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July 22, 2008

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McCain's in full-on berserker mode

We already lost the war in Iraq, now we're just arguing over how much longer we're going to bleed.

McCain would rather lose his mind than lose a war.

Grrrr. That was me at July 22, 2008 at 08:56 PM.

A year ago Obama said many things, including that the threat of genocide in Iraq was not a good enough reason to stay. He also said

“It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,”

The events between July 2007 and July 2008 have proven this assessment to be wrong. Obama would have made the wrong decision a year ago because that seemed to be the popular way to go.

In McCain's defense, it worked when Zell Miller did it four years ago.

Semi OT: how come Josh Marshall and everyone says that Maliki's comments are game-changers for Obama, and yet McCain's up 8 in Ohio?

What do we stand to gain by following waht appears to be McCAin's suggested policy: stay inndefinately, occupy permenent bases, do this agsint the will of the Prime Minister, and the majority of Irais?

Nothing good. Afer all, if the surge worked and things are stabilizing in Iraq then it logically time to plan our departure. maliki is right: a planned departure is not a defeat. An insistance on staying in spite of the will of the Iraqis is not a vctory. either.

AS usual the Republican candidte really ahs no idea beyond grandstanding for the home audience in the ususal Republican way by appealing to jingoism. Reduce everything to a football game mentality and horay for our team!

DaveC: see my discussion of that quote at the time, here. Summary:

"The writer is the one who comes up with the claim that Obama doesn't want to use the military to address humanitarian problems, and that preventing genocide is not a good enough reason to stay in Iraq. What Obama is actually quoted as saying, however, is somewhat different. First, he says that if the mere fact of genocide were a sufficient reason to keep armed forces in a country, we would now have forces in the Congo and Darfur. Second, he says that he wants to keep some troops in the region, just in case. Third, and most importantly, he says that he believes that the risks of "increased bloodshed" would be higher, not lower, if our forces stay in Iraq.

That last point is crucial. Suppose you believed that the best way to reduce the chances of a genocide in Iraq was to withdraw our armed forces. You didn't want to withdraw them precipitously, and you planned to keep some residual forces nearby, perhaps in Kuwait or Kurdistan. Nonetheless, you believed that their presence in Iraq was making the fighting worse, not better. Now suppose that someone asked you whether you thought preventing genocide was a good reason to keep our army in Iraq. Of course not, you'd say. That would only make things worse. That's like asking whether my I care enough about global warming to swap my Prius for a Hummer."

At the link, you'll find more of what Obama actually said in that interview.

The events between July 2007 and July 2008 have proven this assessment to be wrong. Obama would have made the wrong decision a year ago because that seemed to be the popular way to go.

Let's see, I count two leaps to conclusions and one use of telepathic powers into the Mirror Dimension.

1) We don't know yet that Iraq has made any long-term improvement. I sure hope so, but right now all anyone can honestly say is it's a bit better than last year. Check back next week, and who knows. So "proven" is presumptuous.

2) Any lawyer will tell you, proving a change happened is a heckuva lot easier than proving what caused it. McCain appears to think the surge caused the Anbar Awakening, even though the Awakening came first. To me, this suggests he has a hard time pointing to how the surge itself helped. For all we know, it may have actually hindered progress.

3) Most egregious: "because that seemed to be the popular way to go." Obama has been consistent from the git-go on Iraq: he didn't want us to go it, and when we did, he wanted us out as soon as reasonably possible. He said that when it was unpopular, and kept on saying it until the rest of the country agreed. You're making no sense at all here. Perhaps you accidentally used your Betazoid powers near a transdimensional vortex, and read the mind of Mirror Obama? Check if he has a beard, ok?


Oh, and your whole comment was a non sequitur, anyway.

A year ago Obama said many things, including that the threat of genocide in Iraq was not a good enough reason to stay. He also said

“It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,”

The events between July 2007 and July 2008 have proven this assessment to be wrong.

Refugees International:
According to the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration in 2007, almost 5 million Iraqis had been displaced by violence in their country, the vast majority of which had fled since 2003. Over 2.8 million vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq, while 2 million were living in Syria, Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Gulf States.

[...]

The violence in Iraq continues and is indiscriminate.
"Iraqis who are unable to flee the country are now in a queue, waiting their turn to die," is how one Iraqi journalist summarized conditions in Iraq. Refugees International has met with dozens of Iraqis who have fled the violence and sought refuge in neighboring countries. All of them, whether Sunni, Shi’a, Christian or Palestinian, had been directly victimized by armed actors. People are targeted because of religious affiliation, economic status, and profession – many, such as doctors, teachers, and even hairdressers, are viewed as being “anti-Islamic.” All of them fled Iraq because they had genuine and credible fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Neighboring countries are overwhelmed by the massive influx of Iraqi refugees.
Iraqi refugees are overwhelming the basic infrastructure of Iraq’s neighbors, in particular Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, raising concerns over further destabilization of the region. Jordan, Lebanon and Syria consider Iraqis as “guests” rather than refugees fleeing violence. In October, Syria ended its open-door policy and imposed visa restrictions on Iraqi refugees. In Jordan, where 70 percent of the population is of Palestinian origin, Iraqis have to pay for the most basic services. In Lebanon, Iraqis live as outlaws, hiding from arrest, detention and even deportation. Egypt, the most populous Arab country, hosts 130,000 Iraqis, but has closed its borders to additional Iraqi refugees.

[...]

UNHCR does not have enough resources to assist Iraqi refugees in the Middle East.
Although the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees received more than $152 million for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people in 2007, this equals only about $30 per person. The agency needs far more funding to provide adequate protection and assistance to Iraqis, and has requested $261 million for 2008, nearly half of which remains not funded. The agency lacks the resources to process refugees’ documentation adequately. Without staff to monitor borders, UNHCR depends on national governments for updated information on new arrivals. UNHCR is also unable to provide significant assistance to Iraqis, and other UN agencies have been slow to acknowledge the extent of the crisis. The fact that Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are not state parties to the 1951 Refugees Convention further reduces UNHCR’s ability to protect refugees.

The U.S. Continues to Delay Resettlement of Iraqi Refugees
The U.S. fell far short of its promise to permanently resettle 7,000 vulnerable Iraqis in the 2007 fiscal year.

Country of Origin # of Refugees Resettled in FY2007
Burma 13,896
Somalia 6,969
Iran 5,481
Iraq 1,608


The U.S. promised to resettle 12,000 Iraqis in the 2008 fiscal year, but the program is off to a slow start.

Month # of Iraqis Resettled into US
October 2007 450
November 2007 262
December 2007 245
January 2008 375
February 2008 444
March 2008 751
April 2008 974
May 2008 1,141
June 2008 1,721
9-Month Total 6,363

More:
[...] Since 2001, Congress has appropriated about $640 billion for the "Global War on Terror," most of this for operations in Iraq. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published in June found that the United States still lacked a strategy for meeting its goals in Iraq. The GAO found that violence had diminished somewhat; but according to the Pentagon, the number of Iraqi units capable of carrying out operations without US assistance continued to hover around 10 percent.

While the Iraqi authorities passed legislation readmitting some lower- level Baathists to the parliament, legislation was stalled on oil-sharing and the holding of provincial elections. Between 2005 and 2007, the GAO report found, the Iraq government spent less than a quarter of the $27 billion it budgeted for its own reconstruction efforts. And when it came to essential services, water supplies had improved, but electricity shortages persisted, meeting only about half of Iraqi demand by early May 2008.[2] Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank found in 2007 that the Iraq war had brought about a 600 percent increase in the average number of annual jihadist terrorist attacks throughout the world. Even if one didn't count attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, the incidence of terrorism increased 35 percent worldwide.[3]

[...]

According to polls, many voters are persuaded by the administration that torture can be justified. They probably have not heard from terror specialists who say that useful intelligence comes less from detainees than from informants, communities, and familiar sources. US agents have found that these sources began drying up as American mistreatment of prisoners became known.

"Based on my experience in talking to al-Qaeda members," John Cloonan, an FBI counterterrorism specialist testified to Congress recently,

I am persuaded that revenge, in the form of a catastrophic attack on the homeland, is coming, that a new generation of jihadist martyrs, motivated in part by the images from Abu Ghraib, is, as we speak, planning to kill Americans and that nothing gleaned from the use of coercive interrogation techniques will be of any significant use in forestalling this calamitous eventuality.[4]

The effect of the Bush administration's policies is that, notwithstanding the towering US military budget, which drastically exceeds that of its rivals, America's global influence has plummeted. This is evident in the administration's failure to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. According to the IAEA, Iran now has 3,300 centrifuges to enrich uranium, as compared to the 160 the IAEA confirmed during a visit to Iran in 2003. Iran's political influence, whether in Iraq, Lebanon, or Gaza, has been dramatically expanded as a result of the US quagmire in Iraq and the crude strategies the US used to eliminate Iran's two greatest enemies—the Baathist and Taliban regimes.

Since the greatest potential risk to American lives comes from nuclear terrorism, and since the Bush administration leaders infamously invoked "mushroom clouds" as grounds for invading Iraq, one would have expected them to work zealously to retrieve or secure loose nuclear material. Instead, President Bush attempted to cut funding for the Nunn-Lugar program to secure such material in the former Soviet Union. In declaring an openness to using nuclear weapons for tactical purposes and in discarding the longstanding nuclear doctrine of "no first use," the administration weakened the nonproliferation regime and created additional incentives for nonnuclear countries to acquire nuclear weapons. The President also maintained uncritical support for the Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf despite the fact that Musharraf sheltered Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, who was caught selling nuclear secrets to North Korea and Iran.

Bush's stated goals were to strengthen the US military, bring stability to Iraq and Afghanistan, combat terrorism, prevent rogue states and militants from acquiring nuclear weapons, and promote democracy around the world. In each case, two terms of Republican rule have been disastrous for US national security. The question is: Have American voters noticed?

[...]

Obama has long stated his intention to retain a Quick-Reaction Force in the region to carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and other such networks. He has made clear his concern for Iraqi civilians in mixed neighborhoods who might be more vulnerable following a withdrawal of US combat brigades. He would offer these civilians fair notice of US plans and would be open to relocating those who would feel more secure if they moved. He has promised $2 billion to assist the two million Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries. He would establish a war crimes commission to gather the testimony of survivors and put militia leaders on notice that they may eventually be prosecuted. Obama's plan to meet with the region's heads of state is the first of many steps that will be required to prevent regional conflict.

Oh, yes, very wrong.

You know, the president already declared victory once. That worked out great. I'm going to wait a little longer to see how McCain's declaration works out.

On a side note, I love how the person who a year and a half ago was saying that the surge couldn't possibly work with only 20,000 troops, that we need 30,000 to 50,000 is now touting his great judgment about it having worked with 20,000.

Ivan, good point. I'd forgotten about that one.

Anyway, that is one heckuva RESPECTFUL CAMPAIGN McCain is running.

Delicious Pundit: how come Josh Marshall and everyone says that Maliki's comments are game-changers for Obama, and yet McCain's up 8 in Ohio?

1. That poll was taken on Saturday. The news of Maliki's statements in the Der Spiegel interview broke at 1 pm, and took a few more hours to hit the cable and radio news. It's likely that only a minority of respondents even heard of the story before taking the poll.

2. It's one poll. It could be a harbinger, or it could be an outlier. Here's where you can find out. Right now it looks a lot like an outlier.

This post was around the time Obama made his remarks. I am not certain that Obama would have stated quite so clearly that he wanted to get out regardless of the consequences. Anyway, the supporters of the surge held out until Gen Petrayus reported, and the general situation has improved, especially compared to a worst case scenario.

and the general situation has improved, especially compared to a worst case scenario.

High praise indeed.

A short commentary on the United States of America's victory over the wood-chipper:

In early 2003, the United States decided to do battle with a particular ornery wood-chipper that clearly had weapons of mass destruction, threatened its neighbors, harbored terrorists, and violated United Nations decrees (this last of particular concern to the people running the country at the time, given their love of the U.N.).

It started off well, with the U.S. losing only a few toes from its right foot through the fall of 2003. But things soon took a turn for the worse, and through 2004-2007 the wood chipper had succeeded in completely mangling the right leg, and was working its way through the left foot.

Assessing this situation as untenable in early 2007, the United States decided to go all in and surged both of its hands into the wood-chipper, assuming victory would then be assured.

And it was. By 2008, the wood-chipper had been slowed to the point where it was only progressing up the left leg at about 1/3 of the pace it had the year before, at the cost of most of the fingers, to be sure.

Assessing this situation, Presidential candidate John McCain remarked "My friends, we have succeeded in Iraq. Just look at how well the remainder of our left leg is doing. Can my opponent say that? Had we followed his advice, we would have lost the leg to the chipper long ago. As it now stands, we can continue to battle the chipper until we acheive total victory!"

The McCain campaign knows they're doomed and they've decided to start throwing everything they can at the wall and see what sticks. I'm a little surprised they reached for the kitchen sink this early, but it's probably their only chance.

OT, another bit of minus six sigma intelligence from Pamela.

Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat idiot. Not that I ever listen to the guy, but this particular point is nearly designed to underscore that Rush is an idiot.

and the general situation has improved, especially compared to a worst case scenario.

But that doesn't mean that the situation wouldn't have improved if we had taken Obama's advice.

A coordinated, measured, withdrawal that brought in the UN, Iraq's neighbors regional powers, as well as European nations, against the backdrop of urgency on the part of the various Iraqi factions created by the knowledge that the US would soon be leaving, could have established a reduction in violence as well.

It would be the vehicle to force compromises on factions that otherwise might not be willing with us there as defenders/enforcers. And if they wouldn't have been willing then, they never will be. Us sticking around would only be delaying the inevitable then.

DaveC is the scum of the earth.

If claiming that Obama is pro-genocide is the best arrow in the Republicans quiver, their only hope is that the Ameircan public is stupid enough to buy into their garbage.

With regards to why the McCain campaign is going negative in a Lee Atwater fashion now?

I suspect it has more to do with Karl Rove and his acolytes newly implanted to head McCain's dying campaign than anything else.

What is really disgusting is that the man who killed McCain's chances in S. Carolina in 2000 by spreading the untrue assertion that McCain had out of wedlock brown skinned babies is now on McCain's payroll running the show.

McCain officially has no soul. He sold it for hopes and dreams. Hopes he'll never see and dreams that will usher in his nightmares come November 5th 2008.

Whatever happened to McCain's distaste for negative campaigning?

He has made so much about how informative his town hall meetings are. Bullshit. All he does is in them is complain about Obama, cry about Obama and attack Obama.

I would think even Republicans would grow old of this sooner or later.

brewmn: "DaveC is the scum of the earth."

Civility is part of the posting rules. You can say what you like about public figures, at least those who don't post here;), but commenters are a different matter.

"Civility is part of the posting rules. You can say what you like about public figures, at least those who don't post here;), but commenters are a different matter."

How civil is it to repeatedly accuse people here of believing scurrilous things there is no evidence that they believe, and which there is considerable evidence that they do not believe?

Is it civil to accuse named or unnamed commenters here of, say, being indifferent to the deaths of American soldiers, or Palestinians, or Israelis, or anyone else? Is it civil to accuse people of antisemitism? Is it civil to accuse people of wanting al Qaeda to win? Is it civil to accuse people of not caring about the lives of Americans in general, or of hating America? Does phrasing it so that no specific person is named get one off the hook? Or what?

McCain was certainly not civil when he said Obama would rather win a campaign than a war -- in doing so, he insulted not just Obama but the whole Democratic Party.

This, from a candidate who said he would not engage in negative campaigning.

At least George Bush had the good sense to keep his hands clean and use Dick Cheyney as his attack dog.

With little more than 100 days until Election Day, McCain looks out-of-touch, desperate, bitter, classless and, yes, very, very old.

How sad that this is the best candidate the Republicans could offer up.

I wonder if they wish they could have a do-over.

The McCain camp itself seems out-of-touch, even when it comes to what the campaign handlers call "optics."

Exhibit 1: Taking in a Yankees game with Rudy Guliani, who doesn't seem very popular anywhere other than Yankee Stadium.

Exhibit 2: The photo op with Papa Bush on a golf cart in Kennebunkport. Sseemed very odd and outdated.

By the way, does anyone know what time Obama will be giving his speech from Berlin on Thursday?

I am working 9-to-9 but would love to sneak away and watch it.

"I am working 9-to-9 but would love to sneak away and watch it."

It's at 7 p.m. Berlin time, which is +1 GMT. I don't know where you're located, but U.S. East Coast time is -1 GMT.

You'll be able to see it whenever you want, after the fact, on YouTube and the Obama website and a jillion other websites, you know.

"but U.S. East Coast time is -1 GMT."

That's a typo. I meant to type "-5 GMT.

Will have to go to the Obama website.

Sad but true: My office blocked YouTube at the start of the year.

hello bedtimeforbonzo! We've haven't crossed paths in a comments thread for a while. I hope you are doing well.

McCain was certainly not civil when he said Obama would rather win a campaign than a war -- in doing so, he insulted not just Obama but the whole Democratic Party.

This, from a candidate who said he would not engage in negative campaigning.

I was disappointed but not surprised by McCain's statement. It seems to me that there is a double standard at work such that if a Democrat were to say something like this (i.e. accuse McCain of having treasonous intent) it would be a huge blow up in the media, but pretty much any Republican can get away with calling Democrats the next best thing to being traitors and the reaction is a big yawn - Rovian politics as usual, nothing new to see here folks, just move along.

McCain isn't responsible for the history that helped to get us to this point, but I was holding out a very dim hope that he might be the one to start walking the GOP back from these sorts of tactics, at least a little bit.

If wishes were fishes then beggars would dine...

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