Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

"NO OPEN-ENDED COMMITMENT"....This is actually sort of interesting:

Leading Senate Democrats called Monday for a "phased withdrawal" of U.S. forces from Iraq, outlining what they hope will become a consensus position on the war that will help their party speak with a more unified voice.

....The new Democratic proposal sets a starting point for withdrawing troops but does not set an end date or demand a particular pace for the redeployment, said Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee...."Our amendment does not establish a timetable for redeployment," Levin said. "It does urge that a phased redeployment begin this year, partly as a way of moving away from an open-ended commitment and a way of avoiding Iraqi dependency on a U.S. security blanket."

On a substantive level, this probably isn't bad. The key issue, after all, isn't really setting some precise date for withdrawal redeployment, it's making clear that an open-ended commitment is a dumb policy.

On a political level, it's probably the right move too. Not only is it something that Democrats can coalesce around (thus proving me wrong about the impossibility of finding a consensus message on the war for Dems), but it's also something that's likely to resonate with the public. Not everyone who's unhappy with the war supports a firmly timed withdrawal that ties the president's hands, but I suspect that almost all of them do support the notion that official policy should at least acknowledge the idea that we don't intend to be in Iraq forever.

But will guys like Kerry and Feingold go along? Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 12:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (82)

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Comments

It seems to me that it is a fine point to make. However, it needs a concrete focus and that might be the fact (or non-fact) that the US is building permanent military bases in Iraq.

I keep seeing references to permanent bases but have not seen descriptions that give locations and the reasons why the writer believes the base is intended to be permanent.

If there are such bases and it is clear that they are being built as permanent bases, that is the concrete fact on which to focus. Do we intend to stay in Iraq forever? If the answer of Democrats is 'No' then there is a lot of pressure on Republicans to say 'No' also and explain permanent bases. The only logical reason I can conceive for permanent bases is that we want a staging platform in the area because of all the oil.

Even if Iraq became stable and democratic, we want a place from which to operate against other states in the Gulf.

That is a really good issue to debate.

Posted by: ursus on June 20, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

John Murtha said he wants to pull our troops out of Iraq and move them to Okinawa.

This is what passes for serious planning in the Democratic Party, folks!

Posted by: Down goes Frazier on June 20, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

it's making clear that an open-ended commitment is a dumb policy.

On a political level, it's probably the right move too. Not only is it something that Democrats can coalesce around (thus proving me wrong about the impossibility of finding a consensus message on the war for Dems), but it's also something that's likely to resonate with the public.

*Snicker* That's just the liberal way of saying they support cut and run in Iraq. If a poll had been taken before D-Day, then the American public would've voted to stop fighting the Nazis and Fascists rather than to stay the course to promote freedom and democracy in Europe. But wars can't be run that way if you want to win. Since Bush is determined to win the War on Terrorism, we should continue to stay the course and defeat the terrorists just as FDR stayed the course in WWII rather than cut and run.

Posted by: Al on June 20, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

What about, "No permanent bases in Iraq"? May not be on Americans' minds but it should be and the Iraqi's are surely aware.

Posted by: kck on June 20, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Murtha's got a better plan than anyone in the R party. Leaving the troops there to be targets, with a mission they don't understand and which no one in Washington has been able to articulate isn't a plan, it's the height of stupidity.

Posted by: CN on June 20, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

So, the consensus Democratic position is that the troops should come home......someday. Wow. Way to go out on a limb there, guys.

Since Bush has never said that he wanted the troops to stay there forever, (as they stand up we stand down, etc.) could someone point out how this is different from the Administration view?

If the Republicans are smart, they will all vote for this and congratulate the Democrats for coming around to their position.

Posted by: Distant Observer on June 20, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Al, Josh Marshall had your moronic take on Iraq in mind when he posted this must-read comment:

"For the United States, the situation in Iraq is close to unprecedented in the last century in terms of the duration of time an American president has left a war policy on autopilot while more and more evidence comes in that it's simply not working. Even in Vietnam, for all the mistakes the US made there, Richard Nixon kept escalating the conflict. There's at least some strategic movement on the policy brain scan. I'm not saying that's preferable. And I don't want to get into an argument about bombing Cambodia. But it is at least different from letting a flawed policy grind through money and men for three years because you don't have the moral courage to rethink it or adjust course. It's denial elevated to the level of high principle."

Of course, I don't think you are in denial, Al. I think you are just a stupid troll who would suck Bush's cock if you were given half a chance.

Posted by: brewmn on June 20, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Instapundit has some posts on the incoherence of the Democratic party on Iraq.

Michelle Malkin has lots of links on Murtha's recent bloviating on Iraq. (Plus some photoshopping of Murtha at YearlyKos.)

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on June 20, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

So far, it's been the War to Create More Terrorism. Time to cut our losses. No amount of Republican wrap-yourself-in-the-flag public relations campaigns are going to help. It's clear W has no idea what he's doing and why he's still got troops there. Time for them to come home.

Posted by: cn on June 20, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Michelle Malkin: the Republican comfort woman.

Frequency Nails It!

Posted by: brewmn on June 20, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Public discord on Iraq has the inevitable side effect of discouraging our allies and encouraging our enemies. Iraqis want to be on the winning side.

That doesn't mean politicians shouldn't speak out their beliefs. but they should weigh the cost. E.g., if someone sincerely believes the war is unwinnable, he'd be right to speak out against it, even though his opposition has a cost.

But, this new proposal seems to be politics, not policy. It's a way for Dems to try to satisfy their anti-war contingent without demanding a real change in how the war is conducted. To indicate discord just for internal political gain is despicable, in my opinion.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 20, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

rep. john murtha - November 17, 2005

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.

To create a quick reaction force in the region.

To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.

To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq


i don't see okinawa mentioned anywhere...in his announcement...

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 20, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Fortunately for the GOP, John Murtha will appear on TV every weekend from now through the election.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on June 20, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Heh, it is very simple really.

The democratic position is that the troops should be withdrawn at some unspecified time in the future and the republican position is that the troops should not be withdrawn until some unspecified time in the future.

:)

Posted by: jefff on June 20, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- favors setting a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, with 47 percent saying the deadline should be in a year or less, according to a CNN poll released Friday.

Why do Americans hate America?

Posted by: Chumpy on June 20, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

But, this new proposal seems to be politics, not policy.

Ahahahahahahaha!

As opposed to the war itself? Mission Accomplished, anyone?

Posted by: craigie on June 20, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

This, to me, seems a step up from Bush's Stand Down as they Stand Up. While the Bush plan really isn't a plan but a slogan (Iraqi's have been building their security forces for years now, how much standing down has happened in the mean time?) the Dems "phased withdrawal" is actually tied to some real world measurable objectives.

The test is of course if the Dems can sell it. If this were a republican plan every conservative would be in the media this week repeating that phrase. The Dems never seem to follow up. For once I'd like John Stewart to make fun of the Dems for all saying the same thing.

Posted by: Fred F. on June 20, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

1) A policy that ties Bush's hands, as long as it prevents more violence, would be a very good thing. I recommend a policy that not only ties his hands, but also gags the reptillian-like child eating cannibal.

2) Fuck Kerry. Kerry should be totally ignored when it comes to any policy debates. He is a Murthafucker who cannot recognize the military is being destroyed partly because of his endorsment of the president's policies.

3) It is a pretty good strategy for fooling the electorate, which prefers war but hates defeat.

Posted by: Hostile on June 20, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

thisspaceavailable - Murtha suggested roops could be moved to Okinawa on Meet the Press Sunday. You can see it in a video that includes Murtha's comments at

http://hotair.com/archives/vent/2006/06/20/murthas-cartoon-war/

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 20, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think anyone has told the Republicans that John Murtha isn't considered some sort of unpopular boogeyman by anyone outside of their rarefired circle.

Posted by: Constantine on June 20, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall's observation is simply wrong. The administrations war policy has hardly been on autopilot but has in fact adjusted several times to problems encountered on the ground. Examples include where we position our forces within Iraq, the switch in emphasis in training Iraqi police versus the Iraqi military, and a (long delayed unfortunately) switch in emphasis on the reconstruction projects we prioritize. Of course his claim that there is more and more evidence that the strategy isn't working only holds true if one ignores the political developments in Iraq and the continually growing capability of Iraqi forces.

As for Levin's proposal, either it has teeth to it which mean is is imposing a deadline for at least some withdrawal or is doesn't which makes it an utterly meaningless gesture (essentially saying we should leave eventually, which no one disagrees with). In the former case, it is a terrible idea because it uncouples out force structure from progress on the ground. In the later case, it is a cheap political stunt and should be judged as such.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 20, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

"continually growing capability of Iraqi forces."

Which exists only in the minds of right-wing extremists.

Posted by: CN on June 20, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"In the former case, it is a terrible idea because it uncouples out force structure from progress on the ground. In the later case, it is a cheap political stunt and should be judged as such."

Can someone who supports the current policy please state what the hell it is? Just for the record?

Posted by: fat smelly birkel on June 20, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw: go and read the cable from the US ambassador to Iraq and then document where he is wrong. Then we can talk.

The URL is

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/opinions/graphics/iraqdocs_061606.pdf

Josh Marshall is precisely correct. We have no plan for success in Iraq; we are staying there solely to avoid Bush admitting error and to use the war as a club against his domestic political opponents.

Posted by: Marc on June 20, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

While I firmly support "tying the Presidents hands" and even gagging him, I like this approach to removing ourselves from Iraq.

How we got there is now history, "cut and run" is not an option (since we started it).

Level-headed withdrawal, thus forcing the Iraqis to take control of their own destiny, is a good approach.

Posted by: Eclectic Floridian on June 20, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Current policy (as I understand it)

-- Defeat Saddam's army
-- Establish a constitutional democratic government, representing all segments
-- Recruit and train Iraqi army and police
-- Defeat al Qaeda in Iraq
-- Defeat the local Iraqi insurgents
-- Iraqi government to negotiate peace with some insurgent leaders
-- Coalition troops leave as Iraqi military and police become more capable.

The plan is working (although slower than I wish). E.g., There was an announcement on Monday that Britain and Australia would hand over responsibility for security to Iraqi forces in southern Muthana province."

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 20, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib, you left out the ponys. At the end of the list, we hand out ponys.

Posted by: craigie on June 20, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sold on this being a winner. My suggested alternatives:

1) Just say loudly: Fire Rumsfeld first! Practically, no policy is going to work if he's in charge. And second it's simple and drives the debate right were it should be: the administration's horrible mismanagement of the war.

2) Coalesce around Murtha - make him the Democratic point person. Unfortunately, the Democratic political leadership still seems frightened of talking about the war, or telling the pro-war democratics to fall in line.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on June 20, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

craigie's own plan is to hold on to the "ponys" (not to mention the ponies) and to reinstall Saddam Hussein instead, so that the people of Iraq may again benefit from his munificent and bountiful rule.

Posted by: GOP on June 20, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Samuel Knight.

The Democrats shouldn't get sucked into recommending a specific course of action in Iraq. Things are changing too fast there, and the devil is in the details anyway.

The Democratss plan should be "Throw the bums out!"; ie, get rid of Rumsfeld and his cronies because they have botched this war, (and lied to get into this war in the first place). The way to clean up the mess in Iraq is to get rid of the people who responsible for created the mess in the first place.

Sell it by pointing out the Republican mistakes and repeating, "These are not the people you want to have in charge."

Posted by: Will on June 20, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Michelle Malkin has lots of links on Murtha's recent bloviating on Iraq.

Ooooh boy. And Ann Coulter has some plagiarism to peddle.

Posted by: ckelly on June 20, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

craigie's own plan is to hold on to the "ponys" (not to mention the ponies) and to reinstall Saddam Hussein instead, so that the people of Iraq may again benefit from his munificent and bountiful rule.

You haven't been paying attention. My plan, advertised here many times, is to make Iraq the 51st state. Then we open the border between our newest state and Mexico, and voila! many problems solved at once.

Oh, and the plural is only "ponies" in real life. In fantasy world, they're all ponys.

Posted by: craigie on June 20, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

The deal breakers aren't going to be Feingold and Kerry, but HRC, Lieberman and probably Schumer. Not that keeping U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely has anything to do with Israel policy. Only an anti-semite would this this.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on June 20, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I believe Carl Levin is the sleaziest man alive. I suspect that the man can do no right.

Posted by: aaron on June 20, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I just hope the Republican'ts keep bashing Murtha. Cuz he can take it, and he can give it back.

Yeah, I too thought the Okinawa remark was a bit far afield (literally), but over-all his appearance on Press the Meat was fantastic. He calls them like he sees them, and he talks using real words, not diplo-politico-speech.

He pointed out, over and over (cuz it took a few times to try to get it into Russert's thick head) that the Zarqawi kill was set up on the ground by Iraqis and accomplished by American air action from OUTSIDE Iraq.

Iraqis ARE standing up. It is time for the US to start standing down.

My personal belief is that the administration realizes this but is, as usual, waiting for the right political time. i.e. the fall. i.e. the "you don't introduce a new product in August" explanation (Ari Fleisher?) for why the adminstration waited until October '02 to bring the Iraqi war up in Congress.

There is no policy in the Bush Administration--it's all politics all the time, and any wingnut who disputes this is either dishonest or stupid.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 20, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

As the MBA president, shouldn't Bush have put together a more definitive, defensible strategic plan a while ago?

IMO, the Dems have it right in broad brush strokes. Establish the long-term objectives (political structure, infrastructure, security, military, etc.), identify the necessary stages in working towards those objectives, set up checkpoints within each stage, identify the American supporting role and troop levels needed at each stage, set up specific criteria to determine whether or not checkpoints and major stages have been achieved, and then adjust on an ongoing basis. But be open, transparent, and specific about the plan.

In political terms, this translates into "When A, B, and C have occurred, we will scale down to X number troops. When D, E, and F have occurred, we will scale down to Y number of troops." This isn't based on a timetable, it's based on objectives. It holds the administration accountable, and it provides the American public with a clear sense of how our government resources (and our tax dollars and, most importantly, armed forces) will be utilized.

Posted by: unceph on June 20, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh... Isn't "No open-ended committment but no date certain" the politically disasterous nuanced position yet again? Have we learned nothing from Kerry's de facto defeat?

Posted by: K on June 20, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats shouldn't get sucked into recommending a specific course of action in Iraq. Things are changing too fast there, and the devil is in the details anyway.

That sounds like smart politics to me, Will.

Here's an alternative that might have been even better politically: the Dems could have supported the President's war policy (as opposing parties generally did in the past.) If the public was convinced the Dems would continue Bush's war policy, then the election could have been a referendum on competence.

As it is, the Reps may be able to turn the election into a referendum on whether to cut 'n run. With conditions as they are now, I think more voters will prefer not to withdraw.

And, if the war starts going better for the US (heaven forbid!) then November could see Republican gains.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 20, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

It really is worth checking out Josh Marshall's 12:15 post on www.talkingpointsmemo.com for a statement on the timeline issue.

Basically, Josh maintains that it's irrelevant for Democrats to talk about the timeline because Bush has said that he's going to be in Iraq until 2009, period. Josh says Dems need to go after that concept, not get tangled up in specifics that they can't change because only the President & his admin are really in charge of the war.

He's described it very nicely.

Posted by: erica on June 20, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Michelle Malkin: the Republican comfort woman."

Harsh but fair.

Elsewhere, it's hard to believe the trolls are still under that fucking bridge while it's so obviously collapsing. Guess their hatred is stronger than any survival instinct. Snicker, indeed.

Posted by: Kenji on June 20, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall's observation is simply wrong. The administrations war policy has hardly been on autopilot but has in fact adjusted several times to problems encountered on the ground.

Hacksaw,

Tinkering with details, or adjusting to "FOTG" is a commonplace necessity of warfare or any other undertaking.

It does not constitute even remotely a serious re-evaluation of goals.

So, no, Marshall isn't wrong but you are.

Posted by: obscure on June 20, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

The key issue, after all, isn't really setting some precise date for withdrawal redeployment, it's making clear that an open-ended commitment is a dumb policy.

Your opinion seems to be evolving. You have previously called for either a precise timetable or a precise list of benchmarks.

I would like to suggest the American experience in the Philippines as an example to follow -- US troops will leave when Iraqi the government raises the rents to levels that the US is unwilling to pay. We can also consider the Korea example: American troops will remain as long as a neighbor of Iraq maintains an active and credible military threat.

Posted by: republicrat on June 20, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

John Murtha said he wants to pull our troops out of Iraq and move them to Okinawa.

Do we have an "open-ended commitment" to Okinawa? Okinawans by-and-large want the US to get out.

Posted by: republicrat on June 20, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Look.

The deal in Iraq is very simple. I've created a situation in which there are NO GOOD OPTIONS.

So I'd be a fool to change course and have to explain bad results when I'm going to have to explain bad results anyway. No sense lookin' wishy-washy too.

Posted by: George W. Bush on June 20, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK
I am on record that entering Iraq in the first place was Bushs Folly and Cheneys Wet Dream; an error of monumental proportions that should never have been undertaken. I have also called for draw-downs and the immediate scaled pullout of troops. Im a military brat/military wife. Reality tells me that what I desire emotionally isnt possible, but setting a date for withdrawal isnt unreasonable, it isnt cowardly, and, I believe, would send a positive message to Iraq and the rest of the Muslim world.

All that said, Mrs. Language Stickler has to take umbrage with the hawks that say setting a date for withdrawal from Iraq amounts to cutting and running. I beg to differ. Cutting and running would be an immediate withdrawal with no warning. Its an exit strategy of last resort, when you are getting your ass kicked royally, and life or death for hundreds of troops hangs in the balance. (Custer should have cut-and-run and didnt. Theres a lesson there that is still taught at the academy.) Technically, we arent losing, we are still killing more of them than they are of us so, yeah, were winning in that sense; blah, blah, blah

Setting a firm date for draw down is different. It tells the Iraqis that we are not wedded to an open-ended commitment. It tells them that we expect them to get their act together, that they are responsible for pulling their country back from the brink. Yes we broke it. But some things that are broken cant be glued back together some things that are broken must heal. A country is a living entity, and therefore the latter applies. A prolonged American troop presence is not conducive to that healing process.

Faced with ten thousand Americans a month exiting Iraq starting in July 2007, the Iraqis would have to get serious about training a defense force and finding diplomatic solutions to the brewing civil strife that kills more Iraqis than Americans do.

Every right-winger who never wore a uniform, (Karl Rove, the College Republicans) yet shouts that setting a date for draw-down is cutting and running, tantamount to waving a white flag, I say, you are the cowards. You play fast and loose with the lives of other peoples children, and that is not merely inexcusable, it is unconscionable. A pox on every politician who believes stay the course is a battle strategy.

The president says that as they stand up, well stand down. I say setting a date for withdrawal would simply put a tack under their collective seat.


Posted by: Global Citizen on June 20, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I felt like arguing, so I guess I'll have to terrorize my students this afternoon. Ciao for now!

Posted by: Global Citizen on June 20, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

John Murtha said he wants to pull our troops out of Iraq and move them to Okinawa.

Why not? Iraq had as much to do with Bush's GWOT or 9/11 as Okinawa did.

Posted by: ckelly on June 20, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Some day this will sink in:

Our staying in Iraq is what al-Qaeda wants. It may take many years to fully see the terrible stupidity of the invasion, but its terrible consequences should by now be obvious.

If you're for "staying the course," you're working for al-Qaeda.

Posted by: buddy66 on June 20, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

the Dems could have supported the President's war policy (as opposing parties generally did in the past.)

I call bullshit. Do we have to post all the vile, bilious comments from the Republican Congress et al regarding Kosovo during Clinton's presidency again?

Posted by: ckelly on June 20, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat: I would like to suggest the American experience in the Philippines as an example to follow -- US troops will leave when Iraqi the government raises the rents to levels that the US is unwilling to pay. We can also consider the Korea example: American troops will remain as long as a neighbor of Iraq maintains an active and credible military threat.

Unfortunately there is much more at stake here than "rents." To equate our basing in the Philippines and Korea with Iraq is a false equivalency of ludicrous proportions.

The Army is being asked to maintain unsustainable sacrifices as outlined by Joe Galloway in his emails to Larry DiRita:

    "the army you describe as "so much more capable" than it was 5 or 10 years ago is, in fact, very nearly broken. another three years of the careful attention of your boss ought to just about finish it off. this is not the word from your anonymous officers; this is from my own observations in the field in iraq and at home on our bases and in the military schools and colleges...it is grinding up the equipment and the troops inexorably. recruiting can barely, or hardly, or not, bring in the 80,000 a year needed to maintain a steady state in the active army enlisted ranks....and that is WITH the high retention rates in the brigades. and neither figure addresses the hemorraging of captains and majors who are voting with their feet in order to maintain some semblance of a family life and a future without war in it. and what do we do about a year when average 93 percent of majors are selected for Lt Col in all MOSs....and 100 plus percent in critical MOSs. the army is scraping the barrel. then there is the matter of 14 pc Cat IV recruits admitted in Oct 05 and 19pc in Nov....against an annual ceiling of 4 percent??? the returning divisions, which leave all their equipment behind in iraq, come home and almost immediately lose 2,000 to 3,000 stop-loss personnel. then tradoc goes in and cherry picks the best NCOs for DI and schoolhouse jobs. leaving a division with about 65 percent of authorized strength, no equipment to train on, sitting around for eight or nine months painting rocks. if they are lucky 90 days before re-deploying the army begins to refill them with green kids straight out of AIT or advanced armor training. if they are even luckier they have time to get in a rotation to JROTC or NTC and get some realistic training for those new arrivals. if not so lucky they just take them off to combat and let em sink or swim. this is not healthy. this is not an army on the way up but one on the way to a disaster. we need more and smarter soldiers. not more Cat IVs. so far it is the willingness of these young men and women to serve, and to deploy multiple times, and to work grueling and dangerous 18 hour days 7 days a week that is the glue holding things together. all the cheap fixes have been used; all the one-time-only gains so beloved of legislators trying to balance a budget and get out of town. the question is what sort of an army are your bosses going to leave behind as their legacy in 2009? one that is trained, ready and well equipped to fight the hundred-year war with islam that seems to have begun with a vengeance on your watch? or will they leave town and head into a golden retirement as that army collapses for lack of manpower, lack of money to repair and replace all the equipment chewed up by iraq and afghanistan

Getting of Iraq while we still have an Army to redeploy is top priority. Anything else is Republican spin.

Posted by: cyntax on June 20, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I call bullshit. Do we have to post all the vile, bilious comments from the Republican Congress et al regarding Kosovo during Clinton's presidency again?

Maybe so. No doubt you can find some colorful quotes, but there were no formal efforts to get Congressional resolutions demanding that Clinton stop the bombing. The public didn't associate the Reps with an anti-war position. I do recall some conservatives expressing doubt that the bombing alone would be sufficient. Of course, they turned out to be wrong. But, even those critics supported Clinton's mission. They wanted him to do more, not to stop what he was doing.

Reiterating my main point, I believe the Dems current anti-war activity has made them politically vulerable, depending on how things go in Iraq.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 20, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

The public didn't associate the Reps with an anti-war position

You have no idea how ignorant this comment makes you look, do you?

"Anti-war"?

Do you remember what the purpose of the intervention was?

Good grief.

Posted by: obscure on June 20, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

They wanted him to do more, not to stop what he was doing.

Further to the theme...

Show us a cite for this.

Or admit you don't have a clue what you are talking about.

Posted by: obscure on June 20, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK
No doubt you can find some colorful quotes, but there were no formal efforts to get Congressional resolutions demanding that Clinton stop the bombing.

No, instead members sought to have the courts stop the bombing, after the Congress itself acted against the campaign by voting down a declaration of war, voting to prohibit funding for ground troops, and failed to pass a resolution supporting the air campaign.

The public didn't associate the Reps with an anti-war position.

The Republican majority certainly wasn't, as a whole, supportive of the effort.

I do recall some conservatives expressing doubt that the bombing alone would be sufficient.

That would explain the Republican-led Congress voting to prevent Clinton from using anything but air power; they believed that air power was insufficient, and wanted America to lose.

. Of course, they turned out to be wrong. But, even those critics supported Clinton's mission.
They wanted him to do more, not to stop what he was doing.


That seems hard to square with their actual actions, as noted above.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 20, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

To all: Ron Suskind's new book reviewed in today's NYT.

Recommended.

Posted by: obscure on June 20, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely - I was working from memory. You sound like you remember the details better than I do, so I'll withdraw my comment.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 20, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Another of Menchaca's uncles, Ken MacKenzie, lashed out at the government Tuesday on NBC's "Today Show," saying it didn't do enough to bring the men home safe, The Associated Press reported.

How long before Ann Coulter, Queen of Conservatives, calls Menchaca's uncle a traitor?

When are you going to speak out against her, ex-liberal, and continue doing so night and day until she stops her shameful tirades against the family members of our troops?

As you know, failure to forcefully speak out against someone is the same as supporting and agreeing with that someone - at least, that's the standard that conservatives insist on applying to liberals who don't spend each and every minute of each and every day preaching to the choir about how bad the terrorists are.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 20, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: I was working from memory.

And as we all know, ever since Reagan faulty memory has been ubiquitous in conservatives and a ready rationalization for just about every lie or mistake they've made.

And those mistakes and lies have been legion.

Maybe the GOP (Goobers on Parade) can come up with some theme music to go along with their "I forgot, I can't remember, and I don't recall" refrain?

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 20, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly: I call bullshit. Do we have to post all the vile, bilious comments from the Republican Congress et al regarding Kosovo during Clinton's presidency again?

ex-liberal: But, even those critics supported Clinton's mission. They wanted him to do more, not to stop what he was doing.

You know, ckelly, I believe we do have to repost all the vile, bilious comments. Read these and see if the Republicans actually wanted Clinton to "do more" rather than to "stop what he was doing." By their own standard, the Republicans were objectively pro-Milosevic and on the side of genocide.

"President Clinton is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."-- Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"No goal, no objective, not until we have those things and a compelling case is made, then I say, back out of it, because innocent people are going to die for nothing. That's why I'm against it." -- Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/5/99

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy." -- Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy." -- Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of presidential candidate George W. Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning...I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area." -- Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"You think Vietnam was bad? Vietnam is nothing next to Kosovo." -- Tony Snow, Fox News 3/24/99

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years" -- Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"I'm on the Senate Intelligence Committee, so you can trust me and believe me when I say we're running out of cruise missles. I can't tell you exactly how many we have left, for security reasons, but we're almost out of cruise missles." -- Senator Inhofe (R-OK), committing treason by revealing our military strength to the enemy.

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today" -- Representative Tom Delay (R-TX), providing a stunningly prescient criticism of Bush's Iraq folly.

"I don't know that Milosevic will ever raise a white flag" -- the defeatist Senator Don Nickles (R-OK)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?" -- Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is." -- Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

"This is President Clinton's war, and when he falls flat on his face, that's his problem." -- Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)

"The two powers that have ICBMs that can reach the United States are Russia and China. Here we go in. We're taking on not just Milosevic. We can't just say, 'that little guy, we can whip him.' We have these two other powers that have missiles that can reach us, and we have zero defense thanks to this president." -- Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)

"You can support the troops but not the president" -- Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)

"My job as majority leader is be supportive of our troops, try to have input as decisions are made and to look at those decisions after they're made ... not to march in lock step with everything the president decides to do." -- Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"For us to call this a victory and to commend the President of the United States as the Commander in Chief showing great leadership in Operation Allied Force is a farce" -- Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly." -- Representative Tom Delay (R-TX), once again blaming America first and siding with the despots. Of course, he was paid by the Russians to do so, but still....

"Once the bombing commenced, I think then Milosevic unleashed his forces, and then that's when the slaughtering and the massive ethnic cleansing really started" -- Senator Don Nickles (R-OK), blaming America instead of the Serbs. Why did Don Nickles hate America?

"Clinton's bombing campaign has caused all of these problems to explode" -- Representative Tom Delay (R-TX), blaming the brave men and women of the Air Force and Navy who conducted the bombing campaign.

"America has no vital interest in whose flag flies over Kosovo's capital, and no right to attack and kill Serb soldiers fighting on their own soil to preserve the territorial integrity of their own country" -- Pat Buchanan (R)

"These international war criminals were led by Gen. Wesley Clark ... who clicked his shiny heels for the commander-in-grief, Bill Clinton." -- Michael "Weiner" Savage, calling American forces "war criminals" and comparing American officers to Nazis.

"This has been an unmitigated disaster ... Ask the Chinese embassy. Ask all the people in Belgrade that we've killed. Ask the refugees that we've killed. Ask the people in nursing homes. Ask the people in hospitals." -- Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"It is a remarkable spectacle to see the Clinton Administration and NATO taking over from the Soviet Union the role of sponsoring "wars of national liberation." -- Representative Helen Chenoweth (R-ID), saying that America is no better than the Communists.

"By the order to launch air strikes against Serbia, NATO and President Clinton have entered uncharted territory in mankind's history. Not even Hitler's grab of the Sudetenland in the 1930s, which eventually led to WW II, ranks as a comparable travesty. For, there are no American interests whatsoever that the NATO bombing will either help, or protect; only needless risks to which it exposes the American soldiers and assets, not to mention the victims on the ground in Serbia."-- Bob Djurdjevic, founder of Truth in Media, saying that the American commander-in-chief was worse than Hitler.

Posted by: Stefan on June 20, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

No doubt you can find some colorful quotes,

Yes, "colorful" quotes by people such as George Bush, Rick Santorum, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough, Tony Snow, etc. -- none of them real decision or opinion makers in the Republican Party. All those times when they sided with the Serbs or compared the American forces to Nazis and Soviets and called them war criminals -- why, that was merely "colorful," not intended to give aid and comfort to the enemy!

Posted by: Stefan on June 20, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats will get nowhere unless they contrast their policies with the current Bu$h policy of keeping US Troops in Iraq for a very long time.

Posted by: bakho on June 20, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

craigie's own plan is to hold on to the "ponys" (not to mention the ponies) and to reinstall Saddam Hussein instead, so that the people of Iraq may again benefit from his munificent and bountiful rule.

craigie! You told! You fool, I told you to keep your mouth shut until the plan was in place!

Posted by: Stefan on June 20, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, does this quote mean that the people of Iraq will benefit from my munificent and bountiful rule? 'Cause if so, bring it on!

Posted by: craigie on June 20, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, ex-lib, that was quite a pounding you and your fantasies took upthread. Get better soon.

Republicans: traitors, cowards, and victims of Alzheimer's!

Posted by: craigie on June 20, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate: Maybe the GOP (Goobers on Parade) can come up with some theme music to go along with their "I forgot, I can't remember, and I don't recall" refrain?

I suggest "Amnesia" by Chumbawamba:

Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?
Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?
Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?
Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?
I don't remember...
You sing the same old verse
Stick like glue for better or worse
What goes around comes around, again, again, again....


Posted by: Stefan on June 20, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

I say we stay in Iraq until we win, and if that's too "open-ended" for you, too bad.

With the Army about to break under the strain, exactly who is going to be staying there?

Posted by: cyntax on June 20, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Galloway's dust-up with Larry DiRita is a nice primer of the problem (quoted upthread) that Cheney is blissfully ignoring, but how about we hear it straight from the soldiers:


    When you speak of the "ARMY" does this include the guard units? cause brother i can tell you the "ARMY" national guard has imploded on itself.
    our unit is receiving "late mobilization" additions from the bottom of the cracker barrel. broken and in bits an' pieces. three of the four incoming had profiles, the fourth had physical therapy 3 times a week!
    sad when an old man like me can do more push ups, sit ups and run faster than a twenty something year old. yes my time is up, over twenty now , i will make room for the "NEW ARMY".

This administration cares not a whit for the military or the soldiers serving in it, other than as a means of stiring up patriotic fervor and increasing Haliburton's profit margin.

Posted by: cyntax on June 20, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Good work, Stefan.

ex-lib:

I was working from memory.

You could say that. You could also say you were running your mouth without benefit of thought or consideration. A habit with which you appear to be well acquainted.

Posted by: obscure on June 20, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

I almost repeat::

Our staying in Iraq is what al-Qaeda wants. If you're for "staying the course," you're working for al-Qaeda.

Think about it. Really.

Posted by: buddy66 on June 20, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

Regular armed forces are not looking at all and upping the reenlilstment bonus isn't going to help. We're bring in more Cat IV's, we're bringing in more people with disciplinary problems, more people with criminal records. We're promoting 100% of the majors in critical MOS's to lt. colonel because the good officers are leaving.

This war with a country which had nothing to do with 9/11 (according to the 9/11 Commmission), and which had no WMDs is destroying our Army.

Bringing the troops home isn't "cutting and running", it's pro-military.

Posted by: cyntax on June 20, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Which is why Osama came out in favor of John Kerry right before the election, right Buddy?

Well, yeah. That's just reverse psychology; Bin laden is going to endorse the candidate he wants to lose. You don't think Bin Laden would expect his endorsement to actually help a candidate; I mean he's a lot of things but he's not a complete idiot.

Posted by: cyntax on June 20, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Aaaah Cheney

Willing to fight to the last drop of someone else's blood are ya?

Keep up the good work - we need more men like you here in the electronic trenches.

Just remember - never three men on a match.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 20, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Back on topic though: if doubling the pay for military wouldn't help, why not the draft then? 68 million available men.

Cheney, you know this adminstration could never do that, it'd be political suicide. Do you really think that reinstating the draft is a viable option?

Posted by: cyntax on June 20, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax: Unfortunately there is much more at stake here than "rents." To equate our basing in the Philippines and Korea with Iraq is a false equivalency of ludicrous proportions.

In principle, the basing of forces in the Philippines was also more important than rents, but that's what it came down to. And I did not "equate" or assert any "equivalence". Korea and Philippines are merely examples that long-term commitments are not necessarily bad.

Stefan, your quotes from Republican opponents of Clinton illustrate a dark chapter of Republicanism. As with some Democrats now, there was no good reason to be so intemperate and mean-spirited. Had their comments been more reasonable, I think the US might have been able to intervene earlier and more effectively in Kosovo. I do sympathize with people who claim that Republican criticism of Clinton was more sever and unreasoning than Democratic criticism of Reagan and GHW Bush. I may be biased, however, because I voted for Clinton and didn't vote for GHW Bush. Even so, there was a totally incommensurate meanness directed toward the Clintons.

Posted by: republicrat on June 20, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

After November 7th, it is ; )

Well that's certainly putting somebody's money where your mouth is, but I'll eat my hat if that happens.

Posted by: cyntax on June 20, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Korea and Philippines are merely examples that long-term commitments are not necessarily bad.

Sure, but we weren't taking casualties the whole time we were there, so I don't really see how those examples compare to Iraq. It's apples to oranges. And if you aren't comparing them to Iraq, then I'm missing your point in bringing them up in a discussion about Iraq.

Posted by: cyntax on June 20, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

And if you aren't comparing them to Iraq

I merely said that they are not equal or equivalent. They are informative, alike in some respects, unalike in others. Nothing is exactly like anything else.

You make a good point about not taking casualties. Of course, we did in fact take many more casualties in the wars in Korea and Philippines (original conquest, then defeat and reconquest). I am sure that an open-ended commitment to taking casualties at the present rate is something no one supports. A point in the debate is whether there will be more casualties in total if we announce a withdrawal schedule or do not announce a withdrawal schedule.


Cheney: After November 7th, it is ; ) Not unless the winning candidates have promised to reinstate the draft, or a state of the Union gets attacked by a large foreign military force. Really Cheney, sometimes you're beyond the pale.

Posted by: republicrat on June 20, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

hacksaw: Josh Marshall's observation is simply wrong. The administrations war policy has hardly been on autopilot but has in fact adjusted several times to problems encountered on the ground. Examples include where we position our forces within Iraq, the switch in emphasis in training Iraqi police versus the Iraqi military, and a (long delayed unfortunately) switch in emphasis on the reconstruction projects we prioritize. Of course his claim that there is more and more evidence that the strategy isn't working only holds true if one ignores the political developments in Iraq and the continually growing capability of Iraqi forces.

I agree, but this isn't accepted in the "reality based community". To them, anything not bad for Bush is simply not real. For example, the increasing numbers of large-scale engagements initiated or performed entirely by Iraqi forces are absolutely not a part of reality.

Posted by: republicrat on June 21, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Can anyone explain how the Democratic "plan" is
A) A plan
B) Not an open-ended commitment?

Why are the Democrats so terrified of taking a position that most voters support?


Could it be more pathetic?

Posted by: Alan in SF on June 21, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

republicrat: I am sure that an open-ended commitment to taking casualties at the present rate is something no one supports. A point in the debate is whether there will be more casualties in total if we announce a withdrawal schedule or do not announce a withdrawal schedule.

It sounds like you and I agree about an open-ended commitment to taking casualties, but the adminstration's position is not exactly clear to me at this juncture.

Previously I was in the "we broke it, we bought it" camp and thought that we had to stay. Now I'm beginning to think that staying is no longer the lesser of two evils. Here's what Colonel Hackworth (RIP) had to say about our chances of winning back in 2005:

    Our grunts have been letting me know since the early days of the invasion that there has never been enough people power on deck to do the job. Were stretched too thin has been a constant complaint. Battalions are doing the work of brigades and brigades divisions, snorts an infantry skipper now in the Mosul area of operations.

Since this problem is still unchanged, I really think that keeping the troops there, without significant changes to the force posture means that they will continue to take causualties. So I'm for bringing them home.

Posted by: cyntax on June 21, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

I am sure that an open-ended commitment to taking casualties at the present rate is something no one supports.

Bush does. He proposes no substantive change to his current policy and announces that we will be in Iraq until at least January 2009. So until that point, at the earliest, we have a commitment to taking casualties at the present rate.

Posted by: Stefan on June 21, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

The administrations war policy has hardly been on autopilot but has in fact adjusted several times to problems encountered on the ground. Examples include where we position our forces within Iraq, the switch in emphasis in training Iraqi police versus the Iraqi military, and a (long delayed unfortunately) switch in emphasis on the reconstruction projects we prioritize. Of course his claim that there is more and more evidence that the strategy isn't working only holds true if one ignores the political developments in Iraq and the continually growing capability of Iraqi forces.

Those are changes of tactics, not of strategy. It's like redecorating the cabins while the ship is going down.

Posted by: Stefan on June 21, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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