Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 23, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ONE LAST PUSH....Guess what? Our commanders on the ground have met with their superiors and decided that we do need more troops in Iraq after all. They're now backing the "surge" plan:

Commanders have been skeptical of the value of increasing troops, and the decision represents a reversal for Casey, the highest-ranking officer in Iraq. Casey and Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top commander in the Middle East who will step down in March, have long resisted adding troops in Iraq, arguing that it could delay the development of Iraqi security forces and increase anger at the United States in the Arab world.

....Those skeptical about the efficacy of an increase argue that any new troops must be given clear instructions. However, defense officials say the U.S. commanders in Iraq have not settled on what that mission should be, although they are expected to decide before calling up new units.

So we're not quite sure what we're going to do with them, but after meeting with the new SecDef we're suddenly quite sure we need them. Another courageous moment for our military leadership.

Still, honesty compels me to say that I'm glad this is going to happen. I know this makes me a bad person with no concern for human life etc. etc. (feel free to expand on this sentiment in comments), but at some point we have to come to a conclusion on this stuff. Conservatives long ago convinced themselves against all evidence that we could have won in Vietnam if we'd only added more troops or used more napalm or nuked Hanoi or whatever, and they're going to do the same thing in Iraq unless we allow them to play this out the way they want. If they don't get to play the game their way, they'll spend the next couple of decades trying to persuade the American public that there was nothing wrong with the idea of invading Iraq at all. We just never put the necessary resources into it.

Well, screw that. There's nothing we can do to stop them anyway, so give 'em the resources they want. Let 'em fight the war the way they want. If it works -- and after all, stranger things have happened -- then I'll eat some crow. But if it doesn't, there's a chance that the country will actually learn something from this.

I wish it were otherwise. But it isn't.

Kevin Drum 12:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (113)

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Kevin, I get what you're saying, but the truth is no matter what happens leave today or tomorrow or pour in a million more soldiers (not that they exist) the Iraq War will still be a catastrophic failure, just like everything else George Bush has ever touched, and the Republicans will still blame the Democrats, the Iraqis and everyone else for the results of their own hubris and incompetence.

You plant a demon seed, you raise a flower of fire.

Posted by: kidkostar on December 23, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

You might have a point if the deaths of additional thousands, if not tens of thousands, of U.S. troops and the additional deaths of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent Iraqis were the only way to prove the Republicans were wrong about Iraq. You might have an even better case if the lesson would stick well enough to prevent future, similar tragic misjudgements.

But I think a decent communications strategy could accomplish the first goal just as well as mass death. And as for the second, what the hell are you smoking, Kevin? Even if the Republicans can't blame anyone else for losing Iraq, there is always going to be some way they can say things will be different the next time they want to invade somewhere.

Posted by: expatjourno on December 23, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing I'll say in comments is that Kevin Drum is king and that the generals are a bunch of pussies for giving in to Bush. And that the brass should be ashamed for going along with throwing away more lives.

Of course when the dust clears, the right will be blaming us for not cutting off funding.

Posted by: Kyle on December 23, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to the obvious inhumanity of sending more troops to die so we can finally put the lie to conservative mythology, your plan will never come true.

Do you really think that if this goes ahead and fails, conservatives will finally admit they were wrong, wrong, wrong about Iraq? They'll find some other excuse, invent some other myth, demonize some other enemy (internal or external) to blame.

You're asking conservatives to learn from reality. Good luck!

Posted by: rosswords on December 23, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hey K-Drum, quit the sarcasm. Since the generals on the ground say they support more troops how come you dont' support it? I thought you said you would support whatever the generals said but now you're backing off on that promise. How hypocritical of you.
And the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are irrelevent. As the LA Times article pointed out, "Several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also have expressed reservations. Because the Joint Chiefs are not part of the military's formal chain of command, the recommendation to increase or decrease will go from commanders in Iraq to Gates and then to Bush." In other words, their opinions are no more important than the opinions of liberals like Michael Moore and Howard Dean because they aren't actually commanding the troops in Iraq. So Bush has kept his promise by doing whatever the commanders in Iraq say he should do.

Posted by: Al on December 23, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

there's a chance that the country will actually learn something from this.

Fat chance. Any bad outcome will, as usual, be the fault of Liberals and the Liberal MSM.

You don't really think that Bush minions would take responsibility do you?

Posted by: Mr. G on December 23, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

....Except you assume, Kevin, that these kinds of conservatives will some day reach a saturation point—the point where they recognize their efforts are futile.


Vietnam went on for a terribly long time. Hawks complained that McNamera mismanaged the war. Kissinger believed that he had the best strategy to win through escalation. And they did it—to horrible, disastrous results.

The problem is that we can't say "at least THIS time they will finally see they are wrong." That was already proven last time. That's why Congress finally gave up funding THAT war. It's a nice idea, but no matter how much longer we stay in Iraq, thirty years from now, these same people will be lamenting that our failure was the result of our lack of will to stay until the bitter end.

Posted by: Paulk on December 23, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Sins of the fathers visited upon the succeeding generations (Vietnam v. Iraq). Really, it all comes down to a collision of monumental ego versus monumental stupidity. THAT, I would posit, kills more people than any weapon system. There isn't anything to be gained in Iraq now. Imposed stability will never be more than illusional, and as tenuous as a snowball in Phoenix.

If some American soldiers make Iraq less stable and fuel a civil war, more must be stupendous.

We have a silly concept of victory--still. Vietnam was a heinous human tragedy and there never would have been waves of troops marching through Hanoi feted with flowers. We never understood it was a question of wills for the Vietnamese people themselves. They had a sense of nation we did not recognize.

War brings results, but always insidious in its true character. Who knows what Iraq will be in 10-years? It may cast off the arbitrary trappings of a nation drawn up by Churchill, and instead become three sovereign states constantingly agitating against each other. Or it might become Western Iran. But these things we have limited control over because America's interests and lives lie elsewhere. And this administration's interest is to lie everywhere. The one last "great surge" is oil being wrung from an unsustainable pipeline of greed which has cost us thousands of lives and possibly planetary health. The way to win the war? Alternative energy sources.

Posted by: Sparko on December 23, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin.

Posted by: Bill Harshaw on December 23, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Well, screw that. There's nothing we can do to stop them anyway, so give 'em the resources they want. Let 'em fight the war the way they want.

They will still blame everyone but themselves; to believe they can do otherwise is to have been asleep the last few years.

There may be nothing we can do to stop them. But this post is curiously bereft of any reference to "giving them what they want" equaling more lives lost, more mutilation, more misery for other people. At the very least, we have a duty to say every time we can, loudly and often, that their way = more deaths at our hands.

Posted by: shortstop on December 23, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bush wants a surge because it's the only way to avoid admitting defeat right now.

It will take months to get the troop levels up another 20,000, during which time we will be told not to make any judgments about Iraq because, you know, the surge is happening.

Then it will take another couple of months for the new mission, whatever it is, to fail.

So say, by this time next year, the surge strategy will be a proven failure. Oops, that's before January 20 2009, Bush will have to think of something else at that point.

Posted by: grytpype on December 23, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

If they don't get to play the game their way

I wish the fuck that Jerusalem was specified as a high-value target on the Risk board these fuckwits think represents real life.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Expanding on Kevin's point: Bush would like to blame someone else for the failure of Iraq, but his problem is no one has ever said "No" to him. He got every troop and every month and every dollar he wanted, on the timetable he wanted, no one stopped him. And now look at the result. That is the result of Bush running everything and having total control. How can he shift the blame onto someone else? He'll try, we know that for sure.

Posted by: grytpype on December 23, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

This sure puts their Friday News Dump in perspective.

I have as yet been unable to ascertain the answer to this fundamental question:

When they say they want to increase troop strength by 20-30,000 do they mean that many troops total, which would put a maximum of 10,000 troops in the streets and the rest would be support personnel? Or do they mean 30,000 foot soldiers with their attendant support which would be an actual increase of 60,000 or more troops into the theatre of operations?

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Great post, Sparko.

And grytpype is correct...this is, more than anything else, one of a series of stalling maneuvers designed to carry us into January 2009.

Posted by: shortstop on December 23, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

They are just running time off the clock, with each second representing another senseless death. Buzzer sounds in two years, when Bush can hand this stinking turd to the next administration, who, being true to history, will be loath to do the right thing because they will want to avoid being the ones that "lost" Iraq. And this nightmare will continue until finally we realize that the U.S. has bled itself into second-rate power status.

Posted by: spiny on December 23, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

The war would've been a failure had we pulled our troops out of a reasonably stable Iraq two years ago because it was based on a pack of lies. And, between the lives lost and our foreign affairs muddled by webs of deceit our country failed ourselves, future generations, and the world miserably. Even in a best-case scenario, which of course we didn't achieve, it would have been an American catastrophe. In reality it's even worse.

Bush started and lost a war. Nothing, especially not a "last push" will change that. And nothing will prevent American conservatives from blaming everybody else. That's the way they are. Some of them deny the existence of evolution. Facts me nothing to them compared with their sacred chosen "truth."

Posted by: denniS on December 23, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Still, honesty compels me to say that I'm glad this is going to happen. I know this makes me a bad person with no concern for human life etc. etc. (feel free to expand on this sentiment in comments)

Yes, Kevin, I'd have to say this sentiment is pretty disgusting. It's easy to say more people have to die in order to educate the masses, when you're not one of the people doing the dying. That's chickenhawk thinking, and it dismays me to see it coming from these quarters. To borrow a phrase from John Kerry (and my post over at TAPPED), how do you ask a man to be the last man to die to prevent some hypothetical future mistake?

The worst part about your enthusiasm for escalation as an educational tool for the public is that it's not even going to work. The "stab in the back" Vietnam narrative had little basis in reality, yet somehow it took root anyways. What makes you think that the right wing nutcases are going to stick to the facts religiously this time? After all, the "liberal media sapped the country's will to fight" talking point is just as apropos, escalation or no escalation. They'll point to the absence of a draft as proof positive that we could have "done more." They may even concede that Bush was uniquely unqualified as commander-in-chief in order to claim that the idea of the Iraq war would have been fine if there were "better" people running it.

You need to come up with a far more compelling case that feeding more American soldiers to the Iraqi meatgrinder is the right thing to do on both a moral and pragmatic level.

Posted by: Killjoy on December 23, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, looks like Kevin got into some of Hitchens' special eggnog recipe. Where in the hell did you get the idea that these people are ever going to respect the limitations of reality? Yeah, sure, if this magical surge doesn't work, they'll just shrug, admit their failures, and then go commit hara-kiri for the good of the country.

Posted by: WTF? on December 23, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Leaving asside the question of the concern for human life, against which Kevin innoculates himself so brilliantly, are the other issues so trivial that we have to make a decision just because we have to come to a conclusion on this stuff?

This line of reasoning leaves me bewildered and baffled at best, especially because it is coming from someone who is usually quite rational in his analysis.

Posted by: gregor on December 23, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

This falls under two catorgories - Well, in reality three, as Shortstop and others have mentioned, but, hell, loss of life as a category?

First, is "when is my retirement due" (Abazaid actually extended for a year, but now he pulls the plug-Hmmm)

Second, is "Oh, I know I have a bad heart, my blood pressure is out of whack, but, what the hell, I'll call Bob Dole and have one last full bottle of Viagra". Have a Hardy Harding moment.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 23, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Let the eagle surge
Like he's never surged before!

Posted by: cld on December 23, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I heard this phrase the other day which I don't agree with: In a democracy, people tend to get the government they deserve.

Well, I can't inagine people justly deserve republican governance, but... in a perverted way, more troops in Iraq is exactly what the people of America deserve. We knew what kind of person Bush was. We had four years to see what kind of President he was. Yet still, many people were fine with him.

Somehow, in late 2006, people decided decisions made in 2002 weren't okay. But we already voted for Bush, sealing Iraqi's fate through our foreign policy.

This is what people get for tuning in to a democracy for a short period of time every forth year. They get Machiavellian politics and Orwellian dystopias. The lesson people should learn from Bush IS TO NOT BE AN IGNORANT FUCK! But I suspect we'll be back to square zero by 2008.

Posted by: Matt on December 23, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: R.L. on December 23, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

The lesson people should learn from Bush IS TO NOT BE AN IGNORANT FUCK!

Or at least don't put one in the office of president.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Next time someone tells you we didn't win in Vietnam or in Iraq because we played too nice or didn't hit them hard enough, just mention Afghanistan (the Soviet involvement, not ours). The Soviets threw everything short of nuclear and biological weapons at Afghanistan in which they killed over one million Afghans and drove an equal or greater number into exile. And they still lost.

I know I may be cynical, but I'm wondering if perhaps the goal of escalation isn't perhaps ultimately political. We put say 30,000 more troops into Iraq now, and then say a year from now, when the election is starting to heat up, Bush announces that he's withdrawing 20,000 troops. We'll still have more troops in Iraq than we do now, but by that time everyone will have forgotten this escalation and focus instead on the fact that troops are being withdrawn. This way it will look like Bush may be in the process of constructing an exit strategy without actually having to withdraw.

Posted by: Guscat on December 23, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

I have no intention of letting anyone forget this.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Antiwar proponents know it won't work, yet have to allow the executive to act out violence in its national/state capacity in order to prove our point and not take the political blame for losing the 'war.' I understand but wonder how the Iraqis will respond.

If the US uses these troops to back Sadr, make him head of government and pacify the Sunni/Baathists, it might work. If they are used to attack Sadr and attempt to eliminate him and the militias allied to him, there will probably be an escalation of US casualties and a chance for strategic lines of communication being severed. The need to escalate to even more drastic measures to save US forces will then place us back in the same position once again, except our troops will not have a safe way home.

Posted by: Brojo on December 23, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Wonder what the sperm count will be in this last "surge"?

Posted by: stupid git on December 23, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Additional troops in Iraq...And don't forget for one second that the Navy is getting in the game. For the first time in my life, all seven Carrier Strike Groups are at sea, with three in the region of the middle east and the others concentrated in the Pacific.

Additional troops, and three carriers in the middle east? Don't be surprised if these fuckwits go after Sadr and Iran gets in the game. We have been poking them with sticks for a while now, trying to provoke a response. That attempts is escalating, it seems. Or I'm paranoid. Lets hope it's the latter.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -

I agree with the comments above that you are playing Charlie Brown to the administration's Lucy. They will always need six more months or a few thousand more troops or a slight tweak in strategy (more bombing; more hearts and minds; more bombing; more hearts and minds...). We will always be at a crucial election, turning point, etc. And the extra 20,000 troops will only bring us back to the 150,000 troop level that has not quelled spiralling violence a couple of times before. Hell, we tried Vietnam for 8 years and that did not stop the conservative revisionism that only a few more years and a different strategy plus a pliant press and public would have won the war.

Posted by: Chuck Smith on December 23, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't you playing the same card? "just a little more disaster and they will see the light"

Too much is never enough and the deeper the failure the more it has to be someone else's fault.

Posted by: apthorp on December 23, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

The Monster we call this unjust war will never have enough blood to feed upon. Just watch...

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on December 23, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

this reasoning suggests the administration will, at some select point -- presumably when this "surge" fails -- retreat to a reality-based, er, reality. There is no credible reason to think that this new failure will amount to anything other than another "new way forward", whether in Iraq or elsewhere. I agree that we should give this administration all the rope they need to hang themselves, but I fail to see them deciding they have the necessary amount of rope to do that.

Posted by: cpt. obvious on December 23, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum's post just excuses Democratic cowardice. They have a duty to advocate sensible policies even if this is politically costly. And I doubt this obvious cowardice is even helpful politically.

Posted by: James B. Shearer on December 23, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

The US is led by true believers. They believe their own propaganda. The Middle East will be a sheet of glass. Survivors will be taking iodine pills; hoarding food. George W Bush will never admit to making an error.

Posted by: VietnamVet on December 23, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I say leave Bush in charge and do whatever he wants until there is a total and real defeat.

It will be America's last war for thirty years and millions of lives will be saved in the long run.

Posted by: grytpype on December 23, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

So no timeframe, no goal, no military calculation at all, just a naked political maneuver that will put more people in harm's way as a Hail Mary. Lovely.

Posted by: Viserys on December 23, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is exactly right.

When the Vietnam war finally ended, there was no sense of national humiliation or shame. It was enough that the war was over and we could think about other things, like disco music. Liberals went to sleep and the right got to work on their alternative history. Soon, the stray anecdotes about Vietnam vets being spat on became evidence of intentional liberal malice against the troops. We ignored this contagion because we were lazy but also because we half-believed it. Now, it's considered a fact, one that thousands of vets claim happened to them personally. In the early 80s, the Rambo movies propagated the myth that we would have won if had been allowed to win. Unfortunately, liberal pantywaists in Washington prevented it because....well, they're liberals!

By the mid-80s, Vietnam was not merely a "noble cause", it was proof of liberalism's perfidy. The American Dolchstoss theory was now operational. Everything could be explained conveniently if irrationally. We liberals, in the meantime, continued to sleep, not bothering to respond to the right since they were obviously "crazy".

The right is already laying the groundwork for their next theory. This one will have all the usual suspects: the media, "liberals", academics, multiculturalists. The irony is that the media have probably never been this hostile to liberalism in modern history. But you can bet they'll gladly make the movies that support the theory.

Let them have the war, the young lives, the squandered treasure, the future itself. What's killing America is their lying. If it takes a catastrophe to wake this nation up, so be it.

Posted by: walt on December 23, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Let 'em fight the war the way they want."

They HAVE been fighting the war the way they want. They got every dollar they asked for, every soldier they asked for. This disaster is 100% Bush's disaster and no one else's.

Posted by: captcrisis on December 23, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Go ahead, let them turn your country into a soulless genocide machine, and smile and laugh while they do it.

Contemptible. This is what is wrong with America.

Posted by: sm on December 23, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Spiny says it best:

"Buzzer sounds in two years, when Bush can hand this stinking turd to the next administration"

Bush has no option other than carry on, otherwise he will with total certainty be considered the worst president in history. He is, selfishly and without conscience, trying to salvage some sort of legacy. Does he care about the human destruction? No. Does he care about the wasted hundreds of billions of our money? No. Does he care about increasing risks to American safety? No. The worthless drunk cares only about himself and his criminal ego.

Posted by: Mr. Wu on December 23, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK


The problem is this kind of conflict will have no victory moment. The killing may abate some, but at no point will it be clear that we have achieved anything positive, because its not possible.

Look at it this way. There are three possible outcomes:

1)A parliamentary government takes hold and becomes a puppet government for Iran.

2) The civil war escalates and the Shia win and impose a fundamentalist state that then becomes a puppet government to Iran.

3) The civil war escalates, the Shia win, and the surrounding Sunni states invade and the whole region goes tits up. $8.50 a gallon.

One of those three things WILL happen.

Cheney understands this, which is why every move between now and the end of his term is just a buffer move to pass the buck.

They should be impeached now while it's officially the problem they created.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on December 23, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I see that Maliki, too, has changed his tune and now supports the "surge." It's obvious to everyone--Kevin, Maliki, the "generals," all of us commenters--that the Little Idiot, the Decider in Chief, is going to get his way again.

What a lesson we're getting in the danger of raising a spoiled child! Now when your child pouts and stamps his foot, perhaps you should chide him that if he keeps on doing that, he could grow up to be Preznit of the United States, and look what a f**k-up he could do then.

The Little Idiot has decided he will not pull us out of Iraq, and you can bank on it. The next President will have to end this war, cuz this one sure isn't going to. And he'll do whatever it takes to keep it on the boil until them.

With impeachment "off the table," there is no way to get out before January 2009.

Posted by: Cal Gal on December 23, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Another thing I worry about is that Gates has informed the Generals that there is another agenda about to be played out in the region, and that the troops need to stay for that agenda to be effective. What could that be? Well, tie in the redacting of the OpEd in the NYT, in which all positive references to Iran (such as the help that Iran provided to the US as the Afgan war unfolded) were blacked out. Connecting these dots, could it be that Bush/Cheney have another little surprise up their sleeves, like bombing the daylights out of Iran and their putative nukes?

Posted by: Mr. Wu on December 23, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Most of Kevin Drum's readers here seem aware that his argument is wrong because right-wing hawks will never admit their mistake, and will always be able to hide behind at least something that would supposedly have made the difference, but which we weren't allowed to do, et cetera.

But I think the obvious scapegoat isn't in Iraq at all. Remember the line of argument associated with Michael Ledeen and various other influential fantasists -- that it's all really Iran's fault, that we need to target the source of our problems, that everything we do in Iraq will fail unless we go to the source. Faster, please, and all that.

We don't have to wait to see this scapegoating occur -- it's already happening now. The danger may be that Bush himself listens to this sort of thing -- and since he's unwilling to accept a loss, he'll actually act on this set of premises if the "surge" fails as everything else has. Ledeen himself keeps saying he's not talking about using military force against Iran, but others are starting to do it. The "surge" may end up being just part of a series of escalations ramping toward some kind of "final showdown."

Posted by: nandrews3 on December 23, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

The mission?

Go out and find every fucking IED in the country until they are all gone.

Heckuva plan W.

Posted by: angryspittle on December 23, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Drunken Texas cowboys have always been a problem for decent folk. Where the hell is a Wild Bill hickock when you really need him? (Yes yes I know, mouldering in his grave in Deadwood.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

This is one of the more blandly hideous posts I've ever read on this blog. Just so the military can't say "We could have won," we give them carte blanche to go in and destroy what remains of Iraq. Because by Kevin's own logic, they will say "We could have won" as long as there is any country left when we leave (defeated). The moral cretin who originally backed this war has apparently not been purged from Kevin's brain, and he's on board with genocide. Too bad. I was starting to admire the new, improved Kevin.

Posted by: Potato Head on December 23, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Before we even get to put a piece on the board and start to play the game, we have to admit that the flashpoint for all of the modern problems in the middle east trace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the middle east, all roads lead to Jerusalem. Accept that as a starting premise, or your 'ideas' about what to do to undo this royal clusterfuck are dead on arrival.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Global. There has been background noise for about a week that Sader needs to be “gone”.

Last week I caught a report that mentioned that Shiites are actually causing most of the death and destruction. The Saudis have weighed in and I think it is clear that the Generals don’t want more soldiers in country just to walk blocks.

They want a mission, something with a catchy name and measurable outcomes and hopefully an exit threshold.

Putting to use my somewhat limited powers of foresight, we are going to go after selected militias and their leaders. When amped up, it will be several weeks of intense urban combat, as bloody on all sides as anything we have seen to date.

With Navy air power in place, we will be telling Iran to butt-out or get bloodied as well. Will they (be able to) listen?

It will take at least 30 days (but I’m thinking 45-60) for this to become operational.

The cynic that I am, I am thinking a of betting pool with three axis: Time, Money, and Lives. Any takers?

BTW (sadly):

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Posted by: Keith G on December 23, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I am convinced that this country now needs an "Anti-Recruitment Program" to dissuade young people from entering the military, and thus putting their lives in jeopardy. Even before the incompetence and cronyism of a George W. Bush we were always poised "on the brink", and too often totally immersed.

Once the Cold War concluded, we were expecting a "peace dividend" which never materialized, largely because much of our capital structure is devoted to creating and manufacturing mechanisms of war. War is now the preferred American way of "solving" problems since it generates huge profits, and damned be a few (thousand) young lives. Only when we are able to deny our "warrior class" the warm bodies they need to carry out their nefarious activities will this country escape its grisly legacy.

Such an Anti-Recruitment Program would establish a balance with the incursion into our schools with the liars whose job it is to dupe inexperienced youth into their clutches with empty promises of grandios rewards. Given the mendacity levels at which these bloodsuckers operate, the fresh air of truth should provide affected youth with realistic choices.

And I just happen to be a World War II Navy veteran.

Posted by: ron on December 23, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Why do we care what the conservatives say? They were wrong about Vietnam and now they're wrong about Iraq. Why continue to enable people who are wrong?

Posted by: AnotherBruce on December 23, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

And if the neoconservative answer is to nuke Baghdad? Still on board to let them try anything so that you can win a dinner table argument with relatives ten years from now?

Some lessons aren't worth the cost.

Posted by: Antonius on December 23, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, isn't it a fine coincidence that the first change in strategy in Iraq since Bush had his codpiece moment is being rushed into place just before the Democrats are coming into congressional power?

If you don't think this whole thing is a disgusting political ploy to sacrifice lives to save the bacon of Bush and the Washington gang that has been completely wrong about this war, you just haven't been paying attention.

Posted by: AnotherBruce on December 23, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I am convinced that this country now needs an "Anti-Recruitment Program" to dissuade young people from entering the military

Good idea. Let's hire all the chickenhawks as spokes-models.

Posted by: Disputo on December 23, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

So, let's consider the politics of this next post-surge round.

My guess is this surge will require at least a supplemental appropriation which will need a Congressional roll-call vote.

Mmost Republicans will reluctantly support the President. Most Democrats will reluctantly vote against funding a surge, but enough will vote for it to give the President what he wants.

So, for the last two years of his administration the Democrats are on record as seeking gradual extrication and Republicans seeking escalation.

Militarily, it will come to nothing. As Frederick Kagan states in the American Standard, it would probably take a surge of 80,000 troops to bring order to Bagdad, as well as a major concentration of all available Iraqi and Coalition forces there. And this assumes that the insurgency can be quelled by such localization of force.

Folks, its going to be another rout of Republicans in 2008. A Democratic President, large Democratic majorities in Congress, and the GOP reduced to a regional party of the Government-hating deep South (which is still in denial about the Civil War!).

Of course, if Republicans in Congress ponder this scenario, they may not give Bush what he wants after all. Republicans do not like to lose, and this prospect sobers even the most reality-detached of minds.

Posted by: Gritblossom on December 23, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm. Al lot of you don't get the main point of Kevin's post. Of course the right will blame liberals no matter what happens. The point is that the longer they get to screw up the war in their inimitable fashion the less credible the blame. Some people will always drink the KoolAid, but as the effort becomes more obviously a failure more will gag on the taste.

There is a huge difference between this war and Vietnam. The Vietnam antiwar movement really rubbed people the wrong way. There is nothing like that this time.

Sending in more troops is DEEPLY unpopular (last I read supported by only 11%!!!!) Kevin is stating the obvious. If an already unpopular President escalates this already unpopular war and the escalation fails... Well, that isn't political good news for the Republicans.

Morality? As Kevin said, Bush is Commander in Chief. We can't stop it anyway. Moral culpability for this war stays with its prosecutors.

Speaking crassly politically, Bush is doing something no president has done since Truman. He is proceeding with broadly unpopular policies in the face of wide discontent. (Korea) Most people at the time noticed that Eisenhower won the next two elections.

History is kind to Truman, because in retrospect his judgment holds up. A draw in Korea was the best we were likely to get, because Mao would have upped the ante as required to prevent a Communist defeat. The contrast today between N & S. Korea shows that that war did achieve something good and meaningful.

The chances that Bush's hail Mary pass gambling with the lives of others achieves anything is vanishingly small. Bush is at this point Republican cyanide. Let it course through their system.

Posted by: tomtom on December 23, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

The military commanders are subordinate to the civilian, political commander-in-chief. Despite Bush's complete incompetence, despite his bloody and immoral use of lives to salvage his reputation, I see no reason to change that principle. It's like habeas corpus. We should never consider changing it.

If this is still the America my teachers told me about, it is up to the civilian, political opposition to do something about this, not the military commanders.

If the Democratic "leadership" and the handful of sober, patriotic Republicans want to change Bush's policy, the means exist to do that. That they are, for the most part, moral cowards and political calculators rather than great, democratic leaders is sad. But it's no reason to remove one of the pillars of our republican goverment. [please note the lower case 'd' and 'r']

I don't want to sound like I am agreeing with Al, even if I am in some respects.

Posted by: James E. Powell on December 23, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Stanzas four and five, usually omitted when the song is sung, reference the Civil War,

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Posted by: cld on December 23, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin why don't you join the military and get your ass to Iraq? Your sadly typical upper class elite B.S. crosses party lines. God I hate rich people and their tools.

Posted by: jerry on December 23, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum wrote:

"Conservatives long ago convinced themselves against all evidence that we could have won in Vietnam if we'd only added more troops or used more napalm or nuked Hanoi or whatever...."

I'm not sure what evidence Kevin is talking about. It's impossible to prove a negative - we didn't do many things in Vietnam and speculating on what their effects might have been or not been is equally fruitless. The Vietnam war was lost two years after we withdrew the last of our combat troops and airpower, so our options were pretty restricted by that time. If he's talking about supplying air power or if we had poured in the promised support at the beginning of the NVA blitzkrieg, we likewise can't know what the effect would have been.

At the least, our experience in withdrawing from Vietnam might give some ideas to consider when we pull out of Iraq (as everyone suspects we will). In the wrong places, with the wrong forces, or too far away, then we might not be able to effectively reengage if necessary. How we withdraw will be as important as when. If, that is, we mean to stay involved in the region at all.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 23, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Not only is the "surge" wrong and stupid on the merits (just "hammering isn't working, so get a bigger hammer") but failing to oppose it is wrong as a long-term political strategy.

It's not like opposing the surge is going to make a difference in what Bush & Co. do (we'd need a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress to override a Bush veto of a new AUMF superseding the old one), but if we oppose it, at least we get credit for having tried.

Posted by: RT on December 23, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

What the Washington insiders don't seem to get is that the Iraqis themselves want us out. We have broken things so badly that we're irrelevant. That's the one thing that the power junkies of the Washington gang can't accept.

Posted by: AnotherBruce on December 23, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, what you're saying *might* make sense if this surge really was the last gasp of the Bush administration to save face (and given that it will likely only increase U.S. troop injuries and fatalities, it doesn't even make sense in that scenario). But for some strange reason, you're giving the hawks WAY too much credit.

When the 'surge' doesn't work, we won't withdraw. The hawks will just come up with another Last Gasp To Win Iraq. And another. And another.

The responsible thing is not to let them have their way and expect them to recognize their failure when they fail. They've refused to acknowledge failure for nearly four years now, and they will continue to do so. The responsible thing is to stand up, say enough is enough, and not give one damn inch of ground that we don't need to.

Posted by: David Bailey on December 23, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Atrios pretty much nails the numerous flaws in Drum's thinking.

He is, however, too polite to point out that, as the king of the hand-wringing capitulators, Drum was one of the leaders of the "the dirty fucking hippies made me support the war" squad.

Wrong then - wrong now. Big surprise...

Posted by: dave on December 23, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

One of the resons we're doing so poorly in Iraq: the top brass have backbones like soggy noodles.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on December 23, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Atrios pretty much nails the numerous flaws in Drum's thinking.

Actually I think Atrios misses Drum's point, as do any criticisms of Drum that are predicated on the idea that Drum is saying the Bush administration will suddenly see the folly of their ways. Drum is saying that Bushco's rhetoric and poor performance have backed them into a corner and when the this last push doesn't work, the Republicans will never be able to sway people's opinion about the failure of the war being their fault. Though they will certainly try to.

Posted by: cyntax on December 23, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

kevin, you are a sickening fucking idiot and a loser that obviously bbelieves in NOTHING. Here you go again. You learned NOTHING from your disasterous support of these idiots 4 years ago.

"give them the resources"? are you sick? "resources" means human life - this is not furnishing socks for wet feet - its furnishing lives to catch bullets in the face and use limbs as detonators for bombs.

what on earth makes you think the idiots that made this mess will ever be sated or will ever conclude? what makes you think they'll admit after "the surge" doesn't work that they won't dream up some other ridiculous excuse to continue fighting the truth and reality that they fucked up horrendously? What makes you think they'll EVER give up their delusion driven quest for greatness. They are egomaniace; they only serve themselves.

And you, kevin, are a pathetic fool dangerously helping to enabling meglamaniacs!

This will never "conclude" until the idiots that created the mess (including lap dog joint chiefs) are no longer in a position to wreck their havoc.

Posted by: pluege on December 23, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kev, I can't tell you how wrong you are. If this doesn't work, and we know it won't, they'll STILL blame us. And they'll ask for even MORE resources to try to "fix" things, all the while claiming that they're the only ones who are competent to clean things up.

In the meanwhile, more Iraqis and more american soldiers will die.

Your analogy is something like giving in to a bitchy 19 year old who insists that, "yes, I do need to drive dad's Ferrari" and the parent shrugging and saying, "well, if we don't let him, we'll hear about it for the next 40 years."

Sometimes you just have to say no.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 23, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin--although I agree with you theoretically, in reality I currently have a grandson in Iraq and a stepson who's going again in March, so all I see when I hear our generals Casey and Abizaid flip flop is RED RED RED. The idea that our troops have to sacrifice even one more life in this total fiasco is more than I can stomach.

Posted by: PSD on December 23, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

What Atrios said: even if Surge™ goes tits-up, it'll still be the fault of those dirty fucking hippies who were right all along. Because these bastards never take the blame.

Just because you're as limp as week-old celery, Kevin, doesn't mean that there's no reason to say No More Fucking Surges.

Posted by: ahem on December 23, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

What we need is a country conservatives can call home. A place they recognize, a place they understand.

I know it isn't here. Perhaps Afghanistan? Or Greater Pashtunia?

Posted by: cld on December 23, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Did somebody say "Surge"?

Posted by: David Ehrenstein on December 23, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Who's in charge of this cluster-fuck - Westmoreland?

Posted by: murmeister on December 23, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Rot in hell Kevin 'tin' Drum. Absolutely disgusting. Let them have resources?

That is--flesh and blood!

Posted by: McAdder on December 23, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, what you're basically saying is, "Okay, the jerkface who's been shooting up the neighborhood says this time he can hit the target, but he needs more ammo. Might as well let him try."

Wrong on every level.

Posted by: filkertom on December 23, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

This whole excalation thing make me wonder if bush and the jcs are playing "what if" war games. One assumption that bush is making is that the insurgents will keep doing what they have been doing. What if they do nothing? We do not even know who they are. It will not cost them anything, they could regroup while we would be spending HUGE amounts of money and all our tropps will be running out of energy going forward. This also gives Syria and Iran time to keep poking sticks and laughing at the US. I guess I am with you- let bush continue his folly.

Posted by: worldserious on December 23, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Of course we can stop them Kevin, with Congress.

Only a small minority of idiots actually has ever believed that Vietnam crap anyway. After a few generations of Vietnam films and what not, a vast majority of Americans consider Vietnam a mistake and unwinnable, beneath us actually, and since Vietnam has never been a threat since, and the Soviet Union crumbled, it seems ridiculous to me, not to mention evil, to wish for a surge to win such a minor point over an event that is not even relevant, and while more Americans and Iraqis will die.

Posted by: Jimm on December 23, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Freakin' ridiculous!

Send 'em over so theyt can.. well, what--shine the shoes of the guys who mop the brows of the people who send sympathy cards to the families of those who don't come home?

Will nobody call a halt to theis bloody charade?

Posted by: BroD on December 23, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ed says
"Hey K-Drum, quit the sarcasm. Since the generals on the ground say they support more troops how come you dont' support it? I thought you said you would support whatever the generals said but now you're backing off on that promise. How hypocritical of you."

Um, he is supporting it.

Read it again.

Then read it again.

Then, when you understand he's supporting it, get back to me.

Oh, sure, he doesn't think it's going to work, but he supports the generals' decision.

If you don't comprehend that, please read it again.

Thank you.

Posted by: Rick on December 23, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

"In other words, their opinions are no more important than the opinions of liberals like Michael Moore and Howard Dean"

Hmmm. Which response should I pick

1. Too bad. 'Cause if Michael Moore or Howard Dean were in charge, we wouldn't have gone in this idiotic war in the first place.

2. You mean liberals like Nancy Pelosi? The ones who will decide whether this war gets funding over the next two years?

Posted by: Rick on December 23, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares whether the wingnuts continue to claim that if they had been allowed to be more aggressive, they could have won Vietnam? Copious evidence suggests that this strategy was a complete failure. It's like Karl Rove currently claiming that the reason for teh loss of Congress is that conservatives weren't conservative ENOUGH when the opposite is plainly true. And just like Vietnam, we're going to be leaving Iraq, it's just a question of under whose terms.

Posted by: todd on December 23, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

There is a huge difference between this war and Vietnam. The Vietnam antiwar movement really rubbed people the wrong way. There is nothing like that this time.

The difference is conscription. Restart the draft, and I can guarantee you the supposedly disinterested youth will get really angry really quickly.

Sending in more troops is DEEPLY unpopular (last I read supported by only 11%!!!!) Kevin is stating the obvious. If an already unpopular President escalates this already unpopular war and the escalation fails... Well, that isn't political good news for the Republicans.

Nor is it good news for Democrats who enable them. It isn't enough to give them the rope to hang themselves, so to speak. That rope is our own brothers and fathers and husbands. (Not to mention all of our money.) In the end, when it comes time to assign blame for the disaster, people will rightly want to know who opposed this mess? Who tried to stop it, and who let them get away with it?

I mean, if you're really willing to let this horror continue, with more multitudes dying and suffering, just so that the Democrats MIGHT gain some political benefit in the future, then you are just as bad as the warmongers, cynically using the military and the war for your own domestic politics.

Morality? As Kevin said, Bush is Commander in Chief. We can't stop it anyway. Moral culpability for this war stays with its prosecutors.

No, it does not. It also belongs to those who permit it to happen.

Look, the biggest criticism of the Democrats in DC(per the conventional beltway "wisdom") is precisely their failure to provide any meaningful opposition to disastrous policies. In particular, the accusation that we don't believe in anything, and we are willing to go along with anything Bush does because we give up too easily.

You think that throwing up our hands and saying, "well, we can't stop it, so let's let them do it some more" is going to magically make people see us as NOT responsible for this mess?

I call bullshit.

Don't give them an inch. Oppose escalation. Demand withdrawal. Remain consistent, and clearly establish that there is a moral difference between the GOPers who cry for more war and the Dems who oppose them.

And if you waver on this because you are unreasonably afraid of paying a political price, (I say unreasonably because there is NO price to pay opposing an unpopular war) you prove THEIR point that we have no spine and no moral beliefs... and therefore we have no moral basis to criticize the GOP's future wars.

Again, if domestic politics (and not basic human decency) is the only thing that motivates you, consider that constant opposition to the war and its expansion or escalation IS the smart move politically. Take a moral stand now, so that you can in the future.

Why do you think Hillary's lost so much support from rank-and-file Dems? Why was support for Kerry so lukewarm? It's the war, and their initial support for it making their later/future opposition look like so much opportunism.

What was that line about the only way for evil to triumph? Something about the good doing nothing?

If the Dems let them keep doing what they're doing, KNOWING that it is futile, then they ARE just as culpable. Even if you really can't stop it, people will remember that you didn't even try. I sure will.

Take a stand. Show some guts, fercryinoutloud. Nobody respects a quitter- you don't quit a political fight just because you think it's unwinnable in the short term because in the long run you'll lose even bigger. You'll lose the respect that people have for those who stand up for the right thing, even when they know they'll lose. Especially then.

Posted by: RobW on December 23, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

The right is already blaming us for not cutting off funding.
Their brand is getting tarnished, and we aren't getting Drunk Daddy off the road. So it's all OUR FAULT, don't you see?
Never mind that our newly elected senators and representatives are not in office yet.

Posted by: Margot on December 23, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Righties who say we lost Vietnam because we didn't send enough teenagers over there to die are wrong. They're just as wrong about Iraq. We shouldn't be quiet and say okay, surge away, in the hopes that they finally will see the light- people that blind never will.

Posted by: clb72 on December 23, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to solve this is to start making americans less stupid, and that doesnt seem to be happening.

Posted by: Kid Scarlotte on December 23, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

The dilemma is how to withdraw the troops without endangering the remaining troops and endangering those who supported the Americans. The pictures of terrified people clinging to helcopters and passing their babies to troopers is not that old.
Bush Has impeached himself in the public mind. Save up the information to prosecute Cheney criminally later on when Bush can't pardon him.

Posted by: murmeister on December 23, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

You miss the big picture. No matter what happens, Conservatives will never learn, and will always make excuses. They will think of something to blame for our failure in Iraq, like the media, or Cindy Sheehan, or video games, or gay marriage. They are incapable of learning or admiting they are wrong.
If you don't believe me, go to http://www.foxxynews.com and take a look at Jill O'Really.

Posted by: foxxynews on December 23, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: JD SMITH on December 23, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes you have to be the brave, adult and "take the blame" from the squalling child who says "I'll hate you the rest of my life if you don't let me roller skate on the freeway". Who gives a f**k if they blame us for stopping them. We have to do the right thing.

Posted by: Jamais Vu on December 23, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

How many soldiers must die for the sake of the ego of that petulant three year old?

Are there ANY adults left in DC who will do the right thing and take away this prick's toys? I thought the ISG consisted of adults, but they're apparently unwilling to do anything about this murderous little brat.

Posted by: Apprentice to Darth Holden on December 23, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

When my kids screamed I hate you! I looked at them and said "So? That just means I'm doing my job. It changes nothing."

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Rob W:

Good post. Points taken. The funny thing is that I still think Kevin is right. The surge has to happen and fail to make the nation as a whole really hate this war and blame Bush for getting us into it.

This doesn't mean Democrats shouldn't say the surge will fail and cause more suffering and death. They should stand up and be counted.

But the Democrats, even though they control Congress by a bare margin, can't stop this war. Theoretically they could de-fund it, but the Congress and the people at large are not politically ready for such a strong step "Democrats don't support the troops" and on and on. We would be a better country were that not the case, but we aren't there yet. At this point it would be political suicide.

So Democrats should criticize the war, and the surge, and Bush's foreign policy. But they do not yet have the people with them to the point that they can successfully stop Bush from screwing up as Commander in Chief.

Sometimes a nation has to hit bottom to learn a hard truth (extreme cases: Germany & Japan).

I think Kevin is suggesting that as a nation we have not really absorbed what a horrible war this is, and the failure has to be more complete and horrible to prevent future stupidity. Vietnam was not quite unmambiguous enough to prevent Iraq, but if Iraq is a sufficiently unambiguous failure maybe we won't make yet another stupid mistake in another few decades.

It is a bitter irony that Gore, in good part because of Vietnam, would not have released this slaughter. A man far inferior to him had learned no such lessons, and has brought our nation low.

Posted by: tomtom on December 23, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Good post. Points taken. The funny thing is that I still think Kevin is right. The surge has to happen and fail to make the nation as a whole really hate this war and blame Bush for getting us into it."

But didn't the "one last push" happen repeatedly in Vietnam and the right still says if only we had tried harder we would have won?

For them there is *always* going to be one more escalation that would have won the war.

Posted by: jefff on December 23, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

"I know this makes me a bad person with no concern for human life etc. etc. "

Well, at least you got one thing right.

As others above have pointeded out, there is nothing you can do to keep cons from blaming Dems for the Cons own disaster. Nothing. So stop trying and just do what is right, which is to push for getting out. Dems and liberals will only be blamed if once again we refuse to stand up and fight those very wrong assertions. Get that? Fight. Not kowtow. Doesn't work, never has. Ask any abused spouse if being nice to an abuser stops abuse.

If you want to stop getting hit, hit back.

Posted by: mshep on December 23, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal ≠ Pacifist.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 23, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

A surge of 20,000 will be less than 15% more troops. It won't make a difference. The troops should be taken home.

Posted by: Bengt Larsson on December 23, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

is there is no limit to how far neohawks will bend over backwards to appease the right?

Posted by: jello on December 23, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter how many troops or resources we send, it won't work and Republicans will always blame everyone else for their mistakes.

Posted by: HobbesLaw on December 23, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

I understand what you're saying - but, though I am just as convinced that President Bush is dangerously wrong, amoung the troops going will be my 31 year old son and his wife, both captains with the 2nd Infantry Division of the US Army. The cost of this 'political' victory could be the lives of people I love.

Please don't just give up pointing out how wrong this nonsense is.

Posted by: Patrick Malone on December 23, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Responsibility for the War

"nothing we can do to stop them anyway..."

Then why are they giving the "surge" such publicity, acting as if they did have to convince Congress? To my mind that is the most curious aspect of this surge idea, that, even in the unlikely event that they actually believe it has any chance of improving the military situation, they are politically foolish enough to trumpet this strategy, when they could, and most definitely should, just try it with as little public attention as possible. If it actually worked, they could still claim credit in retrospect. If it didn't work, then not trumpeting it beforehand saves them most of the embarrassment of having publicly made yet another gross misjudgment.

But trumpeting this sure-fire failure stategy carries far greater risk for them than merely appearing foolish yet again. Being proven wrong about a war is not necessarily very politically damaging in itself. No one expects perfect judgment or infallibility in such complex affairs, and the more people who shared the misjudgment, the more understandable the error seems. Dubya got a large majority for his AUMF in 2002, and therefore got to share blame with the Dems, and a built-in refutation to the charge that his Iraq mistake was an obvious mistake. But, every stage of new or increasing difficulty in the Iraq occupation, and every new strategy to deal with those difficulties that fails to improve the situation, has turned some war-believers into war-skeptics. And every person who defects makes it harder and harder for the remaining true believers to plead the safety of numbers, that yes, they were wrong, but it was an understandable mistake because so many others made the same mistake. The election of 2006 was a watershed in this respect. A majority of the electorate now considers the war to be a mistake, and so declared on November 7. So, while those who now advocate withdrawal, or even "stay the course" if withdrawal seems too risky, can claim the cover of merely making the best of the consequences of a policy that the majority has since repudiated, those who now want to escalate are flying directly in the face of the majority opinion. If they get their way, and, since the President does not need Congressional approval for such a small "surge", they will be able to do this unless they chicken out, they will create a new war that the public, and the Dems who voted for the AUMF in 2002, will no longer be responsible for. Yes, it's difficult to explain how you were for the war before you were against it, but not difficult at all to explain that you were for the war before its mad supporters made it a clearly insane venture that they escalated in the face of the clearly expressed public will that the war be drawn down rather than escalated.

The one thing the Republicans need most desperately for the 2008 elections is to keep the responsibilty for the war as bipartisan as possible. This is why some Congressional Republicans have gone so far as to suggest that the President submit another AUMF. The Dems would be forced to vote for some version of the war, and voting for the war in any form will renew their partial repsonsibility for it. What is really striking about this hype over a surge is that it goes in the exact opposite direction. Dems get to snipe at a proposal for a surge that they know will fail, but aren't forced to actually vote for or against the idea. The escalation tends to liberate them from the past responsibility that those of them who voted for the AUMF in 2002 now labor under. This is so stupid a political blunder, and so obviously stupid a way to handle an escalation that, even if they think it will work, doesn't need to have them run the risk of high visibility if it does fail, that you have to wonder if it isn't just the cover story for something else. Go to my diary, "Surging into Iran" at the Daily Kos for the lurid details of what I think that "something else" might be.

Posted by: Glen Tomkins on December 24, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Atrios has it right I'm afraid....it doesn't matter what anybody does or says, the militarists/interventionists/hawks/neocons/whatever are the ones In Charge in America, and until that changed no one will learn anything.

Vietnam is instructive. 2M+ people lost their lives in Vietnam and the fuckin sickos are still convinced that 1) there wasn't enough violence and that 2) sex drugs and rock and roll is why we lost Vietnam, and not anything to do with the history of colonialism, Agent Orange, napalm, the WWII approach to counterinsurgency, etc etc.

The same fucking sickos who didn't learn shit from Vietnam are the same fucking sickos who aren't learning shit from Iraq, and they are in charge until that portion of the country that disagrees with them (and is a roughly 2-1 majority, comprising most Dems, most Indies, and even some Repubs) decides to do something about it. What that something is, I leave up to smarter men & women than I, but something must be done. They have demonstrated repeatedly that they are unable or unwilling to learn anything.

Posted by: nota bene on December 24, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

PS Speaking of not learning anything, we're doing the nuclear sanctions dance with Iran now. Officially.

Merry Christmas.

Posted by: nota bene on December 24, 2006 at 4:57 AM | PERMALINK

Get a clue Kevin, short of nuking several cities in Iraq the neocons will argue that we didn't use enough force anyway -- no matter what we do. 10 years from now, they will scoff at the idea that 20,000 troops could have made a difference and insist that we needed 100,000 but lacked the will to win.

Posted by: The Fool on December 24, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

And all this long tragic tale because of decisions made here and in the west in 1948! Or to really get right down to it, in England in 1917!

Posted by: RWH on December 24, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

That spot of land has beent he home of violence and struggle for over 5000 years. To think we can ammeliorate all the deep-seated problems is the height of folly and hubris.

Probably 20 years ago, I was on a bus in Tel Aviv. I was wearing a skirt and a sleeveless blouse. It was early in the morning and still chilly. An ultra-orthodox man got on and sat down beside me, then leaned across me and dropped the window. I raised it. This went on three of four times. Finally I told him the cold air bothered me, he could sit in another empty seat and lower his window. He informed me that he was not moving and that I my bare arms bothered him. I didn't back down.

We both got kicked off the bus and an Israeli policeman separated us at the stop.

Ygall Amir assassinated Rabin for making peace.

How are we going to fix problems we don't understand? Brute force? Know anything about that part of the world?

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 24, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

That spot of land was pretty quiet prior to WWI, and had been for a very long time.

Posted by: RWH on December 24, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

That would depend on how you define "quiet" I think.

Before oil was discovered, the people of the region were pretty much ignored. As long as the struggle for scarce resources was limited to clan-on-clan, nobody gave a rat's fanny.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 24, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

One of the mysteries of the universe is why a dickhead like Kevin Drum has such an articulate and clearminded following. If it weren't for the quality of the commenting posts, I would never bother with this blog.

Posted by: El Pollo on December 24, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

The US is a failed state. The heretofore ruling party has landed us in an egregious f-up. The opposition party is afraid to oppose. Who will call a halt to our national battered wife syndrome? Kevin, you propose to allow the f-upees to continue
until they see the light. They shun the light like the evil undead they are. What if they double down
and attack Iran? Then we are truly in the shit and being able to say "I told you so" will be cold comfort indeed. I fear the world my son and grandson will face.

Posted by: Alan Coltharp on December 25, 2006 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

there is a name for kevin's strategy. it is called: the "let them have their own way--- stupidity must be punished" strategy.

it doesn't always work---but it works most of the time---and when it works it teaches people a lesson they never forget (not guaranteed for off the richter scale bush level stupidity though).

i'm with you on this one, kevin.

Posted by: wschneid25 on December 26, 2006 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

At last! Someone finally admits what a shithole the democrat party is! Thank you, Kevin, for finally finally admiting that the DP is more than willing to sacrifice the lives of US military personel for petty political advantage. You are far more honest than your fellow pwoggies and I salute you for it.

The fact that a humble writer will boldy cop to the sheer amoral corruption of the Democrat Party should shame that party's faux-liberal at apologists of La Nation magazine. Of course, people outside the pwoggie cocoon already know that the democrats, like their republican fellows, are more than eager to kill off as many U.S. servicepeople as it takes to maintain their hold on power. But it's not often that a person like Kevin has the forthright honesty to just come out and say: "Yes, our leaders are completely insane homicidal fucking bastards - and we're proud of 'em!"

Refreshing honestly like that is truly one-in-a-million.

Posted by: AlanSmithee on December 26, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK



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