Transmission from an Alternate Universe – Episode 2 Posted by: Billy Hollis
on Saturday, February 17, 2007
My quantum uncertainty radio came on again this week, as it did a couple of years ago. Here’s the transcription of what I received from some alternate universe.
January 11, 2007. At a news conference in Washington, DC, the Speaker of the House is discussing her position on Iraq and the “surge” just proposed by President Bush in his speech earlier in the week.
Nancy Pelosi: As you know, the Democrats were elected because the American people had lost confidence in the handling of the Iraq conflict by the Bush administration. Most of us were convinced at that time that Iraq was unwinnable if President Bush continued to follow the “stay the course” strategy.
Today, we’re happy to take notice that President Bush has changed course. He has announced a “surge” intended to pacify Iraq, and will send at least 20,000 additional troops. I’d like to point out that some Democrats have proposed a similar plan in the recent past, including Congressman Sylvestre Reyes, who recommended in December that we send 20,000 to 30,000 additional troops to quell the miltias.
There are still many uncertainties regarding Iraq. The surge might not work. It might only work temporarily. No doubt we’ll be revisiting the subject in a few months when we know more.
However, given that President Bush has changed course, following the election results, our advice, and the will of the American people, we want to work with him to give this opportunity the best possible chance to work.
There are those in the Democratic Party who believe that no possible strategy can work. I sympathize with them, and in fact have my own doubts. However, the stakes are huge, and the consequences for failure are very high.
Succeeding at stabilization of the Middle East could conceivably prevent a nuclear terrorist attack on an American city. While I think that probability is extremely low, I recognize that any significant probability of such an event is to be taken very, very seriously.
Therefore, I would like to state to the American people that we are trying to do what you elected us to do – change course in Iraq. Since President Bush has chosen to abandon his “stay the course” strategy in favor of a new strategy, we will support him in that effort. If this new strategy shows signs of significant failure, we will, of course vigorously criticize it. However, give all the unknowns concerning the Iraq conflict, no one can confidently predict exactly what the results will be, so we are prepared to give this new strategy a chance.
I believe our influence and behavior in this matter shows how Democrats have the ability to do a better job at managing many of America’s national security matters. I would ask the voters to keep this in mind in the elections of 2008.
I’ll now take questions.
Reporter #1: What about the anti-war Democrats in Congress, such as John Murtha? Do they support your cooperation with President Bush?
Pelosi: No decision we take can please all the members of our party. Some of our members are opposed to any military involvement in other countries. I might point out that there are Republicans, such as Ron Paul, who feel the same way.
I do think a Democratic president would be less likely to embark on unwise involvement in foreign conflicts. Bill Clinton, for example, did a much better job at managing foreign conflicts, by keeping our involvement to a much smaller scale, and I think the results were better. But the American people elected George Bush in 2004, and he will be with us until early 2009. We need to find a way to cooperate with him to protect American interests abroad during that period. Unnecessary or gratuitous conflict with the president can only benefit our enemies.
Those members who oppose any Iraq involvement will no doubt continue to make their feelings known. If the surge starts to falter, I expect they will be the first to point out the problems. We value their opinions on Iraq.
However, I have explained to them that we are in Iraq through no fault of theirs, and that the consequences of an immediate and disorganized pullout could potentially be catastrophic. There is also the factor of the loss of credibility for America if we ignominiously pull out. Future Democratic presidents will benefit from a perception abroad that we mean what we say. So, for now, we are trying to find a solution that everyone can live with.
I would remind you that we were not elected to cut and run from Iraq. That was not the stated position of a large majority of Democratic congresspersons. We were elected to change course in Iraq because the Bush administration was clearly mismanaging the effort there. We think we are doing that, and fulfilling our commitments to the American people.
Whether there is substantial progress because of the surge or not, we’re going to need to rethink our involvement in Iraq before the next presidential election. I believe that election should determine the ultimate course we take there. I expect any serious candidate of any party to lay out a detailed plan for dealing with Iraq and the whole Middle East. Then the American people can choose. I am confident that the Democratic candidate will have the best plan, because we’ve shown the flexibility to confront possible failure and find a way around it.
Reporter #2: How long will you wait before you decide that the surge is a failure?
Pelosi: Well, you’re assuming it will be a failure, and I think that’s not an objective attitude. As I said, I think there are too many unknowns to confidently predict the outcome. I personally have serious doubts that the surge will work, but it is better than what we were doing, and I’d be the first to cheer if it succeeded in stabilizing Iraq. If there is long term stability there, that would allow us to begin planning our eventual withdrawal under positive circumstances, and I think that’s a goal that almost all Democrats and Republicans can get behind.
To answer the question you should have asked, I’m willing to suspend judgment for six months or so. I think that’s long enough to get some of the troops in place and get a sense of whether the pacification of Baghdad is succeeding. If there are mixed signs, but some obvious progress, I’d be willing to suspend judgment for a while longer. That doesn’t mean I am willing to back the surge indefinitely, especially if it seems to be failing. In that case, we’d have to look at other changes in course.
As I said, I think the ultimate decision about the surge and everything else in Iraq will be part of the next presidential election. Congress cannot impose a particular plan without the president’s cooperation, no matter how bad things get over there.
Reporter #3: What do you think the odds are of success of the surge and success in Iraq generally?
Pelosi: That’s a great question. Personally, I think the odds of success of the surge are less than fifty-fifty.
I think our chances of eventual success in Iraq are better than that because we can keep on trying other strategies that might have an impact. But we have to recognize that there just may be no way to succeed, and if we come to that conclusion then we need to start planning for a pullout while minimizing the consequence. However, as I said before, I don’t see that happening under President Bush, so I think that will be decided in the next election.
Reporter #4: How about Iran? Would you support President Bush if he decides to take action against Iran?
Pelosi: I think any conflict with Iran should be an absolute last resort, and I think there’s a lot to be done through negotiation before we even have to decide about conflict. Absent a clear act of war by Iran, I would vigorously criticize any action the president takes in Iran.
Within the law, he can unilaterally take action and has 90 days before Congressional oversight kicks in. I sincerely hope he doesn’t try to bypass us without sufficient cause. That would destroy the cooperation I’ve discussed above concerning the surge and other Iraq strategies.
However, I do completely support the president in efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is likely that Saudi Arabia and others will also want to do so, as a deterrent against Iran. That would be bad because there more such weapons there are, the more likely it is that circumstances cause them to come into the hands of those who would use them against the United States in a terrorist attack. So conflict with Iran must unfortunately remain on the table to achieve effective negotiation, though I hope it never comes to that.
Thank you all for coming. I have another appointment, so I must leave now. You may forward additional questions to my office if necessary.
Mr. Hollis, that was a low blow. Your post casts current political statements and developments in a doleful light. Sanity such as the scenario you depict would be so welcome that reading your post in light of what tomorrow’s MSM headlines will show ... Why are you breaking our hearts?
It really is heartbreaking to think that with vision, true love of country, courage and common sense - and maybe Hollis as a speechwriter - neither Pelosi nor the rest of us would need an actually alternate universe. Except maybe for a place to dispose of Murtha, who’d remain a toad whatever the reality.