Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 15, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

A QUESTION FOR BILL KRISTOL....Bill Kristol, speaking to an imaginary congressman, says we ought to give President Bush's new strategy in Iraq a chance:

Last fall you called for replacing Rumsfeld. You've complained that there weren't enough troops. What's more, you've heard good things about General David Petraeus from colleagues with military expertise. So now Bush has fired Rumsfeld, put Petraeus in command, and sent in more troops. Maybe this new approach deserves a chance to work?

For anyone who had only those three complaints about our strategy in Iraq, it's a good point. For the rest of us, not so much.

But let's turn the question around. Kristol himself is one of the people who have called for firing Rumsfeld, sending more troops to Baghdad, and putting a guy like Petraeus in command. Now Bush has done it. So if it doesn't work, Bill, what are you going to do? Will you admit that the strategy you endorsed was wrong? Or will you just regroup and blithely insist that it was never implemented the way you wanted?

I'm taking bets.

Kevin Drum 1:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

The AEI is furiously working out the answers to your questions Kevin, and Bill will give you his answers as soon as they give them to him.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 15, 2007 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Kristol is a neo-con hack. His paycheck is tied to hackery. His loyalty is to the neo-con cabal, not to America. He doesn't even know much less care about any of the troops on the ground. My guess is if this "surge" fails he will back the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that. When the American people have their way and the troops come home, he will blame all of us for the failure.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 15, 2007 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

If only the smarmy little weasel had lesser parents...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 15, 2007 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Kristol needs to be sent to Iraq for a holiday.

Posted by: craigie on January 15, 2007 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

Or to mars.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 15, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

God damnit! While everyone is arguing over Iraq, Afghanistan is being lost!
It is time to frame the debate as that - The Republicans want to forfeit the war on terror to sieze oil. Period. Prove otherwise. Republicans?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 15, 2007 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

"We should at least give X a chance to work" is so elastic a precept as to be meaningless. It does nothing to distinguish good plans from bad ones, including ones so inauspicious that they shouldn't be given a chance. Something more than disingenuous appeals to fair-mindedness is needed.

Early modern scientists distinguished themselves from medieval charlatans by stipulating in advance the kinds of evidence they'd accept as refutation of their claims. The likes of Kristol do not do this. No matter what happens, they'll never admit they were wrong: it's always epicycles, the incompetence excuse, dolchstoss, neoconservatism never failed because ot was never really tried, etc., etc.

Posted by: KH on January 15, 2007 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

i'd be happy to give this latest piece of delusional thinking a chance to "work" if only the war enablers would define what "work" means and would concede that it's time to set in motion alternative plans (meaning withdrawal) if it "fails" to work.

somehow, i'm not worried that kristol is going to stir himself to respond....

Posted by: howard on January 15, 2007 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

As an aside, one of the amusing things going on in the wingnutsphere right now is many pundits (e.g. Jonah Goldberg, Mona Charen, Peggy Noonan, Jim Geraghty, Kristol) are expressing frustration since the Dems stubbornly refuse to do something really stupid so the GOP can start blaming them for the Iraq failure instead... Of course, they are not saying it directly. Instead they're saying the Dems ought to "back their [anti-war] convinctions" by cutting off funding for the war, rather than settling for symbolic non-binding resolutions which supposedly "embolden America's enemies", "demoralize our brave troops" etcetera..
---
I know some of Kevin's readers -- sensible progressives/liberals all -- share their frustration, but I still think it would be really daft to try to rescue the neocons from themselves. *Yes* -- Iraq *is* a real tragedy. There is going to be further loss of innocent Iraqi and American lives, but there is very little Democrats can do about it as long as "Shrub" remains President.


MARCU$

Posted by: MARCU$ on January 15, 2007 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yet another bloated Defense Dept. budget was passed in December as one of the last acts by the 109th Congress, so the president already has his money for the fiscal year.

However, there are growing signs of a rebellion in Congress against Bush by a significant number of GOP moderates, who now suddenly find themselves free of the procedural partisan constraints imposed upon them by Messrs. DeLay and Hastert. Once that occurs, all bets are off.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 15, 2007 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

Howard's right. Kristol et al won't stipulate what "to work" means re: Iraq, so they can set the bar as low as as they want in the future to claim that they were right. And if it turns into a total disaster? Then they can just say that "plans were carried out incompetently" and also claim they were right. It's win-win for them if they can just remain nimble enough!

Posted by: moonbiter on January 15, 2007 at 6:01 AM | PERMALINK

What does Billy Boy propose for those Congressmen that opposed this unwarranted, preemptive attack on a sovereign nation to begin with? Let Buhs re-write the Constitution? How about the appropriate remedy - impeachment???

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 15, 2007 at 6:24 AM | PERMALINK

"And you can believe me, because I never lie and I'm always right."
--George Leroy Tirebiter

Posted by: RT on January 15, 2007 at 7:03 AM | PERMALINK

The "new" strategy, which includes increasing US troop numbers to the high end of what they were in the past, will ultimately do nothing to moderate the ongoing civil war taking place under US occupation.

There are many reasons, but important among them is that this "new" strategy requires collaboration with an Iraqi government that will leak all plans to the Shi'ite militias. They will know our every move against them in advance, and they will be able to exploit any tactical advances against the Sunni insurgents.

Bring the troops home. They are not defending a "democracy," they are just getting shot at and facilitating a slow-motion civil war while keeping the parties to the civil war unaccountable to the rest of the Iraqi population.

We have been midwives to a civil war in Iraq. Now, we continue to feed and nurture it by our occupation.

Posted by: Joel on January 15, 2007 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

Simple answers to simple questions regarding simpletons:

Q:"Will Billy admit that the strategy you endorsed was wrong?"

A: No, he will insist that the escalation was not sufficiently substantial.

Next?

Posted by: BroD on January 15, 2007 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Blogwhoring alert... I posted some thoughts on this a few days ago at Angry Bear.

Posted by: cactus on January 15, 2007 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

A better question: You've given this country Dan Quayle and George W Bush. Can you go away now?

Posted by: reino on January 15, 2007 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Kristol predicted this war would cost no more than 0.2% of one year's GDP, which would be about $20 billion. His forecasting track record is really awful.

Posted by: pgl on January 15, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

For anyone who had only those three complaints about our strategy in Iraq, it's a good point.

Not even.
1. Firing Rumsfeld. A good start, but should've been done years ago.
2. General Petraeus. Unfortunately, he's not being allowed to run the war according to his own counterinsurgency manual.
3. More troops. As has been patiently explained in recent days, more troops were needed at the start, but are useless now. For over a year, war critics have been demanding fewer troops, i.e. zero, not more.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 15, 2007 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Silly question. Neoconservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed. QED.

Posted by: just sayin on January 15, 2007 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

"We should at least give X a chance to work" is so elastic a precept as to be meaningless. It does nothing to distinguish good plans from bad ones, including ones so inauspicious that they shouldn't be given a chance. Something more than disingenuous appeals to fair-mindedness is needed.

By the same standard we should at least give withdrawal from Iraq a chance to work, then, according to Kristol. Shouldn't Kristol at least give withdrawal a chance to see if it might be successful before blindly criticizing it?

Posted by: Arminius on January 15, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Bill Kristol is a true patriot and a leader of the Republic. He doesn't diserve to have aspersions cast his way by the likes of bloggers like you. He is descended by a truly grandoise line of intellectuals, foremost being the great Irving Kristol. As such, the man should be accorded some respect, and should not be comfited by your usual snark.

Posted by: egbert on January 15, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, please. 20,000 troops is more troops? How many will actually be doing combat duties? Surely less than 12,000.

This isn't 'more troops.' This is a hail-Mary pass. And Kristol knows it.

Posted by: kimster on January 15, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Kimster. I heard some right wing radio Freak Show echoing this canard about us "getting what we wanted" with troop levels and so we should all just shut up and trust the president. Once again, to all you who support the "new and improved new way forward": you ignore reality at your own peril. Specifically, when you do your Googling about what Dems like Pelosi, Kerry or Reid were saying about troop levels last year or earlier, you should add a keyword to your search: Shinseki.

Posted by: Pabodie on January 15, 2007 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

eggplant:

"... a truly grandiose line of intellectuals ... "

Couldn't have said it better myself :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 15, 2007 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1 wrote: "Couldn't have said it better myself "

Sure you could, Bob. You'd have spelled "grandiose" correctly.

Posted by: PaulB on January 15, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kristol has never yet admitted he was wrong on anything he had to say about Iraq, though he has been consistently wrong. It is no wonder that the only media outlet that includes Kristol as a commentator is Faux.

The guy is a joke, along with his fellow traveler Michael Ledeen.

Posted by: Chris Brown on January 15, 2007 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't even a Hail-Mary. Krugman gives us the correct metaphor:

Hundreds of news articles and opinion pieces have described President Bush’s decision to escalate the Iraq war as a “Hail Mary pass.”

But that’s the wrong metaphor.
Mr. Bush isn’t Roger Staubach, trying to pull out a win for the Dallas Cowboys. He’s Charles Keating, using other people’s money to keep Lincoln Savings going long after it should have been shut down — and squandering the life savings of thousands of investors, not to mention billions in taxpayer dollars, along the way.
The parallel is actually quite exact. During the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s, people like Mr. Keating kept failed banks going by faking financial success. Mr. Bush has kept a failed war going by faking military success.
The “surge” is just another stalling tactic, designed to buy more time.

Keep reading. (Subscription wall overcome)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 15, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Or will you just regroup and blithely insist that it was never implemented the way you wanted?"

Uh, did you even have to ask? sheesh...

Posted by: spyder on January 15, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kristol is simply decadent. He's an "intellectual" in the same way that my plumber is a theoretical physicist. And look at how our fabulous meritocracy functions: Kristol will now be collecting a paycheck from the Time-Warner Corporation. These are dark days.....

Posted by: sglover on January 15, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB:

I missed that ... Eggies spells it grandoise -- like it's some mutated new French word: grand-WAH. ROTFL !

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 15, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

eggie, a hint: if you don't want to sound like an obvious parody of wingnuts, you have to reign it in just a bit. Your humor tastes best when you sound plausible.

Posted by: Disputo on January 15, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

He is descended by a truly grandoise line of intellectuals, foremost being the great Irving Kristol. As such, the man should be accorded some respect, and should not be comfited by your usual snark.

Posted by: egbert on January 15, 2007 at 10:24 AM

Pompous would be a better term than grandiose, but why is it you conservatives seem to worship "breeding," I didn't think you guys believed in genetics or evolution or any of that stuff that isn't in the bible.

I can't get a crazy image out of my mind. There is a great stable. A sign over the door says American Enterprise Institute Conservative Breedering Farms. A group of Egberts lead a charging Conservative Stallion, Irving Kristol into a stall, and they watch, taking notes, as he mounts an attractive Conservative intellectual filly named Gertrude Himmelfarb. She is a conservative professor of the history of Social Darwinism. They lead the now satisfied stallion away snorting Conservative catch phrases and spouting nascient neo-con ideas. They watch over the Conservative female. They make sure she has the best nutrition.

Nine months later little Bill Kristol is born. His birth papers recite his impressive lineage. Bill Kristol out of Gertrude Himmelfarb, sired by Irving Kristol.

Sorry, I just can't get the entire Conservative Think Tank Breeding Farm image out of my mind.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 15, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers: Sorry, I just can't get the entire Conservative Think Tank Breeding Farm image out of my mind.

Thanks, Ron. Now I can't get it out of mine either!

Posted by: bigcat on January 15, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Kristol on, was it Olbeman or the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and he said that if the surge doesn't work out, he will be totally discredited. Almost makes the surge seem worthwhile, doesn't it. Not that he isn't already discredited, but that he will have to admit it.

Posted by: frank logan on January 15, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

But I DID give the President's new strategy time to work. Three years ago. Sadly, he wasn't using it then, but that's not my fault, it's his.

This whole Liebermanistic "we should give this new approach a chance" thing is ridiculous. We've been giving him carte blanche for years, and he's screwed up. He doesn't get a chance now to try what should have been tried long ago, when it might have worked.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 15, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

The Neocons are truly grasping at straws and Bush is going along with it dressing it up as a new stratagy. Good thing the American people are way ahead of this sales campaign. Just as Bush marked off the players on the infamous deck of cards and the purple fingers, etc.; our involvement in Iraq has always been form over substance. Even the cable networks have pulled back to a certain extent. More and more the people who sold this war are being exposed as being consistently wrong and incompetent. I just pray the Dems have the spine to prevent a catastrophe in Iran.

Posted by: darby1936 on January 15, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the "Hail Mary" pass: I'm not sure Mary would want anything to do with this.

Posted by: erica on January 15, 2007 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

on page 2 of Kristol's article quoting Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

>Congress under Article I, Section 8, has the
>war-making power. Congress appropriates funds for
>the war.


Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 grants congress the power to DECLARE war.
Does it bother anyone else that a congressmen could misquote this KEY clause of our constitution.


There is even reasoning given in Madison's notes on why "declare" was used in place of "make"
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_11s4.html


He's a congressmen - this is article of the constitution that speaks to his #$#$% duties. This is sad.

Posted by: vividvew on January 15, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

But let's turn the question around. Kristol himself is one of the people who have called for firing Rumsfeld, sending more troops to "Baghdad, and putting a guy like Petraeus in command. Now Bush has done it. So if it doesn't work, Bill, what are you going to do? Will you admit that the strategy you endorsed was wrong? Or will you just regroup and blithely insist that it was never implemented the way you wanted?

I'm taking bets."


kevin drum.

peanut gallery impresario.

Posted by: neill on January 16, 2007 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, he will say the changes were implementd too late to make a difference. I think this invasion is a fiasco. Toward the end Sadaam would have given the US anything it wanted just to stay in power, including the oil but Bush had to have his trophy war. However, no one can deny William Kristol was calling for a change in strategy, Rumsfeld to go and more troops in the field very early in the game.

Posted by: aline on January 16, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Someone, somewhere has to be trusted to have enough integrity to do the right thing. For me, as I'm sure for Kristol, right now that person is Gen. Petraeus. If he went on TV and said I will not take this command unless Bush gives me the 80,000 troops needed to do the job right we neocons would accept that ultimatum. [I believe Hancock refused the command Lincoln later gave to Meade, for similar reasons.] Petreaus hasn't said that though - he's said there's a fair chance 21,500 will make progress.
I've commented too many times in this forum that we neocons are as pissed at the execution of this war as you guys are - probably more so. But I don't think the reason you folks don't discuss what will happen if we slink off is because your afraid of what Glenn Reynolds will call you - I think it's because you know that nobody is going to do the job in the middle east except us, and the costs of abandoning that job are still too high. I'm one conservative that would love to talk about what you think a "non-war-based foreign policy would look like." Why don't you propose one, Kevin -- if the warmongers at AEI withdrawl, will the Belgians send their marching bands to patrol Sadr City?

Posted by: the ex-minion on January 16, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly