wouldn't have helped nearly so much as actually protecting the country from the havoc that was known would ensue immediately after the invasion.

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