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Tilting at Windmills

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February 12, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

IRAQ AFTER NOVEMBER....David Brooks writes today that a Democratic president would face a ruined presidency if he or she tried to make good on a promise to immediately withdraw American troops from Iraq. Unfortunately, I find his argument scarily plausible:

Both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have seductively hinted that they would withdraw almost all U.S. troops within 12 to 16 months. But if either of them actually did that, he or she would instantly make Iraq the consuming partisan fight of their presidency.

There would be private but powerful opposition from Arab leaders....important sections of the military....nonpartisan military experts....Republicans and many independents....They would accuse the new administration of reverse-Rumsfeldism, of ignoring postsurge realities and of imposing an ideological solution on a complex situation.

.... Therefore, when a new Democratic administration considered all these possibilities, its members would part ways. A certain number of centrists would conclude that rapid withdrawal is a mistake....The left wing of the party would go into immediate uproar. They'd scream: This was a central issue of the campaign! All the troops must get out now!

Bill Arkin, a reliably lefty military expert, said much the same thing yesterday: neither victory (McCain) nor withdrawal (Obama) is really a feasible option anymore. His reasoning is similar to Brooks's, but a bit more focused:

If either victory or withdrawal is elected, I imagine that the public will expect its new president to implement his campaign pledge. Yet both, at least according to shrewd observers of the United States military and senior officers in the U.S. military command, are impossibilities.

One might say it doesn't matter what the U.S. military wishes and that the new president will decide and issue the orders. Actual governance, of course, doesn't work that way, and every sign and precedent point to a national security establishment that has already come to conclusions as to what is possible.

....Of course there's rhetoric involved what the candidates say, and maybe by next January McCain and Obama will move closer to Hillary Clinton in their recognition of what is possible given how much has already been thrown into the effort and the "trend lines" that the military is creating. Come 2009 though, boy won't the American public be shocked to find out despite what their candidates pledged, the powers that be in the national security establishment have other ideas of what will be.

I'm not sure whether I completely buy these arguments or not, but they're food for thought. Both Clinton and Obama have been pretty careful to hedge their withdrawal commitments even though they're running in a Democratic primary that strongly rewards a firm stand on the subject. So what are the odds that they'll tack even further to the center in a general election? Close to certainty, I'd say.

Kevin Drum 2:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (160)

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Comments

It is really, really hard to accept that BushCo has put the US in a position where the best option is awful.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 12, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Are we assuming there are only two answers to this question? If so, let's get the hell out.

Hilbot's actually at her wonky best on this issue. When she starts running down the detalis of actually getting out, it becomes clear that it ain't happening overnight. Obama has been less detailed, which doesn't tie him down as tightly.
Still, I think any blowback from the pentagon and Iraq itself could be managed.

Posted by: cazart on February 12, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

shorter David Brooks: everything i think about Iraq is right because nothing else is possible.

Posted by: cleek on February 12, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm confused. I read Arkin's piece. I think he's right in so far as withdrawl will be difficult and there are a number of interested parties with their own power bases which will need to be delt with.

On the other hand, while he says that withdrawing the troops will be hard, and winning is impossible, he doesn't say WHAT WE SHOULD DO. What is this other option? Is he advocating for it or simply saying that maybe we should draw down our forces to a lower level, say 50,000, then things would really go to hell and there would be even more US casualties and then we'd have lots of public support for withdrawl in 2010? Is that his plan? Or is it something else?

Seriously, I think there are no longer any good options here. I'm not sure we had any "good" options once we invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam. But the fact remains that we have 100,000 troops on foreign soil. We have no plans to kill every man woman and child living there and recolonize them. We have no plans to leave. We have no plans period. At least leaving is a plan that has definite benefits (no more US deaths, no more war expenses). There would probably be some negative effects on US foreign policy and some VERY negative effects on certain segments of the Iraqi population, but I'm not convinced there's a better alternative.

Posted by: IMUnaware on February 12, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

There ain't going to be no Dem President unless miraculously the Republicans goof up by

1. Not appointing a young conservative to the VP position,

2. Not raising the terrorist threat level to red in October 08,

3. Not taking the credit for the execution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in October 2008, and

4. Not producing a video of Osama on 10/25/2008.

I believe that at least two of these things will come to pass, handing once again an embarrassing defeat to the Democrats.

Posted by: gregor on February 12, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

As we saw between 68 and 74, the way to peace is to first conduct a secret war. If only there was a neighboring country....

Posted by: jerry on February 12, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not allow David Brooks&CO to frame this debate so dishonestly, as the invasion was in terms of "all or nothing". Both Clinton and Obama advocate smart, safe withdrawal. Clinton doesn't say she'll start withdrawal on day one, she says she'll convene her advisors. Obama says, IIRC, we got in stupidly, we have to be smart about getting out. In both cases, this means, if nothing else, that it won't be, as Brooks frames it, "rapid withdrawal". And yes, the 'sphere will go nuts. It's up to people who are largely trusted on the left--Wes Clark, Jim Webb (though he shot himself in the foot today), Russ Feingold--to explain that withdrawal under the best circumtances would be slow, and that we don't have the best circumstances.
The counter-argument, that neither Obama nor Clinton nor any surrogates are making, is the "Anbar awakening" happened because Iraqis thought that the '06 election would change things on the ground in Iraq, and they took matters into their own hands (and, yes, I know the Anbar awakening was at best a mixed blessing). We have to make some choices about the least bad option, and get it over with. And nobody's gonna be happy about it. As Digby said before this thing started: You can't unshit the bed.

Posted by: Jim on February 12, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

The right will howl if we leave, the Arabs may be pissed, but the corn farmers in Iowa and coal miners in Kentucky won't give a damn.

Our troops will be home, and no one's kids will be getting killed.

Any fallout from withdrawal should be loudly and incessantly hung around W's post-presidency neck.

People are smart enough to know whose bone-headed decisions are to blame for the Iraq fiasco.

Posted by: eightnine2718281828mu5 on February 12, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Just remember -- when the shit hits the fan it will be the Democrats' fault for not putting enough yellow ribbons on their cars. Doltchstosslegende, anyone?

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

It took us 2 full and bloody years to "withdraw" from Vietnam. Iraq will be the same.

Posted by: Cheney's Third Nipple on February 12, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

All either candidate has to say is that policy decisions will no longer be based upon ideology, but will be based pragmatism and common sense, with a bias towards reducing America's commitment and costs as early as feasibly possible.

Bush, the Neocons and Brooks have been trying to force the successor to Bush to continue his policies.

Everyone, including liberals know that cleaning up all the mistakes from Bush's Humpty Dumpty policies is not going to be clean or easy or overnight.


Posted by: Pallomine on February 12, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

I was reading Playboy yesterday (yes, I DO read the articles, thank you very much) and their interview with Charles Barkley.

He put Iraq this way (paraphrasing):

"If I come into your house and kick your ass, then decide to hang out in your living room afterwards, it's not going to work out."

It's a pretty good way of putting it, but there is one issue -- we didn't just come in and kick some ass. We beat some people up, put holes in every single wall, stole all the valuables, killed the family pet, filled the pool with sewage and then took a massive dump on the kitchen counter.

So now there's really no good option. -- if we stay, we just remind the homeowner of what we did and remain targets for that anger. If we just bolt, then someone else could come in and create even more damage, or even set the whole thing on fire in the hopes of building it into something worse than before.

The whole thing is a disaster, and I don't envy those who have to try and fix it.

Posted by: Mark D on February 12, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Withdraw and arm the Mehdi Army to protect the Shiites from the Sunnis W. Bush has already armed would be my choice.

The prize for solving the riddle of Iraq to the satisfaction of the US electorate will be extremely tempting to both Hillary and Barack. My fear is both will attempt to achieve the kind of victory in Iraq that would make neocons proud. Victory would ensure reelection in 2016. Victory in Iraq cannot be achieved, but the temptation will be great. After the initial attempt fails, will they withdraw or will they implement a draft to continue the struggle? A draft might unite us, a particular candidate might argue as president. That would be a shame.

Posted by: Brojo on February 12, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

When asked "How can we leave Vietnam?", Vermont Senator George Aiken is reported to have said "In ships, mostly. Also some planes."

I had a friend who was a warrant officer in the Navy in 70-72 in Saigon, working in data processing, who had sealed orders in his safe for a complete American pullout in 72 hours.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 12, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing to me.

Dubya can come into office and trash the Constitution, ignore Geneva Conventions, abandon treaties, commit aggression, torture prisoners, ignore allies, marginalize Congress, and so on.

But we're stuck in Iraq for the next 100 years because he sent our troops there.

Why?

Posted by: CMcc on February 12, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I opposed the war, protested before the start of it, but I also think that the Democratic candidates should go easy on the "withdraw now" talk.

But jeez, c'mon. David Brooks?

"There would be private but powerful opposition from Arab leaders....important sections of the military....nonpartisan military experts....Republicans and many independents"

I see, no Democrats would oppose a premature pullout? Just the "non-partisan military experts", i.e., neo-con foreign policy establishment. Entry into which is limited to those willing to kill hundreds of thousands of Arabs/Muslims to allay a threat to US/Israel, and in the hopes that things, I dunno, get better over there, or something.

David Brooks is a dishonest p.o.s.

Posted by: luci on February 12, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

You have to ask Brooks what his plan for Iraq is. Stay till it quiets down and then hand the thing over to some indigenous force in Iraq in 10 years, 30, 100 years? At a cost of 150 billion or more per year? With thousands more casualties? And it may never quiet down.

If we're there for the oil it could be a good 50 years till the oil runs out. But we should say that's what we're there for. And Americans can decide whether they want a different energy future or being the much hated Sparta.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on February 12, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

What Brooks doesn't understand is that if the troops stay in, there are going to be massive street demonstrations-- and it will be like Vietnam (i.e., not just "the left").

The American people simply will not stand for a Hillary or Obama deciding to keep the troops in after all.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 12, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq. The gift that keeps on giving.

Thank you, Bush family, for so cavalierly co-mingling your private and personal business affairs with national policy. There's a special place in Hell being prepared for you.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 12, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Bill Arkin, a reliably lefty military expert, said much the same thing yesterday: neither victory (McCain) nor withdrawal (Obama) is really a feasible option anymore."

Well, hold on a fucking minute. We can't stay, and we can't leave, so we stay!

This is what passes for analysis? I guess that explains why we're never going to leave Iraq. It's too bad the 85% of Iraqis who want us out aren't as smart as we are, I guess.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on February 12, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

At the outset of the Iraq conflict, the military objectives were 1) depose Saddam and 2) remove the threat of WMD attack against the U.S.

Number 1 has been accomplished and it turns out number 2 was never a threat to begin with.

The question for the candidates now is, what else do we expect the military to accomplish? The Bush administration has studiously avoided the question, replacing any rational objectives with broad generalizations like "staying the course" or "defeating the terrorists."

The decision to sustain a military presence can't be judged right or wrong unless one first defines what the military is supposed to achieve.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on February 12, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I find it almost impossible to believe that there are still any Democratic supporters out there that believe a word their party's leadership say.

For the Constitution and civil liberty? Yeah right, give Bush the power to wiretap and the telecoms the power to commit crimes.

Against the war in Iraq? Yeah right, fund Bush's war to the fullest and let him threaten Iran.

Against corruption and high crimes and misdemeanors? take impeachment off the table and lambast anyone who suggests curtailing Bush's executive power.

If Obama makes to the White House he'll be forced to work with the Republicans only because his own party won't know what to do without Bush telling them.

Posted by: Dicksknee on February 12, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Blinkers off! The third option is being run out on a rail and you would have to think that people who can only grasp the first two options deserve the third. This sorry mess must be shut down, lights turned out, bases abandoned, armor abandoned in place, guns spiked, supplies blown up and Iraq given back to its owners the Iraqi people immediately. It will take them decades to recover from this travesty. Maybe selling all their oil to China for awhile might help repair the destruction. The human toll can never be recompensed. It is truly a tragedy of epic proportions, a new horror for the heirs to Col. Kurtz.

Posted by: anon on February 12, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

12 to 16 MONTHS is a "rapid withdrawal"?

Posted by: martin on February 12, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

We can't stay, and we can't leave, so we stay!

Actually it seems like he is saying, without saying it, "We can't win and we can't leave, so we stay!"

Hasn't Bush already been trying that since "Mission Accomplished?" Isn't our military near the breaking point.

The facts are we can't win, we can't leave, and we can't stay.

Those of us around during Vietnam will recognize this trap. That is why I was against invading Iraq in the first place. Fat lot of good that did me or our country. I was called names and our country did it anyway.

This is all so familiar. My prediction - Obama gets elected, nothing changes, and a new generation becomes embittered and decides to "Tune in, turn on, and drop out."

Son of a Bitch.

Posted by: Tripp on February 12, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

The policy debate over to stay or leave has been a way for Republicans to get Democrats lost in the weeds. The conversation is like this:

Dems: You've loused up the war and you don't have a plan.
Reps: Yes we do! It requires patience!
Dems: Patience only feeds into the intransigence of the Shi-a ruling elites.
Reps: Well, what's your alternative?
Dems: Withdraw!
Reps: Gotcha! We're not going to withdraw, and we're going to hold you accountable for that solution come the election. We'll either succeed and win the election, or we'll fail and the debacle will be on your watch. HAH!

The alternative answer to "what's your alternative?" was, competent leadership, but Dems fell in the trap.

What I hope for is the Dem candidate, once selected, to rise above the false debate and propose something over-arching, say, a vigorous and comprehensive diplomatic approach to regional stability that lets us withdraw our troops. I think Obama is in an excellent position to say this.

Posted by: Bruce on February 12, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

The way you handle the politics is, at least in the short term, withdraw troops from Iraq and add troops to Afghanistan. Then, when the Republicans accuse you of abandoning the war on terror, you reply that George Bush abandoned the war on terror when he let bin Laden get away at Tora Bora because he was gearing up to go get the man who tried to kill his pa, and that you know that Afghanistan is more important.

Posted by: Joe Buck on February 12, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is funny as hell some of the Republicans are already talking about crossing lines and voting Democrat this time because of your choice WarHawk McCain he is much more dangerous than Bush, you think we are in bad shape now put this Idiot in office and see where he takes us more war just include Iran this time, possible nuclear war is that what you idiots want???? If you have had enough of the Republican B.S. over the last eight long years then vote Democrat it will not hurt your big bank accounts as bad as you think. LOL

Posted by: Al on February 12, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Since the choice seems to be between leaving Iraq immediately or accepting the status quo for the foreseeable future, I'm for leaving immediately, regardless of the political consequences.

There are have been some positive signs in Iraq recently, most significantly the Sunni Awakening seems to have driven so-called "Al-Qaeda" in Iraq to the brink of elimination.

But then we have to ask who is killing our soldiers? Their casualty rates have dropped from the all-time highs in mid-to-late 2007, but they are still being be killed at a rate of about 40 a month for the last 4 months. That's the lowest it's been for such a sustained period of time since the war began. But if the Sunnis are supposedly working with us now, and "Al Qaeda" has basically been marginalized, who's doing the killing?

Add to that the fact that the whole point of the surge was to provide enough security to enable the Iraqi's to make political progress, which they have not done, and things do not look as great as the McCains and Liebermans of the world make it seem.

If we do leave immediately, a lot of soldiers lives will be saved, and Iraqis will be left to fight it out amongst themselves for power. Since they are already doing that now, but less openly, that might not be a bad option.

However, if Obama or Hillary pulls us out, the political price they and Democrats in general will pay may be huge. The anger over Iraq in recent months seems to have, if not lessened, then at least receded from center stage. It's almost like anti-war fatigue has set in, and people have kind of accepted the situation we find ourselves in. Would pulling out now after this acquiescence, lead to huge political consequences...perhaps even enough to lose control of Congress, and make either of them a single term President? Perhaps....but, if doing what we think is the right means paying the political price, shouldn't we pay that price? Otherwise what's the point of all this?

Posted by: Joe on February 12, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, David Brooks is such an astute student of history that he believes that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur dictated military policy in Korea to president harry s truman.

Posted by: Owned_by_2_cats on February 12, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I thought this bit in Arkin's piece was telling: "One might say it doesn't matter what the U.S. military wishes and that the new president will decide and issue the orders. Actual governance, of course, doesn't work that way..."

Interesting, because it doesn't seem to have worked that way for the Bush administration. Does it matter what the intelligence analysts or the military or Members of Congress say? Or can you just invade a country and conduct the war however you want? Can you ignore advice, change findings, manipulate data, issue signing statements, and on and on?

Maybe you can. Perhaps logic and cooperation are overrated.

Posted by: The Pop View on February 12, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Since the choice seems to be between leaving Iraq immediately or accepting the status quo for the foreseeable future...
Posted by: Joe

Why are those the two choices? Obama has specifically come out and said he'd negotiate with (or at least talk to) Iran, Syria, and the others. He'll be the good cop stepping in after the Bush bad cop. He won't have the legacy of having made the bad decisions and will therefore be able to negotiate more freely.

I worry that the flat-out insistence on immediate withdrawal will weaken his hand when he talks to the players over there. Hard to get a concession for something your opponent knows he is getting anyway.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 12, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

At a war cost $11 billion a month, and climbing, I don't think the National Security apparatus can pretend we'll be in Iraq "as long as it takes."

So the new prez pisses off the GOP and select Mid East bosses. . . Daisy, hand me the smelling salts!

Posted by: Will Divide on February 12, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Screw that. Arab countries can come up with their own peacekeepiong forces.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 12, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure I agree with Arkin's analysis. within the national security community there are many people whose feelings about an American withdrawal from Iraq are based on their fears about what would happen afterwards in that country: would there be civil war, would a Shiite-led government tilt more toward Iran, and so forth.

To the American public the one thing that would produce a reaction against a President seeking to liquidate the commitment in Iraq is that establishment there of a base from which international terrorists could operate. That's it. The American public is concerned about Iraq to the degree what happens there affects us. What happens to the Iraqis after we leave just isn't a priority for most voters.

Posted by: Zathras on February 12, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Dicksnee: Amen. Vote Green.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 12, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, there is Brooks piously washing his hands of the whole matter. And unlike Pontius Pilate, HE had a big hand in cheerleading and creating the situation.
Does he say anything about his responsibility in this Charlie Foxtrot? Does he say he will fight any rabid neo-cons saying that the "Liberals lost Iraq", will he remind the whole motherless gang of them FUBARed Iraq and they Must Keep Their Mouths Shut.
No. That would honest, would show some integrity.

Posted by: Stewart Dean on February 12, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Why are those the two choices? Obama has specifically come out and said he'd negotiate with (or at least talk to) Iran, Syria, and the others. He'll be the good cop stepping in after the Bush bad cop. He won't have the legacy of having made the bad decisions and will therefore be able to negotiate more freely.

I worry that the flat-out insistence on immediate withdrawal will weaken his hand when he talks to the players over there. Hard to get a concession for something your opponent knows he is getting anyway.

Posted by: sjrsm

Well, the implication is that US withdrawl would be some kind of quid pro quo that we would give in exchange for something from a theoretical Syrian or Iranian negotiator. But that's silly. For one thing, while Syria and Iran cooperate on some things (specifically, Hesbollah military presence in southern Lebanon) they have competing interests in Iraq. It's not clear at all that one, let alone both of those countries would be in favor of a US withdrawl. Plus, how exactly would talking with Iran and Syria solve our problem? The essential problem is that the US invaded and is currently occupying a foreign territory, and the people there don't like us for that reason. Period. Withdrawing from Iraq would be good for the US independent of any theoretical negotiations we may have with other powers in the region.

Look, it would be a good idea to talk to Syria, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kwait regarding plans for a US withdrawl. How best to implement it, what would prevent or mitigate intracine bloodshed on our exit, etc, but we shouldn't condition our withdrawl on their acquiesence.

Posted by: IMU on February 12, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be suprised at all if it took us much longer to extricate ourselves from that morass. Remember just a year ago both Clinton and Obama were making pledges to get out by the end of their first terms. They moved left because of John Edwards. Whomever wins this race on the Democratic side if elected in November will have powerful forces aligned against them pulling to stay until conditions improve.
One thing I do expect if a Democrat is elected is a bit of the bully pulpit. Someone needs to make the argument of all the opportunities lost because of the situation we find ourselves in. I expect there to be alot more frank talk come January. As to how soon we will extricate ourselves, that's anyone's guess, but will be helped by citizen activism. We all need to do our part to turn the talk from "cut and run" to a saner foreign policy approved of by all intelligent people.

Posted by: w23 on February 12, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bush took away all our good options for Iraq when he invaded the country. It may take several presidents to cut our losses, but the sooner we start, the better.

Posted by: AJ on February 12, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Don't listen to this crap. It's just a way of saying that all the candidates are the same. They're not.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 12, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

So basically we have discovered that the people do not, in fact, run this country. The military does.

Wow. That didn't take long. The failure of Democracy in merely 200 years.

Posted by: MilitaryRunsAmerica on February 12, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

The alternative answer to "what's your alternative?" was, competent leadership, but Dems fell in the trap.

John Kerry tried that in 2004. Didn't work. And there doesn't seem to be another way out of the conundrum.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 12, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Someone rang my door the other day, asking for signature on a Congressional nominating petition. We talked, and I asked him how long he thought it would take for all US forces to leave Iraq, with weapons, if we wanted to. Three weeks, that ex-marine said. Funny, that's the same answer I worked out for myself, the same answer I got when I asked a former undersecretary of defense under Reagan.

Withdrawal would not take long, nor would it be difficult. Why do people like Kevin Drum say otherwise? Looking at it charitably, I imagine the reason is the same one that caused him to support the invasion in the first place: he doesn't have the slightest idea what he's talking about, as far as military affairs go, any more than any other pundit does.


Posted by: gcochran on February 12, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

The "serious" foreign policy analysts have their panties in a wad over a "precipitous" withdrawal. Would that they had considered all the exigencies before signing off on our our precipitous invasion. Egads!!!

But, as we all know, IOKIYAR.

Posted by: Andrew on February 12, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, there is Brooks piously washing his hands of the whole matter. And unlike Pontius Pilate, HE had a big hand in cheerleading and creating the situation.
Does he say anything about his responsibility in this Charlie Foxtrot? Does he say he will fight any rabid neo-cons saying that the "Liberals lost Iraq", will he remind the whole motherless gang of them FUBARed Iraq and they Must Keep Their Mouths Shut.
No. That be would honest, would show some integrity, some painfully honest self-criticism, some guts....but is something the neocons have always had in short supply. Being a Neo-Con means it's always somebody else's fault, since their philosophy is a seamless shining garment of truth, without rent of flaw.

Posted by: Stewart Dean on February 12, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Will withdrawal be unpopular? I think not. When asked what to do to improve the US economy, by far the largest number of people suggested getting out of Iraq. Dumb, maybe, but tells you what they think. And you know, when Iraq goes to hell, nobody will know, because the press won't much report it and if they do, people will read the sports page.

And does the military (with the exception of a few Republican careerists) oppose withdrawal? I don't think so, either.

Posted by: David in NY on February 12, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Expect a Democratic proposed draft. I believe the Democratic representative from NY, Mr. Rangel, has already introduced a bill to reinstitute the draft. It will bring us all together as a people.


Posted by: Brojo on February 12, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

There is a thing called leadership that is sorely missing in the Democratic party. Leaders take a position and then bring people along to their point of view. If the point of view is that we get out then goddammit get out. If there are good reasons for doing so, (AND THERE ARE), state those, make the case as best you can and to hell with those that don't agree. Do you think that the majority of Americans (Remember they want us out.) are going to sit idly by while you send their sons and daughters for yet another tour? Post surge my ass.

Besides there were plenty of Military personel who didn't agree with us going in. Did Bush give damn what they thought?

Finally for all the "Serious" people saying that we can't leave: How long can we continue financing this thing? Our country is crumbling around us. How many tours of duty can a soldier tolerate? Remember when three was a big deal? Now guys/gals are doing 4,5 and six! Its almost as if Bush Co. is saying "We're gonna keep sending you 'til you don't come back."

So take your David Brooks and shove him where the sun don't shine. Some may complain, but leaving IS the right thing to do.

Posted by: Henk on February 12, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that your reasoning on this will prove as prescient as your reasoning on the Weapons of Mass Destruction.

As soo as they get the chance, everyone who get's the chance will run from Iraq as fast as they can. Those who don't will hesitate to go because they are profiting from or enjoying the types of crimes and situations which can only be gotten or committed in an occupied country.

Posted by: Mooser on February 12, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm not sure whether I completely buy these arguments or not, but they're food for thought."

I read both pieces. There are no arguments presented. Only, if we leave, something bad may happen. That's not an argument.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on February 12, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

He'll be the good cop stepping in after the Bush bad cop.

More like, he'll be the repair man stepping in after Bush's reckless, disastrous binge.

Posted by: Gregory on February 12, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Is there anything a new Dem prez could do short of endless war that wouldn't piss off the Republicans, neocons, and their beltway toadies? Fuck 'em. Elections have consequences, as should be abundantly clear after the last 8 years of mismanagement.

Posted by: ckelly on February 12, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK
Why are those the two choices? Obama has specifically come out and said he'd negotiate with (or at least talk to) Iran, Syria, and the others. He'll be the good cop stepping in after the Bush bad cop. He won't have the legacy of having made the bad decisions and will therefore be able to negotiate more freely.

True, but Iran and Syria aren't what's driving this conflict. They both are seeking to gain from it, and exert influence, but the conflict will go on without them. So, while talking with them might get them to meddle less, it won't really change much of anything.

The truth is that there's not a whole lot any US President can do. That's why I'm saying our choices are either to realize that and leave, or realize that and continue with the status quo.

Right now, our strategy (if we have one), is to continue with the status quo and hope the Sunni and Shia will eventually reconcile to some degree and produce a somewhat stable Iraq.

I'm doubtful that will ever happen, especially with our presence there, that's why I say we leave.

On the other hand, it's a good thing that we've stayed this long (not that we should have gone in in the first place), but at least the Sunnis seem to have realized that they needed to deal with the Al Qaeda types in their midst that they tolerated for a long time. It's possible that if we left earlier, they would have dealt with them anyway, but it's also possible that they wouldn't have been as effective in dealing with them without our assistance. The reason I say this is because it now allows us to leave knowing that the Jihadist wing of the insurgency will not come to power in our absence....unlike say, what happened in Chechnya when the Russians left in '96.

Posted by: Joe on February 12, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

David Brooks has no more insight into what is going to happen in Iraq than PeeWee Herman, so who gives a rip what he thinks? The pusillanimous worm. What no one is talking about is that Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdti Army ceasefire is over at the end of February. This has been very instrumental in giving the “surge” the veneer of success. When that ends, all bets are off.

Besides, if Iraq erupts into civil war after the U.S. pulls out, that isn’t the fault of the president who pulled out our troops, it is the fault of George W. Bush, Donald Runsfeld, Dick Cheney and the other neocon nimrods who got us into this unnecessary war in the first place. God, can’t you people think rationally or what???

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 12, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I believe the Democratic representative from NY, Mr. Rangel, has already introduced a bill to reinstitute the draft.

Charlie Rangel always introduces a bill to bring back the draft. It's his pet hobbyhorse. It's been defeated several times and will probably be easily defeated again, and then he'll propose it again in a couple of years. Because that's what he does.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 12, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

True, but Iran and Syria aren't what's driving this conflict. They both are seeking to gain from it, and exert influence, but the conflict will go on without them.
Posted by: Joe

Both parties have been "unhelpful" as the saying goes. Syria lets jihadis cross their borders, and has protected leftovers from Saddam. Iran has obviously meddled.

But neither of them want a huge failed state on their borders either. They'd have refugees loading them up at a minimum. Worst case they get drawn in to the civil war themselves, or spreads across their borders.

So like in any good negotiation, I think there is a position in the middle that is better than each party's current BATNA. Obama or Hillary would have more freedom to maneuver in these negotiations if they played their cards closer. But, of course, first they have to get elected.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 12, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK


Wow.

In the polls less than a third support indefinite occupation. But Kevin Drum pimps the right-wing lie that this position is 'the center'.

Posted by: David Tomlin on February 12, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I understand both Brooks and Arkin (who isn't so left wing as you state) were for invading Iraq. This automatically excludes them from being pundits on this issue any more. Nobody who has been so horribly wrong should be trusted in having anything important to say about Iraq. Period.

Posted by: Gray on February 12, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

And Kevin, with all due respect, honestly, but remember how things turned out the last time you listened to those hawks, pls!

Posted by: Gray on February 12, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I've been saying this to my students for months. Once either Clinton or Obama is elected -- and I'm assuming (rather gleefully) that McCain is a non-starter -- a number of things will happen that will change the Iraq policy dynamic.

First, the president-elect will get read in on the classified stuff that s/he didn't get to see as a Senator, let alone on the campaign trail. That's going to paint a different picture of the regional implications of withdrawal, something that doesn't get much play right now.

Second, the president-elect will no longer be campaigning for president. So the career dynamic changes. Now it's about being "presidential." Clinton faces the unenviable prospect of being the first female head of state to withdraw from a conflict. Both Clinton and Obama will face the job of being "the first Democratic president in the War on Terror."

So for both Clinton and Obama there will be a premium placed on looking tough. Neither can afford to draw all the fire that would surely ensue about "running" from the enemy -- Clinton doubly so, since the obvious analogs for her are Thatcher, Gandhi, and Meir.

My prediction is that neither President Clinton nor President Obama will make any substantial changes in Iraq policy until the second term.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on February 12, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

The next president will do what Bush did: find commanders who share his/hers views on the subject. From that point on "commanders in the field" will be telling us that it is OK to draw down.

Sure, it won't be in 60 days, but the glide path will be established with the military, not in spite of it. There are enough senior folks in the military who would be glad to "re-deploy".

Posted by: searp on February 12, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

How much does a new Democratic Party president (Clinton/Obama) have to worry that the CIA will kill him or her (a la JFK and the Bay of Pigs failure) if he/she doesn't do the right thing?"

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on February 12, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Syria and Iran should be more unhelpful to the US occupation of Iraq. A president McCain will enable them to become more unhelpful without guilt.

Posted by: Hostile on February 12, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Syria lets jihadis cross their borders, and has protected leftovers from Saddam. Both parties have been "unhelpful" as the saying goes. Syria lets jihadis cross their borders, and has protected leftovers from Saddam. Iran has obviously meddled.

Uh, you know where the vast overwhelming majority of jihadis come from? Saudi Arabia. I'd say it's been the most "unhelpful," as the saying goes. But Bush is too busy literally caressing palms with their royal family to do fuck all about it.

Iran has obviously meddled.

Imagine that China invaded and occupied our neighbors Canada and Mexico. If we decided that hey, this was something that we might want to do something about, would that qualify as "meddling"?

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, your gonads have officially and rightfully been handed you on this issue.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 12, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

First, the president-elect will get read in on the classified stuff that s/he didn't get to see as a Senator, let alone on the campaign trail. That's going to paint a different picture of the regional implications of withdrawal, ...

You know this how? Connections with Mossad or somebody? As I recall, most of the "classified stuff" that's come out recently has been contrary to the Bush policies, and I see no reason for this to change, especially since Cheney won't be around to fix it. What do you think that "classified stuff" says that we don't know already, by the way? Don't be coy with us, since you seem to have some inside dope. What's that "classified stuff" that will make us afraid, very afraid.

Sheesh. Hope all your students transfer.

Posted by: David in NY on February 12, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, you know where the vast overwhelming majority of jihadis come from? Saudi Arabia. I'd say it's been the most "unhelpful," as the saying goes. But Bush is too busy literally caressing palms with their royal family to do fuck all about it.

Well there you go. A wonderful opportunity for the next President to set things right. Replace Bush and you're halfway there.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 12, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

So what are the right conditions for the US to leave Iraq? Political stability? Political agreement? Functioning markets? Peace and prosperity? Set the conditions to whatever you like. The message is that the US can never leave Iraq because what is needed is the perpetual stability only the US can provide. They may withdraw to the military fortresses, which is what will happen to reduce troop exposure, but the establishment will never pack up the army and go home, just like the US has never left Cuba. If the population is passive the more reason to stay. If the population revolts the more reason to stay. See how it works?

The US is not in Iraq for any of the liberal reasons given, although a stable liberal and prosperous society would be nice because it would help the US achieve its goals and it would reduce the risk of instability presented by a weak dictator. If the US were interested in democracy for all people in all places Saudi Arabia, most of the Gulf states, Egypt, Jordon and Pakistan would be part of the Axis of Evil.

The best analogy for the invasion of Iraq is the British invasion on Egypt in the 1880's. Both Gladstone, the British Prime Minister, and George Bush claimed to be invading to overthrow a corrupt dictatorship. Both promised the blessings of liberty. Both were concerned with more carnal reasons like shipping for the British and oil for the Americans. Both rather rejected the notion that they were acting imperially. Both led nations that were not quite aware they were empires. (Before the invasion of Egypt the British Empire was an informal affair) Both faced Islamic nationalism. Gladstone made an election promise to leave Egypt, but was unable to keep his promise-the Egyptians revolted necessitating an extended British stay. Bush's successors will likely follow in Gladstone's path. The British did not leave Egypt until 1954.

Posted by: bellumregio on February 12, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if saving American lives, ending the hemorrhage of money, and allowing a sovereign nation its sovereignty are such bad things?

Since they have told us there is no good result, let's just leave things as they are? WTF?
That is pure bullshit. Anything that Brooks says is guaranteed to be pimping (there, I said it) for the machine.

The best outcome rests with a time machine that can interfere with Barabara Bush's menstrual cycle many decades ago.

I suggest Brooks and company sign up for some occupation duty.

Posted by: Sparko on February 12, 2008 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Arkin just asserts the USA can't leave Iraq.

Perhaps he could explain to us mere mortals as to why.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on February 12, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

A wonderful opportunity for the next President to set things right

Amazing, isn't it, how blithely Republican water carrier Red State Mike can dismiss such a cataclysmic foreign policy fuckup?

Posted by: Gregory on February 12, 2008 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

We stay and we continue to be the problem. We leave and we can try to help solve, if our help is wanted, problems that we can't solve or only make worse by staying. What's the problem with that?
Sounds to me as if there are an awful of control freaks out there who just can't face letting go. They'll survive.

Posted by: Doug on February 12, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Our vanishing Establishment?

While NICHOLAS CONFESSORE is assuring us that:

this season’s primaries have made the idea of a political establishment, whether Republican or Democratic, hard to take seriously.

Seriously, Brooks knows better.

This is the debate that Democrats have been quietly rearguing during the entire Bush presidency. The left wing of the party is absolutely committed to winning it this time. It will likely demand the clean energy subsidies and the education spending, the expensive health care coverage and subsides to address middle-class anxiety. But no Democratic president can afford to offend independent voters with runaway spending. No president can easily ignore the think tank establishment, which is rightfully exercised about the nation’s long-term fiscal health.

Posted by: antiphone on February 12, 2008 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

hemlock for gadflies wrote:

"[T]he president-elect will no longer be campaigning for president. So the career dynamic changes. Now it's about being "presidential." Clinton faces the unenviable prospect of being the first female head of state to withdraw from a conflict. Both Clinton and Obama will face the job of being "the first Democratic president in the War on Terror."
____________________

Hemlock has hit the key point here. There will be no precipitous withdrawal, because not only has nobody promised such a withdrawal, it wouldn't be in keeping with our overall national interests - as explained in our national strategy documents.

No politician, Democratic or Republican, is going to publish a national strategy that says, in effect, "We're gone, we're outta here, regardless of the consequences." Even the most fervent advocate of our withdrawal couches that goal in terms of "encouraging the Iraqi government to do more" and "it will be better for the Iraqis when we leave." Nobody is saying, "We don't care what happens to the Iraqis and the region after we leave." Heck, nobody is really even saying we'll take every single soldier out of Iraq. It is a certainty that whatever changes the new President directs on 21 Jan 09, the resulting National Strategy will reflect our continued concern for the safety of the Iraqi people and the security of their government - even if we don't mean it.

So, there will be no "spike the guns, grab your ruck, and let's go" type of redeployment, even if anyone thought that was practical, which it isn't, not with tens of thousands of contractor personnel and their equipment, foreign allied troops, and the bulk of our military's best equipment, including nearly all of our MRAPS only recently deployed there.

What will happen is that if the President wants to redeploy, he or she will tell the Joint Chiefs to come up with plan options. It will take four to six weeks to develop options based on whatever guidance the President supplies about what remaining missions will be necessary after our combat troops leave, what our remaining posture in the Persian Gulf will be, and what he or she wants to put into Afghanistan, if anything. The plans will include a timetable for turnover of responsibilities to the Iraqi Army and police, province by province, city by city, base by base. The State Department will want to know what their duties will be, including in the Green Zone and in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. The military plans will include whatever continued support the President wants to give the Iraqi government, including training, logistics, intelligence, recconnaisance, air power and force protection. Those remaining missions will determine how many troops and contrators we leave in Iraq. Then there will be the plans for securing Kuwait, as well as a how big of an immediate reaction force the President wants. Then they'll ask us to about how much of an additional force can be supported in Afghanistan. In the meantime, our current post-surge drawdown plans will have removed units until we are back down to around 130,000 troops. When all is said and done, the new plans for withdrawal are likely to result in only about another fifty thousand troops "coming home." All this will take about two years to complete, barring problems.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 12, 2008 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Brooks's columns have been good lately. He's a good person to read to get that other perspective, and he's getting increasingly insightful with time.

Posted by: derwin on February 12, 2008 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

What these guys are saying is the obvious - that it is not in America's security interests, not a sound military policy, and not proper treatment of an ally, for America to arbitrarily pull out of Iraq with some artificial timeline. I suppose we are stuck with the politics and need to trust that Obama or Hillary would do the right thing for the country if elected, but it still is irritating to accept a political process where candidates with no military experience can blithely talk about how they plan to get troops out within 12 months or 16 months. I don't know which is worse, to assume that they actually believe what they are saying or to assume they know that they are knowingly pulling a con job on the democratic base in order to secure the nomination.

Posted by: brian on February 12, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Merely replacing Bush isn't enough. If we put in some warmongering asshole like John "Torture Supporter" McCain then there is absolutely zero chance that the clusterfuck created by George W. Bush and assorted America haters like the swaggering jingoistic killer pretending to be from a red state will be resolved.

Let's be honest. There was no national security reason to terrorize the Iraqi people. But Mary and her friends thought it would be fun to watch people being blown up on TV. Now that the killing isn't restricted to cowards doing the bombing from miles away she claims some kind of moral superiority - as if the dead cared whether they die because some bogus "chain of command" said it was okay for them to die or if they were killed because that same "chain of command" merely didn't give a rats ass about the security of the Iraqi people.

Tell us, Mary - as someone who has actually spent her time terrorizing people using bombs - how is the war on the Iraqi people going? Are women being brutalized enough for you? Are there enough displaced individuals to make it easy for you to sleep at night? Is the carnage satisfactory? Because you know as well as I do that there were never any decent reasons for the war on the Iraqi people that you have so long championed. So the only thing left is your lifelong love affair with violence.

We need to leave right fucking now. There is zero chance that being in Iraq is in the national security interest of our nation. It never was and never will be. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar whose love of death and destruction is matched only by their hatred for this nation.

Posted by: heavy on February 12, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry brian you fucking moron, the candidate you support who had no military experience (no, getting the TANG to pay for you to learn to fly outdated jets as a way of keeping you from going to war doesn't count) got us into this disaster.

Then again, military experience doesn't really assure one of competence in matters of national security. Look at Mary - she claims to have dropped bombs all over the place, killing and maiming god knows how many human beings (and how many of those dead & wounded were innocent civilians?) and yet she thinks it's just peachy to go to Iraq to slaughter them in spite of the fact that there never was any national security benefit to do it.

No brian, you shit for brains apologist for Republican malfeasance, the problem isn't candidates like Clinton and Obama, it is warmongering supporters of torture like McCain whose experience in killing Vietnamese, who were also not a threat to our national security, taught him nothing.

Posted by: heavy on February 12, 2008 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Large majorities of the American people, the American troops, and the Iraqis themselves want us out. Are we saying this is not possible?

Posted by: bob h on February 12, 2008 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

bob h,

Of course, majorities want us out, but under what circumstances? Polls should not be the answer under any circumstances to our national security needs, but they are especially lame in asking the question of whether you want to see us get out of Iraq. It needs to be accomplished in a manner that best services our national security interests, our obligations to the Iraqis who have stood and sometimes died with us, and the security of the rest of the world. No, these are not simple issues that should be decided by a poll.

Posted by: brian on February 12, 2008 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Republicans like trash want to claim that it will take years to get out of Iraq. To do otherwise would dry up the gravy train for KBR and WasteWater and the rest of the scum suckers who are profiting off of George W. Bush's death machine.

Not only is it feasible to do the right thing and get out, it is the only decent thing to do. Once I've entered your home, killed your spouse and beaten your children, there really isn't any reason why you want me to stay. Of course, I'm not like trash, I didn't actually do any of those things and I didn't support America doing those things to the people of Iraq. To support such an adventure is the province of the morally dead - you know, Republicans.

Posted by: heavy on February 12, 2008 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

brian, you ignorant goat-fucker, what about our responsibilities to the Iraqis we slaughtered either directly or because we didn't care enough to protect them? Or is that just blood in the sand and too bad for them?

It is obvious, brian, that your ability to reason on national security is exceeded by, well, frankly everything else. What you know about national security could be placed in a match-box, without taking out the matches.

Posted by: heavy on February 12, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

American elites do not want America out and they are the ones that matter. The American people are indifferent and distracted. To maintain the ongoing occupation and all the other commitments of running the Empire, and the commitment to not tax the rich in America, they will have to dismantle the thin safety net and channel the money into the military. Then the people will start to care. In some ways Grover Norquist is the anti-imperialist's best friend.

Posted by: bellumregio on February 12, 2008 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Attacking Iraq after 9-11 made as much sense as attacking Mexico after Pearl Harbor."
--Richard Clarke

Posted by: Quotation Man on February 12, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Clarke should have done something to prevent 9/11.

Posted by: brian on February 12, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Or brian, you simpleminded twit, George W. Bush could have done something in his time in office. Or perhaps the Republicans, who spent so much time sniffing Clinton's underwear, could have stopped wasting the FBI's time and helped Clinton stop terrorism - especially after McVeigh demonstrated how much the right-wing hates this country.

But putting the blame on those who actually did something is easier for you, brian, since your party did everything it could to make 9/11 happen.

Posted by: heavy on February 12, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

By any measure the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has made the life of Iraqis worse than it was under the dictatorship of Saddam. They got some freedom all right. But the liberal reasons for invasion, like the fear of terrorism and WMD, were just convenient PR for the Cheney administration. Saddam was deposed because he threatened Gulf oil and Israel and because he sat on a great deal of oil himself. Iraq was the weakest of the two 'contained' states; the other is Iran.

Condoleezza Rice should have been competent enough to do something about 9/11, but she was like the rest of the Bush cronies- a loyal and worthless Brownie.

Posted by: bellumregio on February 12, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Of course Republicans like trash want to claim that it will take years to get out of Iraq."
________________________

I merely described how things work, heavy, and it has nothing to do about my personal feelings in the matter. Try pointing out where my logic is wrong about how things work - not how you'd like to see them work.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 12, 2008 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Many of the stories you read coming out of Iraq are fabrications of U.S. Intelligence agencies.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 12, 2008 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Presumably, those aren't the same intelligence agencies that reported the Iranians have stopped their nuclear weapons program.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 12, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Scumbag, from the very moment you started claiming that "it would take four to six weeks" to come up with a plan, you were talking out of your ass. We have plans to invade Canada. You think we don't have plans to get the fuck out of Iraq?

Basically the entire thing is wishful thinking on your part - right up to the claim that any plan will leave 90,000 soldiers in harms way (assuming you are counting from the max of 140k) - because you supported the slaughter of Iraqis for the entertainment of sadistic fucks like you and George W. Bush.

Posted by: heavy on February 12, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

A redeployment of a substantial force to Afghanistan and Kuwait could be effected easily, and still be within striking distance of the new terrorists Bush created. QED.

What part of this don't Trash and Brian understand?
We. Don't. Have. The. Money.
A trillion--easily so far--pissed away like a bad lite beer. And now we don't have money for national health care. How convenient that turned out to be, huh?

Posted by: Sparko on February 12, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

"You think we don't have plans to get the fuck out of Iraq?"
_______________

Heavy, aside from your foul mouth, you haven't much clue about how the military works. Contrary to the old, pre-computer days, we don't keep detailed plans on shelves. We have a war-planning process, the Joint Operational Planning and Execution Process (JOPES). For most contingencies, there are too many variable to plan things ahead of time.

It goes like this. The Joint Staff writes a planning order and send it to the Supported Commander (USCENTCOM) and the Supporting Commanders. It gives the outlines of what's to be done, but USCENTCOM then decides how. The movement of each unit is coded, depending on where and when it is to be sent. They have to be constantly recoded and rescheduled as the plan matures. Then the other commands report on their part the plan and USCENTCOM either accepts their suggestions or asks for them to be changed. It is an iterative process, with each change forcing other changes and it takes some time.

We've been planning movements to and from Iraq and Afghanistan for over five years and none of them have been pre-planned. I can absolutely guarantee you we have no curent, workable plan for withdrawal from Iraq.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 12, 2008 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

"A redeployment of a substantial force to Afghanistan and Kuwait could be effected easily, and still be within striking distance of the new terrorists Bush created. QED."
________________

From Kuwait, probably, though it could mean fighting our way back in. Some sort of forces will definitely be needed in Kuwait. Not from Afghanistan, however, as there aren't enough airfields and no seaport in Afghanistan.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 12, 2008 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

I can absolutely guarantee you we have no curent, workable plan for withdrawal from Iraq.

I believe this should more accurately read:

I can absolutely guarantee you we have no curent, workable plan for Iraq.

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I think you are right, sjrsm.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 12, 2008 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Luckily, the LOCs are defensible, and there is an enormous amount of CRAF already in place. The drawdown will take some time, but it is already do-able. Redeployments are things the military can still do. The time-tables should have already been implemented. Because of right-wing bullshit, thousands more have died or been wounded, and we will pull out with less positive impact. But we will have to pull out. The U.S. can't finance this war more than a few more months. The monthly waste of this war dwarfs our "stimulus package."
Stimulated packages were the problem with this war from the beginning, unfortunately. The only strategic advantage we could have gotten from the war was stable oil supplies. Instead, we see that the oil monopolies have bee using the instability there for price gouging--rather than reducing profits to make oil more affordable and help their own G-damned country, the oil bastards have just continued to rack up higher and higher profits. Somehow, they have managed to match the OPEC excesses with like-priced refinery price hikes--doubling our misery when profits were already excessive. Damn the luck. And now are even trying to get Chavez to embargo Venezuelan oil. The GOP and big oil need their damned asses kicked permanently. And that brings us back to their nasty endless war in Iraq.

Posted by: Sparko on February 12, 2008 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

And you know Trash, that is BS--plenty of airstrips in Afghanistan. The U.S. bare-bases very well too. We just don't have the 100s of billions as an economy. Staying put in Iraq has already strained our economy past the reckoning. Leaving Iraq soonest is a grave matter on the highest national priority. Bush's legacy is toasted. Pride is no reason to play pretend games with national security and solvency.

Posted by: Sparko on February 12, 2008 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

"And you know Trash, that is BS--plenty of airstrips in Afghanistan."
_______________________

Airstrips, maybe. Not many full blown airfields that can accommodate heavy aircraft. Even more important is the ramp space, as we cannot load and service enough aircraft at once to make any timely redeployment. We lack the room to park the dozens of widebodies and military airlifters that would be required.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 13, 2008 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what "people" like trashhauler and sjg keep ignoring: there are millions of Iraqis dead, maimed, or displaced by their warmongering. The minimum figure for dead is in the tens of thousands.

Let that sink in.

Tens of thousands of dead.

For what? None of these warmongering freaks can explain how even a single one of those dead was a threat to the United States. None of these degenerates can explain how maiming Iraqis makes the United States safer. None of these morally dead fucks can give a single honest reason why we needed to go to Iraq at all.

We are only in Iraq because George W. Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq. What his specific reasons are we will probably never clearly know. What we can know is that there was never any convincing evidence that Iraq was a threat to our nation or even (by the time of the invasion) its neighbors.

The first rule of being in a hole is "stop digging." We need to get out. The reason we lost in Vietnam was because we weren't fighting for our lives, we were fighting for the vanity of old men. Iraq is exactly the same and with an even worse starting point.

It doesn't need to take two years to get out of Iraq. If it does it is merely a sign that the same bloodthirsty idiots who still think we could have won in Vietnam if we had only killed a few hundred thousand more innocents are still in charge.

Here's a clue you self-righteous fucktards: nothing I have ever done has been to purposely aid the killing of another human being (awkward phrasing courtesy of taxation that steals my money to help you murder people in my name). Both of you claim exactly the opposite for yourselves.

All trashhauler and sjg can do is whine that I have a foul mouth.

Jesus fucking wept.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a question for the "let's stay in Iraq until the end of time" contingent:

How many soldiers' lives should we sacrifice for each American protected?
Now, as you consider your answer, think about this, we have already wasted more soldiers' lives than were lost to terrorism on American soil in the past three or four decades. So I assume your answer must be at least greater than one. But then I remember that not a single American has died owing to Iraqi terrorism and that your answer has the unfortunate property of having a denominator of zero. Sure, I'm talking about history, but really history is a generally good guide to the future. But I'll make it easier on you and assume that an ahistorically high number of Americans would have died from Iraqi terrorism, does ten sound fair?

So, if you agree that maybe ten people would have died from Iraqi terrorism (again, remember I'm being generous here - that's thousands of times more American dead than the historical record would indicate) then you are telling me that each soldier (and I use that word rather than the more accurate - troop - because it is more euphonious and is colloquially correct) is worth approximately 1/400th of a civilian life.

I had no idea you had such contempt for the lives of our men and women in uniform.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Heavy, I was stating how it's going to happen next year with a new President. We will see if I am correct. If you want an argument about the origins and possible outcomes of the war, that will take a whole thread all its own.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 13, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Heavy, I have to say this as the inaccurate use of "troop" seemed to originate, as far as I am aware, from our blessed CinC and it bugs the hell out of me; the same way as when an Army representative says "cachet" (or however he spells it in his mind) as they repeatedly do when they mean "cache".

A troop is a variously configured formation of cavalry (or, perhaps, Boy Scouts). A single member of same is a trooper, which word has been adopted to also mean a single soldier. Troop is not a word referring to a solitary member of the military, although, confusingly, troops, as in "the troops", refers to a body of soldiers. As a verb one can troop ones colors or a body of people can troop past. I'm sure there's more.

Please do no adopt the idiot son's lazy, imprecise, not to mention ignorant use of language.

Posted by: notthere on February 13, 2008 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

The origins are simple - George W. Bush wanted a war. That didn't take a whole thread. Unless you can demonstrate that Iraq was a viable threat all you have is bullshit.

As for your fantasy of why you want it to take years, I don't know what you specifically get out of it but I assume that since you supported the senseless slaughter of Iraqis that it is because you are, like Mary, and evil fuck who enjoys people being killed in your name. It's already been pointed out that leaving will take no where near the time you want us to believe.

Now, what will happen? It will probably take quite a long time because malignant assholes like you will drag your feet and accuse the President of stabbing the troops in the back. Never mind that there is no national security reasons to be there and not one of you sick bastards gave a thought to the plight of the Iraqis if we went in and every fantasy scenario you concoct only considers the downsides of leaving, not those of continuing our domination and oppression of the Iraqi people.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

That being said, Stefan has the correct take at 11:43 PM.

First, there is no plan. Second, it doesn't matter if it is McCain or anybody else. Just as with the court jester now in charge, wishing victory doesn't and won't make it so. We are so far past that point and down the road.

There is no "victory" to be had here, and extrication with some least unfavorable outcome -- rather than striving (at huge cost) for an illusory, unachievable, out of reach best world for the USA -- is all that can be hoped for.

There are few realists engaged in this fiasco.

Posted by: notthere on February 13, 2008 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

ugh, there "are" no national security reasons to be in Iraq or there is no national security "reason" to be in Iraq. I do recognize subject verb agreement.

Now, how many dead will satiate you? How many dead soldiers, how many dead Iraqis? How much money should we pour down the rat-hole of Iraqi oppression? What possible rationale do you have for continuing to support Bush's fucking of the Iraqi people?

The same bullshit reasons for staying in Vietnam are now being given for staying in Iraq. How many innocent Vietnamese people died because evil fuckers couldn't admit that there was no reason to be there? And how many Iraqis will die for the same god damned reason?

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

The bass-akward approach:

David Brooks writes today that a Democratic president would face a ruined presidency if he or she tried to make good on a promise to immediately withdraw American troops from Iraq.

As opposed to what?

McCain running on the military draft and a war of 100 years (+ a recession to boot) would NOT face a ruined presidency?

BUT isn't that exactly what McCain is all about? McCain is more Bushifed than Bush himself so he might as well just pick Dick Cheney for VP.

It is all Rovism in a nutshell, twisted, tortured and not really plausible. Selling a lied about war over and over and over again.

Posted by: Me-again on February 13, 2008 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Trash, you don't have an exit strategy. All you have is the desire to continue to see Iraqis murdered in your name forever.

If Iraqis have to die and, now that George W. Bush has fucked them over, sadly they do. It must not be done in my name. What is the alternative? We need to go, hat in hand, to every one of their neighbors to beg and bribe them to fix our mess.

Our soldiers don't know the language, they don't know the customs, and they have done too much evil and too little good for the Iraqi people to trust them. The regional powers must be persuaded to pick up the pieces. That will cost us a ton of money. But that's okay, it is better spent building than destroying. (It would only be fitting if the taxes to pay for it came from Republicans - they wanted this in the first place and it is time to stop putting Bush's war on America's credit card.)

You may complain that this gives power to those in the region that wish us ill. Too fucking bad. This is a solution that wouldn't be needed if sociopaths like you and the board's favorite goon hadn't been agitating for slaughter in the first place.

In the future, you (along with SJG and brian) would do well to remember just how much you and yours have fucked our nation. How much your blustering and blundering have undermined our national security and the next time such issues come up you will do the right thing and, remembering just how wrong you have been, shut the fuck up.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Don't ever let a conservative or any Republican forget that Bush had a hard-on to invade Iraq before 9-11 even happened. It is a fact and several sources have confirmed it.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 13, 2008 at 6:27 AM | PERMALINK

Let me get this correct. The Iraq War stakeholder leadership is split three ways and we're supposed to accept only the most insipid option as the correct way to go according to Brooks? What Command College did he graduate from? Right, he's never spent a day in uniform himself nor did he ever study national security affairs.

This nation will be facing one primary factor in deciding just how fast to withdraw from Iraq: bankruptcy and disrest. We can't do what must be done at home and continue this benighted adventure (which Brooks has totally supported) any longer. His policy failed. It's about time he realized that we either get out or people like him had better start hiring armed bodyguards to be able to go to the bathroom safely. Why bother to even read him any longer. He has become irrelevant.

Re the opposition from the Arab leadership, we really should tell them that $90 per barrel oil isn't going to cut it. If they want us to stay, they'd better get the price down to $30 per barrel. That's the cost for us protecting them from the Persians. I'd rather we just left. The Saudis are lying about their oil reserves anyway and the continuing conflict in Iraq makes its reserves unusable. We'd be better off using the $300 billion per year leaving frees up to invest in alternative energy programs.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan on February 13, 2008 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

heavy wrote: "As for your fantasy of why you want it to take years, I don't know what you specifically get out of it but I assume that since you supported the senseless slaughter of Iraqis that it is because you are, like Mary, and evil fuck who enjoys people being killed in your name. It's already been pointed out that leaving will take no where near the time you want us to believe."
_______________________

It is not a fantasy of what I want, heavy. It is a description of how it will happen, based on knowledge of governmental and military procedures. It has not been shown that redeployment will take less time than I've suggested - it's only been asserted, without proof.

No one has given good reasoning to show that my logic is wrong. Your posts have been equal parts spleen-venting and personal insult, rather than reasoned argument.

The core of my argument is that whoever becomes President will have to acknowledge that we don't intend to simply abandon the Iraqi government and that we care what happens to the Iraqi people. Our official policy will state these things. Therefore, our withdrawal, if that is what we do, will be tailored with those concerns in mind, meaning it will be a careful, slow withdrawal, almost certainly only partial in nature. Even a token effort at turning things over to the Iraqi government will take more than a year and the opponents of our withdrawal will not let it be a mere token effort.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 13, 2008 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Our official policy will state these things. Therefore, our withdrawal, if that is what we do, will be tailored with those concerns in mind

Why? Bush's official policy states all kinds of nice-sounding things, but there's little evidence that his practices are tailored with those highfalutin' ideals in mind.

And if they are, he's even more of a fuckup than I thought.

Even a token effort at turning things over to the Iraqi government will take more than a year

You don't say -- we've been making "token efforts at turning things over to the Iraqi government" since the bogus announcement of "Iraqi sovereingty," jackass.

As for trashy's so-called logical argument about how a withdrawal must go -- which I don't find convincing for a minute, and is certainly colored, despite trashy's disingenuous disclaimers, by his desire that we stay in that quagmire to protect the reputation of the Party he carries water for -- here's a fact for you: we can't stay in Iraq, either. Bush has broken the Army; we're recruiting criminals and drug addicts, and returning mentally shattered veterans to the fight because we just don't have any more troops to deploy.

I have little doubt that the military has no current plans for withdrawal from Iraq -- no doubt the feckless Bush Administration has ordered there be none such -- but thanks to Bush's incompetence and the bloody-minded ignorance of the neocons, Iraq is a quagmire with no victory or honor possible. Ford help us if a situation arises that requires a deployment of troops.

Don't worry, Trashy -- a Democratic president can, and likely will, withdraw from Bush's Folly, because staying is not an option, and then you and your fellow Republican bootlickers can proceed with your dolchstosslegende.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

As Gregory points out Scumbag, your argument isn't based on logic. You simply state as fact those things you wish to happen and then whine that people smarter than you, who are sick of all the death and destruction you and the monstrous fucks for whom you carry water, won't accept your twisted view of the world.

Just as we did in Vietnam we can, and must, leave the puppet government to fall. Their installation was done under the iron heel of George W. Bush, the true ruler of Iraq; the evidence that it truly represents the will of the Iraqi people is mighty slim.

You keep whining that I'm not being reasonable, but the reality is that I didn't fucking get anyone killed. You did. It is long past time for you and yours to shut the fuck up. Any bile I bring to the table is a reflection of how badly you assholes have fucked up our national security. That's bad enough, but you did it by murdering a minimum of tens of thousands of human beings.

You need to take responsibility for your part in making Iraq a hellhole. All the excuses in the world won't change the fact that your little exercise in fucking up our foreign policy was a monstrous, murderous, failure.

To recap: no, we don't need to stay; no, we don't need to support the Vichy government; no, you haven't demonstrated that either of my statements are false, and finally, no, you haven't demonstrated that you have anything to contribute other than a simpleminded wish to continue fucking over the Iraqi people - whether that is because you truly love death, or if it is simply because you are a dumb ass hammer for whom everything is a nail, doesn't matter.

There is no evidence that staying is better for national security or the Iraqi people than leaving. Your fantasies are not evidence, Scumbag.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

heavy is a creep

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Hopefully, the Iraqis themselves will have more say about the speed of withdrawal by the occupiers than the occupiers' political leadership. The Iraqis should begin withdrawing all cooperation with the occupiers now and escalate their resistance to the occupiers' violence. Iraqis of all sects and political ideology should forge an alliance to combat the foreign occupiers and force them out of their country as soon as possible.

Whomever becomes president after the November elections, the Iraqis should give them the finger and tell them to get the hell out.

Posted by: Brojo on February 13, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm. I guess Brooks has changed his mind again.

First he was all about how easy the invasion was, and how grateful the Iraqis were.
April, 2003
If you looked at the press Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought it read like we were withdrawing from Moscow with Napoleon. It was just way too negative. I think that was unsustainable. The success to me has been remarkably good. I think you've begun to see a couple things. One, you've begun to see Iraqis who are jubilant and happy in the cities where they do know they're liberated. If you've read the last few days of the New York Times, you've really seen some exultant crowds, including one who had to me, the slogan of the war, a happy Iraqi fellow who went up to the troops and screamed out, democracy, whiskey and sexy, showing that he understood -

Then he got all depressed, and said maybe we should divide Iraq up into ethnic enclaves.
Jan. 2007
http://forums.allaboutjazz.com/showthread.php?t=18613
Perhaps, in other words, it’s time to merge the military Plan B — the surge — with a political Plan B — flexible decentralization. That would mean using adequate force levels (finally!) to help those who are returning to sectarian homelands. It would mean erecting buffers between populations where possible and establishing order in areas that remain mixed. It would mean finding decentralized governing structures that reflect the social and psychological facts on the ground.

Now he recommends we keep a full contingent of troops in Iraq and exhibit 5 years of "strategic patience."

It's good to know that we can rely on him to sway with every passing breeze. We can totally rely on him for guidance.

Posted by: cowalker on February 13, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Goon, your whole life has been dedicated to making the world an uglier place. Being called a creep by a thug like you amuses me.

Come on Mary, which is creepier? Planting bombs amongst human beings, murdering some, maiming others, and terrorizing the survivors, or calling such people out as the sociopaths and thugs that they are?

And really, poor Mary, she spends her life spreading death and destruction, and the mental illness that leads her to think that this is somehow admirable prevents her from addressing the substance of an argument pointing out that she and her cabal of bloodthirsty thugs have created hell on earth in Iraq. She can't even explain why a single Iraqi needed to die.

What's your plan for making Iraq better? I've put one out. It doesn't have the advantage of using our soldier's lives as fodder for your masturbatory fantasies of war dead, and it does help the human beings that you have done so damaged with your warmongering; unlike you I think that's a good thing.

Swaggering Jingoistic Goon calling himself Mike and pretending to be from a Red State is a cowardly terrorism loving thug.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's good to know that we can rely on him to sway with every passing breeze. We can totally rely on him for guidance.
Posted by: cowalker

Well, another way to look at it is to say he lets facts on the ground guide his opinions, rather than shoehorning them into some preconceived notion. We've gone through some pretty major cycles, and the Anbar Awakening caught everyone by surprise. We don't know what Moqtada is going to do come the 23rd of Feb, when his self-imposed stand down ends. These should be important factors in choosing our course.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

The most important thing in choosing our course should be to ignore the fools and assholes whose poor judgement led us to this state. For example, people pretending to be bombers who claim to have spent their whole lives murdering people and who think that every problem can be solved by bombing the fuck out of innocents.

And let's be clear there is no such thing as surgical bombing. Even the sociopaths who love it will gladly accept two innocents (women and children even) for every claimed "bad guy" they murder.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

heavy, you're a creep so don't bother looking for a response

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo wrote: "Iraqis of all sects and political ideology should forge an alliance to combat the foreign occupiers and force them out of their country as soon as possible."
___________________

Jeez, I guess folks here were right to say how incorrect it is to suggest that Brojo wants our enemies to succeed. As the sentence above proves, he only wants the best for our country.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 13, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Scumbag you incompetent fucking moron, the problem isn't that Brojo wants our enemies to succeed, the problem is that we are an occupying force and have no right to be in Iraq.

What you call our "enemies" are the people of Iraq. So what you are saying is that the people of Iraq shouldn't control their own destiny.

And you wonder why abuse is heaped upon you and murderous thugs like Goon (whose name comes from his glee at the murder of an innocent woman and child - what he likes to call "collateral damage" as the military committed and extra-judicial murder on a suspected terrorist).

What's your plan returning Iraq to the poeple of Iraq? I've laid one out. All you've done is insist that we stay and murder Iraqis until the end of time.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

heavy, why are you such a creep?

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Goon, are you so unimaginative because you've spent your whole life undermining our national security?

What's your plan to stop the violence in Iraq that you and your anti-American, anti-human-life cabal have unleashed?

Why did you, and why do you, support the slaughter of innocent Iraqis?

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a hard truth for you Goon, the world would be a much better place if there were more people like me who oppose murder and fewer people like you who get paid to kill.

That's right. The world is a better place because of me and a worse one because of you. That's not self-aggrandizement, that's simple reality.

Posted by: heavy on February 13, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

folks here were right to say how incorrect it is to suggest that Brojo wants our enemies to succeed.

So the Iraqis are our enemies again, Trashy? I thought they were beleaguered allies we couldn't abandon...

As the sentence above proves, he only wants the best for our country.

So, Trashy, you're claiming that invading and occupying a foreign nation on false pretenses in what's best for our country? If nothing else, the evidence of the last several years shows you're all wet in that regard.

Nice to see you prove that you're ready with the "opposing Bush means wanting enemies to succeed" dishonesty, though, and that fingering you as an agent of the Dolchstosslegende was correct. Too bad for you that your Boy Bush has ruined the GOP's decades-long branding effort as strong on defense, and despite your best efforts, the blame for the disaster of Iraq will fall squarely on Bush, the Republicans and the neocons -- you know, Trashy, your people.

Speaking of intellectual dishonesty in the support of war criminals -- and dangerously incompetent ones at that -- I'll just note in passing the irony of Red State Mike, for whom no argument is too ridiculous in service of carrying water for the GOP, calling someone else a creep.

That said, I want to say that I won't go as far as heavy in my criticism of Mike. Pointing out Mike's constant dishonesty and shameful support of our brand of terrorism ("Shock and Awe," anyone?) is sufficient.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

the world would be a much better place if there were more people like me who oppose murder...

People like Saddam and Dear Leader and Pol Pot depend on people like you. Without people like you they couldn't exist. You give them cover. You support their goals by acting to prevent interference in their genocides. Your abhorrence of murder permits them to murder hundreds of thousands of their own citizens. How do you sleep at night knowing not only that you did nothing to prevent genocides, but wouldn't have if you could? The dead people of Rwanda I am sure appreciate your delicacy with regards to violence.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraqis are not our enemy. It is not in the best interersts of our country to make enemies of Iraqis or other impoverished and weak people. It is not in the best interests of the US to kill and displace millions of impoverished and weak people.

It is in the best interests of Americans to insist their leadership stop killing and dominating weak and impoverished peoples. It is in the best intersts of Americans that they insist their leadership be punished for killing and displacing Iraqis.

It is in the best interests of weak and impoverished peoples to resist domination by foreign invaders.

Why do you think the US should treat Iraqis as enemies?

Posted by: Brojo on February 13, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Most Iraqis are not our enemies, Brojo, and certainly their government isn't. You should not invite them to become our enemies.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 13, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Trashy wrote: Most Iraqis are not our enemies, Brojo, and certainly their government isn't.
You should not invite them to become our enemies.

By, say, invading their country under false pretenses and then occupying it so incompetently that it because a cauldron of chaos and corruption? Seems more like your team is doing the inviting, Trashy.

And Mike, spare us the crocodile tears. Our invasion of Iraq wasn't for humanitarian purposes, and Bush's incompetent occupation has made it a deadly place -- and at a huge cost in American lives and treasure into the bargain. Your carrying water for Bush -- no friend of democracy he -- gives you no moral standing to bitch about Pol Pot or Rwanda.

You really are desperate to believe we're doing good in Iraq, aren't you?

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Pol Pot depended on the military aggression of American president Nixon to obtain his power. Without the US backed coup of Lon Nol and the illegal invasion into Cambodia, a country of impoverished and poor people, Pol Pot would not have become the leader of that nation.

Saddam Hussein depended on the political aggression of American president Reagan. Without Reagan's assurances and support, Saddam would not have started a war with the revolutionary state of Iran. Millions of Iranians and Iraqis were killed because the American president wanted to punish Iran for throwing off the yoke of American imperial dominance.

Rwanda, thanfully, was not dependent on US military aggression for its economic and ethnic tensions that led to a revolution of the poorest against the richest.

The genocide of the Bosnians does keep me up at night. The US found no strategic or political reason to prevent their slaughter. That is why the role of global policeman is unsuited for our nation. America is like those NY cops who were hit men for the mafia. Unless the military leadership can make money off of forced prostitution or poppies or oil, they are not much interested in saving innocents lives.

Our invasion of Iraq could not help but make America their enemy. Nothing I write can inform Iraqis to recognize something they already know. I doubt anything I write will change Americans' desire to dominate the weak and impoverished. If the majority of Americans at least know some Americans do not share their bloodlust, maybe that will keep some from having a good nights sleep.

Posted by: Brojo on February 13, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

If we withdrew, our news would no longer be covering what's going on in the Middle East. If things fell apart there, we wouldn't really be paying much attention. So while I see a moral downside to a rapid withdrawal, politically it could only be good.

Posted by: catherineD on February 13, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

If Iraqis want the US invaders to leave their country, that does not make them enemies. W. Bush, Gen. Petraeus, Gen. Westmoreland and Rheinhard Heydrich might think that makes Iraqis enemies, but they would be wrong. Very wrong.

Posted by: Brojo on February 13, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

"If we withdrew, our news would no longer be covering what's going on in the Middle East. If things fell apart there, we wouldn't really be paying much attention. So while I see a moral downside to a rapid withdrawal, politically it could only be good."
_________________

Perhaps so, Catherine, though I doubt it. Our rapid withdrawal would be worldwide news and would have reverberations for years to come, even if we pulled it off without a hitch. And there will be hitches, if we hurry too much. Allies and enemies alike will be watching to see how we do and whether we stay true to our word about caring for the Iraqis. A slow, deliberate withdrawal, done in such a way as to avoid a crisis situation, is the way we will undoubtedly choose, regardless of who is President. There might be a token early withdrawal, but the rest of it will be done slowly, with as much care as we can give it.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 13, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Trashy wrote: Perhaps so, Catherine, though I doubt it.

...because intellectually dishonest dead-enders like Trashy will be screaming "Dolchstoss!" at the top of their lungs.

Our rapid withdrawal would be worldwide news and would have reverberations for years to come, even if we pulled it off without a hitch.

News flash, Trashy: Our unprovoked invasion and incompetent occupation of Iraq are worldwide news right now, and not in our favor.

Allies and enemies alike will be watching to see how we do and whether we stay true to our word

Bush's word, you mean. News flash #2, Trashy: Nobody except you deluded dead-enders believes Bush's word about anything, so his attempts to commit the US to a long-term commitment in Iraq without going through the Senate are just that -- his word, not ours.

A slow, deliberate withdrawal, done in such a way as to avoid a crisis situation, is the way we will undoubtedly choose

We're in a crisis situation right now, Trashy. We don't control events on the ground in Iraq. There's no action we could take that could "avoid a crisis" situation," even if Bush hadn't already broken the Army.

See, Trashy, that's the trouble with dead-enders like you and Mike. You want to pose as some kind of half-assed rational analyst, but the contortions you have to do to avoid acknowledging the myriad and deadly fuckups are your team give away the game from the get-go.

Your pretense of credibility does amuse, until one considers it's in service of the mendacity, incompetence, corruption and tyranny that embodies the modern Republican Party. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

A slow, deliberate withdrawal, done in such a way as to avoid a crisis situation, is the way we will undoubtedly choose, regardless of who is President.
Poste by: trashhauler

Another option is to build up bases and set up basing rights in Kurdland, where we are highly appreciated and which remains in Iraq. Shifting our forces there keeps us influencing events but puts us out of harms way.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Another option is to build up bases and set up basing rights in Kurdland, where we are highly appreciated and which remains in Iraq. Shifting our forces there keeps us influencing events but puts us out of harms way.

But why bother? After all, as commenter sjrsm (huh, what an odd coincidence) insisted yesterday:

We don't need to occupy land in order to influence or deter a country's behavior.
Posted by: sjrsm on February 12, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

So why not just shift our forces right out of Iraq all the way back home?

Posted by: Stefan on February 13, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Another option

Well, no, Mike; no one but dead-enders like you want to stay in Iraq, and even you dead-enders don't want, you know, to go there yourselves. Pay attention.

is to build up bases and set up basing rights in Kurdland, where we are highly appreciated and which remains in Iraq.

One wonders how long the Kurdish region ("Kurdland"?!) would remain in Iraq if the Kurds perceived permanent American bases would defend their succession. And of course the Turks -- our actual allies, as formalized by treaty -- would just love the declaration of an independent Kurdistan facilitated by us.

Shifting our forces there keeps us influencing events

...and we've been a great influence on Iraq so far! ---

but puts us out of harms way.

Say what? Our troops don't control any ground in Iraq that isn't within rifle shot. As soon as they leave, whoever controls that ground, is isn't us. If we're "out of harm's way," we aren't influencing events. And, of course, since Bush broke the Army, we're facing dwindling resources to "influence events" no matter how you slice it.

And again, no, establishing permanent bases in Iraq isn't any kind of option. The American people want to leave, the Iraqi people want us to leave -- only the illegitimate Iraqi government whose survival depends on our presence wants us to stay.

I know you're desperate to salvage some kind of victory from the fiasco you cheerlead, but even you aren't usually this stupid, Mike.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need to occupy land in order to influence or deter a country's behavior.
Posted by: sjrsm on February 12, 2008 at 3:53 PM |
Posted by: Stefan

I ignored your comment yesterday because I figured you were just sniping and snarking. I now see you are genuinely confused.

If your goal is only to influence or deter, then yes you need not invade and occupy. If you wish to depose and replace what is there...different thing.

You've been schooled. Thanks for playing.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

If your goal is only to influence or deter, then yes you need not invade and occupy. If you wish to depose and replace what is there...different thing.

So then you admit that, by breaking the Army and making it impossible for us to depose and replace rogue regimes -- and, moreover, making it all too fucking obvious that we lack that ability -- our ability to "influence and deter" has been curtailed by Bush's incompetence, and that your touting our remaining air power was, per your usual pattern, a feeble dodge.

Stefan isn't the one who's confused, Mike.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

'Influencing events' is a euphemism for killing. I want the US to stop influencing events all around the world.

Posted by: Brojo on February 13, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

"'Allies and enemies alike will be watching to see how we do and whether we stay true to our word'

'Bush's word, you mean.'"
________________

No, I mean the next President's word. It will be our task to ensure that his or her authority and power is enhanced, or at least maintained, by our performance in Iraq, even during withdrawal.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 13, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Trashy wrote: No, I mean the next President's word.

No, you wrote "word about caring for the Iraqis." Only Bush is in a position now, as President, to claim -- however falsely -- that the welfare of the Iraqis motivates him (and again, if it does, it's just further testament to his incompetence). The President who, inevitably, withdraws from Iraq will no doubt make some expression of concern about the Iraqis, but rest assured any ill consequences will be viewed then, just as now, as the direct result of Bush's illegal invasion and incompetent occupation.

It will be our task to ensure that his or her authority and power is enhanced

Spoken like a true authoritarian, Trashy. Bravo! It must feel good to take the mask off.

But who do you think you're kidding? Dishonest partisan Republicans like you won't be concerned one whit about enhancing the power or authority of a Democratic president. Pull the other one.

or at least maintained, by our performance in Iraq, even during withdrawal.

If you were concerned about the president's authority being affected by our performance in Iraq, you'd be outraged over Bush's piss-poor performance. Obviously, you aren't.

But anyway, what the hell does that mean? It's true that, among loyal Americans who, unlike you, don't drink the GOP Kool-Aid, the obviousness of Bush's colossal and deadly fuckup in Iraq has diminished his popularity, but you remain loyal no matter how bad his performance is. Conversely, the American people overwhelmingly want shut of this deadly and pointless war, and tantamount to your side has been punting the withdrawal to the next President -- for what reason if not a futile attempt to blame the mess in Iraq on him or her? Will you, Trashy, stand up to the howls of Dolchstoss from your fellow partisans if the next President orders withdrawal? Judging from the dishonor and dishonesty you express here, one hardly imagines so.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

"No, you wrote 'word about caring for the Iraqis.' Only Bush is in a position now, as President, to claim -- however falsely -- that the welfare of the Iraqis motivates him "
___________________

Please recall that the topic was the nature of withdrawal next year with a new President. Whoever is President then will likewise care about for the Iraqis and their government. Our National Strategy documents will reflect that concern.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 13, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Please recall that the topic was the nature of withdrawal next year with a new President.
Posted by: Trashhauler

Not for gregory. It's Bushbushbush for him. What will he do once Bush is gone? He'll talk about Bush! No need looking forward when you can talk about Bush!

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Please recall that the topic was the nature of withdrawal next year with a new President.

No duh, Trashy. I take, then, it you concede that the known universe doesn't consider Bush's word worth a bucket of piss, and that any word he gives without the advise and consent of the Senate will rightly not be considered a legitimate commitment of the United States.

Whoever is President then will likewise care about for the Iraqis and their government.

"Likewise care about"? That Bush cares about the Iraqis and their government is an assertion not in evidence, Trashy.

The job of President is to care about the national security of the United States -- not the fortunes of the Republican Party, as with Bush. From August 6, 2001 to today, Bush has been nothing but a feckless fool uninterested in anything but his own power. Kind of a pity for the rest of the country, isn't it?

There's a good case to be made that an American withdrawal will actually help the Iraqi people settle their differences among themselves without worrying as being perceived as collaborating with an unpopular and incompetent foreign occupation.

As for the Iraqi government I see you threw in there, who cares? We'll probably arrange safe passage for some; others will no doubt be punished as fools and traitors. I hate to break it to you, Trashy, but our ability to prop up unpopular illegitimate governments hasn't exactly enhances the US's reputation over the years.

Given the massive chaos and destruction your team unleashed on the Iraqi people, Trashy, it's a bit late to be concern-trolling about "caring for the Iraqi people." Yes, the US failure to reconstruct Iraq, or maintain security, as was its obligation as occupier under international convention, is a shame and a black mark on the nation's honor, and it will be whenever we withdraw. But again, that shame and dishonor will be, and will be rightly perceived as, the fault of your team, Trashy.

Our National Strategy documents will reflect that concern.

And I've stipulated that some words to that effect will no doubt be expressed, but all your walking back here reveal your earlier ominous mutterings about "our enemies and allies will be watching how we keep our word" as so much bullshit bravado.

Everyone knows, and will know, that Bush broke the Army, giving us no choice but withdrawal, and the howls of Dolchstoss from your teal will do nothing but comfort Republicans and neocons during their well-deserved decades in the wilderness, mocked and derided by all as failures and losers who no sane person would trust with national security.

Again, Trashy, our allies and enemies already perceive Iraq as a failure and a national disgrace. Withdrawal, no matter what the circumstances, could hardly damage the US's international prestige more than Bush and the Republicans already have.

And here you are, still carrying water for them. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

What will he do once Bush is gone? He'll talk about Bush! No need looking forward when you can talk about Bush!

Um, Mike, deranged obsession with the previous president -- you know, the competent, non-tyrannical one? -- is for your team, remember? Projecting much?

Thanks for admitting once again that you lack any -- yes! -- substantive argument.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

You got me there gregory. The inexorableness of your argumentation. The theology and geometry of it. The willingness to buzzbuzzbuzz your opponent like flies on a road apple. The coo day grawh "jackass" constantly repeated. So original in its repetition.

How could a fellow democrat help being inspired? Blue leaning patriots are probably busy right now running from their monitors and tearing flamingos from the lawns and lighting little bags of poop on the doorsteps and then ringing the doorbells of god-fearing republicans everywhere and probably a few dems too but collateral damage happens so no worries.

I applaud that you know your limitations and restrict yourself only to personal attacks and repeating the thought memes of your dem overlords, leaving the actual arguing to those who can. I've never seen an orginal thought emerge from your typewriter. You are nothing if not consistent, but little more.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

You got me there gregory. The inexorableness of your argumentation. ... I applaud that you know your limitations and restrict yourself only to personal attacks and repeating the thought memes of your dem overlords, leaving the actual arguing to those who can. I've never seen an orginal thought emerge from your typewriter. You are nothing if not consistent, but little more.

Oh, bullshit, Mike. It's a little late to play the "uncivil" card and pretend that the ridicule you richly deserve -- as evidenced by your cretinous postings here -- constitutes the whole of your betters' attacks on you.

The hell you've "never seen an orginal thought," Mike. You're the one who doesn't engage in substantive debate, because you've shown yourself incapable. When you're not spinning away to carry water for the GOP, you're contradicting yourself, as Stefan alluded to elsewhere. Regular readers of these forums have seen me engage you -- or attempt to engage you -- in substantive argument, without penetrating your warty shell of cognitive dissonance and intellectual dishonesty. Hell, even our Norman Rogers parody had your number when he urged you never to admit you're wrong no matter what.

It may not be an original thought to point out the disaster that is Iraq -- after all, Bush's incompetence has been manifest for years, with deadly results. But I don't see you refuting the argument, and so your snarky concern trolling is wasted, except as yet another tacit admission that when it comes to defending the Bush Administration's mendacity, incompetence, corruption and tyranny, you've got nothin'.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, gregory. Perfect in its total predictability, down to the final denouement.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

If your goal is only to influence or deter, then yes you need not invade and occupy. If you wish to depose and replace what is there...different thing.

So who are we deposing and replacing in Iraq? Not Saddam, surely -- that was five years ago. Since we only now want to influence and/or deter events in Iraq, but don't need to depose or replace anything (after all, Iraq is a fully sovereign nation blah blah blah) then why don't we leave? As you yourself admit, we have no need to continue to maintain forces in Iraq.

Posted by: Stefan on February 13, 2008 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Oh good ford y'all are giving me a headache.

Yes, things are going to change in November. For one thing, the Democratic majority in Congress is going to be larger. And a whole lot of formerly-moderate Republicans are likely to get born again. And McCain isn't going to be elected. Sorry fellas, but c'mon. Look at the turnout numbers. Last night, in Maryland for instance, Hillary Clinton, after a drubbing, garnered more votes than all of the Republicans combined. This sort of turnout has been consistent in most every state that has gone to the polls so far. Realistically, another Republican administration ain't gonna happen. So a Democratic administration and a Democratic Congress are going to be in charge.

Bush shot his wad with the surge. And it worked, because the real purpose was to turn over the ball on the one yard line.

It is going to be ended on funding. It is going to end because it has to. We can't afford it any more. We haven't been able to for a while. Denial can't be maintained any longer. And sorry fellas, but it is going to be done "responsibly." I don't fault candidates for not getting too specific at this stage. They aren't briefed. But the winner will be after the election. And the plans will start being made at that time.

Now, apologies to my friends on the left, but all troops out ain't gonna happen. Total withdrawal is going to take several years. That is reality, too. I don't like it. But I recognize it, and I don't do the denial thing well.

We are right fucked, to be sure.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 13, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Perfect in its total predictability, down to the final denouement.

Yeah, Mike...I noted, as if it weren't obvious, that you have no rebuttals for the arguments advanced by your betters, cataloged your intellectual dishonesty in service of the Worst President Ever, and noted, correctly, that you're a jackass. What of it? As I also noted, it's far too late for you to play the civility card.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

What was that, gregory? I didn't hear it the first 1000 times you repeated yourself. Please say it one more time.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 13, 2008 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

but all troops out ain't gonna happen. Total withdrawal is going to take several years. That is reality, too. I don't like it.

You're probably right, Blue Girl.

Then again, with that much time, maybe we can pass some kind of conscription act so the jackasses who cheer-led this bloody clusterfuck are the ones holding the line against the "Islamofacist" hordes while the last helicopter leaves from that massive boondoggle of an Embassy.

There may not be enough time to adequately train them, but I'm okay with that -- after all, they claim to be such experts in all things military.

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'm all for the passage into law of legislation specifically outlawing the implementation of about 90% of the shit this criminal enterprise masquerading (not very effectively) as a presidential administration has engaged in.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 13, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

There may not be enough time to adequately train them, but I'm okay with that -- after all, they claim to be such experts in all things military.

I can't go there. No matter the circumstances under which one puts on the uniform, once they have, they are part of my family. Mike and I scrap like crazy, and Trashhauler and I agree on very little - but they are part of my family, and I'm part of theirs, whether they like it or not. (Imagine the hilarity at that reunion!)

Training and equipment is not optional, not even when it comes to sticking it to chickenhawks.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 13, 2008 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm all for the passage into law of legislation specifically outlawing the implementation of about 90% of the shit this criminal enterprise masquerading (not very effectively) as a presidential administration has engaged in.

Most of it is already illegal, but you have Mukasey flatly refusing to act as the nation's lawyer, not Bush's, and you have Congress allowing its subpoenas be simply ignored, so unfortunately the enforcement of these laws looks a little slim.

Which is richly ironic -- that's wha tthe international criminal court at the Hague is for: trying war criminals when their own country can't or won't bring them to justice. I never understood the Republican opposition to the court, as I truly didn't imagine the US being in a position where it would ever apply. How naive I was to misunderestimate the neocons.

Training and equipment is not optional, not even when it comes to sticking it to chickenhawks.

It's truly said that the Bush Administration and Donald "you go to war with the army you have" didn't feel the same way. I think it seems fair if the chickenhawks have the exact same level of training and equipment.

I'm just venting -- I do respect your esprit de corps, I hope you know that. Then again, I think we both expect members of the military to act with a certain code of honor, and I don't see how dishonesty in service of carrying water for the Bush Administration applies.

If no other good comes out of this Administration, the Bush criminal enterprise and the thieves and whores in the REpublican Congress have also destroyed the GOP's decades-long branding effort as the party of personal responsibility -- no one will believe that codswallop any more.

Posted by: Gregory on February 14, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, Gregory. I understand perfectly - If I didn't vent, my head would explode. And I am getting a thrill every time I look at the county-by-county numbers of election returns, and watching Democrats take counties with military installations standing up.

As to the specific legislation - I should have clarified. I want this "unitary executive" nonsense dispensed with post haste. I want it taken behind the barn, a couple of .22 rounds deposited behind the right ear, and a stake driven through it's nasty, black little heart.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 14, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK
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