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I Guess it’s official now
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, August 20, 2006

Apparently John McCain has given his verdict on Iraq:
Asked whether the United States was winning the war, McCain said, "I don't think so, but I'm not sure that it's turned into a civil war ... I think it's been well documented now that we didn't have enough (troops) there from the beginning, that we allowed the looting, that we did not have control, particularly ... (in areas such as) the Sunni Triangle, which led to us paying a very heavy price."
Seems to be the trend on the right. Time, apparently, to call it a day in terms of hopes for victory in Iraq. Time to begin the process of placing blame and gaining distance from those who finally are to be left with that collar.

I'm not saying McCain's assessment of the "whys" of our particular problems and present position aren't accurate (although I don't think it was a matter of not enough troops, I think it was a matter of no plan for after the military mission). Instead it is the suspected reason for the sort of talk we're seeing on the right.

Perhaps it is just my cynicism talking but in Washington DC, politics is king and power is everything. You can talk all day about honor, courage, seeing the job through, America's responsibility and the like. But when all is said and done, none of those things guarantee retaining power. And that is what Republicans are finally realizing is at risk here.

An unpopular President has the country in an unpopular war, and his political opponents have begun to make political capital with the issue. So slowly, but surely the right begins to swing away from supporting the issue. And that includes both the politicians and pundits.

McCain most likely isn't the last Republican politician who will mouth those words or words very similar to those in the remaining weeks before the midterms. Joe Lieberman proved to them that their political position was untenable and their support for Bush damaging to their chances of remaining in office. So the distancing has begun.

Meanwhile, the right-wing pundocracy has also begun to pull back.
For 10 minutes, the talk show host grilled his guests about whether "George Bush's mental weakness is damaging America's credibility at home and abroad." For 10 minutes, the caption across the bottom of the television screen read, "IS BUSH AN 'IDIOT'?"

But the host was no liberal media elitist. It was Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman turned MSNBC political pundit. And his answer to the captioned question was hardly "no." While other presidents have been called stupid, Scarborough said: "I think George Bush is in a league by himself. I don't think he has the intellectual depth as these other people."
Joe Scarborough doesn't hit me as the brightest bulb in the pack, and this sort of nonsense seems to underscore that point. But what he's doing is what I think we'll see a lot of in the coming weeks. Bush is now the 'throw away' guy. He's so disliked by a portion of the population that this sort of an attack plays well. If people like Scarborough and his ilk are lucky such attacks will wipe away the support he gave both Bush and the war, or at least so he hopes.

The plans seems to be, at least for Scarborough, the more virulent and juvenile the attack, the more the old words and positions are forgotten. And sadly, in today's polarized and partisan atmosphere, he may be right.

Rich Lowry, otoh, seems to genuinely feel that Bush and company have been horribly inept in, if not prosecuting the peace (nation building), not getting the word out about what progress is being made. I can't say I disagree. Says Lowery:
"It is time for the Bush administration to acknowledge that its approach of assuring people that progress is being made and operating on that optimistic basis in Iraq isn't working," the editorial said. Lowry followed up days later in his own column, suggesting that the United States is "losing, or at least not obviously winning, a major war" and asking whether Iraq is "Bush's Vietnam."
Is it Bush's "Vietnam"? No. It is a sad situation which really didn't need to evolve after the military victory in 2003 had any sort of post war planning been done. But it wasn't, we have the situation we're now in and we have to make some choices. And there isn't much time to think about them and even less to implement them if the administration truly wants a victory in Iraq. But that may be out of their hands now.
Quin Hillyer, executive editor of the American Spectator, cited Lowry's column in his own last week, writing that many are upset "because we seem not to be winning" and urging the White House to take on militia leaders such as Moqtada al-Sadr. Until it does, he said, "there will be no way for the administration to credibly claim that victory in Iraq is achievable, much less imminent."
Civil war? The reason anyone is even talking civil war is because of the militias and death squads. The plan, at least what passes for a plan, appears to be to go after the death squads while avoiding confrontation with the reason for the death squads. Moqtada al-Sadr and other militia leaders.

But there is a Catch-22 now. We insisted on standing up and giving sovereignty to the government of Iraq. It's theirs now, and it is their call as to how al-Sadr should be handled. All indications are that they're no more willing to confront him than we were. So the sectarian violence continues and the coalition forces and Iraqi government attack the symptoms of the problem while leaving the cause alone.

That seems a sure receipe for failure, but one of our own making and, now one that is out of our hands. It is truly and completely up to Iraq now. They have to decide whether they want this to succeed (and do what is necessary to make that happen) or not.

So I guess I can't blame politicians like McCain and pundits like Scarborough, Lowry or Hillyer for setting up their own strategic withdrawals on the subject of Iraq.

Politics, Washington DC and power make for interesting calculations amongst that class. And, of course, this administration has done little to nothing to change any of those calculations, at least not lately. Unfortunately, as I've come to understand over the years, very little of those calculations involve what is best for the people or the nation. This one is shaping up to be true to form. But for Republicans, the attempted disavowal between now and November may be too little too late.

UPDATE: Ralph Peters says about the same thing concerning Iraq:
Iraq could fail - if the Iraqis fail themselves. It's still too early to pack up and leave, but if the people of Iraq will not seize the opportunity we gave them to build the region's first Arab-majority rule-of-law democracy, it won't be an American defeat, but another self-inflicted Arab disaster. Iraq is the Arab world's last chance - and the odds are now 50-50 they'll throw it away.
We'll see, won't we?
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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It is a sad situation which really didn’t need to evolve after the military victory in 2003 had any sort of post war planning been done.
Now you’re doing it.

So what should have the planners come up with?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
So what should have the planners come up with?
A post-war plan. Did you read McCaffery’s report?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The entire premise of this post hinges on the notion that McCain is on the right, of the right, and/or speaks for the right.
 
Written By: triticale
URL: http://triticale.mu.nu
I don’t know, McQ. I’m sure you’re correct about the political calculations but I think the reality on the ground has at least as much to do with it. People like McCain have supported the Iraq mission as long as they could (though he has said from the outset that there weren’t enough troops for the mission), but it’s becoming clear to nearly everyone now that Iraq is falling apart and our "plan" has failed. I say "nearly" everyone because, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to include those who matter most — President Bush, for one. It is time for a new plan.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
The plan, at least what passes for a plan, appears to be to go after the death squads while avoiding confrontation with the reason for the death squads. Moqtada al-Sadr and other militia leaders.
They [Iraqis] have to decide whether they want this to succeed (and do what is necessary to make that happen) or not.
Al-Sadr is in charge of an Iranian backed Shia militia, what is necessary is an end of Iranian sponsorship or at least Iranian direction. Iraq is less militarily capable of ending this arrangement than Israel is capable of ending Iranian support for Hezbollah. To suceed Iraq must make a political accomodation with Iran.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Joe Lieberman proved to them that their political position was untenable and their support for Bush damaging to their chances of remaining in office. So the distancing has begun
Really?

His position was only untenable in his own Party. He’s become viable as an independant only because of his position on the war.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Hmmm. Interesting to note. I think you really can’t underestimate the problem of communication- the fact that what is going on in Iraq at the moment has little to do with the breathless reporting of CNN or other media outlets. Just having gotten back from there this may seem more dramatic to me, though. However, the sheer incompetence of some decisions is really biting our ass at the moment as well. Have to agree with Peters conclusion ultimately.
 
Written By: Sunguh
URL: http://pmclassic.blogspot.com
His position was only untenable in his own Party.
Are you sure about that?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
However, the sheer incompetence of some decisions is really biting our ass at the moment as well.
Welcome home. Yup, what you hear isn’t necessarily what is happening, but it is what is forming opinions here. And as you note, the "sheer incompetence" that has been observed in some of the decisions about Iraq hasn’t helped.

In the long run, at least here and among Dems and Reps, its about politics and power ... and politicians are bad to dump (and dump on) what they perceive as a possible threat to their power.

Politics 101.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
A few things:

1: A post war plan, to the degree of planning you seem to be calling for would have placed us in the position of IMPOSING a solution. Certainly this would ahve produced the quick turn around, but history seems to suggest that quick turn arounds tend to turn around again for the worse, just as quickly.

OTOH, Japan took 10 years to get it’s post-war act together... all the while, politicos screaming we’d ’lost the peace’ and that our planning there wasn’t up to par.

Perhaps the lesson that history is teaching us here is to sit back, shut up and await developments.

2: McCain is no more representative of the right, then Lieberman is, of the left.

That said, jpun100 has it about right... If we are to take his independent run being some twenty points ahead of his democratic opponent as an indication, Lieberman is far more in tune with the wishes of the American people as regards the Iraq war, then are the Democrats are dumped him.

As to the rest, you have raised the issue of who is winning the propaganda war previously. But how to turn that around? Observe, for example, what happens when the White House tries to take some degree of credit for the sharing of information which led to the breakup of the British plane bombing plans the other day.



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
The discontent with Bush in middle of the road America and on the Right goes far, far past Iraq.

Just thinking Iraq explains Bush’s unpopularity is the media once again getting it wrong.

America is very disturbed about loosing the American dream. They see an economy and tax code designed to favor the rich and concentrate most GDP gains to them. They see Bush’s Open Borders pouring in the illegals that will be taking their construction and health care jobs or clobber them with reduced wages. They see more and more Americans losing health care....our education system losing ground to places like China...That Americans will no longer have new high tech industries employing Americans. Yes there might be a few dozen designers, VC capitalists, and scientists...but 99% of the jobs - engineers, architects, production staff, applied science will all be outsourced or located in cheapest bid skilled labor pools to start with. And with a reckless spending Administration that all but guarantees their children massive future fiscal pain to pay for the pork given to corporate cronies today.

They see Bush has alienated much of the world. He tunnels in on Israel as the only nation overseas that matters to him. That he refuses to change out inept appointees or work with Congress until he is all but forced to by polls.

And to top it all off, the last of the faithful appear to have conceeded he is a poor thinker and decider and implementor - but hold on to his "intentions are good", "he loves Christ so his heart is in the right place", "he trusts people so much, so sometimes they let him down or manipulate him".

Damning praise.

 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Just thinking Iraq explains Bush’s unpopularity is the media once again getting it wrong.
I don’t think that’s the point.

That just seems to be the defining issue concerning his unpopularity. It is the one that most will agree on and point to while then each having further issues with his administration that others don’t necessarily share.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
From McQ:
Are you sure about that?
here
The Quinnipiac University poll has Lieberman leading Lamont among registered voters 49 percent to 38 percent. Republican Alan Schlesinger gets support from 4 percent. Among likely voters, Lieberman was supported by 53 percent, compared to Lamont’s 41 percent and Schlesinger’s 4 percent.
I still maintain the John Kerry would be President and the Democrats in the House and/or Senate in 2004 if they hadn’t campaigned against the war itself but just Bush’s execution of it. Kerry kept himself out of office on that point. I think that McCain will be more savy than Kerry and eventually settle on this tact as well, instead of a wholesale rejection.

It’s been a huge misread. People’s unhappiness with the war in Iraq is not the same as them wanting to cut and run which is the message Democrats say or imply.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
A post war plan, to the degree of planning you seem to be calling for would have placed us in the position of IMPOSING a solution.
Uh, no. It would have given the Iraqis the space they needed to come up with their own while not allowing the insurgency to begin. The biggest failure in Iraq to date was having no plan to police the place after the military was destroyed and the civil structure collapsed.
McCain is no more representative of the right, then Lieberman is, of the left.
No one said he was. The title of the post was pure sarcasm. However McCain is indicative of the thinking of a good number of people and Lieberman is indicative of the possible political plight of those who support both the war and George Bush. That’s undeniable. Thus the beginning of distancing from Bush by Rep pols.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
It is my understanding that the reserve component of our armed forces contains a number of military gov’t. units whose mission is to take over after we occupy territory. Obviously someone, some time, did some planning. I am still amazed that these people were, evidently, not even consulted or activated in a timely manner by either the political or the military leadership.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It is my understanding that the reserve component of our armed forces contains a number of military gov’t. units whose mission is to take over after we occupy territory. Obviously someone, some time, did some planning. I am still amazed that these people were, evidently, not even consulted or activated in a timely manner by either the political or the military leadership.
You’re talking about civil affairs units and they function within the framework of a larger civilian run administrative system. There was no larger civilian run administrative system available and that’s the component which was missing for over a year. And that’s the year when all of the problems got started.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I still maintain the John Kerry would be President and the Democrats in the House and/or Senate in 2004 if they hadn’t campaigned against the war itself but just Bush’s execution of it.
That was then, this is now (and it was Kerry for heaven sake, Tim). They are running on both and it appears to be having an effect. The fact that Lieberman is leading may be more the effect of a post primary bounce for him (the defiant and long serving CT Dem who was "wronged" by his party) which will fade toward election day.

I’m telling you more and more Reps are going to start distancing themselves from both the war and Bush ... just watch.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ - I think you are looking for the single thing that caused Bush’s unpopularity with the most people, but I am saying that for most people, it took more than one bungle. Unpopularity coming as a function not of a single thing, but a cumulative judgement after a series of Bush blunders.

People cut Clinton lying about Lewinsky some slack and minimized it. Not because they liked it but because the country was going in the right direction, Clinton had made a number of right decisions, and the country was in the mood to "spot him one". Single issue Republicans that went after him on it and impeached managed to derail the continuance of the XContract with America, look mean-spirited and as intolerant religious zealots. And got burned. If Clinton had Lewinsky and lying under oath follow a string of other foul-ups, he would have been burned in turn.

With Bush, even after "No WMD" "no plan for postwar chaos" - he was solid enough to beat JFK. It was after the 2004 election that the screwups came fast and furious. The SS privatization plan that was little more than another shelter plan for the wealthy that was supposed to "help" the little people as well. No one bought it. Then the Teri Schiavo fiasco had Bush and pals look like intolerant, and inept bozos. Then the summer of nothing as Bush refused to abandon vacation and bike-riding for standing up and trying leadership on growing discontent on Iraq, immigration, the economy, outsourcing. The wide acknowledgement that it wasn’t what Bush defined as the Global War On (the tactic of) Terror that we had to address, but the ideology of radical Islam..Then the Katrina Fiasco, which was mild ineptitude compared NOLA and Louisiana’s rank incompetence - but the Bushies stood revealed as bunglers without a clue to respond to the PR _____storm that hit them. Then Harriet Miers a month later. Harriet. The icing on the cake - and last straw for conservatives.

It was all that that led many who had previously cut slack on Iraq to revisit that mess and think "Chances are if Bush ________ed everything else up, he did with everything in Iraq as well."
I’m telling you more and more Reps are going to start distancing themselves from both the war and Bush ... just watch


I don’t know if you have read that the Ruling Elites outside the Bushies pushed and got the right to have a bipartisan commission set up to investigate Iraq policy and issue recommendations. Headed by Reagan Defense Secretary (navy) John Lehman. Big names. Federal subpoena power. Neocons VERY upset that they do not have members to give them cover. Commission is well underway and is very secretive, saying that it’s Iraq policy conclusions and recommendations will wait until after the election lest it’s findings and recommendations create undue influence.

The Commission may be the chance for a new course. I fear that Bush will as usual refuse to make any admission of error or change out culpable personnel...as he should have done with Rumsfeld and several "yassir. yassir! 3 bags full just give me my next Star" Pentagon brass back in Dec 2004. Then even if the Republicans retain one chamber of Congress, which doesn’t look good now...I fear that Bush will have his mind changed for him, one way or the other.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Tim???

There are all kinds of factors affecting the Lieberman position both pluses and minuses. View him alone and you can’t see it.

What is more telling is that Lamont only garnered a small lead. That means little over 1/2 of Democrats are pro-Lamont. The remainder and most of the Republicans will vote for Lieberman. There is a race.

I think this is one of the few cases where the "MSM" achieved what they more frequently achieved before the advent of the surge of talk radio and the internet. They’ve convinced public perception that the majority is against the war itself. I will say the majority is dissassified. But that is not the same. The MSM & Democratic Pundits have passed that off as the same though. Its been a while. But is has taken years of drumbeating the same thing over and over.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
A better post-war plan would have been great. However, they did do some things well, like prevent any oil fields from burning, and there was no humanitarian catastrophe with millions of refugees. The elections have gone well enough. The power generation problem was handled too slowly, but that had to be seen first hand I think before you can really assess what you need.

So, it’s mainly down to a plan where we flood the Sunni areas with troops. That may have worked. And it may not have. And I think the theory that a lighter touch works better had just done well in Afghanistan (comparatively to the Russians) so I can see a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking here.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Re: Harun
That is definitely true, they didn’t make any of the mistakes they made the previous time and were overwhelmingly successful. Always fighting the last war.... Unfortunately they didn’t anticipate the aftermath of that. Which is where we are today, rediscovering the art of counterinsurgency. Luckily, many military professionals can adapt and overcome, and are accomplishing great things under the radar.

But all that doesn’t mean crap if freaked out politicians are reading MSM and trying to figure out what to do based on that and weird contradictory polls. It is politics 101, people trying to shape perception. And it is starting to worry me.

 
Written By: Sunguh
URL: http://pmclassic.blogspot.com
Iraq could fail - if the Iraqis fail themselves. It’s still too early to pack up and leave, but if the people of Iraq will not seize the opportunity we gave them to build the region’s first Arab-majority rule-of-law democracy, it won’t be an American defeat, but another self-inflicted Arab disaster. Iraq is the Arab world’s last chance - and the odds are now 50-50 they’ll throw it away
It’s something I’ve been saying for awhile now. Because the way things are going to go, the next stop on this train is going to be America coming around to the "kill them all let god sort it out" point of view, even those who just favor total disengagement. Because while we may disengage from them, they certainly won’t disengage from us.
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
So just how can more troops stop non-uniformed civilians from blowing themselves up?

The old govt. is on trial, a NEW GOVT. has been installed and elected and the BEST THE INSURGENTS can come up with are some makeshift SUICIDE BOMBS and yet we’re discussing this is as a defeat? By what measure, historical or otherwise?

As for THE PLAN, the PLAN included having the Iraqi police and military forces up to speed. US casualties have slowed to a trickle, while Iraqi casualties are still up. Just because parts of THE PLAN have been executed poorly doesn’t mean there was no PLAN. Also, the idea that there was NO PLAN is laughable. Entire depts. of the US Military and Govt. do nothing but develop these sorts of PLANS.

Hey, remember when Israel was duking it out with Hezbollah back in the day? Hey, remember when during the brief conflict neither Afghanistan nor Iraq really figured into the conflict? Would that have been true during the Taliban and Hussein regimes? Uh, no. In fact, I’d be willing to bet the Tal and SH would have sided and materially supported Hezbollah. This is what victory in the ME looks like. It’s not resounding. It’s not overwhelming. But it’s merely incrementally better.

 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://



A post war plan, to the degree of planning you seem to be calling for would have placed us in the position of IMPOSING a solution.
Uh, no. It would have given the Iraqis the space they needed to come up with their own while not allowing the insurgency to begin.
(Shrug)

Poorly worded on my part, or perhaps better, inaccurately worded. Mia culpa.

My concern in that passage was more how it would be received by the Iraqis. They’re the ones you’re trying to sell on the idea, after all. You don’t want to appear like you’re imposing a solution.

I grant that perhaps a plan... for example, a military government and occupation... would have served to give them time. But half the battle there, was and remains for hearts and minds. A people who are convinced over a long period that we are their enemy... as the Iraqi people certainly had been, would have neem a hard sell. Anything that even LOOKED like an imposed solution would have been poorly received at best, and would thereby, likely, fail.

It’s a balance act, and hard to know where to set the fulcrum. History isn’t much help, here, either, given the large number of unique variables we’ve not dealt with previously.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Lieberman is indicative of the possible political plight of those who support both the war and George Bush
Yes, it’s true, the DNC dumped on his for supporting the war and Mr. Bush.
Yet, the general electorate seems to have a different ’tude about those things, if we can take Liberman’s 20 point lead over the DNC’s choice for the seat as an indication. On that basis, perhaps the take-wawy here is that supporting both the war and GWB is where to be.

That’s the message the Democrats fear most out of any that might come out of that race. But that’s what they face, I think. That message gets louder still when we consider the state Liberman is in isn’t exactly right-wing...





 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I agree with McQ, pretty much.

I could quibble with this:

That seems a sure receipe for failure, but one of our own making and, now one that is out of our hands. It is truly and completely up to Iraq now. They have to decide whether they want this to succeed (and do what is necessary to make that happen) or not

Because I believe that it is the political rigidity created by US political domination (or, say, veto power) over the current nascent government, that prevents any serious attempt at a negotiated truce, as well as any form of real consolidation between the warring factions in Iraq.

But I agree with the domestic US movement. Like C. Ford says, it’s been observable from a long ways off.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I think its funny you guys are arguing about the notion of "imposing" something on people in the process of invading their country.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
So, you think the Iraqis supported Saddam, do you?



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I think you are looking for the single thing that caused Bush’s unpopularity with the most people,
No, you’re missing it again. I’m talking about the thread which is uniting opposition. The one thing disparate groups have in common (and sometimes the only thing).

If you’re a politician in opposition and you’re looking for votes what would you use?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

 
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