Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Moral Headcount on Iraq

Republicans are gradually abandoning Bush's immoral war in Iraq. Although they won't say so, the truth is that Bush lied to get us into a war, lied about how the war was going, and lies still about our chances of winning. The GOP senators and reps want this over or 2008 will make 2006 look like a walk in the park.

Senators in favor of setting some time withdrawing from Iraq.
49 Dems (50 minus Lieberman)
Hagel, Snowe, Lugar, Domenici, Warner, Smith, Voinovich, Alexander (8)
Total: 57. Need 60 to break filibuster.
Presumed to be on the fence: Sununu, Coleman, Collins, Specter.
Have made noises about September being a big date: McConnell (GOP minority leader), Lott, Sessions, Graham
Real efforts to rein in this war could begin in September.


Bell Curve said...

Snowe is actually going to co-sponsor a bill to get us out of Iraq by April 2008. Good for her! And a good sign.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I can never understand why Republicans, who claim they support the troops more than anyone else, continue to treat the entire U.S. military as though it were some vast workforce that they can order to do anything they want: clean up after Katrina, beef up airline security, take over from border patrol agents, build bridges and schools in Iraq, act as policemen Iraq...

The U.S. armed forces are very, very good at doing certain things--like destroying other armed forces--but they were never trained to do any of these other things, nor should they be asked to act as the President's labor pool. They are trying as hard as they can in Iraq, but this the civil war and political crisis over there is just not something our military can solve. You can't knit with a sledgehammer. If Bush understood that other tools were needed, maybe his economic and diplomatic foreign policy would not be so anemic.

While our military presence guarantees some measure of short-term stability for the government we installed in Iraq, the occupation is counterproductive to long-term stability. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. No wonder evangelical Christians don't understand this. They don't even understand divorce.

USWest said...

There is more than that, Dr.S. Not only was our military not meant for nation building or occupation, neither are our state department employees.

Again, our guys are in a land of smoke and mirrors. Shias kill Shias, Sunnis kill Sunnis. It's my brother and me against my cousin and my cousin and me against my neighbor. People change allegiances all the time, you can trust no one.

I have worked with this culture and they have a morality that is far removed from what we know and understand. Our Anglo-Saxon sense of fairness is comical to them. Some of the best American traits, our trusting openess, our straight forwardness, our focus on solving problems and getting things done, are all used against us in these countries. We are innocents abroad, my friends.

Iraq is Lord of the Flies writ large (don't you love my numerous literary references?). We have sent civilians over there to try and help. Every cabinet office has sent people to try and help rebuild. But what these people find is that Iraqis are so corrupt that it is impossible to help them help themselves. And they don't see it as corruption; it's survival. They need money for ransom, for food, etc. When there is anarchy, this is what you get.

I just heard a story on NPR last night where a 54 year old father of 3 from Iowa and retired from USDA volunteered to go over to Iraq to try and start programs for farmers. He had a track record of success in other countries, What he found is that they wanted high-tech farm equipment. He told them that this wouldn't help them because they didn't have the means to maintain it. But what they did need were some low-tech tools that would get them started. What he found is that they wanted the high tech stuff in order to sell it off for cash. He encountered this time and again. After 3 months, he gave up and came home.

Bob said...

Also vaguely tying in to comments in the previous thread cheering Harry Reid's pugnacity:

It seems to me that September actually _will_ be interesting, in the following sense (though I should emphasize here that I don't know what I'm talking about. Wiser heads should feel free to explain why this is naive).

The pressure on Petraeus's September update to be positive is even greater than I thought. (I predict that objective reality will force him to be middle-of-the-road: "here's some signs of improvement that I'd like to emphasize, but we haven't gotten as far as we'd like". Then the political fall-out is up to the spinners.)

Suppose that around the time of that report, the general feeling is that the surge didn't get us anywhere.

Congress puts up a get-the-heck-out bill. Defunding, rescinding the AUMF, whatever. I predict you'll get enough Republican Senators to oppose a filibuster that it passes. Why?

Suppose it's business as usual, and the Senate can't rustle up 60 votes for cloture.

Suppose in response, Harry Reid exercises "the nuclear option" to break the filibuster and the majority passes the bill. (I know this sounds crazy but hear out my prospective scenario.)

The Republican minority threatens to shut down the Senate (the "nuclear response" to the "nuclear option").

"Bring it on", quotes Harry. If the Senate freezes, Bush can't complain that Congress isn't doing their job -- it's his party that's shut it down.

And the Democrats have the glorious sound bite: "In 2006, the country elected a Congress to end this war. Even if the Republicans obstruct everything else, we did what the people elected us to do. We listened, and had the courage to make the necessary sacrifices."

And after that, everything that happens (Bush vetoing the bill, government at a standstill,...) would be the Republicans' fault. The 2008 election could go from unfavorable (to the GOP) to a bloodbath.

Of course, it won't come to that. The Republicans simply can't let it. If the September climate is anti-Iraq, I think the requisite 60 votes will appear in the Senate.

The big issue, then, is if the Administration can spin the doubtless ambiguous impressions of "if the surge is working" and solidify public opinion in their camp at the end of summer.

Frankly, I doubt it. If Congress keeps investigating and Tony Snow and Fox News have to keep fending off attacks from the thousand scandals they've generated for themselves, they simply won't have the airtime to put a shiny gloss on the news from Iraq.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Bob, I suspect the GOP will back Bush, but will NOT go to the mat for him like you suggest. He's a lame duck, getting lamer. They have their own futures to think about.

Bob said...

Right, I guess my point was that Republicans, as a party as well as individually, can't afford to go to the mat for Bush if they truly are put to the question.

I'm hoping they're put to the question, with no room to wiggle out.

Anonymous said...

My concern is a Bush veto on an Iraq bill. 60 may get you cloture but it doesn't override a veto and the House Republicans are even more loyal to the wingnut base than the likes of Mr. Vitter.

But I think Bob is right, if the Democrats play tough they can easily make Iraq THE issue of 2008. The Republicans may not want to play that particular game of "chicken" and offer some compromise sooner rather than later.


Anonymous said...

Filibuster for real or shut up. That seems to be the message from the Senate Majority Leader now. He's announcing that he'll invoke cloture on a bill to impose a time line on Iraq deployments etc and if it fails (i.e. if there is a Republican filibuster) he will bring in cots and stuff and keep the Senate in session. This will force the Republicans to block the bill in public. No longer will they be able to quietly vote against cloture and then go home and spin. This will be big news and make good TV.


Anonymous said...

It would be good to see the Dems put up a fight, and push the bill to be blocked. However, I am wondering whether The Citizens actually believe that it is right to timetable a withdrawal from Iraq? I know the war was started for the wrong reasons, but you (we?) are there now and you have manufactured the situation that exists. It is to a certain extent your mess to clear up. (I say 'we?' because Australia isn't really there: Howard has nuzzled up to W but would run a mile if pushed.)

Also a question for Dr S who said: "The U.S. armed forces are very, very good at doing certain things--like destroying other armed forces--but they were never trained to do any of these other things". Why are they not trained for these other things? The majority of other armed forces are trained for everything from humanitarian work to all out conflict. This should be the Army's bread and butter.

The Spotted Handfish

PS apologies for the late comment. I'm in Italy for six months holiday and getting to the internet just isn't a priority some days.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I have been thinking about it for a while now, wrestling with the question Handfish posed about the responsibility for causing a mess in Iraq, and the potential problems with having a timetable for withdrawal. Here is how I see it.

1. No matter when we leave, it will cause havoc in Iraq. It was bad when we went in and will be bad when we leave. History shows us we cannot engineer a soft landing. There will be a power struggle when we leave. There will be fighting.

2. We are responsible for the mess in Iraq, yes, but we lack the power to clean it up. Assuming we can still fix things is what remains of the arrogance of the neocons. Legitimacy cannot be imposed from outside; it must come from within. Iraqis have to establish their own institutions and make their own peace--we can help, but we cannot do it for them. If we had recognized this from the beginning, instead of trying to impose our own solution, the coming transition to full Iraqi sovereignty might have been made easier.

3. Our army provides short term stability, but precludes long term stability. The sense of occupation by a foreign power weakens the very government we are trying to support. The insurgents are not our biggest obstacle to peace in Iraq; unwittingly, our presence is that obstacle. We can't win because we're fighting ourselves. The best thing we can do is to leave. It will be messy, but Al Qaeda will not take over and eventually they will find their own order. We can provide economic assistance and diplomatic assistance, but our military mission in Iraq is at an end.

4. As for the army's training, the U.S. army is trained for humanitarian work, but that is not its core mission. The Army is not trained for nation-building at all.

Bottom line: if we leave Iraq, things will get worse there for a while. But in truth it is already bad and, until we leave, it can never get better. The best thing we can do is set a clear timeline and leave.