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An Iraq Strategy: Reinventing the Wheel
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, November 28, 2005

David Broder thinks he detects "Signs of an Iraq Policy" from the Democrats...
It has taken a long time, but the Democrats finally have come close to defining a sensible common ground on the issue of Iraq. ... [The] outlines of such a position emerged last week in speeches by two respected Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden of Delaware and Barack Obama of Illinois.
[...]
Biden, the committee's senior Democrat, said in New York that it is time to scale back U.S. ambitions in Iraq and reduce troop commitment while shifting security responsibilities to the Iraqis. ... What must happen to make it possible, they agree, is a significant acceleration in the training of Iraqi security forces and in the civil reconstruction projects needed to give Iraqis a sense of hope—both of which will require a change in priorities and an improvement in operations by U.S. forces.
So, after 2 years of debating Iraq policy, the Democrats have decided that training Iraqi security forces to take over and reducing US deployments as they do—"as Iraq stands up, we will stand down"—is the best course in Iraq? And this epiphany, David Broder writes, may have "pointed the administration and the country toward a realistic and modestly hopeful course on Iraq."

What the...?!?!?! This has been the strategy all along. Back in June, I wrote that the exit strategy went from "Regime change [to] Reconstruction of infrastructure and democratic institutions [to] Sustainable, democratic government." We would do that by, as Donald Rumsfeld said at that time, creating "an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency." i.e., we would build up the Democratic and security institutions.

Also in June, President Bush said
Our military strategy is clear: We will train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their freedom and protect their people, and then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned.
This was the strategy Bush enunciated in August of 2003, September of 2003, May of 2004, and many other times. It was the strategy outlined in this May 2004 "Fact Sheet: The Transition to Iraqi Self-Government".

The Democrats have not come up with a new Iraq Policy. They've jumped onboard the Bush administration's existing policy, with the novel new suggestion that we stay the course...but try harder.

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And—as a wonderful of just how silly the debate has gotten—when Senator Biden espouses what amounts to the existing administration strategy for Iraq in a Washington Post op-ed piece...
Over the next six months, we must forge a sustainable political compromise between Iraqi factions, strengthen the Iraqi government and bolster reconstruction efforts, and accelerate the training of Iraqi forces.
...Republicans attack him for it. (links via Obsidian Wings)
  • Powerline calls it "a reminder of why Democrats are unfit to direct this country's foreign policy".


  • Glenn Reynolds quote Captain's Quarters, which claims Biden "gets the entire war on terror fundamentally wrong—and demonstrates why the Democrats have entirely failed to provide any leadership on Iraq and the wider war."

All of which has to be a little bit embarrassing when the White House comes out and says Senator Biden's article was "remarkably similar to the administration's plan to fight and win the war on terror." Unsurprisingly, those same critics have not returned to explain why the Bush administration is "unfit to direct this country's foreign policy".

The public debate over an Iraq strategy is now driven almost entirely by anti-Bush or anti-Democratic patisanship. Ideas are not Good or Bad; ideas are Ours or Theirs.

It is said that "success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan", so I'm glad to see so many politicians trying to claim what is essentially the same plan. We can worry about the paternity test later.
 
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The Democrats have not come up with a new Iraq Policy. They’ve jumped onboard the Bush administration’s existing policy, with the novel new suggestion that we stay the course...but try harder

Seeing how the House GOP made them run away screaming from the Murtha test-balloon, I’m not suprised.

Powerline calls it "a reminder of why Democrats are unfit to direct this country’s foreign policy".

Which I happen to agree with. They take every position available on the compass (including falsely calling the President a liar) to gain political points until they come up with the one most in line with the way the wind is blowing. Can there really be any more obvious evidence that the Dems are profoundly unserious on these matters?

It is said that "success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan", so I’m glad to see so many politicians trying to claim what is essentially the same plan. We can worry about the paternity test later

WRONG ATTITUDE. This is the sort of thing that has to be sorted IMMEDIATELY, lest you allow the wrong people to gain credit and power. The Dems have been terribly wrong on this issue, they deserve to be crushed for it.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Mr. Henke,
Your link goes to a WaPo column by David Broder, not by Mr. Cohen.
 
Written By: Patricia A. Garnaas
URL: http://
D’oh! Thanks. I’ve fixed it. I hate to think of what Freud would make of that slip.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I haven’t seen the White House response to Biden’s "plan", but my sense of the comments by Power Line and CQ was that they objected to what they percieved to be Biden’s advocacy of a schedule of withdrawal based more on temporal deadlines than on objectives achieved. It’s true that Biden basically restates the current strategy of helping the Iraqis become self-sufficient, but where I think he parts company with the President, and where I think he is fairly criticized by Power Line and CQ, is his tone of gloomy defeatism which suggests that we are not currently making progress, and particularly that we need to fix things in a hurry because staying longer in Iraq is just not a feasible option.

I just don’t get the impression from Biden that he’s committed to staying until we truly have achieved the objective of a stable Iraq.
 
Written By: CleverNameHere
URL: http://
You seem to mischaracterize PL’s reasoning behind their statement. They no do disagree that the things Sen. Biden says need to be done and that they will lead to a reduced presence in Iraq, rather they object to his explicitly framing these "suggestions" in the context of meeting a specific withdrawal time-line of about six months.

It is not the words or ideas presented by Biden et. al. that make them "unfit to direct this country’s foreign policy," but rather that they act as if it is a new idea in a blatantly political ploy and then apparently don’t really get that these actions are supposed to represent a plan for victory rather just an excuse for retreat.

To me, this represents one of two possibilities: they really are so completely lacking in cognitive capacity that they have never been able to understand the Administration or are so politically motivated that the overall national security is secondary to their power struggle against the Republicans. Take your pick, but neither seems a sound basis upon which to place one’s trust in the Democrats.
 
Written By: submandave
URL: http://submandave.blogspot.com
Yes, August 2003, but is there no care for implemenation? The first battle-ready Iraqi batallion was only available a couple of months ago, and actual training only began in and around election 2004. There was talk of many things, but actually going forward with them was delayed for an unacceptably long time.
 
Written By: Neil
URL: http://
I agree that the criticism of Powerline and CQ is a little off base. Biden wants to set a timetable, whereas the Bush administration has advocated a results based strategy, not timelines. It seems clear to me that the only reason the Democrats are offering these general timelines for withdrawl is because they can see the writing on the wall. Troop levels will be brought down beginning next year (God willing) and they would like to clam credit for making the Administration change it’s strategy when in reality no change has taken place. The dems are playing politics, the Administration is playing to win a war.
 
Written By: Jman
URL: http://
I agree that the criticism of Powerline and CQ is a little off base. Biden wants to set a timetable, whereas the Bush administration has advocated a results based strategy, not timelines. It seems clear to me that the only reason the Democrats are offering these general timelines for withdrawl is because they can see the writing on the wall. Troop levels will be brought down beginning next year (God willing) and they would like to clam credit for making the Administration change it’s strategy when in reality no change has taken place. The dems are playing politics, the Administration is playing to win a war.
 
Written By: Jman
URL: http://
The first battle-ready Iraqi batallion was only available a couple of months ago, and actual training only began in and around election 2004.

After all, building a new army is only a matter of sowing dragon’s teeth as Cadmus did.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
It may well be the that the biggest casualty of this war is our abiliity to get along. Red winners and blue whiners no longer share the same "facts" and certainly not the same "values". There is real malice (on both sides) towards those who are not on "my" side. No one looks for common ground. "not my fault" is the party line. There hasn’t been a good idea come from either party since they agreed to the "no call list" for telemarketers.

How do we ever expect to make things better when we act the way we do?




 
Written By: cindy
URL: http://
Cindy, the dems are responsible for that state of affairs. They have personally slandered and denigrated the president. They are whiners, quitters and losers. The only democrat that has not risen to that bait is Hillary Clinton. To the degree the party lets her she has been a supporter of the war. I think she’s smart, and though she has many negatives, she can’t be seen as a traitor to the cause. No other democrat could get away with what she can do, the party of Dr. Bizzaro and Pelosi would crush them.
 
Written By: Abu Qa’ Qa
URL: http://
"WRONG ATTITUDE. This is the sort of thing that has to be sorted IMMEDIATELY, lest you allow the wrong people to gain credit and power. The Dems have been terribly wrong on this issue, they deserve to be crushed for it."

Furthermore, I don’t believe for a second that if they were able to gain the House or Senate by posturing aggressively, and then had the opportunity to pull out with empty promises a la Vietnam and blame the whole morass on Bush, that they wouldn’t do it. The Democratic Party is an anti-war party at heart.
 
Written By: Cutler
URL: http://yankeestation.blogspot.com
I have to agree with the above posters, the first thing that struck me in the Biden statement was the initial phrase, "over the next six months ..." He’s just trying to worm that Democratic schedule for defeat and ruin in there while almost sounding like a reasonable man.

Senators apparently don’t study game theory, or they’d know better than to act as losers when they’re winning. That is, America is winning. The Democrats are losing. Ergo, they are acting like party hacks. Q.E.D.

However I don’t buy the theory that the Dems are positioning themselves to take credit for troop drawdowns next year. Nobody will remember their current antics a year from now. And even if they do, the Dems are always ready with their current trick - lie like hell about recent history and hope that the press will let them get away with it. I doubt that they’re planning to change in the near future.
 
Written By: big dirigible
URL: http://bigdirigible.com
"The first battle-ready Iraqi batallion was only available a couple of months ago, and actual training only began in and around election 2004."

Chalk it up as another example of us just not having the same facts. Willful ignorance or unwillful..
 
Written By: Cutler
URL: http://yankeestation.blogspot.com
Heh.

You’re all acting as thought this were a new tactic in politics.

Sure, “Let’s stick our finger (index finger, mind you) up in the air and see which way the political winds are blowing.”
Wow! What a new concept.

If only the Republicans had heeded advice from wiser men than I to LEAD the American people and bring this disaster known as the Iraq War to a glorious end. Or at least a measured path to closure.

The Republicans have only themselves to blame.

However, it’s easier to blame the Dem’s isn’t it? “Hey, they’re stealing our thunder.”

Best you get off the bench and get in the game.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
My understanding of the Powerline and CQ posts was essentially that there is a huge difference between pulling the troops out because you’ve lost and need to run home to mommy ’cause you’re not man enough to take it anymore, and pulling the troops out ’cause there’s no ass left worth the kickin’. And it makes a big difference what our motivation is perceived to be worldwide.

The longer I listen to Democrats, the more convinced I become that the ones who’ve gotten their hands on the party steering wheel (a) hate Bush more than they love anything other than their own egos, and (b) cannot bear the thought of seeing America as a genuinely strong country.

After all, this is a generation that is proud of two things and pretty much two things only: (a) civil rights (for which I’m willing to give it some props), and (b) its success in seeing to it that we lost Vietnam. The perversity of a generation that is proud of LOSING a war is very difficult to overstate, especially given the horrific human catastrophe that followed in South Vietnam.

If Bush succeeds in Iraq, then not only does it lead to Jon Stewart’s horrific nightmare in which his child attends a school named after George Bush, but it also calls into question the whole legitimacy and desirability of what the Left "accomplished" in Vietnam. After all, one obvious difference between Vietnam and Iraq will have been that when America listened to the Left, we lost Vietnam, but when America told the Left to go do impolite things to themselves, we won Iraq. Quite frankly, a complete success in Iraq is very, very low on the Left’s Christmas wish list.

Anyway, the basic point is, it doesn’t matter nearly so much when you leave, as how you leave.
 
Written By: Ken Pierce
URL: http://redneckperil.blogspot.com
If Bush succeeds in Iraq, then not only does it lead to Jon Stewart’s horrific nightmare in which his child attends a school named after George Bush,

I would bet that Jon Stewart’s horrific nightmare would be that the next president would be someone who would not provide hours of comic material as the current president does.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
The perversity of a generation that is proud of LOSING a war is very difficult to overstate, especially given the horrific human catastrophe that followed in South Vietnam.

Let’s not paint with an overly broad brush, Ken. It isn’t a "generation’ which is proud of what happened in Vietnam. It is a segment of that generation which is proud ... the same segment who today holds a majority on the left side of the political spectrum and wants a repeat of 35 years ago if for no other reason than to further rationalize what they did way back when.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Heh ... hey Pogue, name one modern president who hasn’t managed to provide enough material that Jon Stewart should ever have that nightmare?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Heh ... hey Pogue, name one modern president who hasn’t managed to provide enough material that John Stewart should ever have that nightmare?

ummmmm....
...errrrr...
Jon Stewart? Baby’s don’t sleep that good.
;)
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Yeah ... Jon Stewart ... who’d you think I was talking about?

Heh ...
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
"The only democrat that has not risen to that bait is Hillary Clinton. . . . No other democrat could get away with what she can do, the party of Dr. Bizzaro and Pelosi would crush them."

Lieberman.
 
Written By: Yehudit
URL: http://keshertalk.com
Yeah ... Jon Stewart ... who’d you think I was talking about?

Yeah,
Jon Stewart? As if I were contemplating.
And while we’re at it,
Babies don’t sleep that well. (That was going to bother me all night if it went unabated.)
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Kinda’ takes the punch outa’ the line.

Aw (bleep). Oh, well.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
What you need to understand, my freinds, is something I wrote about the Democrats under Bill Clinton in the middle 90’s...

Clinton understands that by two means may a man be in front
of a parade.... he’s leading the thing, or they’re chasing him. ...
In this case, the Democrats have come to the conclusion they’re going to lose the fight, so why not claim the idea was their own, claim victory and claim also that the lynch mob is a parade in their honor?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
As soon as you set a timetable for withdrawal, you’ve told the terrorists how long they need to wait it out, and they can plan accordingly. By contrast, one can send the message "we’ll stay here as long as it takes".

Now: Which statement is the best approach for winning a war?

Pretty obvious, isn’t it. And that’s why this is a poorly-conceived post.
 
Written By: Mr. Snitch!
URL: http://mistersnitch.blogspot.com/
"The public debate over an Iraq strategy is now driven almost entirely by anti-Bush or anti-Democratic patisanship. Ideas are not Good or Bad; ideas are Ours or Theirs."

If the Democrats and the Iraqi "insurgents" sound so similar, it’s because they are both, jilted people bounced from power. It doesn’t sit well with power lusters.

It’s NOT a matter of "Hating Bush"; their behavior would be the same for any other president outside their own party. The massive, almost nuclear temper tantrums, are all they have to offer anymore. Unfortunately, in a socety indoctrinated by our teachers unions, and devoid of critical thinking skills, the ability to ascertain the irrational nature of the left is pretty much been abrogated.
 
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
Shark stated: "The Dems have been terribly wrong on this issue, they deserve to be crushed for it."

Being wrong is part of being human; being "wrong" DELIBERATELY, when peoples lived are at stake, is SICK. "Crushed", I’d opt, is a gross understatement.

 
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
my sense of the comments by Power Line and CQ was that they objected to what they percieved to be Biden’s advocacy of a schedule of withdrawal based more on temporal deadlines than on objectives achieved.
But he doesn’t. He suggests that we make a push over the next 6 months to put some pieces in place, and that should allow us—over the course of a couple years—to withdraw. Well...he’s right.

And, while the Right seems loathe to admit it, there’s some merit to having some semblance of a timetable, if only to pressure Iraq to hold up their end. But Biden does not advocate a "we’re leaving on X, no matter what" policy. He advocates a policy that would allow us to leave within a timetable fairly consistent with that expressed by the administration. And he should. We just don’t have the army necessary to maintain 150,000 troops in Iraq for another half-dozen years.
they object to his explicitly framing these "suggestions" in the context of meeting a specific withdrawal time-line of about six months.
You’ve misread Biden. Nowhere does he suggest a six month timetable to withdraw. That’s a mistake that seems to have been made by a lot of commenters....
I have to agree with the above posters, the first thing that struck me in the Biden statement was the initial phrase, "over the next six months ..." He’s just trying to worm that Democratic schedule for defeat and ruin in there while almost sounding like a reasonable man.
His only mention of a "schedule" was one "for getting Iraqi forces trained to the point that they can act on their own or take the lead with U.S. help". Well, of course we should have that kind of schedule. Do you really think the Pentagon is telling the commanders "oh, you know. Whenever. Just train em when you get a little time. In a few years, we’ll see where we’re at." And again....
My understanding of the Powerline and CQ posts was essentially that there is a huge difference between pulling the troops out because you’ve lost and need to run home to mommy ’cause you’re not man enough to take it anymore, and pulling the troops out ’cause there’s no ass left worth the kickin’.
Yeah, well Biden’s whole article was about "a blueprint for protecting our fundamental security interests in Iraq". That’s how you "win".
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The thing is Jon, that Biden is a Democrat, and Murtha still is a Democrat—they didn’t throw him out. In fact they almost all voted against Murtha’s proposal and now want to act like he didn’t make it.

A Democrat cannot credibly propose a withdrawal which includes a timeframe and objectives, because there can be no doubt they feel the timeframe is strict and more important than the objectives.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Here is an eye-opener. The Democrats are running like hell to get out in front of the President so that they can claim credit for the withdrawal which was planned for some time. The Pentagon leaked the plan and the DNC chose Murtha to set up the ploy

“Murtha wasn’t merely advocating redeployment; he was practically announcing it. As he told Tim Russert on the Nov. 20 Meet the Press, "There’s nobody that talks to people in the Pentagon more than I do. … We’re going to be out of there very quickly, and it’s going to be close to the plan that I’m presenting right now."
If any doubts remained about the administration’s coming course, they should have been dispelled on Nov. 22, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told CNN, "I suspect that American forces are not going to be needed in the numbers that they are now that much longer." (She repeated the point that same day on Fox News.)”
 
Written By: notherbob2
URL: http://
Jon

It’s true that he doesn’t explicitly call for a specific deadline for withdrawal, but the sense of his missive, to me, tends much more in that direction than in one which assumes we’ll still be there in substantial numbers well beyond his six month time frame. I’m open to reconsider should Biden publicly state something to that effect, but I don’t see it coming. To be fair, not even those on the right seem willing to publicly acknowledge the necessity of a longer presence.

As for the utility of the timetable itself, I really think it is more a political ploy than a helpful tool to goad the Iraqis. Granted, the Administration has employed deadlines before, to move along the development of the Iraqi Constitution, but I think the situation is different, now. However grateful the Iraqis are, they don’t really want us there calling the shots. They WANT to take over responsibility for their own security. On the flipside, talk of timetables, especially should Bush join in such talk, would only encourage the insurgency that they are indeed wearing us down.

All this aside, Biden’s "liberation has become an occupation" gloom and doom is 100% political and counterproductive, to boot. The senator is rightly criticized on that score alone.
 
Written By: CleverNameHere
URL: http://
The Democrats are running like hell to get out in front of the President so that they can claim credit for the withdrawal which was planned for some time
And what did I say?
(look up)

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com

 
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