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Tilting at Windmills

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January 9, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE SURGE....Newsweek interviews Leon Panetta, a member of the Iraq Study Group, about the surge:

When your bipartisan panel came to the conclusion that relying on Iraqi forces and embedding U.S. advisors was the right course of action, rather than a surge, did you think that you were reflecting the consensus of the U.S. military at the time?
Yes. We sat down with military commanders there and here, and none of them said that additional troops would solve the fundamental cause of violence, which was the absence of national reconciliation. We always asked if additional troops were needed. We asked the question of [Gen. George] Casey and others, we asked it of Marine commanders in Anbar. Do you need additional troops? They all said the same thing: we don't need additional troops at this point; we need to get the Iraqis to assume the responsibility they're supposed to assume...

Did you interview Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who's about to take over command of multinational forces in Iraq? What did he recommend? He is now said to be a supporter of the surge.
At that time he was talking about the need to train and embed U.S. forces in the Iraqi army. (laughs)

Basically, Panetta says that virtually no one they interviewed, including members of the Bush administration, favored a troop escalation six months ago. They just didn't think it would work.

So what's changed since then? Serious thinking? Or a heaping helping of cynicism?

Kevin Drum 3:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (67)

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Comments

Kevin, you probably also don't want everyone to have a pony or unicorn.

You America-haters sicken me.

Posted by: Al's Mommy on January 9, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

virtually no one they interviewed, including members of the Bush administration, favored a troop escalation six months ago. They just didn't think it would work. ...So what's changed since then? Serious thinking? Or a heaping helping of cynicism?

The latter.

This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions (h/t Atrios).

By the by, it's abundantly clear that Bush is hoping to stave off collapse for enough Friedman units to foist this mess on his successor. How sad that Ford's remembrances didn't teach him that he won't escape history's judgment for this fiasco so easily, no matter how much the wingnuts yell "Dolschtoss!"

Posted by: Gregory on January 9, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

When your bipartisan panel came to the conclusion that relying on Iraqi forces and embedding U.S. advisors was the right course of action, rather than a surge, did you think that you were reflecting the consensus of the U.S. military at the time?
Yes. We sat down with military commanders there and here, and none of them said that additional troops would solve the fundamental cause of violence, which was the absence of national reconciliation.

You and Leon Panetta are wrong of course. As Joe Klein has pointed out, many military intellectuals support a surge. I suggest you two start doing your homework unless you want to embarrass yourselves.

Link

"But what about retired General Jack Keane--whom Krugman doesn't mention--and the significant number of military intellectuals who have favored a labor-intensive counterinsurgency strategy in Baghdad for the past three years? They are serious people. They may be wrong about Iraq now, reflexively trying to complete a mission that has been lost, but they are not delusional."

Al

Posted by: Da Al on January 9, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

What has changed is that the ISG made recommendations. GWB will not be told what to do. Not by the military, not by Congress, not by the voters, and least of all, not by Daddy's men.

Posted by: Gex on January 9, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq Study Group forgot the First Rule of Dealing With Recalcitrant Children: Negative Psychology.

If the ISG had recommended striving for victory with a 20,000-troop "surge," soldiers and Marines in Iraq would be packing their bags right now.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 9, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Gex: Great Minds!

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 9, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Great article in the new Vanity Fair....Is Nigeria the next Iraq? Nigeria is our 5th leading supply of oil. Looks like we're in Somalia now, might as well go for it all since Iraq is going so well. Real men want to go to Tehran and Lagos.

Posted by: R.L. on January 9, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Does the thought even cross Panetta's mind that he should be hoping that General Petraeus succeeds in calming down Baghdad?


rightist liberal!

or illiberal leftist!

whatever.

Posted by: gregor on January 9, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

KD: So what's changed since then? Serious thinking? Or a heaping helping of cynicism?

I'll take a heaping helping of cynicism for $1,000.

A: They are the primary benefactors of the Iraq War.

Q: What is the military-industrial-petroleum complex?

Ding...ding...ding...ding!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 9, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK
So what's changed since then? Serious thinking? Or a heaping helping of cynicism?

Desperation, with a heaping helping of ego.

Posted by: Unholy Moses on January 9, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Well that was the policy at the time. Call for more troops lose your job. That's what changed.

Posted by: markg8 on January 9, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

They just didn't think it would work.

And they were right. Then and now.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 9, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "So what's changed since then?"

What has changed is that victory in Iraq is at hand, and Dick Cheney thinks that an escalation is needed to secure that victory.

Future of Iraq: The Spoils of War
By Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb
The Independent UK
07 January 2007

Excerpt:

Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

[...]

Supporters say the provision allowing oil companies to take up to 75 per cent of the profits will last until they have recouped initial drilling costs. After that, they would collect about 20 per cent of all profits, according to industry sources in Iraq. But that is twice the industry average for such deals.

Greg Muttitt, a researcher for Platform, a human rights and environmental group which monitors the oil industry, said Iraq was being asked to pay an enormous price over the next 30 years for its present instability. "They would lose out massively," he said, "because they don't have the capacity at the moment to strike a good deal."

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Salih, who chairs the country's oil committee, is expected to unveil the legislation as early as today. "It is a redrawing of the whole Iraqi oil industry [to] a modern standard," said Khaled Salih, spokesman for the Kurdish Regional Government, a party to the negotiations. The Iraqi government hopes to have the law on the books by March.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 9, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Or, the cones of silence are rising now that the election is over?

Posted by: ferd on January 9, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

This is a president who, according to Woodward's State of Denial, was unaware at the start of the war that there was a Shi'te Sunni division in Islam.

To expect him to understand the limitations of force and his forces at this point is unrealistic.

What's really pathetic is that our forces have been led by yes-men generals, including the joint chiefs, from the start. Their main interest has maintaining their own careers rather than promoting proper force levels and strategy.

Posted by: Cycledoc on January 9, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

By the by, it's abundantly clear that Bush is hoping to stave off collapse for enough Friedman units to foist this mess on his successor.

Yep. That's it. That is the entirety of Bush's "strategy". It'd be kinda neat if our bulldogs of the press pointed out that Bush wants to sacrifice American troops for his own psychic comfort.

Posted by: sglover on January 9, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it obvious? This is an escalation of the war against IraN not IraQ.

Posted by: jman_nyc on January 9, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

sglover wrote: "... Bush wants to sacrifice American troops for his own psychic comfort"

What Bush "wants" is irrelevant. Bush does what Dick Cheney tells him to do.

What Dick Cheney wants is to establish a US-backed puppet government in Iraq, which will hand over control of Iraq's oil industry and the vast majority of the profits therefrom to his cronies and financial backers in the US-based multinational oil companies, and acquiesce to a large permanent US military presence to enforce that control.

This has always been Dick Cheney's goal in Iraq, and it continues to be his goal. He will sacrifice any number of American lives to achieve it, and is certainly willing to send tens of thousands more young Americans to their deaths in Iraq when victory -- ie. passage of the US-written oil law, which "privatizes" Iraq's oil industry into the hands of the US and UK oil companies, by the Iraqi legislature -- is at hand.

None of this has anything to do with Bush's psychological problems, or "spreading democracy", or "defending Israel", or "neo-conservatism" or any of that other bunk.

It is all about who will become immeasurably rich and powerful by controlling the world's last, biggest supply of high-quality, cheaply-extractable oil in the post-peak era of dwindling oil supplies and skyrocketing demand.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 9, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

"many military intellectuals support a surge"

They don't even support the war, asshole.

Read William Lind at
http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_archive.htm

Posted by: Bob M on January 9, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously the situation has changed and the president has information to which Kevin is not privy.

Liberals complain when the president sticks to a course of action, and complain when he makes a minor change to secure a strategic advantage. Why am I not surprised?

Posted by: Al on January 9, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Al

A surge, consuming what is left of the US combat ready reserves, is hardly a 'minor change to secure a strategic advantage'.

Something is up. I suspect that something is called Iran. I think this might be another sign that the US is going to go after Iran.

Vt

Posted by: Valuethinker on January 9, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! I've got it! I know how to win! We'll give Petraeus a fifth star and then we'll win! No five-star has ever lost a war!

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 9, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

So what's changed since then? Serious thinking? Or a heaping helping of cynicism?

Neither. Rather, Bush has made clear what he wants to hear, and enough people, either because they think it's their duty or because they are sucking up to the boss -- or both -- have told it to him.

With the number and variety of people in this country, you can eventually find someone to tell you what you want to hear, and if you're president, I imagine it's very easy indeed.

Posted by: bleh on January 9, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

In response to constant Democratic attacks on "not enough troops," Bush and Rumsfeld would say that their commanders in Iraq didn't want any more troops, and that response was hooted down by the Left.

Apparently, what they said was true.

Posted by: rnc on January 9, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Panetta is still a politician that see's scoring points against Bush as more important than the national interest. Panetta uses weasel words like "solving the fundemental cause of violence" because he knows the surge is not intended to solve the fundemental cause of violence. It's supposed to provide a base level of security in the capital so the Iraqis can have one last chance to stand up and solve the fundemental cause of violence on their own. Other than Lieberman, where are the Dems that care as much about America's long-term interests as they do cheap shots like this. And why doesn't Kevin Drum comment on it, rather than link to it approvingly.

Posted by: ex-minion on January 9, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

So much of the thinking about Iraq - both pro-surge and anti-surge, is based on the flawed belief that there is some sort of unified movement among Iraqis to preserve Iraq as a single country. I don't think it exists. At least not to the majority of Iraqis. I think most Iraqis are pushing for their own factional partitioning, be it Kurd, Sunni, Shia, Christian, whatever. There simply is no cohesive feeling of national unity. The country has disintegrated before our eyes.

Iraq is like Humpty Dumpty. All the kings horses and all the kings men, ain't gonna put it back together again.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 9, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

No one seems to be drawing the one conclusion about the troop surge that should be obvious: it has nothing to do with Iraq. Here are some facts:

1. The UN finally placed "sanctions" against Iran.
2. Dovish Saudi ambassador resigns.
3. Negroponte steps down.
4. The U.S. is sending a second carrier to Gulf.
5. A troop surge is announced in Iraq.
6. Israel commences saber rattling ...

Can't anyone guess the real reason for an increase in troops ?

Posted by: Quicklier on January 9, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

So, is there any chance that some semblance of stability might occur when Iraqi dads start bringing home oilfield paychecks?

Sure, the country is going to be robbed blind -- it's not the solution I would prefer to see. But wouldn't local neighborhoods start buying groceries instead of bullets?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on January 9, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Quickie - you say it's all just prep for tomorrow's Iranian war?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on January 9, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

the surge is not intended to solve the fundemental cause of violence. It's supposed to provide a base level of security in the capital so the Iraqis can have one last chance to stand up and solve the fundemental cause of violence on their own.

minion, you dishonest toad, you presume the surge is "supposed to provide a base level of security in the capital so the Iraqis can have one last chance to stand up and solve the fundemental cause of violence on their own."

But given that given the failure of every other "surge" -- for example, Operation Together Forward -- to secure Baghdad, what grounds are there to believe this one would work, let alone be worth the price in American blood (oh, but don't worry, minion, other Americans' blood, not yours) and treasure?

And given the unlikelihood of this success (oh, yes, however much one might wish for it), and the obvious nature of this unlikelihood, isn't the surge really likely to be, as I said, actually intended to stave off defeat until Bush leaves office?

And isn't that the action, not just of a politician, but a particularly cowardly and tyrannical one?

And doesn't that make your presumption that opposing Bush is not in the national interest just as much bullshit as your usual commentary?

Posted by: Gregory on January 9, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

So much of the thinking about Iraq - both pro-surge and anti-surge, is based on the flawed belief that there is some sort of unified movement among Iraqis to preserve Iraq as a single country.

Recent surveys have shown that most Iraqis favor a strong central government and a unified Iraq.

World Public Opinion Survey (see page 12)

IRI poll

Posted by: Ein on January 9, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

"So, is there any chance that some semblance of stability might occur when Iraqi dads start bringing home oilfield paychecks?"

Any chance? Sure. But the usual pattern for resource extraction based economies is a tiny wealthy elite and a vast poor majority. On the other hand some of those countries maintain moderate stability through brutal repression of the majority.

Back to square one, but the international oil companies get a bigger cut.

Posted by: jefff on January 9, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

'Världen skulle bli bättre utan Saddam'.

Det hörde man tills öronen trillade av inför våroffensiv 2003. Nu har vi hamnat i en värld där an av de få marginellt halvvetiga anledningar att invadera Mesopotamien har förfelats.
Det kräver en beundransvärd förmåga att anti-Midaslikt förvandla att till skit vid beröring. Duktigt, Dubya, duktigt.

Jag skäms för att varit en oinformerad staketsittare vid den tiden.

Posted by: french swede the rootless vegetable on January 9, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

ex-minion: Panetta is still a politician that see's scoring points against Bush as more important than the national interest. Panetta uses weasel words like "solving the fundemental cause of violence" because he knows the surge is not intended to solve the fundemental cause of violence. It's supposed to provide a base level of security in the capital so the Iraqis can have one last chance to stand up and solve the fundemental cause of violence on their own. Other than Lieberman, where are the Dems that care as much about America's long-term interests as they do cheap shots like this. And why doesn't Kevin Drum comment on it, rather than link to it approvingly.

Again, assuming facts not in evidence.

Assumes that scoring points against Bush, the most incompetent, mendacious, and immoral president in US history, is not in the national interest.

Assumes that the purpose of the surge and the motivation for the surge has anything to do with "caring about America" when it really is only motivated by "Bush and his allies caring about Bush."

Assumes that success in Iraq is linked to America's long-term security interests. It wasn't at the start of the war and it isn't any more so now.

It was a cheap shot to suggest that Clinton tried to stop actual genocide (successfully) in Bosnia and Kosovo for purely personal political reasons; it is not a cheap shot to suggest that Bush (who has repeatedly lied about ongoing genocide in Iraq, as well as extant WMDs) invaded Iraq for anything other than personal and partisan reasons and that he remains there based on the same motivations.

Posted by: Google_This on January 9, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

oops!
wrong thread. sry.

Posted by: french swede the rootless vegetable on January 9, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ein: Recent surveys have shown that most Iraqis favor a strong central government and a unified Iraq.

A somewhat disingenuous reading of the poll results.

Posted by: Google_This on January 9, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Google_this:

Why? The results are there.

Posted by: Ein on January 9, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

The Presidents "surge" is entirely consistent with the Republican Plan for Unending War. There is simply no reason for the President to take another course.

Posted by: CT on January 9, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

and the escalation is suported not by the troops and not by the joint chiefs, but by joke line's unnamed "military intellectuals." what kind of al would buy this crap?

Posted by: benjoya on January 9, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

My Swedish is marginal, but I got the invading Mesopotamia and "Heckuva job, Bushie, Heckuva job!" parts.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 9, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Could this all be a ruse by the administration?

All this leaking about additional troops, all the talk about escalation, all the talk about how the public, military, pols are opposed to escalation.

Then Bush comes out tomorrow with a different plan? Not that I have one iota of confidence that he can come up with something reasonable, but if he proposes anything other than additional troops, won't the press loving and lavishly throw praise at his feet? Won't the "right" say "See, he does listen to others!" Won't a good portion of the sheeple say, anything but escalation sounds reasonable?

Dunno, the thought just crossed meh head.

Posted by: Simp on January 9, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

i don't know simp, counting on bush to make anything other than the stupidest choice available is a sucker's game. what i'm wondering, if bush proposes a trickling in of 20,000 for less than a year will straightTalk and joeForJoe cheerlead for it, despite it not being "substantial" and "sustained"? i'm guessing yes.

Posted by: benjoya on January 9, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ein: Thank you for the link to the WPO survey. I know you were responding to the point about keeping Iraq unified, but another finding is at least as instructive:

1. Views of US-led Forces in Iraq
Seven in ten Iraqis want US-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year. An overwhelming majority believes that the US military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing. More broadly, most feel the US is having a predominantly negative influence in Iraq and have little or no confidence in the US military. If the US made a commitment to withdraw, a majority believes that this would strengthen the Iraqi government. Majorities believe that the withdrawal of US troops would lead to a reduction in the amount of inter-ethnic violence and improvement in the day-to-day security of Iraqis. A modest majority, including a large majority of Shia, now believes that in the near future Iraqi security forces will be strong enough to deal with their security challenges without foreign forces. There is little interest in replacing US-led forces with an international peacekeeping force.

A large majority of Iraqis—71%—say they would like the Iraqi government to ask for US-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less. Given four options, 37 percent take the position that they would like US-led forces withdrawn “within six months,” while another 34 percent opt for “gradually withdraw[ing] US-led forces according to a one-year timeline.” Twenty percent favor a two-year timeline and just 9 percent favor “only reduc[ing] US-led forces as the security situation improves in Iraq.”

They want us gone. Bush is ignoring the citizens of Iraq just as he ignores the citizens of America.

Posted by: Bill Camarda on January 9, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is ignoring the citizens of Iraq just as he ignores the citizens of America.

consistency always was his strong point!

Posted by: thersites on January 9, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Both surveys are worth reading in their entirety, although unfortunately the IRI document is in Powerpoint format. The most remarkable thing is how widely results vary across different groups in Iraq. The "overall" results are not the whole story.

Posted by: Ein on January 9, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

"...the usual pattern for resource extraction-based economies is a tiny, wealthy elite and a vast poor majority." jefff -

Agree. And it would be nearly back to square one. But doesn't the current deal actually make this look attractive?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on January 9, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Maureen Dowd concluded "Despite all the talk in the 2000 campaign about a robustly experienced foreign-policy dream team, it may have been destined that the Bush administration would be asleep in the run-up to 9/11, to Katrina, to the occupation, and to the refugee crisis in Iraq. Either all that was predetermined, or the administration was preternaturally neglient.
Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, said a man can do what he wants but cannot will what he wants---and would have understood W.'s non-sensical urge to Surge."

I hope the Democrats' vote on the escalation led by Senator Reid and Nancy Pelosi help to stop the insanity. The American citizens are opposed, as are military leaders. A dismal portion of blockheads and doofuses in the public support it.
Why are we so powerless in this democracy?
Because this war-mongering, afraid -of -being- called- a- wimp administration is out of control.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 9, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Petraeus was in charge of training the Iraqi forces (the ones we can never get to show up. Either he's incompetent or he's been training malitias and death squads. Either way we're in trouble.

Posted by: darby1936 on January 9, 2007 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

""...the usual pattern for resource extraction-based economies is a tiny, wealthy elite and a vast poor majority." jefff -

Agree. And it would be nearly back to square one. But doesn't the current deal actually make this look attractive?"

OK, but here's the killer. The reason Iraq isn't producing that much oil now is that it is a violent and chaotic place.

Until the violence is dramatically reduced iraq isn't likely to produce much more oil. So we can't get more oil production before we get stability, we have to get more stability to get more oil production. The international oil conglomerates might well sign on to a sweet deal for iraqi oil extration in the near term, but they aren't actually going to go build any infrastructure or do anything else until after security improves, it will be impossible. If they do make any agreements under the current conditions thier calculation is that they can buy iraq's oil, wait for the war to end, then cash in on the remainder of thier 30 year contracts. For that reason they aren't likely to sign such contracts quickly anyway (unless they are basically free). An anti US iraqi government could invalidate them after taking power.

Posted by: jefff on January 9, 2007 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

>The "overall" results are not the whole story.Most Iraqis Favor Immediate U.S. Pullout, Polls Show

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... [I've edited out references to the additional WPO poll you mentioned.]

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.

..."Majorities in all regions except Kurdish areas state that the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) should withdraw immediately, adding that the MNF-I's departure would make them feel safer and decrease violence," concludes the 20-page State Department report, titled "Iraq Civil War Fears Remain High in Sunni and Mixed Areas." The report was based on 1,870 face-to-face interviews conducted from late June to early July.

The IRI poll you reference is mixed at best, and I believe it's several months older (April).

It's also worth mentioning who the IRI's leaders are. While not funded by the Republican Party, it is essentially the international extension of the GOP. Its board is chaired by U.S. Senator John McCain and includes former Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, former Presidential Envoy to Iraq L. Paul Bremer, III and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. While I'm not questioning the accuracy of their results, I think their poll questions were carefully crafted to find at least some good news.

Don't you find it interesting that, amidst all the debate about the surge, nobody even talks about what the Iraqi people think? I'm curious: what does that tell you?

Posted by: Bill Camarda on January 9, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

What's changed is that the Republicans decided to gamble. The gamble is that the Demos will be foolish enough block Bush's insignificant "surge" so that the MLM will be able to echo the Rovian talking points that "we had a chance to finally win but the Democrats blocked our efforts."

It's not an "escalation" as Atrios tries to call it. It's a blip. An insignificant increase, plus some meaningless shuffling of troops from point X to point Y. It changes nothing.

If Bush is allowed to try this "surge" it might not even get off the drawing board. Too many military leaders oppose it. Too many Republican congressmen don't want to be saddled with it.

But the Democrats may just save them all the trouble by opposing the surge by withdrawing funding. So all of those Republican congressmen, all of the "fighting keyboarders" who know in their hearts that the war is lost and would be ashamed for having defended Bush for so long if they had the capacity for shame, will be given an out. A voluntary scapegoat.

It's a matter of "principle" in the same way that voting for Nader, even if it meant letting Bush have the white house, was a matter of "principle." Look what they accomplished. They'd also be ashamed, if they had the capacity for shame.

Posted by: wimbley on January 9, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter what happens, as long as the shit hits the fan after Junta Boy goes off to join the board of Carlisle Group.

The 'surge' is a stunt that Bush must remember from his misspent youth -- which, IIRC lasted until he was nearly 50 -- namely changing who's in the driver's seat, so that the guy with no priors or outstandings is there before the cop can get all the way up to the driver's window.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 9, 2007 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

So what's changed since then? Serious thinking? Or a heaping helping of cynicism?

Just the normal selective interpretation (or interpretive dyslexia) that seems so prevalent...

Iraq Study Group Report:

... the United States should significantly increase the number of U.S. military personnel, including combat troops, imbedded in and supporting Iraqi Army units.

Senator McCain:

... I applaud the ISG’s endorsement of a surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad.

Posted by: has407 on January 9, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

This war has now become a politically partisan war with the Republican Party supporting it and the Democratic Party opposing.

At the outset, Americans of both political parties lent support to the war with opponents consisting of but a smallish minority.

Now the war draws support only from Republican diehards, a smallish minority.

So we have the Republican Party War in Iraq.

Posted by: art on January 10, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

What has changed is an election that demanded the president do something. There are two somethings available. withdraw or escalate. Since leaving=losing, the only alternative available is escalation. Hence the tortured set of meetings to justify escalation.

We really need Republican senators to step up and stop this madness. There is nothing the democrats can do on their own to stop this. Susan Collins, your nation is calling out to you. Stop this, now.

Posted by: jayackroyd on January 10, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

If indeed an escalation of the war takes place in spite of opposition my a majority of the people and a majority of the Congress, then the blood of all of our troops who die or who are wounded from that point on is the fault of those who support escalation. The blood is on their hands.

Posted by: bill t on January 10, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Since when has the U.S. General Staff presided over a major victory since World War II?

Korea?

Vietnam?

Iraq?

Posted by: richard on January 10, 2007 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

Susan Collins, your nation is calling out to you. Stop this, now.

Not just a broken reed, but a broken reed with a 85 IQ. If we need Susan Collins to save the nation, we're screwed.

Collins:Snowe::Velveeta:Cheese

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 10, 2007 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

So what's changed since then? Serious thinking? Or a heaping helping of cynicism?

I do wish people would stop misusing the word "cynicism".

Then again, who gives a fuck?

Posted by: Diogenes on January 10, 2007 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

What has changed?

Haliburton and KBR want more security. Thats who pulls his strings.

Posted by: bill on January 10, 2007 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

We know this is a political decision brought on somewhat by McCain - haven't they admitted to it? So of course 6 months+ ago they weren't for it - the midterms and McCain changed the game board enough.

Posted by: ET on January 10, 2007 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Al: I did a take-down on Joe Klein's idiotic rant. He, like you, "forgot" the whole point that the increase in troops was asked for years ago, and by people like Joe Biden (D), but Bush didn't listen. Now it's probably too late, as acknowledged even by George Will, quoting MacArthur. (BTW, Bush lost Dr. K and King Tory Will on the Saddam execution - they did very good, very similar takedowns, making all the points about Eid and Moktada etc. that liberal critics were and are being pilloried for by Rush Loombowel et al.)

Posted by: Neil B. on January 10, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

So what's changed since then?

Six months ago, the Maliki government had just finally seated itself. The uptick in violence following the Samarra bombing was just beginning. The expectation of the administration at the time was to see if Maliki's government could meaningfully change the situation in Iraq. Obviously, it didn't, violence against Iraqis increase, violence against US troops stayed the same, and Iraq did not make the progress people hoped it would under its elected government. That is why six months later, the administration finally determined it needed to make some serious tactical adjustments.

Posted by: Hacksaw on January 10, 2007 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter "Hacksaw": After waiting six months hoping the Iraqi situation would get better on its own, the Bush Administration is finally takign action! And I see no problem at all with this picture...

Posted by: Gregory on January 10, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

"So what's changed since then?"

What's changed is that the decider has decided. And he's decided on a surge. And as he's the decider it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks. Because he decides, and since he's the decider, they have to do what he wants.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 10, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist's post makes it look like we are going to get the oil after all. Yeah.

This elephant is standing sweetly in the middle of everything discussed above.

What will it really say if we begin taking Iraqi oil, no matter how quietly:
What is the meaning of a newly elected democracy of Iraq allowing us to take their oil and their profits out of their own country in the midst of a non-civil war?
What will it mean if the UN stands by asking no questions as US businesses go in and take the assets of another country?
What does it mean that the word oil is pointedly left out of our main stream news media coverage of Iraq, equally so the legislature mentioned by SecularAnimist?
Is the lack of challenge over who gets government contracts but a hair on the head of the depth of this administration's corruption?
What can one do if indeed our president may have used human lives, global destabilization, national dept, and back seated domestic issues all for the sake of oil profits?
What does it say about the ethics of American big business and the idolatry of capitalism in general?

Is this time, the elephant just too big?


Posted by: Zit on January 10, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ein,

There is no question, at least on page 12 which you cited, about unity.

The individuals polled were given the choice between being ruled by a central government or militias.

They were not given the choice of a federation or independent states.

Given this first question's deliberately narrow scope, the second question has little validity with respect to preferring unity, since it has been implied that, in the absence of militia governance, the only other choice is a central government.

Given the inevitability of a central government, and the current levels of violence, it is hardly surprising the Iraqis would want a strong central government.

That is not a rejection of a federation of semi-independent states, each with their own strong government, or even of fully independent states with strong central governments, as your they favor a unified Iraq assertion implies.

If you want to prove they favor a unified Iraq, then point to a question that asks that, rather than exaggerating responses to questions only tangentially related to that issue.

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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