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Tilting at Windmills

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September 27, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NO PONIES LEFT....I had the same problem with David Ignatius's column today as Matt Yglesias did, but I also had another one. Basically, Ignatius wants Democrats to figure out how to salvage things in Iraq:

Many Democrats act as if that's the end of the discussion: A mismanaged occupation has created a breeding ground for terrorists, so we should withdraw and let the Iraqis sort out the mess....But with a few notable exceptions, the Democrats are mostly ducking the hard question of what to do next....Unfortunately, as bad as things are, they could get considerably worse.

....The Democrats understandably want to treat Iraq as George Bush's war and wash their hands of it. But the damage of Iraq can be mitigated only if it again becomes the nation's war with the whole country invested in finding a way out of the morass that doesn't leave us permanently in greater peril. If the Democrats could lead that kind of debate about security, they would become the nation's governing party.

I agree that allowing Iraq to spiral into civil war would be a disaster, but it's telling that Ignatius doesn't propose a solution himself aside from a vague allusion to the possibility of federalism and partitioning an idea that's been floating around liberal foreign policy circles for the past couple of years but has gone nowhere because it has no traction either among Republicans or among Iraqis themselves.

Look: A "debate" is fine, but only if there's something to debate. Should we privatize Social Security? Let's debate. Should we debate about how to fix Iraq? We could, but only if there were some plausible solutions to argue about. Unfortunately, there aren't. We don't have enough troops in Iraq to keep order and the troops we do have aren't trained properly anyway. Nobody appears to have any serious desire to change that. Politically, the sectarian split in Iraq is embedded deeply in their history and culture and is mostly beyond our ability to affect, especially after three years of mismanagement. Globally, we have virtually no influence left with either local power brokers like Iran or with our European allies.

Various luminaries in the liberal foreign policy community have been proposing Iraq policies right and left for over three years now. Initially, that perhaps we should have kept our focus on Afghanistan and stayed out of Iraq altogether. Then, once we were there, liberal thinkers suggested more troops, dialogue with Iran, a multilateral council to accelerate regional investment in Iraq's progress, a variety of counterinsurgency strategies, a variety of partition plans, more serious engagement in Israeli-Palestinian talks (Tony Blair practically begged for this), and on and on. Every single one of these suggestions was ignored.

Would they have made any difference? Who knows. But to blame Democrats now for not being aggressive enough in trying to trisect this angle is like blaming Gerald Ford for losing Vietnam. George Bush fought this war precisely the way he wanted, with precisely the troops he wanted, and with every single penny he asked for. He has kept Don Rumsfeld in charge despite abundant evidence that he doesn't know how to win a war like this. He has mocked liberals and the media at every turn when they suggested we might need a different approach. The result has been a disaster with no evident solution left.

It's one thing to ask for "debate," but it's quite another to ask for a pony that doesn't exist anymore and to blame Democrats when they're unable to produce yet another one after three years of trying. That makes no sense.

Kevin Drum 12:16 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (140)

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Comments

It's only fair -- Bush and the Republicans have got us this far in Iraq, so the Democrats should come up with a plan to take us the rest of the way (even though they have no way to implement any such plan, and conditions may have changed dramatically when and if they are in such a position).

Posted by: Nemo on September 27, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I dropped the eggs! I was trying to make an omelette! I made a mess! Come and clean it up for me! Now! Whaaa!

Posted by: ExBrit on September 27, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

What Dems really need to get hip to and quick is the only way forward is to hold those responsible to account.

Posted by: Dan on September 27, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

The end should be: "to blame Democrats when they're unable to produce yet another one after three years of Republican Party mistakes. That makes no sense."

Posted by: MNPundit on September 27, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Al,
Before you get rolling, please define "success in Iraq".

Also, are you paid by any agent of the Republican Party and/or the Scaife Foundation? If so how much and under what terms?

Thanks.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 27, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"...the possibility of federalism and partitioning an idea that's been floating around liberal foreign policy circles for the past couple of years but has gone nowhere because it has no traction either among Republicans or among Iraqis themselves."

Which Iraqis? The Kurds? The Shiites?

The only Iraqis with whom federalism and probably even partition (even for the Kurds) doesn't have traction are the Sunnis, a certain percentage of whom will accept nothing short of a unified Iraq under their dictatorial control. But since that unified Iraq under Sunni control is not going to happen doesn't it make more sense not to cave into the demands of armed thugs, and simply go about the business of devolving power or partitioning the country without their consent.

America may not have enough troops in Iraq to prevent men from driving trucks into crowds of civilians and blowing up several hundred people at a time, but we do have enough troops in Iraq to help relocate Sunnis in Shiite areas to Sunni areas, and likewise with the other ethnic groups. And once the lines of the map are redrawn the dream of a united Iraq will begin to fade. Sunnistan (of all the three new countries) may be quite a mess for some time to come, but it may actually turn out to be the most prosperous of all three new nation-states. Oil wealth (which the Sunnis do not have) has tended to be more of a curse than a blessing in that part of (and much of) the world, and cities (full of educated people, and the Sunnis you'll recall are Iraq's elite) have tended to be a blessing. The city of Baghdad and all those Sunni engineers and merchants and doctors are more valuable than any amount of oil in Kirkuk.

Posted by: Linus on September 27, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's own plan is to hand the mess off to his successor.

Posted by: Leonidas on September 27, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Just to be cruel: the most successful political pitch ever made by an American candidate in similar circumstances was Ike's 1952 "I will go to Korea."

The war was more or less unwinnable, and Ike knew it, but it was also a major political dilemma -- and he damned sure knew THAT. So the undoubted war hero simply announced that once elected, HE would be in charge -- and that was that; the Democratic nominee never had a chance.

Ike never had a plan, exactly; and he realized immediately after taking office, if he didn't know long before, that there was nothing for it but a heavily fortified ceasefire in place.

So Democrats don't need a plan -- but we DO need something bold and unequivocal to say.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 27, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Did you ever think that maybe there are no GOOD solutions to Iraq maybe just less BAD solutions? How many Friedmans do we give it 1,2,10,20,100?

Posted by: R.L. on September 27, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Get the electricity on in Bagdad 24x7.

Posted by: bob on September 27, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Get the electricity on in Bagdad 24x7.

Posted by: bob on September 27, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

This is likely to end like Vietnam, with us eventually tucking tail and leaving the Iraqis to sort it out. And who wants to bet that in the wake of the inevitable bloodbath that we created a bunch of war supporters will point to that bloodbath as evidence of why we did the right thing by going in, ala Vietnam.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on September 27, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

We could, but only if there are some plausible solutions to argue about.

Hah? What are you talking about? Bush has already given his solution. We should stay the course and democratize Iraq. When the Iraqis stand-up we will stand down. When our mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will return home to a proud nation. What is YOUR problem with the Bush's plan?

Posted by: Al on September 27, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

So the Repubs drove drunk, smashed us headfirst into a tree, and now want us to think up a story before the cops arrive!

Posted by: creepy dude on September 27, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

> Get the electricity on in Bagdad 24x7.

I had friends and former co-workers who were asked to go to Iraq to help with the electricity situation. Not Republican-approved appointees, but people who actually know how to do that sort of stuff. Those who after seeing the conditions still agreed to go were all back by mid-2004. It was too dangerous and a virtually impossible task then; it hasn't gotten any less dangerous or easier since.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 27, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Perfect. The GOP's most strident warmongers got us into this mess, and it's "Damn those Democrats for not being smart enough to figure a way out of this!"

Bush has locked himself and the rest of the nation in the bank vault, and now we're supposed to be miffed that the Democrats don't have an escape plan. If they were leaders I guess they could melt steel with their brain waves or something. Sheesh.

Kevin is absolutely correct in the message he's been pushing for the past couple of week: this fiasco is a clusterfuck with no good options left. It's amazing, but the GOP has fouled this up so bad, the badness of the situation is now a weapon they're using against Democrats. Complaining about the (mythical) dearth of Good Ideas (TM) from Democrats on Iraq is just a distraction from how badly the current administration has bungled things, and how voters should no longer trust them to do their grocery shopping, let alone conduct the war. Eyes on the prize, people.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on September 27, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans have learnt, and correctly so, that all they have to do is to win the war of public opininion at home, and they know very well about the tactics necessary for the victory: just sow doubts about things that are objectively true, let the sycophantic media put those doubts in the headlines, and watch as the ADD suffering somnolent 50.00001% of Americans eat it all up.

The Dems have learnt nothing from the 12 years of being anally raped with a broomstick.

Posted by: gregor on September 27, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

The solution involves the US reaching a regional security agreement with neighboring countries, most importantly Iran, and secondarily Syria. Part of the regional security agreement would create a sort of ME regional Marshall plan, with the cooperation of Iran. Whether US troops stay in or out of Iraq given such a regional agreement is largely irrelevant. Unfortunately, I don't see the Democrats as having the political ability (or even the interest) domestically, to pull off an agreement with the currently demonized Iran.

We have lost political flexibility to act in our own long term interest. We have no opposiion party.

Posted by: CSTAR on September 27, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

So the Repubs drove drunk, smashed us headfirst into a tree, and now want us to think up a story before the cops arrive!

And we were the passenger begging them not to drive, to pull over once they'd started, and screaming that a tree was just ahead.

Posted by: ckelly on September 27, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Quick solution to Iraq: let them vote, in a plebiscite, on our cotinued presence. Hooray democracy, right?
As for Ignatius, we have about 30,000 troops, on any given day, working "outisde the fence" of our military bases trying to control this country of 27 million. With Bush running the policy. Naturally, we're not doing a good job. And Ignatius seems to forget that Bush is the Commander in Chief. If Democrats control Congress, the most they can do is control the purse strings (appropirations) for Iraq. They still can't run the policy. The best thing they can possibly do is investigate the criminal negligence of this administration and put an end to the corruption and incompetence. They shouldn't be called upon to propound the correct counter-insurgency tacitcs and political negotitions. That's why we have the Pentagon (DoD) and Foggy Bottom (State). These agencies, devoted to this sort of analysis, are unfortunately controlled by hacks who seem to dismiss or hide from reality whenever it rears it's head.
So the democratic plan should be to hold hearings on why State and the DoD keeps screwing things up, and what the plans and options are to fix things.
Also, for more comprehensive info on how to hold a vote in Iraq, check: http://agorabum.blogspot.com/2006/08/iraq-solution-put-it-to-vote.html for more details.

Posted by: agorabum on September 27, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I just want to say that you describe the situation very forcefully and very well Kevin -- I wish you were getting those big WP op-ed bucks.

Posted by: Steve on September 27, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Even if you concede Ignatius his mindnumbing point, it still misses the crucial necessity for SOME moral accounting. The distortions, incompetence, and hubris in their actions screams for acknowledgement. Yes, we all know it. Hell, even they probably know it. But if we can't agree about reality's basic outlines, what good will our "solutions" be? Our arguments must presume some kind of common logic and precepts. As it stands now, there are none.

Posted by: walt on September 27, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

we all knew this would happen (blaming dems). the republicans are the party of one track minds, and this is always their "answer" to problems they create. if it's not The Clenis, it's dems in general.

which is why i think everyone should take a look at a prison sometime soon. the demonization of the left has only begun.

Posted by: chicago dyke on September 27, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Its time for a new campaign slogan that gets to the heart of the matter:

The GOP: Bombing countries that don't have the bomb, wimps to those that do.

Posted by: Thin White Guy on September 27, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

One is not allowed to call Iraq a ClusterFuck or Quagmire. With over 2,700 KIA,30,000 wounded and another 70 billion the other day,can we call it "A Bottomless Pit"?

Posted by: R.L. on September 27, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes you're just screwed.

Kinda like when Admiral Donitz took over after Hitler's suicide, and tried to operate a rump German government near the Baltic. They all busied themselves with plans and procedures, and then the British just walked in and arrested them all one day.

Posted by: Red on September 27, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

And we were the passenger begging them not to drive, to pull over once they'd started, and screaming that a tree was just ahead.

Yes, but they still claim it is our fault because we got in the car, which we left filled with gas before handing them the keys.

Posted by: Nemo on September 27, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't "Apocalypse Now" just about due for a remake?

Posted by: Thin White Guy on September 27, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Our arguments must presume some kind of common logic and precepts.

Extremely well put.

There can be no debate if one of the parties in the debate adamently refuses to accept facts on the ground as they exist.

How can you propose a solution to avert the civil war if the architects of the war and those who are managing it do not accept that this problem even exists?

But Dems and Dems alone are responsible for the situation having come to this.

Posted by: gregor on September 27, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's own plan is to hand the mess off to his successor.

January 21, 2009 -- it will be Hillary's war

Posted by: Ray Waldren on September 27, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

So the Repubs drove drunk, smashed us headfirst into a tree, and now want us to think up a story before the cops arrive!

Best annalogy I've heard yet.

So on November 7th, we revoke their license and sell their car and they can take a cab in the future.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 27, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention which, detailed alternatives have been proposed by Democrats, most recently George McGovern's in the current issue of Harper's.

The balls of these people...

Posted by: truth4achange on September 27, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! No fair! We've got a plan!

Surrender! Make it impossible for our troops to fight any more! Let them come crawling back in defeat where we can spit on them in person! Let the enemy eat Iraq whole and start killing Iraqis where we don't have to look at it any more!

It's a great plan! It worked like a charm in Vietnam, and all the unpleasantness afterward was comfortably off-stage. Hey, it's practically a vacation spot now, with all those post-war democracy-puke troublemakers dead or fled.

Posted by: dnc on September 27, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

If we offered Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, one each, to the three largest insurgent factions in exchange for laying down their arms and participating in a pluralistic limited democracy, I bet the Iraqis could find a way to live together.

It would be win win for both the peoples of Iraq and the US.

Posted by: Hostile on September 27, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Hah? What are you talking about? Bush has already given his solution. We should stay the course and democratize Iraq. When the Iraqis stand-up we will stand down. When our mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will return home to a proud nation. What is YOUR problem with the Bush's plan?"

Do you know what the word, "plan," means? You haven't listed any sort of plan; you've produced a list of desirable outcomes. How do you propose to acheive them?

Oh, hell, we all know you aren't serious about terrorism, or defense of the country--you're only concern is spinning this debacle for the elctorate . . .

Posted by: rea on September 27, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Should we privatize Social Security? Let's debate."

I notice that debate ended up pretty much the same way, with Democrats claiming the problem doesn't exist, so they don't have to think of anything.

Posted by: bart on September 27, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Et tu, Drum?

Iraq can't "spiral" into civil war. That happened years ago.

That whole avoid the "civi war" phrase is just the White House's latest linguistic nonsense. Like Social Security "privatization".

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on September 27, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

So the Repubs drove drunk, smashed us headfirst into a tree, and now want us to think up a story before the cops arrive!

It's more like they already have made a plan to pin the blame for the disaster on the dems, and the dems are quietly and timidly waiting in the corner hoping against all hope that somehow due to their silence the cops will not believe the story.

Posted by: gregor on September 27, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

My congrats to the Jefe-in-Charge for starting this exciting thread. However, I do have one complaint, and that is I did not receive my advanced copy of a "heads-up".

All kidding aside, I offer up the following and from the perspective of the Chicanos and Chicanas for having served in our Armed forces--current and former members.

Here is the link:

http://www.chicanoveterans.org/id19.htm

(Cactus Juice Commentaries)

Respectfully Submitted.


Posted by: Jaango on September 27, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile

Best idea I've heard yet.

Posted by: tomeck on September 27, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Bart, Principal Skinner is coming and boy is he pissed. Get your skateboard and be gone. Hurry now.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 27, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be offended if Hostiles scenario played out and aWol got intimmately acquainted with a blow-torch and a pair of needle-nosed pliers (hat-tip to Marcellus Wallace.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 27, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's sort of pointless for the Democrats to come up with a plan now anyway. Even in the unlikely chance that they take majorities in both the House and Senate, they still won't have the power to stop Bush from doing what he wants to do 2006-2008. Not unless they cut the funding and does anyone think the Dems really have the balls to do that? I certainly don't.

As for what to do in Iraq, the options are so terrible that you only have the choice of which catastrophe is less damaging. Since Iran is going to take over most, if not all, of the country shortly after we leave, perhaps we should consider negotiating with Iran to get out of their way, say in exchange for curtailing their nuclear program?

Posted by: brianinatlanta on September 27, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Good answer. Going to take me all morning analyzing that intelligent response. Dropping down to that level, the real Bart Simpson would have a field day with somebody whose nickname is "Global."

Posted by: bart on September 27, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Make it impossible for our troops to fight any more! Let them come crawling back in defeat where we can spit on them in person!

That is a very good plan, but most Americans are unable to spit properly. If a clever electrical engineer could come up with a device that only required the push of button to spit a big glob of sputum on the face of a soldier, Americans would embrace it.

Posted by: Hostile on September 27, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

brian:

Since Iran is going to take over most, if not all, of the country shortly after we leave, perhaps we should consider negotiating with Iran to get out of their way, say in exchange for curtailing their nuclear program?

Hey, that's an even better idea! Throw countries at Iran and hope it all goes away! Worked great in the late 1930s! For a while.

Posted by: dnc on September 27, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Good answer. Going to take me all morning analyzing that intelligent response.

Since your comment about Social Security is completely off the mark, it is not surprising that you can't understand why nobody takes you seriously.

Posted by: Gomer on September 27, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Apologies if this has been stated earlier (haven't had time to read through the thread), but this "blaming the Democrats" business is clearly the current campaign strategy of the Republican'ts. Thus the BS "Path to 9/11" hokum and the associated "blame Clinton for not capturing Osama" stuff. Blaming us for not sorting out Iraq is simply another angle in the campaign.

Posted by: Wonderin on September 27, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Why offer a solution if there is no way to implement it? Control of Congress still isn't control of the Armed Forces. Only a Democratic Presidential candidate can propose a solution that could actually be implemented. The only action the Dems can take is to investigate.
The mistakes made in Iraq have been hidden by the GOP and Bush, not to mention the reality of the situation on the ground.
The Dems should vow to hold 5 or 6 day work weeks, with lots of long hours, in order to discover what really has been going on the last three years. Only once we have the true picture of the facts on the ground can we devise a change. Have 'em even send congressional investigation committees to Iraq and the neighboring countries (hopefully composed of ex-military staff and hard nosed professional diplomats, not some namby pamby staffer who's parents donated a lot of cash, a la "Life in the Emerald City").

Posted by: agorabum on September 27, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

"So Democrats don't need a plan -- but we DO need something bold and unequivocal to say."

We don't want to stay the course, we want to change the course.

If anyone says "What's your plan," the response should be "Fire Donald Rumsfeld. Listen to the generals. Talk with our allies, including those OUTSIDE the 'Coalition of the Willing.' What's the Publicant's Plan?"

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 27, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Since your comment about Social Security is completely off the mark...

If you look at the post, Drum was the one who brought it up in this context. I just pointed out that ducking the problem was used for that issue too.

I notice the "since we're not in power, why have policies?" gag has been invoked here, too.

Posted by: bart on September 27, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

---here, but what's the deal with "Some extreme war critics are so angry at Bush they seem almost eager for America to lose, to prove a political point."

And the Matt goes on to say: That's a serious charge. Does Ignatius have evidence for it? No. Does he cite any examples? No. Does he name any names? No. I find it extremely frustrating that you're allowed to toss off this kind of liberal-bashing without providing any backing.

Exactly!

I saw some Dems that did provide some plans.

As Bush USE to say - as they stand up, we'll stand down. But Bush seems to be avoiding that talk now?

I wonder way, could it be because many the Iraqi police have turned into milita and that there no longer is a viable training plan?

Who was it that was running for Democratic office that said to team one US trooper with each Iraqi officer but he didn't get elected but somehow that plan made so much sense to me, that it hurt.

A couple of weeks ago on Meet the Press, someone from NRO said that Bush's "stay the course" sounded stubborn. Duh, ya think NRO?

And Dems have offered a plan, its called making Iraq accountable. John Kerry said all this just the other day that a time-table is the answer. We simply don't have the manpower AND Americans are not wanting to get more invested in this lossing battle whereby Bush is creating more terrorist to fight over there to give himself an excuse for a war.

Why isn't David Ignatius asking what plan McCain has other then Bush's "stay the course"? McCain wanted more troops but where is McCain planning on finding more troops? McCain isn't being realistic, when the only option would be to start the military draft, but most American already think this war was mistake.

There is only one option - and that is a time-table for withdraw, or as Dems like to say "re-deployment".


Posted by: Cheryl on September 27, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

"We don't want to stay the course; we want to change the course" isn't bad -- in fact it's already the Bush guys' latest slogan: "adapt to win."

Firing Rumsfeld is also a good focus -- but "listening to our allies" (especially the ones who won't back us up) diffuses that focus.

I've always said about Iraq that wars are easy to start and hard to finish. FWIW, that's not a bad focus, either --- Bush obviously screwed up when he started this war.

Maybe we should just keep asking if America trusts Republicans to finish it.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 27, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"'Should we privatize Social Security? Let's debate.'

I notice that debate ended up pretty much the same way, with Democrats claiming the problem doesn't exist, so they don't have to think of anything."

This clearly demonstrates the Publican't method of political discussion. Start with a f**ked up solution, then accuse the Democrats of ignoring the problem.

Aside from the fact that the Publican't skewed the data to greatly overstate the problem (lies, damned lies, and statistics), Democrats did acknowledge there may be a problem in the future, depending on the economy and growth in the workforce. (With all those illegal immigrants coming in, looks like the workforce IS growing rapidly, and even better, they pay in without being able to take out.) And Democrats even offered a simple solution--raise or eliminate the cap on wages subject to payroll tax.

But like the war in Iraq, the Publican't "plan" actually makes things worse instead of better, and somehow this is the Democrats' fault????

The Big Lie lives in the policies of the Publican't Party.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 27, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"If a clever electrical engineer could come up with a device that only required the push of button to spit a big glob of sputum on the face of a soldier, Americans would embrace it."

I'd love such a device, but I wouldn't use it against a soldier, and I dare you find a Democrat who would.

I'd use it against any neocon I could find. If it had the range, I'd especially like to use it against Unka Dick, Unka Karl, and Rummy. I'd like to smear Rummy's face in the blood of a fallen soldier. I'd like to shove an amputated limb up where the sun don't shine.

You want to compare someone to the Devil? It's a tough choice between the three of them, but on the whole, I'd have to choose Cheney, since he seems to be in charge.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 27, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Some extreme war critics are so angry at Bush they seem almost eager for America to lose, to prove a political point."

What, you don't see ANY war critics like this? At ALL? Where do you live? There are a hell of a lot of people who are dreaming of the day when that last helicopter flees Iraq and everything they've said since the 1960s is gloriously vindicated.

Here's a little test for everybody:

You open the morning paper, and Iraq has beaten the last holdouts. The Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds have worked out power sharing, and the oil wealth is spread to all citizens in nice, fat royalty checks. The rebuilding proceeds apace, the government of Iraq declares a national holiday, parades of Iraqi troops go down the streets with cheering Iraqis lining the sidewalks, and a statue of Bush is erected on a plaza somewhere.

Hey, look! You just bit your own bloody TONGUE off, didn't you?

Case closed.

Posted by: monkeybone on September 27, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

My apologies to US soldiers. Cal Gal is right, spit and blood should only be smeared on the faces of US politicians who voted to give war powers to Bush.

Posted by: Hostile on September 27, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Step # 1 for Dems: Pull out the National Guard

This is a sensible first step.

"The Democratic Party will press for a policy of returning the National Guard from front-line status. The Guard is not front-line troops. We will press for a policy of returning ALL Guard units by Jan 1, 2007."

Posted by: POed Lib on September 27, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

So Democrats don't need a plan -- but we DO need something bold and unequivocal to say.

I agree.

My plan - pull the Guard. The Guard is not front-line troops. It is being abused in Iraq.

Step # 1 - pull the Guard.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 27, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

bart wrote: "I notice that [social security] debate ended up pretty much the same way, with Democrats claiming the problem doesn't exist, so they don't have to think of anything."

That's a particularly dumbass lie.

Bart whined: "Going to take me all morning analyzing that intelligent response. Dropping down to that level ..."

Typical brain-dead Bush-bootlicking neo-brownshirt mental slave behaviour: jump into the thread with a dumbass lie, regurgitating some bit of scripted Republican propaganda, and then when someone points out that you've just posted some scripted dumbass lie, whine about the "level of discourse" and how "liberals" won't "argue seriously."

Where do these propaganda-regurgitating dumbass dittoheads come from, and are they really so dumb that they don't realize that everyone else sees how dumb they are?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 27, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

bart wrote: "If you look at the post, Drum was the one who brought it up in this context. I just pointed out that ducking the problem was used for that issue too."

No, you just regurgitated some scripted, programmed, dumbass, fake, phony Republican bullshit lie, like the ignorant, weak-minded dupe that you are.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 27, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Chaos and bloodshed if we stay, chaos and bloodshed if we leave. There are no good alternatives. However, we can replace the defective leadership that got us into this mess, rather than leave them in charge. "Stay the course" didn't work very well for the Titanic, and it isn't a "plan" for Iraq.

Posted by: chasmrich on September 27, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Boy it's the same old shit from the Republicans, trying to spin their way out of the mess:

Bin Laden delcared war on America and Clinton did nothing.

The Iraqis have had elections and the north is flourishing [omit part about Iraqi Kurdistan flourishing before the invasion as well]; we must stay the course.

Democrats and the liberal media endanger national security by leaking and publishing classified documents.

The Bush administration did not do nothing after they received the not an anti-terrorist plan from the Clinton administration because it was just a series of actionable items anyway.

When it comes to fighting terrorism, we Republicans are butch and the Democrats are a bunch of pussies.

The cut-and-run Democrats have no plan.

And the latest: Polls may say the Iraqis want the US out of Iraq, but you can't trust polls.

When will the godforsaken electorate awaken to the fact that the country is being run by a bunch of dangerous fanatics.

Posted by: Lucy on September 27, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Chris Wallace can ask Bill Clinton why he didn't do more to bring democracy to Iraq. Anything Bush hasn't done right is, of course, Clinton's fault in one way or another. It's easy- e.g. the national debt wouldn't be so high right now if Clinton had run more of a budget surplus.

Posted by: clb72 on September 27, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone:

> Here's a little test for everybody:

> You open the morning paper, and Iraq has beaten the last holdouts.
> The Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds have worked out power sharing, and
> the oil wealth is spread to all citizens in nice, fat royalty
> checks. The rebuilding proceeds apace, the government of Iraq
> declares a national holiday, parades of Iraqi troops go down
> the streets with cheering Iraqis lining the sidewalks, and
> a statue of Bush is erected on a plaza somewhere.

Woah ... did you cum good?

*Speaking* of fucking ponies, Jesus ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 27, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Bart, the statement was "'Should we privatize Social Security? Let's debate." and not "Is my plan for privatizing Social Security better than yours? Let's debate."

The Dem reply to the initial question was that the pro-privatization crowd had selectively applied the worst of the government's own range of economic forecasts to Social Security projections to create the appearance of a looming near-term crisis. If, instead, the same forecasts were used that were being accepted for other government economic projections, Social Security faced minimal, at most, funding problems.

The question implicitly assumed that there was some long-term problem with Social Security that required privatization to fix it. The Dem response answered that question. No detailed response to a thinly-fleshed out proposal was required.

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on September 27, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

No one will present a plan for Iraq because all options are politically untenable.

Either you leave (Defeatocrats!) or double troop levels and commit long term (draft! raise taxes!!)

The bushites have no plan to do anything politically untenable so they will tread water and let somebody else deal with it.

The Repugs are hoping and praying that the Dems screw themselves by offering an actual plan. Whomever offers a plan first has to sell the reality of Iraq to a public that doesn't want to accept it.

Eventually someone is going to have to act like an adult and clean up the mess.

Posted by: Rob Sommerville on September 27, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone:

In case you missed this fabulous post from last night:

=-=-=-=-=-=

monkeybone, oh monkeybone...

Are you still here?

I guess I'm one of those naive liberals and I'll admit I'm just
naturally inclined to agree with the many posters in this thread who
would rather engage with Iran and cut them some slack in their pursuit
of nuclear power. Some weakness I was born with, probably.

You sense this, not only in me, but in all progressives, and your
considerable condescension is completely understandable. I don't think
it's rude. After all, we're here for debate, aren't we? I'm impressed,
actually. You're made of sterner stuff than us and you're breadth of
knowledge is astonishing. Would you believe you've won me over? I want
to cleave to your point of view.

This is a new way of thinking for me, though. I'm a little uncertain.
What is the plan, exactly? How do we deal with these Islamists? I
mean, we've got the Iraqis well in hand. The Israelis have taken care
of Hezbollah. Afghanistan's been pacified. Iran's all lined up,
deservedly so. You've convinced me of that; but what's next? Is there
a timetable?

Do we go into Yemen next? That shouldn't be too hard. Maybe knock down
Bahrain and the UAE. Well, I don't know. You see it so much better
than I do. Should we do Egypt before or after Turkey? We probably
shouldn't wait too long on the Saudis. And Pakistan, it needs to be
completely out of the blue, right? I mean they have nukes.

There's all those other countries in north Africa, probably just roll
over them in a few weeks. And we've got the navy for Indonesia and
Malaysia. There's a bunch of Islamists in southern Thailand, did you
know that? Of course you did. We'll need to take care of them.

I'm probably getting ahead of myself. OK. Your plan obviously would
make more sense. You don't have to tell me every detail. Just brief me
a little.

Thanks. I'm with you all the way.
Posted by: exasperanto on September 27, 2006 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

-=-=-=-=-

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 27, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Ignatius. Regardless of blame, the Congress and President have to deal with the sitation as it is.

In 1932, FDR could have said, "The Depression is Hoover's fault and it's unfixable. Vote for me; I couldn't do worse." Fortunately he said more. He took on the task of fixing the economy.

I'd like the Dems to offer their solution to the problems in Iraq and the GWOT generally. Their approach might be better than Bush's, but we can't judge it if we don't know what it is.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 27, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Change Course, Kill the Horse,Adapt to win,Is a Strawman sin,Impeach the prick,Don't forget Dick,Terrorist be Damned,The right is a sham.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 27, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

There is something crucially and vitally important that we can fix in Iraq.

Fire the leadership.
(and prosecute them for war-crimes).

I guarantee, it won't embolden the terrorists any more than they're already emboldened.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 27, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I beyond sick and tired of hearing pundits demand that the Dems figure out a way to unring the bell of the Iraq War.

It is enough for the Dems to demand that the humpbacked GOP release grip of the rope.

Posted by: Disputo on September 27, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

So Democrats don't need a plan -- but we DO need something bold and unequivocal to say.

The Dems could say that they have a secret plan to end the war....

Posted by: Disputo on September 27, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

The bushites have no plan to do anything politically untenable so they will tread water and let somebody else deal with it.

Exactly right--and that is the message. Americans already get this...even the Political Animal trolls frantically pretending they don't.

Posted by: shortstop on September 27, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think this will come as much of a surprise, but in my quick scan of this thread the great majority of right-wing comments seem to be variations on the "...what you liberals REALLY want is..." or "...what you liberals REALLY think is..." projection themes. They actual problem of Iraq seems a secondary issue, if that. Yet somehow it's liberals who deserve blame for "not having ideas".

Posted by: sglover on September 27, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Step # 1 for Dems: Pull out the National Guard

This is a sensible first step.

Democratic leaders should accept POed Lib's idea and pound the Republicans with it.

Posted by: Hostile on September 27, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I sent the following email to Mr. Ignatius last evening:

Read your Op-Ed tonight "The Big Question Democrats Are Ducking".

I am as much of Mid-East expert as Bush is (I was born and raised there).

I predicted all that has occurred to date in Iraq back in 2002 and I did not have a Multi-billion dollar intelligence apparatus at my fingertips to manipulate.

I am not overly impressed by calls for Democrats to have a "plan". They are not in charge and can not put a plan into effect even if they came up with a coherent plan. Redeployment is a political position, but a valid one given the entire WOT is a political position for Bush himself. Second, your column makes the assumption that there IS a solution to the mess in Messopatamia.

I do not agree with this premise.

There will be a conflict in Iraq that will draw in the regional powers (this has already occurred to some extent but will just reach its maximum effect sooner if the US leaves).

I am from Turkey and have been following the local reaction to events in the press there and I can tell you that Bush has no clue to the shit storm that is coming. You will see $120 oil. $80 will look cheap - how about $6/gallon? Hey in Turkey, the price today is $9/gallon in normal times! Why shouldn't the US public pay a higher price? The money wasted on these kinds of military invasions is merely a subsidy to defer these oil related expenses anyway. This is in the long run counter productive, especially since oil is a fungible resource.

The producers have to sell to some one and eventually it all evens out. I never understood why countries think they can "control" oil supplies by exerting economic/military forces over certain countries. This is a ridiculous assumption. Oil simply goes to the highest bidder (kind of like Mad Max).

If the US had stayed indefinitely in Vietnam the end result would have been the same. I do not think the final outcome will change substantially if the US withdraws from Iraq in 2007 versus 2009? The locals will determine their future even if this means substantial bloodshed in the interim. The only question for the US is how many more casualties to incur? Would you sacrifice your son for this conflict. I think you know the answer to that. Then why should you ask to sacrifice some one else's son?

I am sick and tired of pundits like you and Friedman telling us why other people should sacrifice their children in this effort.

You may want to read this article in your own paper today re first balck female West Point cadet killed in Iraq (Why?):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/26/AR2006092601765.html

There are thousands of other stories just like it.

Posted by: Young Turk on September 27, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

sglover wrote: I don't think this will come as much of a surprise, but in my quick scan of this thread the great majority of right-wing comments seem to be variations on the "...what you liberals REALLY want is..." or "...what you liberals REALLY think is..." projection themes. They actual problem of Iraq seems a secondary issue, if that. Yet somehow it's liberals who deserve blame for "not having ideas".

That's because the ignorant, weak-minded dupes who post those comments are members of the Cult of Hatred of Liberals, led by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and various other bought-and-paid-for phony propaganda shills of the most extreme of the ultra-right-wing extremist corporate elites.

They don't really care about Iraq, or about any other "issue." The only thing they really care about is hating "liberals" 24x7, just as the only thing Hitler's brownshirts really cared about was hating "Jews". They love to hate. They are members of a cult of hatred. That's what they are all about. Their so-called "conservative" politics has no other content except their hatred of "liberals".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 27, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

many of us young working class Democrats

It never ceases to amaze me how the wingnuts always claim that they are/were Dems; they intuitively know that being Publican is dirty and creepy.

The Korean War saw no anti-war protests by John Kerry and Jane Fonda- types.

More wingnut rewriting of history. Like with VN, the anti-Korean War protests were led by returning servicemen, like JK.

Posted by: Disputo on September 27, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

YK, nice.

Posted by: Disputo on September 27, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

mhr is a paradigmatic example of an ignorant, weak-minded dupe and member of the Limbaugh-Coulter Cult of Liberal Hatred. His every single post, from beginning to end, is nothing but slavish regurgitation of scripted right-wing extremist bullshit with no content other than his hatred of "liberals". Where Hitler's brownshirts were brainwashed to love to hate "Jews", our modern-day American neo-brownshirts like mhr love to hate "liberals".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 27, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo:

I think Thomas is a concern troll, and never was a Democrat at all, but I get the vibe that mhr is sincere.

It reminds me more of the days when there were a lot of cultural reactionaries, knee-jerk militarists and Red-baiters in the Democratic Party, before Nixon's Southern Strategy and the '72 Party reforms forced a realignment.

We may have suffered electorally for it ever since. But our Democratic consciences are a *helluva* lot more clear as a result.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 27, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 wrote: "I get the vibe that mhr is sincere."

I can't imagine what you find to be "sincere" about mhr's comments. Every single word he posts is nothing but slavish regurgitation of scripted Republican bullshit talking points. If there was ever a right-wing extremist commenter here whose comments make me think they might actually be generated by some sort of bot program from a collection of boilerplate text, it's mhr.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 27, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should, and must, leave Iraq pretty soon. Not cut and run so mush as leave and stroll. I believe in doing this we will be better off rather quickly and not worse off. Heres why:

When we go there is going to be a shit storm sure enough, so lets get it over with now as opposed to later. If the various factions wish to fight it out, they will but I think that as opportunity costs accumulate, the elites on the various sides will have reason to moderate. It wont be pretty, it wont be over night, but it will subside.

So you say that Iran, Syria and others will step in. Fine, let them tie up their resources in this tar pit. Let Iran invest its GDP in a power grab, thats less money for their nuclear program. Same with the Saudis, less money publishing textbooks that condemn the U.S., among other outrages.

Meanwhile we can rebuild our shattered military and begin getting ready for whatever comes next; and even have some funds on hand to secure our ports.

If we find that terror camps are operating in Iraq after we leave, we can always pay a quick visit. Muqtada al-Sadr up to no good, take him out. Better now than when after Iran goes nuclear. Strangely, we might end up with more workable options once our troops are out.

What I am proposing is not humane, since we passed that exit some time ago. We have to, in the short term, save ourselves so we might be of some productive use to the greater world later on.

Posted by: Keith G on September 27, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 wrote: "I get the vibe that mhr is sincere."

Bobby, put down the crack pipe, that's one fucked up vibe.

Sincere mhr recently typed:

"Modern Democrats have declared war on Christians...."

Not so much sincere, more like a lying sack.

Posted by: Keith G on September 27, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G & SecularAnimist:

Well, you can be sincere and sincerely wrong. There were an awful lotta racists and cultural warrior-type Christian fundies in the Democratic Party before the Southern Strategy split. Their conspiracy theory du jour, of course, is how those Decadent Sixties poisoned the Party and turned it into a bunch of spineless peacenik do-gooders.

I mean, the Reagan Democrats are a real phenomenon.

It's also entirely possible to imagine an ex-Democrat who has turned rabidly anti-Democrat: witness Zell Miller. And this would make sense because an old duffer who voted for those heroic anti-Communists Truman and Kennedy finds no home in a Party that led the charge against the Vietnam war and for cultural liberation issues like civil and women's rights.

Sure -- you'd have to imagine this old curmudgeon sitting in a townhouse in an adult community somewhere (probably in Arizona) that selects for Republicans. Sure, a person like this is the functional equivalent of a right-winger who never had a Democratic thought in his/her life.

I just don't think sincerity is necessarily at issue here.

Oh and Secular -- love ya, you know I do. But you're hardly one to cast aspersions at boilerplate responses :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 27, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to defuse the sectarian civil war is to coopt its leaders and give them incentives to become part of a federalist system.

First, accept that informal political power is power nevertheless, and find ways of to make their power more formal. Give them responsibility for security and infrastructure, either by electing them or letting them form businesses that would drive reconstruction.

Then, give these local leaders the money that now goes to military operations and to companies like Halliburton. This allows Iraqis to control reconstruction, and it also employs them in activities that don't involve improvising explosive devices. It should begin the creation of a middle class that will have an interest in stability.

At the same time, it is necessary to reduce the apparent presence of US forces. This may mean withdrawal from Iraq, or it may mean redeployment to less populated areas. Whatever the tactic used, it is important to reduce the perception of the US as an occupier that has started a fight by invading, and now wants to control that fight (and, by extension, whatever government emerges from the process).

Whatever US forces remain in Iraq should focus their operations on protecting Iraqis in the process of reconstruction, not on looking for and attacking insurgents. The point here is to coopt Iraqis as partners against the insurgency by giving them incentives ("they killed my sister!") to do so, and removing the incentive to attack the "occupiers."

In my mind, our central failure here has been to focus on fighting the insurgency when we should have been concentrating on reconstruction. To be sure, reconstruction requires security. But insurgents might be less inclined to sabotage projects owned and controlled by local Iraqi leaders than they would those owned by Halliburton. They might also prefer a job to an IED. It looks an awful lot like Iraq policy is more of a Halliburton subsidy than a state-building project. If some Americans have that impression, it should be no surprise that many Iraqis do as well--they are on the ground watching a bunch of foreigners living high on the hog while they can't feed their families. And we should not wonder that it pisses them off.

Posted by: R. Stanton Scott on September 27, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I go with Linus.

Partition is quite popular among Iraqis, except for the Sunni.

We should start by getting out of the Anbar province ASAP. Let the Sunni and Al Qeda have that area. If the Sunni do not want Al Qeda there, then Sunni need to talk to Syria and Arabia about getting help.

I cannot seen how putting Yanks in Kurdistan helps, we would just drag along a gazillion Jihadists with us cause havok.

We should start by supporting the militia in their own areas. Let the Iraqi Army divide themselves up according to their sectarian loyalties. Help the militia defend their own areas as we fairly rapidly retreat south.

Posted by: Matt on September 27, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

[quote]Hey, that's an even better idea! Throw countries at Iran and hope it all goes away! Worked great in the late 1930s! For a while.[/quote]

What other option is there other than to actually fight the war which means:

1) Start a draft and pull in 100,000-200,000 new troops.

2) Resind the tax cuts and raise taxes to start funneling it into the military.

3) Start gas rationing.

No one purposes that because you think the Iraq war is unpopular now? Try to do any of the above.

So just saying we shouldn't do something because it looks like or actually is appeasement won't do for an argument. Anyone who wants to seriously debate what we do in Iraq has to face the current political reality in the United States and the world. And that political reality is that we have no more troops and no more money and no access to any other country's troops. What can we REALLY do other than cut the best deal we can as we get out?

Posted by: brianinatlanta on September 27, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Let's just assume, for arguments sake, that the Democrats came up with the perfect solution. The problem remains...Bush is the Commander in Chief, and Bush controls the Pentagon, and Bush will continue to do whatever he wants to. Further, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice and the President would rip and criticize any alternative plan, using Fox News and Sunday talk shows to whip up on any proposed changes. The print media, fearing loss of access, and desiring to appear unbiased, would mangle the debate, obscure the facts and frame the debate to the point of mere folly. For example, former President Clinton raises questions the media neglected to ask the Bush White House, but the media reports that "Clinton Loses Cool." If the Democrats had a plan, it would get burried and lost in the morass of campaign news about "macaca," and gay marriage bans, and gas prices, etc.

Posted by: fcadmus on September 27, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

I for one, don't blame the Dems for getting us into this mess (that would be unfair to lay on the Dems, given the total control over both the exec and legislative branches that the GOP has had). I am also not saying the Dems havent been trying to get some ideas across the aisle for the Bushies to consider over the past few years.

I am saying, however, that now the game has changed FROM that of trying to convince the GOP about ways to fix Iraq TO that of convincing America at large that we can trust the Dems with the keys to the castle and that they have a clue of how to run the castle if they get them. I for one am yet to be convinced of this.

It is old hat to say that Bush got us into this mess I can certainly agree with that. The important question is: Now that it is Americas (not Bushs) problem, what are the Dems going to do about it?

In other words, the Dems are still fighting the 2000/2004 campaigns. Im interested in knowing how they will fight the 2008 campaign.

Posted by: Srikant on September 27, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone:

Here's a little test for you:

You open the morning paper and read the date September 27, 2012. The 9,101st American to die in the Iraq war was killed the day before by an IED. You read that the network of VA hospitals is collapsing under the burden of caring for 200,000 severely disabled soldiers. Another mass shooting by a soldier with PTSD who was released from the hospital prematurely has killed 9 in Detroit. Iraqis are still dying at the rate of 100 per day, as they have been since 2006. A terrorist bomb detonated by a Muslim suicide bomber outside the heavily fortified American Embassy in Cairo has killed 15 Egyptian soldiers who form part of its guard force. Even since they've been socialized American airlines are struggling with the problem of few customers because security protocol requires pre-screening four days before the flight, and half-hour body scans of all passengers. Iraq was split into three states back in 2008, and the three different governments have been even less able to deal with the revenge-bent and oil-hungry militias. Women are regularly beaten by vigilantes due to rumors that they are attending college classes or meeting with men not members of the their family behind closed doors. The U.S. couldn't afford the kind of incentives required to keep large numbers of volunteer military troops, and no American politician would institute a draft, so over the last few years, mercenaries have increased to make up half the coalition forces. They are constantly accused of illegal actions, and occasionally atrocities, but U.S. forces depend on them too much to investigate closely. The Iraqis who remain in the country are primarily too poor to leave, or rich enough to afford armed bodyguards.

Hey, look! You just responded "When the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down!" No need to do anything but stay the course. It's clearly the road to victory. Besides, if we quit now, all those soldiers died in vain.

Posted by: cowalker on September 27, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

exasperanto: Okay, off the cuff.

Start with Iran.

Step one in Iran, and any other problem nation, is to realize that the U.N. is utterly useless, and probably counterproductive. Most liberals will jump ship right there. Obviously, with some Security Council members having decided that Iran will never suffer any consequences for defiance, the U.N. is pretty much out of the loop now.

Step Two is more effective support of opposition groups in Iran. Encourage communications with funding and technical support. Figure out ways past the wrecked satellite dishes. Nothing involving military action.

Step Three is pushing harder on outside methods of providing nuclear energy to Iran, keeping up the ludicrous pretense of course that this is what they're interested in. Their interest in these ideas will let you know their real motives.

Refining fissionables outside the country for use in supervised reactors would be one way, until they throw out the supervisors. This can be done in combination with Two. Note that a lot of this stuff has already been tried.

Step Three is improving U.S. human intelligence in Iran, a place where the U.S. is very weak. One quick fix is organizing information with the Israelis, who, I guarantee, have much better resources there than the U.S. does.

This is also something that should be combined with previous steps.

If none of this gets the job done, then we take it up up a notch to Step Four, which is to organize a group of nations outside the U.N. and arrange sanctions on Iran if Iran continues to defy the U.N. Whether this would work or not is questionable, with someone like China cheerfully willing to buy oil from anyone at all, and not giving a rat's arse if Iran nukes Israel or not. But it's worth a shot.

Notice that if the U.S. negotiates one-on-one with Iran, it's still in the same position of not being able to offer any sticks or carrots that someone like China can't trump anyway with hard cash, so this approach doesn't really change anything at all. A red herring.

Military action should be Step Five, a long ways past Step Four. There are two major approaches here. Neither of them involve ground force invasion and occupation.

The first would be a targeted attack on nuclear facilities. This is tricky, but an attack would, at the very least, seriously delay development. Attacks at other critical points might work. It's damn hard to develop and test missiles underground. There will be civilian casualties.

Second, there may be possibilities in a naval blockade. This would raise almost as much political trouble as an attack, but has a lesser chance of collateral damage in Iran or elsewhere. Much would depend on cooperation from allies in the area, or at least from other oil nations that wouldn't mind getting a bigger piece of the action.

Both of these approaches involve few ground troops, but a lot of use of mostly-idle U.S. air and naval forces. There would still be a lot of danger for them, particularly the blockade force, which by definition is almost a sitting duck. Make sure the naval defenses are in top form.

That should give you something to start with. If you ask for a solution on this, and some gormless idiot mentions "engagment" or "effective diplomacy" with no further details, pull his shorts up over his head.

Posted by: monkeybone on September 27, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone:

You took exasperanto's post seriously.

The post was pure snark. Unbelievable ...

Okay, I should go respond to yours now.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 27, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

cowalker:

And, if we pull out of Iran tomorrow, all the bastards who would be doing all these things will just say, "Oh, well, that's all right then. Back to the farm."

These people have been attacking the West for years. You can cling to the fantasy that it's all Bush's fault, and nobody would hate us if Al Gore were president, but it doesn't stand up.

This entire thread could be summed up in one statement: The Democrats would happily see half the planet go up in smoke if Bush and the Republicans went up with it. No wonder they aren't interested in solutions.

Posted by: monkeybone on September 27, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

What's disgusting about the article is the subtext, which is: If Democrats can't find a solution to the Republican-created problem that Republicans have no solution for, then voters should retain the Republicans in office. That's implied, pretty strongly, in the article, if you read it through all the way. But it's an unsupportable conclusion. Even if (as I don't concede) Dems don't have a solution for Iraq, if neither side has a solution, why not dump the people who got you into the problem in the first place?

Posted by: meph on September 27, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Here is the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives re: the United Nations. I mean, we all know it is flawed. We all know that there is corruption. We all know that the ideal is way over here, and the reality is way the fuck over there. Okay. I am not disputing that.

Where we hit the fork in the road is on what to do about it. You say just get rid of it. I say make it better. Make it work. Lead by example and stop being a bunch of whiny little bitches. In a world where rogue states are working on developing nukes, do we really want to get rid of the closest thing to a deliberative body that we have anywhere on the planet? Of course not. So stop bitching and come up with some solutions to make it work to it's potential.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 27, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone writes:

You open the morning paper, and Iraq has beaten the last holdouts.

That would be the best-case scenario. But as recent history has suggested, none of the best-case scenarios the Bush administration has presented has come to pass (wasn't oil revenue supposed to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq?). Our government needs to start engaging in Realpolitik, and deal with what is happening, plan for what is likely to happen, and be honest with the American people about it.

Posted by: Andy on September 27, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin misses the point of Ignatius' column about the Democrats by talking about "various luminaries in the liberal foreign policy community" and all their great ideas. With the possible exceptions of Sen. Biden and Rep. Murtha the people he is referring to are, at best, potential appointees to posts in a future Democratic administration. They have no standing with the public, no loyal constituency; the most any of them will ever be is advisers.

The potential future Presidents in the Democratic Party -- the Clintons, the Kerrys, the Obamas and Bayhs and Edwards's -- are doing exactly what Ignatius says they are, rearguing the debates of 2003 if they're saying anything at all. As a tactic for avoiding risk this is hard to beat, but for establishing leadership credentials it is...lacking.

In terms of campaign tactics for 2006 this may not matter, which is just another way of restating the truism that if political support for the party in power collapses the party out of power will benefit no matter what it does. In the event support for Bush and the Republicans does not collapse, though, the Democrats might be better off looking ahead with Presidential aspirants who had something to say about a critical foreign policy issue beyond, "why should I have a position? Just look at the mess they've made!"

Posted by: Zathras on September 27, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Military action should be Step Five, a long ways past Step Four. There are two major approaches here. Neither of them involve ground force invasion and occupation. The first would be a targeted attack on nuclear facilities. This is tricky, but an attack would, at the very least, seriously delay development. Attacks at other critical points might work. It's damn hard to develop and test missiles underground. There will be civilian casualties. Second, there may be possibilities in a naval blockade.

See, parents? This is what happens when send your children to I Can't Believe It's a Military Academy!

And while all this is going on, what are the millions of Iranian-allied Iraqi Shiites going to be doing to the 150,000 American soldiers in their midst? Throwing flower petals on them? Or perhaps rising up, cutting off their supply lines, and attacking them en masse?

So instead of merely being at war with 30% of Iraqis and losing, we'll then be at war with 80% of Iraqis....

Posted by: Stefan on September 27, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

I was making a point. It's a lot easier to sit around, yell, and throw empties onto the field, than it is to actually win a game.

Oh, an addendum to my list: It's going to be a lot easier to arrange a blockade, attack, or even sanctions without Saddam and his military sitting there next door.

Posted by: monkeybone on September 27, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

(shaking head) The SECOND most successful political position in a similar circumstance was Nixon's "secret plan" to end the American war in Vietnam in 1968. When he took office, he called it "Vietnamization." It was always bogus -- but in U.S. politics, it worked wonders: he was elected, then RE-elected.

So thus far, there are two historic illustrations: First, Ike's bold, dramatic co-opting of the issue "I will go to Korea", which allowed him to both win the election AND to bail with a ceasefire in place. (Granted, the Korean peninsula in 1954 was a radically different situation; I'm just observing the politics.)

Second, Nixon's "secret plan", which was a significant part of his credibility (Nixon's credibility: there's an oxymoron, but of course it's the premise of all those Nixon to China analogies) in 1968.

In the end, of course, Nixon realized that to Vietnamize the war was to lose it, so what he was really working for was "a decent interval" between American withdrawal and South Vietnam's collapse.

To this day, there are millions of Americans who quite legitimately blame the Democracts in Congress for finally pulling the plug on the ARVN, dooming scores of millions of our friends -- that's the right word, yanno -- to conquest, complete with gulags.

That this was always Nixon's political strategy (considerably less of an oxymoron) doesn't make it less real.

I suppose there might be a THIRD example, albeit on a much smaller scale, which has the peculiar quirk of having also been instigated by Rumsfeld: Reagans' pulling the Marines out of Lebanon after the suicide bombing of their barracks. Rumsfeld's personal request that Reagan have the NJ shell the Bekaa hills led to the attack on our Marines; and Reagan pulled them out cuz they weren't doing any good -- but then he pounced on the chance to liberate Grenada.

Oddly, these all involve Republicans. I can't think of any examples of a Democrat who pulled an Eisenhower, a Nixon, or a Reagan like this.

I find it helps to look at historical examples: any others?

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 27, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Like that Dem female House candidate in PA said, and I'm sorry her name escapes me, paraprhasing here, "Don't ask me how to put the egg back together after you've smashed it to the ground."

Posted by: markg8 on September 27, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Those same Iraqi Shiites have buried tens of thousands of their family members after the war with Iran. Other than the ringers Iran has sent into the South after the fall of Saddam, and flunkies like Sadr and his goons, I doubt you're going to find that many fans of the Iranian regime in Iraq.

Posted by: monkeybone on September 27, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

You open the morning paper, and Iraq has beaten the last holdouts.

Thanks to its new squadrons of freedom loving unicorns....

What? What? That's at least as reasonable as anything the wingnuts have written....

Posted by: Stefan on September 27, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Good one Stefan. WHen the Unicorns join that brigade of Centaurs, they will be unstoppable, I tell you! Unstoppable!!!

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 27, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

If Democrats can't find a solution to the Republican-created problem that Republicans have no solution for, then voters should retain the Republicans in office. That's implied, pretty strongly, in the article, if you read it through all the way. But it's an unsupportable conclusion.

Really. In the corporate world, if a CEO is failing, they get kicked to the curb and an interim is installed while a new one is hired based on their career history. They aren't asked to come up with a comprehensive business restructuring plan before getting the job. They certainly are not asked to do so while the failing CEO is still in power.

In business it is understood that if what you are doing is failing, you try something different. You bring in fresh blood. You don't keep wacking yourself in the head with a hammer in the hopes that someone will take it away from you before you crush your skull.

So much for the GOP running the gvmt like a business.

Posted by: Disputo on September 27, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Those same Iraqi Shiites have buried tens of thousands of their family members after the war with Iran. Other than the ringers Iran has sent into the South after the fall of Saddam, and flunkies like Sadr and his goons, I doubt you're going to find that many fans of the Iranian regime in Iraq.

AHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!

Yes, not that many fans --except, of course, for the Iraqi government, including Iraqi PM Maliki, who sought refuge in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War.

Iran offers Iraq 'full support'
BBC News, September 12, 2006

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has offered Iraq full support in stabilising the security situation in the country. He made the remarks in Tehran after talks with the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Mr Ahmadinejad said "Iraq's security is Iran's security".

Mr Maliki is making his first official visit to Iran since he took office in May.

"Iran supports the Iraqi government that has been created by the Iraqi people's votes, and strengthening a united and independent Iraq is in the interest of all the region", Mr Ahmadinejad said.

Mr Maliki said his discussions with Mr Ahmadinejad had been positive. "Even in security issues there is no barrier in the way of co-operation."

Few concrete details of their talks have emerged, except that an agreement covering political, security and economic co-operation was signed.

After fighting a long war in the 1980s, the relationship between Iran and Iraq has improved since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Many of Iraq's new Shia leaders have close ties to neighbouring Iran.

Mr Maliki lived in Iran during the 1980s when Saddam Hussein was in power in Baghdad.

....Mr Maliki is due to meet Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, on Wednesday.


Posted by: Stefan on September 27, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

The solution was to have not gotten into this mess in the first place. All we can do now is cut our losses by getting the hell out of Dodge. We may not like it. Sure it looks bad. But despite all the bad consequences you can point to, withdrawal is still the best out of a bunch of bad options. It cuts our losses the most.

Maybe now the country will learn that the guy who talks the toughest game isn't necessarily the one who plays the best game.

Posted by: The Fool on September 27, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Iran vows to help establish security in Iraq, boost bilateral ties
USA Today, Updated 9/12/2006 12:03 PM ET

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Iraq's prime minister made his first official visit to Iran on Tuesday, asking Tehran to prevent al-Qaeda militants from slipping across the border to carry out attacks, an Iraqi official said. Iran's president promised to help Iraq establish security.

The visit by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reflected the complex relationship between mostly Shiite Iran and Iraq's government, dominated by Shiite allies of Tehran. Ties have grown stronger between the two, including new oil cooperation.

...."We consider Iraq's progress, independence and territorial integrity as our own," Ahmadinejad said.

...."This trip will strengthen bilateral relations. Iran and Iraq, as two brotherly neighbors, will stand by each other and unwanted guests (U.S.-led coalition forces) will leave the region," he [Ahmadinejad] said.

Al-Maliki described the talks as "very constructive" and called Iran "a very important country, a good friend and brother."

Since Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003, Iraq has sought closer ties with Iran and to heal scars left by the 1980-88 war that killed more than 1 million people on both sides.

Al-Maliki's Shiite-led government has strong ties with mainly Shiite Iran, and they are growing even closer, with Baghdad sealing deals last month for Tehran to provide it with gasoline, kerosene and cooking fuel amid a shortage in Iraq. Al-Maliki spent years in Iran and Syria in exile.

An Iraqi economic delegation visited Iran just before al-Maliki to discuss further petroleum deals, including the possibility of Iranian investment in Iraq's fuel sector, said Haidar al-Obadi, another Dawa party parliamentarian.

Posted by: Stefan on September 27, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist, your analysis goes along with my thinking which I was just to lazy to write out.

Reagan pulled them out cuz they weren't doing any good -- but then he pounced on the chance to liberate Grenada.

Along those lines, I think that after Nov GWB will declare victory in Iraq, pull out the troops (to our permanent bases, and shuffle them across the border to Iran to, in part, distract from the Iraqi killing fields.

Posted by: Disputo on September 27, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Go look at question 10 in the survey discussed in the thread above.

Posted by: monkeybone on September 27, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib: Regardless of blame, the Congress and President have to deal with the sitation as it is.

GOP: Majority Rules....but don't blame us...

Posted by: mr. accountibility on September 27, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that offering our policy options is a waste of time. No one listens. No media messenger would explain to the public what a Democratic position is--no matter who offers it. What we should be saying loud and clear is that, "We can't do anything about it until you elect a Democratic President, because this Republican President has already closed his mind. He tells you that over and over and over. So he's not going to listen to anybody else's plan--Democratic or Republican. So, ask the 2008 candidates for their plans for Iraq. And elect the person who has the right plan."

Posted by: Rachelle on September 27, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Just got on so havenot read all posts, but, in case no one has suggested:

We want to install a democracy but first we need security in the country.

Let's ask the experts. Ask the military if they think they can create a relatively peaceful country, how they would do it, what they need.

If they think they can, we can then decide if the cost, as prescribed by the military, is one we want to bear.

Of course, we'd be hoping for an honest appraisal, not the one they think their C-in-C wants to hear.

Posted by: notthere on September 27, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

RonG or some similarly named person already covered Ike/Korea and Nixon/secret plan in another thread earlier today.

Posted by: shortstop on September 27, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Let's ask the experts. Ask the military if they think they can create a relatively peaceful country, how they would do it, what they need."

Military Experts:

"We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge," [ret. Maj. Gen. John] Batiste warned.

"We better be planning for at least a minimum of a decade or longer," contributed retired Marine Col. Thomas Hammes.

"We are, conservatively, 60,000 soldiers short," added retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of building the Iraqi Security Forces.

...the relatively hawkish Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.)...invited the officers to comment on the effect of a specific withdrawal date.

"The result will be a civil war of some magnitude that will turn into a regional mess," Batiste said without hesitation.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/25/AR2006092501114.html

Any takers? Not I.

Posted by: Lucy on September 27, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

So the Repubs drove drunk, smashed us headfirst into a tree, and now want us to think up a story before the cops arrive!

Bravo!

Posted by: Gregory on September 27, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

What, you don't see ANY war critics like this? At ALL? Where do you live? There are a hell of a lot of people who are dreaming of the day when that last helicopter flees Iraq and everything they've said since the 1960s is gloriously vindicated.

Name one.

Posted by: Gregory on September 27, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

If the Dems go into the elections without a plan for Iraq, they will lose.

That wingnuts keep calling on Dems to articulate a plan says everything one needs to know on this subject.

Fortunately the Dem leaders have not been so stupid as to take the invite to gather their forces behind a single bullseye.

Posted by: Disputo on September 27, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

"You open the morning paper, and Iraq has beaten the last holdouts."

That would be the best-case scenario.

Actually the most realistic scenario for success in Iraq is that Iraq reaches the stage Israel is at. They have an elected and stable government, and its civil systems work. Its government is democratic, without a "strong man," and made up of a broad range of interest groups, including those of other religions than Jewish.

They are still attacked by enemies and terrorists, but despite the deaths and damage, nobody ever believes these attacks will cause Israel to collapse or fall into any kind of civil war.

Israel takes hits, but is still Israel, and will be twenty years from now. If Iraq is lucky enough and determined enough to get to the same point Israel is now, even if someone sets off a car bomb now and then I will consider that a success.

Posted by: harry on September 27, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK
...it's going to be a lot easier to arrange a blockade, attack, or even sanctions without Saddam and his military sitting there next door. monkeybone at 4:43 PM
That's strange, because Saddam was an enemy of Iran who would have supported attacking Iran as Reagan supported Saddam in his war against Iran. Now that Iran is the major power in Iraq, it makes our troops hostages and weakens our position.
...I doubt you're going to find that many fans of the Iranian regime in Iraq. monkeybone at 4:46 PM
Yet the new president of Iraq was just in Iran seeking support. You must be reading Bush's spin points because you are less informed than anyone.
I notice that debate ended up pretty much the same way, ...bart at 1:00 PM
With all the 'publican plans guaranteed to make matters worse.
Going to take me all morning analyzing that intelligent response.... bart at 1:10 PM
You received more that your snide little remark deserved.

Latest poll from Iraq: 65% want the US out now
BAGHDAD, Sept. 26 -- A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.
In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post...

Posted by: Mike on September 27, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

...In a world where rogue states are working on developing nukes, do we really want to get rid of the closest thing to a deliberative body that we have anywhere on the planet? Of course not. So stop bitching and come up with some solutions to make it work to it's potential.

The problem is that the U.N. may be actively making things worse in a lot of areas. Its record in Africa speaks for itself (in peacekeeping, not in humanitarian aid, where it does pretty good).

Right now it's doing absolutely nothing in Lebanon, other than setting themselves up as human shields in any future combat situation.

I don't have any good answers. Maybe it's time to set up a new body, maybe based around NATO or something. When totalitarian states and free states have equal say, you already have a problem.

Posted by: harry on September 27, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

I just want to get my usual unheeded plea for nonviolence out there. I have a tough time understanding why, when the lessons are so clear and stark, why most Americans, even the majority of the liberals who post here Id wager, think when push comes to shove, you gotta kill.

On the nonviolence side you can put the lasting successes of the American Civil rights movement (King), Indian independence (Gandhi) and South African civil rights (Mandela) against any of the zillions of senseless wars, most of which were in response to hatreds bred in previous senseless wars.

Wouldnt it be simple if we took a pledge to attack no one unless attacked? Not 9-11 style attacks, real armies of real nations. Going back to Afghanistan, if we had restrained ourselves, the offense was so terrible we could have put together a coalition of nearly the entire world to oppose the terrorists, with much better long term effects than kill-kill-kill. A huge wasted opportunity. As it is, we will soon be desperately searching for some way to get out, just like Iraq today. But I'm always hopeful. At least we will have learned a tiny bit, taken another small step on the road to a nonviolent world.

Posted by: James of DC on September 27, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

accountability wrote: GOP: Majority Rules....but don't blame us...

Fine, I don't blame the Dems for terrorism or the problems in Iraq. However, if the Dems don't propose something sensible for dealing with those problems as they exist today, lots of people won't vote for them. Also, if the Dems came out with helpful proposals, maybe Bush would adopt them and we'd all be better off.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many Dems just automatically oppose whatever Bush is for. That kind of mindless obstructionism could interfere with our war efforts, if the Dems take control of Congress.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 27, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, the bad faith never stops around here.

Posted by: Lucy on September 27, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

My first plan, long before the invasion, was not to invade. My second plan (shortly before the invasion, when it was reported that there were no plans for after the military victory), was that we should plan for after the military victory. When looting began and Al Qaqa'a was left wide open, my plan was to increase the military presence and get cracking with rebuilding. After reports of harsh treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan and especially at Baghram, and again at Abu Ghraib, my plan was to hold head honchos like Rumsfeld responsible and sack them. Lately I've run out of plans except one. This isn't for Iraq, but it's pretty good for the next one: take Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, and about a dozen top neocons (Feith, Wolfowitz, and some others) and ship them all off to The Hague for trials and long prison sentences. Then bring back stocks and pillories and put Limbaugh, Coulter, and O'Reilly into them. Then vote the Republicans out of office and reinstitute the Geneva Convention, Habeas Corpus, and all the Amendments that the Republicans have been chipping away at. I'm afraid that it doesn't do much for the Iraqis, but otherwise it would work for me.

Posted by: N.Wells on September 28, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

N. Wells strogly supports Bill of Rights, yet wants to put Limbaugh, Coulter and O'Reilly into stocks and pilories, thereby violating Freedom of Speech and the prohibition of Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

N. Wells has demonstrated the wisdom of Kevin's recent recommendation that more people be familiar with "cognitive dissonance."

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 28, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

N Wells
You'd be surprised how many people think that would be an excellent palce to start.
As far as the threat from whomever, there is a piece out that made me really grin, realistically appraising the chance of success of a foreign attack on the U.S.
http://scoop.epluribusmedia.org
Still Smoking Crack About Iraq by Jeff Huber

Posted by: opit on September 28, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

I have a comprehensive plan to win the Iraq war, end our dependence on foreign oil and bring peace to the Middle East. I will be glad to share them with you on January 20, 2008.

Posted by: Al Gore on September 28, 2006 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

If anyone is still reading this thread, scroll back up and re-read the post by R. Stanton Scott on September 27, 2006 at 3:26 PM

It's the best I've seen yet of a realistic plan, succinctly expressed. Thank you, R.

Also, those who are still recycling the tripe about the dems "not having a plan" should re-read Drum's original freakin' post.

Remember this?

"First, that perhaps we should have kept our focus on Afghanistan and stayed out of Iraq altogether. Then, once we were there, liberal thinkers suggested more troops, dialogue with Iran, a multilateral council to accelerate regional investment in Iraq's progress, a variety of counterinsurgency strategies, a variety of partition plans, more serious engagement in Israeli-Palestinian talks (Tony Blair practically begged for this), and on and on. Every single one of these suggestions was ignored."

Right on, Kevin. Absolutely right on.

Then there's crap like this...

"Let them come crawling back in defeat where we can spit on them in person!"
Posted by: dnc on September 27, 2006 at 12:57 PM

I defy you to find one documented instance where that EVER actually happened during the Vietnam War. I defy you to find ONE Democrat who has expressed anything but support for troops. Of all the Iraq veterans now running for Congress, how many are Republicans? One. Which party cuts funding for veterans benefits, military pay, etc.? Now, go cheney yourself, asshole.

Then Monkeybone wrote this about Iran at 4:27-
"Second, there may be possibilities in a naval blockade."

Indeed. The strongest possibility is we lose at least one carrier battle group to Iran's anti-ship missiles, against which WE HAVE NO DEFENSE. How's several thousand dead sailors sound?

Your comment started to sound reasonable until you started seriously promoting the military options. You talk about supporting Iranian dissidents... then you talk about a bombing campaign and naval blockade. Yeah, that'll help those dissidents. Dumbass.

Posted by: RobW on September 28, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

monkeybone:

> Step one in Iran, and any other problem nation, is to
> realize that the U.N. is utterly useless, and probably
> counterproductive. Most liberals will jump ship right
> there. Obviously, with some Security Council members
> having decided that Iran will never suffer any consequences
> for defiance, the U.N. is pretty much out of the loop now.

Tell that to the (French-led, sacre bleu!) UN troops in
Lebanon, without which the Israelis would have never agreed
to a cesefire, let alone a withdrawal of their troops.

And ask the Lebanese people about that, while you're at it.

> Step Two is more effective support of opposition groups in
> Iran. Encourage communications with funding and technical
> support. Figure out ways past the wrecked satellite dishes.
> Nothing involving military action.

How do you have "effective support" of groups in a nation with
wbom you choose to remain implacably hostile? One of the reasons
some (not all) of those satellite dishes were wrecked is because
Ahmadinejad's hardline anti-Western stance comes as a response
to Bush's beligerent rhetoric. He was elected after the "axis of
evil" speech. Just as America responded with fear after 9/11 and
rejected progressivism, so too the Iranians sought a strong father-
figure over a reformist. And just like Bush, they got a demagogue.

> Step Three is pushing harder on outside methods of providing
> nuclear energy to Iran, keeping up the ludicrous pretense
> of course that this is what they're interested in. Their
> interest in these ideas will let you know their real motives.

What you don't understand, in your rush to demonize Iran and assume
the worst, is that Iran is extremely proud about its indigenously
developed industry and doesn't want to be at the mercy of any other
nation. Iran has no need whatsoever to manufacture automobiles --
South Korea is virtually giving them away -- and yet they do. Iran
also wants a homegrown sci-tech infrastructure not dependent on
foreign expertise. They see developing nuke technology as a matter
of national pride and independence. The pride issue gets a little
wacky (these are, after all, Persians), but it's also understandable.

> Refining fissionables outside the country for use in supervised
> reactors would be one way, until they throw out the supervisors.
> This can be done in combination with Two. Note that a lot of
> this stuff has already been tried.

They don't want to do this. They want to train their own nuclear
scientists to be able to do it themselves. It's an issue of autonomy
for them. What we need to do first of all is to stop lying about
their relatively primitive centrifuge cascade program, which is
nowhere near producing the highly concentrated U235 necessary
to make a bomb (the IAEC went ballistic over this two weeks ago),
and second of all, use better inferential reasoning about their
intentions. If Iran was so hot to get a nuke -- don't you think
they would have simply bought one from North Korea or Pakistan?
Why are they putting it all into a development program that reasonable
assessments conclude will take them at least a half-decade to produce
enough U235 for one Hiroshima-sized weapon -- when the threat from the
US is right now? Their Islamic principles might very well be sincere.

And if they aren't -- there's no need to go into panic mode about it.

> Step Three is improving U.S. human intelligence in Iran,
> a place where the U.S. is very weak. One quick fix is
> organizing information with the Israelis, who, I guarantee,
> have much better resources there than the U.S. does.

Another quick fix would be to stop discharging gay Arabic and Farsi
linguists from the military. Don't ask / don't tell needs to go.

> This is also something that should be combined with previous steps.

More human intelligence is definitely needed. There's a huge Irani
expat community in America that could be tapped in a more intelligent
way than Chalabi's stooges were in Iraq. We can hire and train them
-- but we can't use them to drive policy because it's like letting the
Cuban exiles plan an invasion. We already had Bay of Pigs II with the
Chalabi INC fiasco. We must avoid Bay of Pigs III with Irani expats.

> If none of this gets the job done, then we take it up up
> a notch to Step Four, which is to organize a group of
> nations outside the U.N. and arrange sanctions on Iran
> if Iran continues to defy the U.N. Whether this would work
> or not is questionable, with someone like China cheerfully
> willing to buy oil from anyone at all, and not giving a rat's
> arse if Iran nukes Israel or not. But it's worth a shot.

I'll tell you right now this is entirely pointless. First, on the
general principle that sanctions (embargoes) are pointless without
broad support (that's why you have a world body to sign off on
sanctions like the UN). Secondly, while there's general agreement in
the world that nuke poliferation is bad and that it's decidedly better
than Iran not get nuclear weapons -- nobody's willing to fuck up
their trade with a major oil producer and paying customer to keep
Iran from getting nukes. This is a world where *Pakistan* has nukes.

And this has nothing to do with the ineffectuality of the
UN. This is the opinion of the vast majority of countries not
entirely beholden to the US like, umm, Romania or Uzbekistan.

Thirdly, nobody but the US (and Israel) believes that MEMRI-driven
out-of-context shit about Iran wanting to annihilate Israel. If
you read the speech in context (as Windhorse has pointed out several
times), Iran's talking about eventual regime change in Israel.
You might not agree (and I don't, personally), but it's a sensible
position if you believe Israel was formed with stolen land. So no,
China (nor any other nation) is not quaking in their boots over that.

> Notice that if the U.S. negotiates one-on-one with
> Iran, it's still in the same position of not being
> able to offer any sticks or carrots that someone like
> China can't trump anyway with hard cash, so this approach
> doesn't really change anything at all. A red herring.

If America offered diplomatic relations with Iran, rescinded the
"axis of evil" status, asked for their help in Iraq and signed a
nonaggression pact, the effects would be profound and widespread
and would have the greatest chance of ending their enrichment
program if that's what we really wanted. The Iranian people are
not our enemies; the mullahs are ancient and are not destined to
last, given the enormous youth cohort and its dislike of Islamism.

Of course, this is totally outside-the-box thinking which you'd
simply reject on a molecular level -- but there you have it. You'd
never be able to refute this position without baseless fearmongering.

> Military action should be Step Five, a long ways past Step
> Four. There are two major approaches here. Neither of
> them involve ground force invasion and occupation.

Any military action against Iran would play directly into the hands
of the government and set the reform movement back by decades. Iran
is a tough country that won't submit to defeat easily. It threw
waves of 15-year-olds against Iraqi tanks. American bombs will be
be nothing in comparison to Saddam's ground invasion with gas attacks.

> The first would be a targeted attack on nuclear facilities.
> This is tricky, but an attack would, at the very least,
> seriously delay development. Attacks at other critical
> points might work. It's damn hard to develop and test
> missiles underground. There will be civilian casualties.

A mere scratch. Ahmadinejad's and the mullahs' stock would soar.
Shi'ite patriotism -- based on the cult of the oppressed underdog
resisting against implacable odds -- will be inflamed. Islamism
will make a resurgence, as religion always does during wartime.

> Second, there may be possibilities in a naval blockade.
> This would raise almost as much political trouble as an
> attack, but has a lesser chance of collateral damage in
> Iran or elsewhere. Much would depend on cooperation from
> allies in the area, or at least from other oil nations
> that wouldn't mind getting a bigger piece of the action.

The oil spot market would hit the roof. Iran would blockade
the Straits of Hormuz. Our trading partners and genuine
allies would walk away from us, and our Sunni Arab allies of
convenience would prove to be worse than militarily useless.

> Both of these approaches involve few ground troops, but a
> lot of use of mostly-idle U.S. air and naval forces. There
> would still be a lot of danger for them, particularly the
> blockade force, which by definition is almost a sitting
> duck. Make sure the naval defenses are in top form.

Iran will unleash its state-of-the-art Sunburns, which our Phalanx
and AEGIS systems are defensless against. We'll definitely stand
the chance of losing a bunch of ships and lots of sailors before
our Air Force manages to find their radar systems ...

> That should give you something to start with. If you
> ask for a solution on this, and some gormless idiot
> mentions "engagment" or "effective diplomacy" with
> no further details, pull his shorts up over his head.

You have no plan, only Tom Clancy
scenarios borne of beligerence and paranoia.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 28, 2006 at 5:09 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: mmf铃声 on September 28, 2006 at 5:34 AM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal:
Please note the order that I listed things in. First some revenge, while parts of the Bill of Rights are still in abeyance so it's legal, then restoration. It's true that some dissonance is involved here but overriding my principles for some payback is a small price that I'm willing to live with. Six years of Bush & fundaloonies has done that to me.

Posted by: N.Wells on September 28, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

However, if the Dems don't propose something sensible for dealing with those problems as they exist today, lots of people won't vote for them.

Why not? The Republicans haven't proposed anything sensible in the last fifteen years and people still vote for them.

Also, if the Dems came out with helpful proposals, maybe Bush would adopt them

Allow me to respond: AHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: Stefan on September 28, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

N.Wells: First some revenge...but overriding my principles for some payback is a small price that I'm willing to live with. Six years of Bush & fundaloonies has done that to me.

Rush Limbaugh asserts that for the Dems the main enemy is the Reps, rather than al Qaeda. N.Wells's fantasy is punishing various leading Republicans and conservative spokesmen. But, s/he didn't mention a fantasy about punishing Osama bin Laden or Zawahiri or the the terrorist leaders in Iraq.

N.Wells, where did you learn to hate Republicans more than America's enemies?

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 28, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK


ex-lib...

probably from reading your drivel...

rush limbaugh?

irony: "This is what the tyranny of a one-party state is like, people!" - Rush Limbaugh 1993

too funny...

e-l...swallow harder...

Posted by: mr. irony on September 28, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Word, Kevin.

Posted by: eyelessgame on September 28, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Please see my comment at my URL: guestlecturer.blogspot.com. Thank you. Bob Sullivan

Posted by: Bob Sullivan on September 28, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Please see my comment on your "No Ponies" at my URL: guestlecturer.blogspot.com. Thank you. Bob Sullivan

Posted by: Bob Sullivan on September 28, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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