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Posted by on Jan 13, 2007 in At TMV | 13 comments

Cut and blame?

A new poll shows that “70 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops” to Iraq. That is, they oppose the surge, the escalation, Bush’s “new” strategy.

Bush hasn’t just lost the Iraq War. He’s lost the American people.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the most partisan of a hyper-partisan caucus of Republicans, has announced that he will filibuster any legislative attempt by Democrats to block the surge.

And he may have Joe Lieberman’s support.

Like Bush, McConnell thinks it’s important “to stay on offence and to finish the job”. But what does that even mean? Being on offence hasn’t worked, and 21,500 more troops won’t make much of a difference, if any. And the “job”? Is that establishing a peaceful, free, and democratic Iraq? Hardly. Is it having the Iraqis stand up on their own? Maybe, but how will the Iraqis conduct themselves once the U.S. leaves, once those additional U.S. troops are no longer embedded among them? Is it pacifying Baghdad? Maybe, but is that even possible? The sectarianism is there to stay. Any pacification would only be short-term.

The partisans are as misguided as their great leader.
But at least they’re not all crazy in that august Madisonian body:

President Bush’s decision to deploy 21,500 additional troops to Iraq drew fierce opposition Thursday from congressional Democrats and some Republicans — among them Sen. Chuck Hagel, who called it “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”


I’ll take Hagel over Lieberman any day. Do you think the two parties could work out a trade?
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I argued both during and after the speech that Bush’s plan amounts to little more than hedging his bets. There will be a focused troop increase, but there are also those “benchmarks” that the Iraqis must meet. If they don’t — when they don’t — the U.S. will pull back. In other words, this temporary surge is a cover for likely, if not inevitable, withdrawal. But Bush won’t call it defeat. He’ll blame the Iraqis — and the Democrats, of course — for failing to do what they needed to do.

Bush launched a reckless war that was grossly mismanaged. The Iraqis are not blameless, to be sure. The Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militias are ripping the country apart. But it’s simply wrong of Bush, if not downright repugnant, to put the majority of Iraqis in this position. Is it their fault that Bush botched the war and occupation? Is it their fault that so much has gone wrong? They are in no position to stand up on their own, neither the government nor the army nor the police. There may be a number of different reasons for that, including the culture of irresponsibility fostered under Saddam, but Bush and the architects of the war deserve much of the blame for the fact that Iraqis are in this position of incapacity.

And yet failure will be their fault, not Bush’s. So much for Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule. The U.S. broke it, but the Iraqis will be left to fix it on their own.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Paul Silver

    I understand the wide disagreement and anger at the President and his supporters regarding his choices in the Middle East. I am also frustrated in the administrations chronic failure to perform.

    But reasonable people can and do disagree about what is the way through this fiasco. Each of us may weigh the various elements of this dilemma in different ways. For me the risk to the world of leaving an victorious society of radical Islamists and terrorists is so huge that I am siding with those who believe that a last ditch effort to thwart them in Baghdad is worth it.

  • It would be nice to be able to read analysis on a moderate web site that didn’t so completely fail to be moderate in any way.

    The Republicans are a “hyperpartisan caucus”? And the Democrats aren’t?
    Yet it is the Republican caucus that includes people like Hagel who dissent and the Democratic caucus that tries to drive its dissenters out of office? THAT doesn’t make sense…

    And do you really think that words like “repugnant” are the most sober and reflective ways to present the issue?

    Or is pure anger just all that’s left?

  • SteveK

    jason said: It would be nice to be able to read analysis on a moderate web site that didn’t so completely fail to be moderate in any way.

    Jason,

    The views expressed above ARE the moderate position.

    We of the center / left center / right center were willing to go along with just about anything President Bush and his administration proposed. Look at the polls from 2002 and look at the polls now. Their lack of results, lack of openness and deceptive practices is what’s turned Americans off to George W. Bush Turned off all but his wingers.

    Having read comments you’ve made in recent threads it seems your views are in sync with the views of the Bush Right of Wrong minority and there’s nothing a moderate or centrist can say to change your opinion.

  • See, your keep on with the idea that the only people who might object to anti-Bush hysteria are those who are pro-Bush. I AM NOT PRO-BUSH. I voted for him in 2000, but definitely NOT in 2004. With only a few exceptions, I don’t support his policies. You simply have ZERO evidence for your accusation that I am some kind of secret Republican squirrel.

    Why then would I post comments on the threads that you mention? Because even more than I dislike Bush, I dislike extremism, hysteria, exaggeration, obsession, hatred, and incivility. And the TONE with which so many of the anti-Bush people state their case is beyond intolerant. They don’t just disagree, they demonize. Bush isn’t presented as wrong, he is called “repugnant”.

    Why can’t we have a discussion without demonization? And why is it out-of-bounds to criticize those who demonize?

  • “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the most partisan of a hyper-partisan caucus of Republicans, has announced that he will filibuster any legislative attempt by Democrats to block the surge.”

    Obviously, McConnel is an idiot who still hasn’t understood how the Senate works. Filibuster isn’t an option in this case. Bush’s surge depends on the Senate acknoledging the necessary moneys to finance it. But the Dems will add a clear timeline to this budget bill. And they said they will block any amednments ny republicans. If McConnel want s to filibuster the bill, great, than Bush won’t get the money for the surge. Liberal Bloggers already understood this. If McConnel can’t he’s lacking the qualification to be a Senator. As easy as that.

  • Paul Silver

    I don’t know how this fascinating battle will play out. But I doubt that Senator McConnell is an idiot who doesn’t understand how the Senate works. I imagine that he has tricks and finesse most of us could not comprehend or anticipate. The best players know how to sacrifice a piece on the board to move to a position of power for a later play.

    I rarely agree with him, but I wouldn’t doubt his power, especially in an evenly divided Senate.

  • Conservative Brownback rips troop surge

    Brownback leading conservative candidate for President from the GOP does not support Bush’s new plan to increase troops in Iraq. President Bush has lost support from all sides on his plan. Do you think it is fair to the troops for the President to go forward with very little support? Do you think it is time for everyone in Congress to go on the record if they support the new plan before President Bush sends in more troops?

    BAGHDAD – U.S. Senator Sam Brownback today commented on President Bush’s proposal to increase the number of troops deployed to Iraq.

    “I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer,� said Brownback. “Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution. In the last two days, I have met with Prime Minister Maliki, with two deputy presidents and the president of the Kurdish region. I came away from these meetings convinced that the United States should not increase its involvement until Sunnis and Shi’a are more willing to cooperate with each other instead of shooting at each other.�

    During a two day visit to Iraq, Brownback met with several Iraqi and U.S. officials, including U.S. Generals Raymond Odierno and George Casey, Jr., and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

    Brownback continued, “The Kurdish leadership does not wish to get in the middle of a sectarian fight between the Sunni and Shi’a, and the United States should not either. Instead of surging troops, we must press the Iraqi government to reach a political solution. We cannot achieve a political solution while a military solution is imposed. The best way to reach a democratic Iraq is to empower the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own nation building.�

  • grognard

    It would appear that Iran is playing all sides against each other, the Iranian agents recently picked up had cell numbers for Sunnis as well as Shiite. When there was a pick up of Iranians in a Kurdish area there was a tense standoff between the Kurds and American troops, so it looks like Iran has been active there as well. The idea of taking on Iran while embroiled in Iraq is a stretch, I just don’t see Gates going for it. On the other hand considering what has transpired so far I don’t rule anything out any more.

  • “But I doubt that Senator McConnell is an idiot who doesn’t understand how the Senate works. I imagine that he has tricks and finesse most of us could not comprehend or anticipate.”

    Sure. But the rules a clear in this case. If he filibusters, no bill, no money. What’s so hard to understand? Maybe he’s bluffing, but it’s a bluff with the cards already open on the table.

  • “I wouldn’t doubt his power, especially in an evenly divided Senate.”

    Dem Senators got through three mayor bills so far without problems, even with support from Republicans.

  • Kim Ritter

    Maybe Brownback has a point. Because we are so doubtful that Maliki can or will follow through with his part of the bargain, we should ask that he meet some benchmarks in political reconciliation before sending either more troops or economic aid. Sen Collins also sounded doubtful about Maliki’s reliability, having recently returned from a visit with him.

    I’m sure McConnell is expected to back Bush- he (Bush) was absolutely furious with Dick Armey when he initially opposed attacking Iraq. Armey was pressured into supporting the measure, then later claimed it was the worst decision in his career.

  • Because we are so doubtful that Maliki can or will follow through with his part of the bargain, we should ask that he meet some benchmarks in political reconciliation before sending either more troops or economic aid

    I’m sympathetic on this, but I think it would create an unworkable catch-22. Maliki would be politically weakened if we did that and thus he would probably be unable to make any political pogress for the simple reason that his enemies would find it easy to simply stonewall him.

    I agree that we have to hold Maliki to some benchmarks, but we need to give him enough backup to make it credible.

  • Kim Ritter

    Jason-I think he’s permanently a politically weak leader- caught between us and our demands for reconciliation which we are tying to promises for economic aid and our help in bringing the violence down, and the radical Islamic Shiite elements. The latter will lie low during our surge, knowing full well that we can’t keep it up for very long. Then resurface as soon as the force level returns to normal. Another problem I have with the plan, is a failure to state any consequences for Maliki if he makes no progress towards stated goals. That is one of the reasons so many see it as more of the same old, same old.

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