Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 8, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SIX MONTHS....No more Friedmans after September? That's what Jonathan Weisman and Thomas Ricks suggest in the Washington Post today:

"September is the key," said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds defense. "If we don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, September is going to be a very bleak month for this administration."

....House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has taken a hard line in Bush's favor, said Sunday, "By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B."

....House Democratic leaders are coming together around legislation that would fund the war through September but would withhold more than half of those funds until July, when Bush would have to report on the Iraqi government's progress toward benchmarks such as quelling sectarian violence, disarming militias and sharing oil revenue equitably. Congress would then have to vote in late July to release the remaining funds.

When September rolls around Gen. David Petraeus is almost certain to report that things are tough but progress is being made on the ground. And he'll have metrics of some kind to back him up. What else is he going to do, after all? You can almost write his script right now.

But political progress? There are virtually no positive signs right now, and after 18 months of stalling it's unlikely that 18 more weeks are going to make a difference. What's more, I'm inclined to think that there are at least a handful of moderate Republicans who are genuinely serious about abandoning Bush this time around. This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months.

Kevin Drum 1:54 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (89)

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Comments

"...light at the end of the tunnel".

Okay, I feel like I've heard that somewhere before. Don't help me now. Almost got it.
Just hang on for a minute more...

Posted by: Kenji on May 8, 2007 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

By September the US will be victorious in Iraq. Freedom will flourish and the Iraqi's will probably elect a great leader like Sarkozy.

If this does not happen it will be because of Democrat shenanigans with the funding bill.

Posted by: Al on May 8, 2007 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

"...light at the end of the tunnel."

--LBJ, 1966

...and 1967

...and 1968

Posted by: Winda Warren Terra on May 8, 2007 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Six months more is far too much time to allow these criminal thugs.

And that "light..." ? Just another train coming through.

"The first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt." - Ronnie Earle

Posted by: daCascadian on May 8, 2007 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

"what's Plan B."

What's Plan B?? We're at least on Plan Q by now.

Posted by: ogmb on May 8, 2007 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

There is not now, nor will there be, any rally of support, and everyone knows it. The reasons for the war are not going to suddenly become just and noble. The reason will remain lies, perfidy and mendacity.

Additionally, the death toll among Americans is climbing. Thirty last week, and twelve yesterday. The numbers can only go one way, and every tick upward ticks support downward.

If Petraeus comes back in September and that number is 4000 – all bets are off. A thousand dead kids in eight months is not something this country will abide. In fact, we had an election about just that back in November.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 8, 2007 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

You can almost write his script right now.

There's more to the script: the entire plan is simply to run out the clock so that the withdrawal of US troops does not happen when Bush is in office. They want that to take place on the next (presumably Democratic) president's watch. The script will continue for months and years afterwards, where the Republicans blame the loss of the war on Democrats and others who 'didn't let them win', etc. etc.

After all there is a sizable number of conservatives, young and old, who have been brainwashed into believing that Vietnam was a winnable war and that we lost because of protesters and other restriction on warfare (e.g. 'not being able to invade the north'). They're either delusional or dishonest.

Prepare for the sequel. The names and actors have changed, but it's essentially it's going to be the same script all over again.

Oh, except here the domino theory might actually come to pass.

Posted by: Augustus on May 8, 2007 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

Al's post was beautiful. First, predict an utterly delusional outcome, and then reserve the right to blame political enemies if it fails to come to pass, for any reason. Dolchstosslegende lives!

Posted by: jimBOB on May 8, 2007 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

Will the last GI to leave Iraq please turn out the light at the end of the tunnel?

Posted by: bad Jim on May 8, 2007 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Will the last GI to leave Iraq please turn out the light at the end of the tunnel?

Brilliant. Comment of the thread. Thank you for the snort, bad Jim. I'm going to bed on that note.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 8, 2007 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

If Sadr's ready to pull out of the government, and the Sunnis have lost patience, and everybody, including the brush-clearer-in-chief, is going to go on vacation this summer, this particular clusterfuck may not last until September.

Let's hope that the apocalyptic scenario, scheduled to arrive with a third aircraft carrier group in the Persian Gulf fairly soon, doesn't play out as feared. An attack on Iran may no longer be in the works, but were it to transpire it's not out of the question that we could lose our army.

Posted by: bad Jim on May 8, 2007 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK

bad Jim >"Will the last GI to leave Iraq please turn out the light at the end of the tunnel?"

Priceless !

"Every once in a while, you've got to do something hard, do something you're not comfortable with. A person needs a gut check." - Corporal Chad Ritchie, U.S.M.C.

Posted by: daCascadian on May 8, 2007 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

"This is the last Friedman" is not news. All Friedmans are the last Friedman. That's what a Friedman is, a period six months in the future after which the commenter falsely claims everything will change.

Posted by: derek on May 8, 2007 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

Well, when Sep arrives, we will have more funerals and more deaths. Nothing will be accomplished but Bush's Daddy aka Darth Vader will claim progress was made so they will keep it going til 2009.

Posted by: bob on May 8, 2007 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

Just so long as we keep to benchmarks and not time-tables, all will be hunky-dory.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on May 8, 2007 at 5:21 AM | PERMALINK

When Bush's entire administration is based on lies and fear-mongering, who believes that will change when the calendar flips to September? Are they crazy?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 8, 2007 at 5:31 AM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin is exactly right about the political situation in September, but it's nothing to celebrate.

IMHO another aspect of the political situation is that the media will continue to focus their reports on violence. The public will be less aware of progress in defeating particular insurgent groups. They will be less aware of deceases in violence, because violence will always be the lead story. Petraeus never predicted that violence would be eliminated by this fall, but in effect that's the standard he wll be held to by the media, the public, and the Democrats.

The result will be losing a war we could have won, hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq and worldwide strengthening of radical Islam. Our withdrawal will be a disaster that could have been avoided. Yet, liberals and the media will continue to boast about their victory in forcing this defeat.

P.S. Once we've withdrawn Iraqi violence will drop off the front pages. So, as the number of killings rises the reporting of killings will drop.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 8, 2007 at 5:40 AM | PERMALINK

They've learned how to take vacations like the Brush cutter in chief, at least.

Posted by: merlallen on May 8, 2007 at 6:18 AM | PERMALINK

you best get to the recruiter "ex liberal" before fall. prove how tough you are, chickenhawk.

Posted by: merlallen on May 8, 2007 at 6:25 AM | PERMALINK

"The result will be losing a war we could have won,"

Uh, no. *We* cannot win the current Iraqi civil war. Some faction of Sunni or Shia militias will presumably win it.

" . . . hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq . . . "

That result was achieved as a result of the US invasion and occupation.

" . . . and worldwide strengthening of radical Islam."

That result was also achieved as a result of the US invasion and occupation.

"Our withdrawal will be a disaster that could have been avoided."

Indeed, the invasion and occupation of Iraq *could* have been avoided. I wish we had avoided this disaster.

Posted by: Joel on May 8, 2007 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, have you just met the Republicans?

Come fall, they will announce that the surge is working, and that they have a plan to bring our troops home. (They will also blame the Democrats in Congress for the problems we'll be having on the ground.) From then until the 08 election, Republicans will be falling all over each other with "who has the best plan for ending the war."

Then if they do win, the troops stay put.

THAT'S a script you could write right now.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on May 8, 2007 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

September will be to late to help Repugs. It's too late anyway.

It must not matter much to the GOP that Bush complete trashed their party.

I think Dems learned, never let Repugs rule again, once their out of power, time to re-district, play a Tom Delay of their own, add a paper trail, dispose of lawyers on the bench in the DOJ, clean house competely, and get a little nasty all on their own. This Bush kiss-ass should cost the GOP everything now and forever, I mean, now that we know how to play just as nasty as they did. If I were a Dem politican, I would have taken Bush's nastiness very, very personally.

Posted by: Cheryl on May 8, 2007 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

timetables, timetables...don't these traitors realize the enemy, emboldened, now only have to hold on until September. Lott, Boehner are helping the enemy and endangering our soldiers.

Posted by: della Rovere on May 8, 2007 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: I think Kevin is exactly right about the political situation in September, but it's nothing to celebrate.

1) Who exactly, in the posts before yours, was "celebrating," you dishonest neocon toad?

2) Why, then, do you celebrate the continued loss of American life in Bush's disastrous folly in Iraq?

Tool.

Posted by: Gregory on May 8, 2007 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Idea for the Democrats:

Give Bush his bill.

But...

Attach a rider that funds Social Security the same amount that it funds the war in Iraq.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on May 8, 2007 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote, predictably: another aspect of the political situation is that the media will continue to focus their reports on violence. The public will be less aware of progress blah blah blah

Yes, yes, the tired old "the media is only reporting bad news" schtick.

I've been predicting for months that -- as someone else on this thread pointed out -- the war supporters will have the Dolschtosslegende all ready to go in order to excuse Bush's disastrous failure in Iraq (and yes, running out the clock til the next Administration is a key component of this strategy). Hell, you could see the groundwork being laid in ol' tbrosz' posts back in the day.

Now comes "ex-liberal" to prepare more of the way, whining that the media is portraying the fact that, surge or no surge, phony "progress" or no "progress", the occupying forces do not control the country, and the Iraqi government certainly doesnt (which renders it as illegitimate as the war supporters' desperate invocations of purple fingers).

Well, that dog won't hunt.

Memo to "ex-liberal" no one but you dishonest neocons and dead-ender Bush Cultist fools are going to believe the Dolschtosslegende. The American people have judged, rightly, that Bush's disastrous war is a massive failure no longer worth American blood and treasure. Of course, the neocons and chickenhawk war supporters implicitly agree, given their unwillingness to serve and their support of the President's irresponsible insistence on paying for the war with a tax cut.

And that's why your Dolschtosslegende will fail, "ex-liberal." When you bitch about the media losing the war for you, you'll be asked, what did you do to win the war? And all you'll have is that you bitched about the media not being a cheerful propaganda tool like you. That attitude will reap you all the contempt you deserve, I assure you.

Posted by: Gregory on May 8, 2007 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Boy are you EASY!!! Have the last 6+ years taught you NOTHING! Should any Repugs actually desert their petulant little king it will only be to CTA with an election looming. Listening to Darrell Issa now on WJ and he is oh, so apologetic about the "mistakes" that were made...BUT thinks we should all just believe them NOW! GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Posted by: Dancer on May 8, 2007 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Bush's invasion of Iraq was a gamble. We "won" the war quickly, and we have been sliding backward ever since. Yet we allow ourselves to be pulled into the administration's charade, pretending that the central issue is time.

The central issue was the rightness of our attack on Iraq. The administration has shamed itself and us with repeated failure to justify its actions. What we're dealing with now is consequences. The same bloodthirsty cowards who salivate over shock and awe, decapitation attacks, extreme rendition, humiliation, death squads (Salvador option), and measures that the civilized world still recognizes as torture want to talk about continuation of the war in terms of time.

I repeat that the invasion was a gamble. The "surge" (widely recognized as doubling down) is how we insist on staying at the table in the Middle East Casino, phoning home for more and more time, money, materiel, and personnel as we fritter away our national strength and honor. Somebody must be drinking, and somebody must be enabling that drinker.

When you come back from Vegas, nobody asks you how long you were there. They want to know how much you won (or, more likely--you could look it up--how much you lost.

The easy answer coming back from Iraq will be how long we were there. The hard, shameful, inexcusable answer will be how much we lost, and how much the Iraqis lost. It won't be measured in time. It will be measured in damage and destruction of human lives. The lingering questions will include the following (you can add more):

How can we keep this from happening again?

How can we recover from the losses of people, funds, and materiel?

How can our national institutions prove themselves worthy of trust and respect--domestically and internationally?

How can we repair the damage we have caused to Iraq and its people?

How can we bring the perpetrators to justice?


Time is important, and we've wasted a lot of it. But time is not the main issue.

Posted by: Ptui on May 8, 2007 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

One more thing, "ex-liberal," you lying ass: The result will be losing a war we could have won

No, we couldn't have. Bush's ineptitude -- only that, solely that, with a big helping of blame for you idiot neocons and your harebrained war lust -- lost the war, period.

Bush the Elder and Colin Powell identified, back in the first Gulf War, the risks of occupying a Muslim country, especially one with competing factions. No one, but no one, offered any plan for dealing with those risks other than "greeted as liberators" bullshit. Then Bush and Rumsfeld sent too few troops to maintain order, as was our legal obligation as occupiers. Then you've had four straight years of failure, incompetence and corruption. And you want to sniff that someone else lost the war for you? Bullshit.

If you want to contend that the war could have been won, the burden is on you to show why that Dolschtosslegende you so depserately want to concoct shouldn't point squarely at the inpetitude and incompetence of Bush and the neocons before you cast aspersions on anyone else.

Posted by: Gregory on May 8, 2007 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Another $54,000,000,000 at minimum down the rabbit hole and straight to the nation's debt since nobody's talking about FUNDING this fiasco. Crank up the printing presses...or even funding the freaking interest.

Meanwhile, consumer deficit spending reached an all time high in March...


'More important, however, is that foreign ownership of our assets will grow at about $500 (currently $800 billion) billion per year at the present trade-deficit level, which means that the deficit will be adding about one percentage point annually (now 1.5% annually) to foreigners' net ownership of our national wealth. As that ownership grows, so will the annual net investment income flowing out of this country. That will leave us paying ever-increasing dividends and interest to the world rather than being a net receiver of them, as in the past. We have entered the world of negative compounding -- goodbye pleasure, hello pain”. (Warren Buffet, “Thriftville versus Squanderville”)
quoted at Sell the Farm and Buy Gold/by Mike Whitney
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/6865

Posted by: MsNThrope on May 8, 2007 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Here we are again, expected to give the Administration another 5 months or so, another Friedman. One good working definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 8, 2007 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Poor Al really has stopped trying hasn't he?

Posted by: klyde on May 8, 2007 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

but it's nothing to celebrate.

Ummm... who, exactly, is celebrating?

IMHO another aspect of the political situation is that the media will continue to focus their reports on violence.

How many times does this meme need to be discredited?

The result will be losing a war we could have won

Again we ask, can you please define, in specific, non-pie-in-the-sky terms, what exactly a "win" in Iraq means?

worldwide strengthening of radical Islam.

Thanks to your buddy Bush.

Posted by: Simp on May 8, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Face it Kevin, you're just tired of arguing & are willing to give it **just one more** Friedman unit so you can move on to something rlse.

Well, don't do it - wade back in there & dont give them an inch!!!!

Posted by: sidewinder on May 8, 2007 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

FAUX Lib,

Time is running out in this Friedman - Better get your law clerk off your lap, and send the poor thing down to a Recruiting Office - Basic and Second Eight, will get that trooper to Baghdad about Sept 1 - Sort of surrogate like the Civil War, when the rich could pay someone to fight for them - Of course, what will you do for all of your invaluable research on political subjects? Ah, yes Regent School of Law and Auto Mechanics will loan you a paramilitary law clerk.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 8, 2007 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

IMHO another aspect of the political situation is that the media will continue to focus their reports on violence.

Ex-liberal is right. The media ought to focus on success stories like:

the political reconciliation in Baghdad, with the Sunnis set to pull out of the government altogether next week

the absence of a plan for the division of Iraqi oil wealth that is acceptable to all 3 factions

the Kurds' ethnic cleansing of Kirkuk, with Turkey looking angrily over their shoulder

the inability of the occupation to get the electricity up to even pre-war levels (over 4 years after the invasion)

the 2 million Iraqis who have fled their country

the scarcity of doctors, leading the government to put a hold on all medical diplomas

I mean, come on. You talk about "progress against the insurgents"? Do you even know who we're fighting? And if we're making "progress," can't a reasonable person expect a lowering of violence? Since when is that not an indicator?

In short, "ex-liberal" - you're a fucking idiot. You know this war is lost, and you're ponting fingers at EVERYONE except the one ultimately responsible: George W. Bush. It is genuinely sad.

Posted by: chuck on May 8, 2007 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, it's "Dolchstosslegende," not "Dolschtosslegende."

Dolch = dagger

Stoss (from the verb stossen)= stab

Legende = legend

It's cool you attempted to use the original German though - kudos!

Posted by: chuck on May 8, 2007 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

"This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months."

Yeah, right. Wanna buy a bridge from me?

Posted by: SJ on May 8, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, it's "Dolchstosslegende," not "Dolschtosslegende."

I stand corrected.

Pity "ex-liberal" never does.

Posted by: Gregory on May 8, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Bush has been reduced to this point as little except a synecdoche for the war.

And if

a.) God chose Bush, from before the beginning of all time, as a special dispensation to save His beloved America from the twin scourges of oral sex and high marginal tax rates,

and

b.) The war, and hence Bush -- or Bush, and hence the war -- is a manifest disaster,

then

c.) God clearly chose the wrong guy,

which is impossible, because God cannot ever be wrong.

So,

d.) The war* cannot be a disaster.

QED

The war* will continue until at least 21 January 2009.

*'War' here is a term of art. Ordinary people know it means 'occupation'

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 8, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

"This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months."

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Oh Drum, you card you....

Posted by: boron on May 8, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Look at it through Bush’s eyes in September – at that point he will be effectively about 14 months away from the end of his term, and he can accuse anyone offering new war plans of ‘playing presidential politics’. He will surely think he can play that card for a year, even if he has to pretend to be coming up with a ‘Plan B’. He will not back down one iota in September no matter what Petraeus says.

This war is not ending until the funding is cut off or Bush is out of office. None of these interim games matter a wit except to make political points. If the Dems can’t get a veto-proof majority to cut off funding, then they need to get as many Repugs as possible on record supporting this war so the Repugs go down in flames in 2008. That is the only way to end the war.

Posted by: Dawn on May 8, 2007 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Extreme nitpicking Dawn, but even without American involvement, the war (or a war) may continue. That something may end for the U.S. does not mean it has ended for all. Change 'war' to 'occupation' and I'm completely with you.

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 8, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes. Davis was there before me. Should read threads through.

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 8, 2007 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

There is only one reason why Kevin might be right - the Republicans are stupid, they are stubborn, but they know when the blood is in the water and it is theirs. The reason September is important is that at that point it will be a year out from the 2008 elections. It is the last chance they will have to do something to prevent the only slaughter they care about - the one that eliminates Republicans from office.

What we are seeing is the Republicans playing politics with the war. They way they did when they started it, they way they did to get Bush a second term, and they way they attempted to in 2006 when they discovered they had overplayed their hand � which is why they are running scared and talking about September.

In other words, once again the Republicans demonstrate that they aren't serious about national security only about electoral security.

Posted by: noel on May 8, 2007 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

it looks like six months might really mean six months

Isn't it four months until September? Is the Iraqi parliament still planning to take two of those months off?

Posted by: croatoan on May 8, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

What is all of this "Plan B", or even Plan A talk - I thought we have been on Plan WC since 2001 - Combination of W and Cheney.

But, this WC is badly stopped up and the sewage is overflowing. There is only Plan Z left

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 8, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Sucker.

PS please revisit in September. Put it on your calendar.

Posted by: IMU on May 8, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Two reactions:

1) Like most, I don't have Kevin's confidence this means a thing. There'll be some hoked-up set of headlines in September, suggesting, for a few days, "progress", and the spineless GOPers will block any change in plans.

2) Even given the most optimistic reading -- how cynical is it to just write off the losses, in lives and treasure, that these four additional months will bring? At the current rate, four months means 300-400 American lives (and incalculable costs such as we're seeing in Kansas with the absence of the National Guard).

The American public has decided this war is over, despite "ex-liberal"'s illusions ("ex" from when, by the way? 1948?). Those who prolong it out of fear or vanity will be punished severely the next time voters step into a ballot box.

Posted by: demtom on May 8, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I see everyone's piling on "ex-liberal" for his inane pro-war cheerleading post at 5:40 - and I won't be an exception - just to point out (yet) another flaw in the argument. However much Gen. Petraeus (or any other US official, of whatever rank, civlian or military) tries to positively spin the "results" of the "surge": whether today, in July, September, or on St. Crispin's Day - unless and until there is an Iraqi government in existence capable of providing basic security for the country, the US's participation is going to be, fundamentally, a waste of lives, money, effort and time. And a waste that, eventually, the overwhelming majority of the American public is NOT going to want to put up with.
Simple-minded babblements about "winning" or "losing" The War may make good blogposts, but fall far short of communicating the reality of what is going on in Iraq. The war was "won" four years ago: what it presently is is an unproductive occupation run by one incompetent government (ours) in support of another incompetent regime (theirs) - neither one, apparently, capable of carrying out its/their fundamental mission: domestic security.
But then, that only is what one can expect from an Adminstration that started a war, basically, for use as a campaign commercial.


Posted by: Jay C on May 8, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Six "Islamic radicals" involved in a plot to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey were arrested Monday night, the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey said today. One of the suspects was born in Jordan, another in Turkey, the U.S. attorney's office said. The rest are believed to be Yugoslavian, "either U.S. citizens or living illegally in the United States," the office said in a statement.

So, despite conservative claims that staying in Iraq prevents the terrorists from attempting to attack us here, they still attempt to attack us here.

Bush and conservatives are liars.

And to boot, not a single Iraqi among the conspirators, despite conservative claims that Iraq is the world centerpoint for terrorism.

Bush and conservatives are twice liars.

Posted by: anonymous on May 8, 2007 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

ex-lib: "...the media will continue to boast about their victory in forcing this defeat."

You are deranged. The media is supposed to be check on the power of the presidency and it is not. This president is a criminal, and you are his enabler. Don't you feel any shame?

Alternately, why not join up and participate in the seneseless slaughter? Then you can bitch about how the media undermined you. Or are you a coward as well as a fool?

Posted by: Kenji on May 8, 2007 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Gen. David Petraeus was sold to us as perhaps the most brilliant general we have, etc., etc., etc. But time is beginning to tell that he is merely one more bureaucratic member of the General Staff on the prowl for a cushy retirement.

Posted by: The Mask on May 8, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

The majority of Republicans are still very loathe to criticize the President directly. All the same, they know where the political necessity lies.

Look, then, for signs of another face-saving operation concocted by Republicans to help Bush, some mixture of rhetoric and policy. The Baker commission was supposed to be such an operation, but it didn't work, as W saw the hand of his father behind it. Maybe Trent Lott can come up with something W would accept.

One approach the Republicans might try in Sept. is to take a few hints of security in Baghdad or the capture of some Al-Qaeda no. 2 as evidence that we have 'won' in Iraq - that way they can say Harry Reid was wrong, Bush was right, and all glory to the US, and now let's come home.

Posted by: lampwick on May 8, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

"...he is merely one more bureaucratic member of the General Staff on the prowl for a cushy retirement."

Yes, and then we'll get a tell-all book about the failures of Bush--in 2009!

Posted by: Kenji on May 8, 2007 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Was just reading a Christopher Hitchen's review of a book about the partnership of Nixon and Kissinger - Interesting point about Nixon wanting to leave Viet Nam in early 72, but Kissinger advised against it because of the possible effect on the 72 elections - Therefore, the withdrawal was postponed until very late in 72 and early 73.

It is so assuring to know that politicians and their hand picked advisors care so much about the lives of our troops. Must not screw up an election, boys - As word of casualties arrive in the Oval Office, there is such a pang of "Oh, pity".

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 8, 2007 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

On the "Plan B" question: Phil Carter did the math a little while back -- the current plan is F, according to him, and the next one will be G for "get out of Iraq".

Posted by: Alex R on May 8, 2007 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Did anybody see The Ground Truth last night on Sundance channel, if more people saw it, this horrid sad war could be over sooner.

Posted by: Scruille on May 8, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

There is no "Light at the end of the tunnel" in Iraq because they don't have any electricity!

Posted by: R.L. on May 8, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Or, as we used to say back in the day, that's no light, it's a goddam freight train!

Joined up yet, Al?

Posted by: Kenji on May 8, 2007 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months.

Kevin Drum, who else?

You are such a nice boy Kevin, such a good boy, you are such a doll you could work for either party. Your Mom must be so proud.

Posted by: Mooser on May 8, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Primaries. Nobody's thinking about the primaries. Not the Presidential primaries, but the Congressional ones.

I've said this before, but the GOP Congresscritters are trapped between their pro-war base and the antiwar majority. So, what to do?

Simple: they vote for the war until their 2008 primary filing deadlines pass, and then if they have no primary opponent, they'll be free to vote against the war in hopes of winning over enough votes from the antiwar majority to win the general election.

And they'll hope that by 2010, their base will have come around on Iraq, or will at least no longer regard it as a reason to vote against them.

Posted by: RT on May 8, 2007 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory:
I stand corrected.

Pity "ex-liberal" never does.

Maybe he'll stand up when we stand down!

Posted by: thersites on May 8, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he'll stand up when we stand down!

Your probably more right than you know. "ex-liberal"'s purpose seems to be to ensure that the neocon talkign points are represented -- note, for example, his/her/its assertion that the war could be won if only not for the Dolchstoss of the traitorous liberals/media/Democrats/whoever.

It's interesting how "ex-liberal" makes this assertion despite admitting in the past that the occupation has been flawed in the past. One wonders what, indeed, motivates "ex-liberal" to make such claims. It certainly isn't good faith argument.

Posted by: Gregory on May 8, 2007 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he'll sit down... when we stand on his neck.

Posted by: Kenji on May 8, 2007 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: IMHO another aspect of the political situation is that the media will continue to focus their reports on violence. The public will be less aware of progress in defeating particular insurgent groups. They will be less aware of deceases in violence, because violence will always be the lead story. Petraeus never predicted that violence would be eliminated by this fall, but in effect that's the standard he wll be held to by the media, the public, and the Democrats.

There is nothing humble or honest about your opinion, ex-liberal.

Progress in Iraq is a myth invented by war supporters who will refuse to be seen as wrong no matter how much horror will be imposed by the refusal to accept the reality of their mistake.

And putting this on Petraeus instead of Bush is typical of the conservative repudiation of the principle that the buck stops at the top.

Posted by: anonymous on May 8, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Sept, announcement pullback, one year later, announce the successful end to Mil operations, peaceful Iraq and please elect Republicans. Interesting thought: as a bitter Repug, would you want to leave the Iraqy mess to the next president who will most likely be a dem or would you want to solve iraq in hopes of giving GOPers at least a fighting chance in 08? I'm sure Rove has it all mapped out.

Posted by: the fake fake al on May 8, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Extreme nitpicking Dawn, but even without American involvement, the war (or a war) may continue. That something may end for the U.S. does not mean it has ended for all. Change 'war' to 'occupation' and I'm completely with you."

Good call snicker snack. I'm literally a prefessional nit-picker and should have caught that. Occupation is exactly the word I should have used.

Posted by: Dawn on May 8, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Oh gawd, let the snickering begin...I said I was a 'prefessional', but I never said I was a very good one!!!

Posted by: Dawn on May 8, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats should require that Bush truly fund this godawful war. Make him raise taxes to pay for it. Remind the American people that this filthy criminal is piling every nickel of the cost of this war on our children and grandchildren.

No more unfunded mandates for Bush's dirty little war. Make this war criminal pay for his crimes.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 8, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK
What's more, I'm inclined to think that there are at least a handful of moderate Republicans who are genuinely serious about abandoning Bush this time around. This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months.

Oh, come on Kevin. Even George Bush knows "Fool me twice...can't get fooled again!"

How many times are the media, including much of the liberal punditocracy, going to fall for the same schtick? The Republicans in Congress may eventually feel enough political pressure to abandon Bush, and when each of them does they will do so swiftly. All the "another six months and that's it, and we really mean it this time" schtick is is an excuse for not doing so now, a way to work to lessen the political pressure and avoid ever having a break.

The lack of public support for the war and the continuing trend of increasing public disatisfaction makes it clear that a collapse is certain if the Republicans in Congress aren't suicidal, but the if it happens to occur at the end of the most recently declared Friedman Unit, it will be coincidence, not because the Republicans really did mean it this time.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 8, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

King George, maintaining that the oceans were encroaching on his domain, ordered a group of citizens to drink up the oceans until they receded so as to never be a threat again, to drink them dry.

Never mind that the task was impossible, that there were never and would never be enough people to drink the oceans dry.

Never mind that ocean water is poisonous to humans and that people were dying and would continue to die right and left as long as the plan continued.

Never doubtful of his righteous cause, the King ordered more and more citizens to drink of the ocean and called naysayers traitors and cowards.

Refusing to budge, refusing all attempts at compromise, such as the building of dikes, levees, and other means of holding the waters back, the King ordered citizen after citizen into the maw of failure and death, oblivious to the horror and adamant in his refusal to acknowlege his intellectual and moral shortcomings.

Unfortunately, the Kings advisors and supporters, especially ex-liberal the Count of Moron, were of no greater moral character.

Posted by: anonymous on May 8, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

It is a TRAP - by going along until September - Democrats have ownership of this war - and the Republicans will muddy the water and confuse the public. The American People Want - - - Binding resolutions - - - A definate out - asap.
By September The goodwill that has been bestowed upon the Democratic Majority will have fizzled.
Now is the time to hit hard - Keep the War a Rerublican War. Make the republicans vote for their war over and over again!!!!! Toss them an Anchor!

Posted by: skibumlee on May 8, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months.

How naive can you be? I mean really? A few Republicans will bail out of full, unquestioning support of Operation Enduring Fvck-up by September. And that's it.

How many times does Lucy have to pull that football away before you realize she's gonna do it EVERY time?

SHEESH!

Posted by: tweez on May 8, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

When September rolls around Gen. David Petraeus is almost certain to report that things are tough but progress is being made on the ground. And he'll have metrics of some kind to back him up. What else is he going to do, after all? You can almost write his script right now.

Either there will be a dramatic drop in violence or there won't be. A 10% drop in violence along with the continued increase in American casualties isn't going to justify staying. After McNamara resigned from the DoD, Clark Clifford swept out the cobwebs and persuaded LBJ that the war could not be won. I expect that in September Petraeus will be testifying in front of Congress, and he will either say that improvements are really dramatic or he'll give Clifford-like appraisal.

You can "almost" write the script for him. What you can't do now is put in the quantitative details: 10% reduction in violence vs. 90% reduction in violence. Well, you can make the prediction if you want to, I suppose. but he'll have the real numbers.

This is the administration's "one final opportunity" in Iraq. Petraeus testifies in September, and the primaries and caucuses start in February immediately thereafter.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 8, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Only a complete moron thinks there will be anything like a 90% reduction in violence over the next few months as the Iraqi government goes on vacation. Guess which idiot's name has just been drawn from the "stupid enough to think someone said someone else was seeking materials that our 'someone else' has no use for is a reason to invade a nation, murder its citizens and pour billions into the desert sands" hat?

Posted by: noel on May 8, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

The soldiers September Song:
...Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn't got time for the waiting game
Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I'll spend with you
These precious days I'll spend with you

http://www.seeklyrics.com/lyrics/Frank-Sinatra/September-Song.html

Posted by: Mike on May 8, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK
…. but he'll have the real numbers….MatthewRmarler at 12:42 PM
As the Iraq Study Group pointed out, the American government has not telling the truth about incidences of attacks. Recommendation 76:

…In addition, there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq. The standard for
recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases. A murder of an Iraqi
is not necessarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack,
that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack
that doesn’t hurt U.S. personnel doesn’t count. For example, on one day in July 2006 there
were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when
information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy
goals….

They are also lying about the numbers used to tout the 'drop' in violence now.

Consequently, you're naïve claim that he'll have real numbers is not in accord with current American practice and is not justified by experience.

Posted by: Mike on May 8, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months.

I'll bet you a million dollars you're wrong.

Posted by: craigie on May 8, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: Consequently, you're naïve claim that he'll have real numbers is not in accord with current American practice and is not justified by experience.

I don't think he'll be able to fudge the issue of whether violence reduction is closer to 10% or to 90%. Not only is his personal honor at stake in the abstract, but the Democrats are as aware of the problem as you are, and they will grill him until he delivers the truth.

Your skepticism is certainly justified. Getting accurate information from diverse sources has not been easy or fun. But the Democrats have the majority in both houses of Congress, and any promotions that Petraeus might think of receiving will depend on his complete honesty in testimony before them.

It isn't naive to think that the truth might emerge from the clash of rival advocates; from ambition working against ambition.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 8, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

"What's Plan B?? We're at least on Plan Q by now."

No, I don't think you understand. The Surge (tm) IS Plan A. There wasn't any plan at all before.

Here's my question, why is "September" not a timetable?

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 8, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

What's more, I'm inclined to think that there are at least a handful of moderate Republicans who are genuinely serious about abandoning Bush this time around.

I'm not.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on May 8, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is right, what else Gen. Patreaus going to say when he comes before Congress? It's all going to hell in a handbasket? He'll say we're making progress and once again the GOP is held together by the "surge" because, after all, we have to give it the proper time to work don't we? Two years wouldn't you say?

Boehner and his buddies know full damn well there is no "Plan B' or Plan C" or "Plan X" or "Plan 9 from Outer Space" for that matter. It's the "surge" or nothing so it's best that we give the surge another three to five months, that usual time frame for "results" in Iraq.

The thing is, will GOP voters go along? I'm betting they won't and if so who benefits but other than Ron Paul?

Posted by: Sean Scallon on May 8, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Sean Scallon, I have to disagree mightily: Ron Paul will not benefit, because there'll be no price to be paid in the GOP primaries for a pro-war stance. Things are different from where they stood in 1968: then, part of the incumbent party opposed the war vehemently, and part continued to support it, and the same was true, with differing percentages, in the opposition party. Now, however, while Dems and independents loathe the war, the GOP is not only still united behind it, they favor it to an almost messianic degree. I see no chance of even a more credible anti-war voice (i.e., Hagel) making waves in the Republican race, because Republicans are still vehemently on board.

The problem for the GOP is of course the general election, where the disconnect sets in -- where the 60+% disapprovals for Bush show up and slay the party. It's pretty much an unresolvable dilemma for even a GOP candidate (Giuliani) who might seem stronger on paper: the president has a toxic 28-34% approval, but that small percentage of the nation comprises the vast majority of the GOP primary vote. How do you win over this group without alienating the larger population for good?

Posted by: demtom on May 8, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK
Now, however, while Dems and independents loathe the war, the GOP is not only still united behind it, they favor it to an almost messianic degree.

That may be true of the Republican Party in government, but I don't think that it is true of the Republican Party in the electorate.

Though, OTOH, it may be true enough of Republican primary voters that you are, essentially, correct anyhow.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 8, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK
I don't think he'll be able to fudge the issue… his personal honor at stake …the Democrats… will grill him until he delivers the truth. …MatthewRmarler on May 8, 2007 at 2:12 PM
Your faith in 'grilling' witnesses is exaggerated . Grilling Gonzales did not uncover any new information nor did it any pressure on him to reveal anything he wanted to keep concealed.

If the numbers that are presented to Americans are already cooked in a manner no one can investigate because the data is classified, there is absolutely no way the veracity of testimony can be tested. Recommendation 76 illustrated that on one day, chosen at random, the incidences of reported violence was less than 10% of the actual occurrences. That shows how easy it is to fudge the numbers.

Personal honor is a nebulous concept that is in short supply in this administration. It in no way guarantees open and accurate testimony. Witness George Tenet's book tour which is to restore his personal honor.

Here's a real number resulting from the American sanctions and invasion. It's not one in which any citizen can take pride.

Posted by: Mike on May 8, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: Grilling Gonzales did not uncover any new information nor did it any pressure on him to reveal anything he wanted to keep concealed.

I think that Petraeus' testimony in September will be at least 100 times as important as Gonzales' testimony, maybe more than 1000 times as important. Insofar as these things can be quantified, maybe a million times as important. And if Petraeus sounds as idiotic as Gonzales sounded, then the U.S. war effort in Iraq will be quickly drawn to a close.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 8, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK
I think that Petraeus' testimony in September will be at least 100 times as important as Gonzales' testimony, maybe more than 1000 times as important. Insofar as these things can be quantified, maybe a million times as important.

Which just means that before, during, and after the right-wing spin and media machine will be working a million times as hard to confuse the issues. And/or Petraeus will be canned and replaced with a new leader and "new strategy" just before then.

We've seen this movie before, several times. And each time, the line was "yeah, its going to be different this time."

Posted by: cmdicely on May 8, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: Which just means that before, during, and after the right-wing spin and media machine will be working a million times as hard to confuse the issues.

You seem to hold the Democratic Congress in contempt. It isn't going to be different this time, the Congress is going to make it different.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 8, 2007 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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