Democrats and lessons from history (UPDATE) Posted by: McQ
on Monday, February 19, 2007
I'm a little late to the discussion of this particular editorial and poll, but the editorial is from Investors Business Daily and the poll is an IBD/TIPP poll. What's interesting about the poll are both the questions and numbers. They argue against the claim by Democrats that the majority of Americans want us out of Iraq now and aren't really concerned with the outcome there:
This particular poll does not support the Democratic narrative about Iraq at all. In fact it argues exactly the opposite of their claims. It even goes so far as to argue that most Democrats disagree with the Democratic narrative that we should get out of Iraq now (53% of self-identified Democrats claim victory is important and that is up from December). In fact, given this poll, the belief that victory is very important or somewhat important is overwhelming (66%) and as a percentage, remains unchanged from December (although the very important category gained while the somewhat important category lost).
The majority of people polled are also very hopeful and somewhat hopeful that we'll succeed (58%). Again, a large majority.
In both cases the party affiliation says much about what those polled express as opinion. But given the numbers of this poll, it's hard to argue that the "majority of Americans want us out of Iraq now" (a claim based on other polls which claim that to be the case).
Would you favor or oppose Congress taking each of the following actions in regards to the war in Iraq? ... B. Denying the funding needed to send any additional U.S. troops to Iraq?
Only 40% favored such a move with an overwhelming 58% not favoring it (and 2% having no opinion).
Or how about CBS's latest poll:
In the CBS Poll, respondents were asked this question:
Do you think Congress should or should not pass a symbolic or non binding resolution against sending additional troops to Iraq?
44% were in favor of passing them, 45% were not in favor, and 11% had no opinion.
The answers from both of those polls to the questions posed point to a population which is far from united in their desire to see the US pull out of Iraq now. Anyone who claims a solid majority of the country backs such a move has to ignore these results. And, of course, many Democrats are trying to do exactly that.
In fact, as Investors Business Daily points out, in the works, with the support of the Speaker of the House, is a plan which is so reprehensible that it ran off a majority of the Republicans who were thinking about voting for the non-binding resolution the House passed last Friday (only 17 did so while it was claimed 30 to 40 were going too). They want no part in being associated in any way with what the Democrats plan on attempting:
While the House works on its own non-binding resolution, Murtha has bigger plans and considers such a resolution only a prelude to the real battle in March over appropriations for the war.
As chairman of the House panel that oversees military spending, Murtha plans to advance legislation next month attaching strings to the additional war funds Bush requested on Feb. 5.
Murtha plans to stop the Iraq War by placing four conditions on combat funds through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The Pentagon would have to certify that troops being sent to Iraq are "fully combat ready" with training and equipment, troops must have at least one year at home between combat deployments, combat deployments cannot be longer than a year, and extending tours of duty would be prohibited.
"We're trying to force a redeployment not by taking money away, (but) by redirecting money," explained Murtha.
Said another way, Murtha believes that Congress has the power to micro-manage the Defense Department and require it to do it's bidding. Even the Washington Post finds difficulty with supporting such a move:
Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site MoveCongress.org, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to "stop the surge." So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill — an action Congress is clearly empowered to take — rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. "What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with," he said.
Blog reactions on both sides have been pretty predictable. For those who don't support the war, such as the Booman Tribune, a cherry-picking fisking which mostly ignores the poll:
It's not that the Democrats think we're losing or that the war is unwinnable. They simply don't want to win it
I guess the author doesn't read blogs. Or The Nation. Or any other progressive source that figured out the war was lost sometime in 2003 or 2004...or before it began, in many cases.
Shorter version: the author of the article being fisked is essentially right, at least in the case of that particular blog author (and, one would assume, given the claim, other blogs, The Nation and 'any other progressive source". Another unconvincing but attempted take-down can be found at TBogg. For the most part, however, "progressive" blogs pretty much ignore this poll.
It shows that the numbers of people believing victory in Iraq important have actually increased since the midterms — in both parties. The number of people hopeful for victory has remained fairly constant, and even among Democrats, 43% say they are hopeful that the US and the Iraqi government will prevail.
If the Democrats in Congress think that forcing failure will help them in the next election, they may be in for a shock.
Especially if they use the method they're apparently choosing to use. As Robert J. Caldwell said in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
If Democrats now use their power over appropriations to defeat the troop surge before it can be fully implemented, the political risk to Democrats will be greatly compounded.
Starkly put, Democrats risk making “Bush's war” their war, and then losing it.
Caldwell then uses a previous historical example to ask the most salient question in all of this:
In 1973, a heavily Democratic Congress voted to prohibit U.S. air support for Cambodia's pro-American army, then desperately fending off the communist Khmer Rouge insurgents. In early 1975, Congress cut off all U.S. military aid for Cambodia.
Predictably, Cambodian government forces were soon defeated by the Khmer Rouge, then backed by Communist China and North Vietnam.
What followed was one of the great horrors of the 20th century – the genocidal slaughter by the Khmer Rouge of 2 million Cambodians, roughly 40 percent of Cambodia's population.
In 1974-75, an even more heavily Democratic Congress drastically cut U.S. military and economic assistance to our ally South Vietnam, even as the Soviet Union was illegally flooding North Vietnam with heavy weapons. The subsequent North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam overran our ally, took Saigon, and promptly imposed a Stalinist dictatorship that resulted in the deaths and imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese.
Have the Democrats learned nothing from history?
UPDATE: On a related note, Matt Stoller at MyDD isn't at all pleased with Harry Reid or Senate Democrats:
Wow, so after the failed Iraq surge vote, Harry Reid lets the Senate vote to go on recess. That's the key, not the nonsensical anti-surge resolution which was always going to fail. You see, recess is something the Senators want for themselves. This is how they suffer from the Iraq war, by having to give up a weekend. Keeping them in session, and I know it sounds lame, is one of the only ways that a Senate majority leader can create leverage on the opposition to vote. The fact that Reid wasn't even willing to force the Senate to give up recess time to debate the war is pathetic.
Politics is about priorities, not just theater. Reid just doesn't think the war in Iraq is an important priority at this moment. It's not that he thinks the war is a good thing, it's just that he would prefer to delegate authority to Joe Biden, keep caucus cohesion, and stomp on any real action than try to take ownership of the war and stop it. And so the war rages on. And don't worry, the Republicans will take some blame, but now, so will we.
The last two sentences are the money sentences in his short post, but I put it all up there for context. I think those last two sentences are very revealing. They succinctly state the far left's expectation and disappointment. If Stoller is any indication, and I think he is, the far left is demanding that the Democrats "take ownership" and stop the war. That means voting to unilaterally cut off all funding for the war. That is if this is really about principle and not politics.
Stoller correctly understands (although he doesn't specifically mention it) that if Democrats resort to the nonsense Murtha is proposing, they will indeed take at least part, if not most, of the blame for failure in Iraq. He, at least, seems to understand the probable political consequences to such action to which the supposedly politically astute Nancy Pelosi seems blind.
Now what happens if there is evidence that the surge works and the metrics for violence in Iraq start declining? As best as I can grasp the Democratic position on this, Iraq is a "failure" because of that violence. If the violence substantially decreases, will support for their position be further eroded? Will some of them reconsider their positions?
harun - you are right, "we" wont win the media war. But if it’s advantageous for the Democrats to present Iraq as a success, the media will turn around in a heartbeat to present it that way. And without a peep, all the old memes will be forgotten, and new ones will emerge.
It took me a long, long time to get to the point where Matt Stoller seems to be now: do the right thing regardless of political cost and the right thing is get out.
I was conflicted between wanting to clean up our mess and not wanting to keep throwing lives down a black hole.
I do think that it is naive for people to think that Americans will be comfortable or blaise’ or even resigned and accepting of failure in Iraq. I think the failure will go through us like a perforated ulcer. However I don’t think the reason for the heartburn over the defeat is necessarily a sign of good values: in many cases, as it will just be a sign of wounded vanity.
But not all. The difference between this war, the difference that really matters, is that in this war we actually have something to fight for beyond the need some people have to experience the vanity of victory. If we had kept fighting on and on and on in Viet Nam we migh,t at some point, after killinng another millon civilians, have succeeded in imposing a dictatorship of our choosing on the country. There would have been no avoidance of bloodbath since a bloodbath would have been the cost of our victory, and there would have been no freedom since the government we supported didn’t value that. So the only reason to win was to be able to say we won.
This war has something to win for: we broke it, we bought it. We had no valid reason for the intitial invasion and the Bush Administration screwed up every aspect of the subsequent occuaption, but that doesn’t absolve us of responisblity for cleaning up our mess.
The problem is that there is no will among the people who say they want to win to do what is needed to achieve the victory. If we really want to win, then we need a draft and a plan for paying for the war, either massive cuts in the sort of things the public expects the governnmennt to fund or a tax increase. The demand that we can go on and on and on is nothinng but blind hope, as if will power was all it would take.
There are people in Iraq on their forth tour of duty. The son of an acquaintance is on his fifth. I have trouble reconcilinng "support the troops" with "Keep them there tour after tour and after tour" with no end in sight. Not ony that, but we are fighting this war with people from the National Guard who never had any expectation that they would be called upon to be in real combat. I’m not putting the Guard down when I say this; it’s just a fact that people join with the idea that they will help out with diaster relief and that sort of thing, not endless combat. We are dragging people in who haven’t been active in thhe service for years, too.
And we are doing this for a war thhat is getting progressively worse, not better, in a country where the overwhelminng majority (something like 80% last poll) want us to get out. The next development in Iraq is likely to be the involvement of neighboring counries. If we keep on, we could very well end up in an even bigger war. Are we going to handle it by expecting the troops to do fifth, sixth,seventh tours while we sell our economy to China to pay for it?
People who want to keep going need to face up and be realistic about the cost of continuing not over the next six months or twelve months, but year after year. If the people who want to keep going are prepared to deal with the domestic political consequences of a tax increase and a way to fight on with fresh troops,then I would take them seriously. Without that sort of discussion, though, the insistance that we continue looks like the hope of a gambler trying to make good his losses.
I think we have to deal realistically withthe fact that there is no political will on the part of Republicans, independents, liberals or anyone else to accept the responisiblity for providing either the money or the troops to keep going more than anothher year or so. That being the case, we need to plan how to get out.
It is a very, very painful concluson to come to.
I’d like to see more discussion of of how to the help the refugees.
I forgot to add: Afganistan, the war we actually needed to fight, the one that is now coming unravelled. It simply isn’t going to be possible to win in Iraq AND Afganistan with the current troop commitment and a little surge here and there isn’t going to make a lasting difference.
Historian Niall Ferguson, writing in today’s Los Angeles Times about Barack Obama, gets to the crux of the Left’s muddled thinking about the pullout:
Take a look at Obama’s arguments for a speedy U.S. withdrawal. Last month, he asserted that "redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve … political settlement between its warring factions." The key is "to give Iraqis their country back" because "no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war."
But Obama’s claim that a U.S. withdrawal would somehow "pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace" is a fraud. Withdrawal is much more likely to lead to an escalation of the internecine conflict that is tearing Iraq apart. In a devastating 2006 paper for the Brookings Institution, Daniel L. Byman and Kenneth M. Pollack pointed out that "the only thing standing between Iraq and a descent into a Lebanon- or Bosnia-like maelstrom is 135,000 American troops."
In fact, Iraq has already matched the level of violence witnessed in the Lebanese and Bosnian civil wars. And it could get much worse. If the U.S. pulls out, as Obama recommends, Byman and Pollack predict "a humanitarian nightmare" in which we should expect "hundreds of thousands (conceivably even millions) of people to die."
Obama’s call for rapid withdrawal from Iraq would make some sense if he were an isolationist. But he’s not. His memoir-cum-manifesto, "The Audacity of Hope," insists that, out of both self-interest and altruism, the U.S. has no alternative but to "help make the world more secure." Looking back on the Rwandan genocide, he reflects that "an international show of force … might have stopped the slaughter."
Obama also has accused the Bush administration of doing too little to stop the murderous policies of the Sudanese government toward the people of Darfur. In an article in December 2005, he went so far as to urge the deployment of "a U.N.- or NATO-led force."
Wait a second. Here are two civil wars, each likely to spiral out of control. But in one (Sudan), Obama recommends intervention, while in the other (Iraq), he recommends military withdrawal. Am I missing something?
Let’s not forget the the Left has just had a four-year hissy fit over Bush’s use of intelligence information. The importance of intelligence estimates to the case for invading Iraq has been greatly over-stated IMO. I believe that the WMD issue boiled to to the fact that Iraq was willfully refusing to account for their WMD’s.
Even if the administration had been more cautious, saying that the US didn’t know what Iraq had or could produce, rather than insisting that that we knew what they had, we would be back in the same place: our risk aversion shot way up after 9/11 and we were no longer willing to tolerate not having the accounting that Iraq had agreed to as a condition of the 1991 cease-fire.
Nonetheless, Bush’s assumptions about the WMD’s were at least consistent with the best etsimates of US and foreign intelligence services, the UN, and the previous adnministration. He could hardly be expected to base policy on the assumption that Iraq did not have WMD’s.
Now that the Democrats are in power, one one expect, by their rhetoric over the last four years, that they would set an example of the right way to base policy on sound intelligence and due diligence. One would be wrong.
The Democrats have been in power for a month, and now Murtha is drawing up a major policy initiative to starve out troops out of Iraq based on the assumption that an American withdrawal will reduce violence. This assumption is entirely based on Murth’as own uneducated opinion and totally flies in the face of every intelligence analysis.
Laura try the Stategypage.com if you read that rather than the NYT you’ll discover that Afghnistan is NOT becoming unravelled and that teh Taliban have lost support even in Pushtun areas and have suffered tremendous losses in their repeated "offensives."
More planning for refugees, good idea... sure several hundred THOUSAND will die before they get to become refugees, but let’s by all means plan for the refugees. That sickens me.
Funny how people in the military are totally against the draft, but you Laura, you want one.
Not ony that, but we are fighting this war with people from the National Guard who never had any expectation that they would be called upon to be in real combat. I’m not putting the Guard down when I say this; it’s just a fact that people join with the idea that they will help out with diaster relief and that sort of thing, not endless combat
So according to you, we need a draft, but also according to you, people who volunteered for military service should not be required to perform that service if it is in a combat facility. Putting conscripts off the street into combat though, that’s A-OK.
And we are doing this for a war thhat is getting progressively worse, not better,
Have you read any other articles on this site Laura? Maybe link to one or another site and actually get information that says things are getting better? Of does it all just ’have to be bad’ for it to fit in with your preconceived notions of failure?
I’d like to see more discussion of of how to the help the refugees.
Not ony that, but we are fighting this war with people from the National Guard who never had any expectation that they would be called upon to be in real combat. I’m not putting the Guard down when I say this; it’s just a fact that people join with the idea that they will help out with diaster relief and that sort of thing, not endless combat.
Absolutely not true.
In my previous "life" I used to train up NG brigades and divisions for war. It was prior to 9/11 so I’m talking about conventional war. We’d prepare and train their battle staffs and we’d help them plan for rotations at the NTC. Some of the most disappointed people I ever met were the NG combat units that didn’t get a chance to deploy and fight in the Gulf War.
I also helped an NG unit become to the first to deploy to Bosnia (the 29th ID) for a rotation. That was during the Clinton administration.
The NG’s first job is combat in support of our national defense posture. Always has been. Their second job is to assist in natural disasters. And anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
we are fighting this war with people from the National Guard who never had any expectation that they would be called upon to be in real combat.
REASLLY Laura...who knew so the uniforms, the guns, the combat training that was all for show? And since 1990 the US reserve system has been under pressure to support US SASO and COmbat Operations worldwide. Here’s a hint Laura, anyone in the National Guard after Gulf War II (’90) really ought to ahve had a clue that s/he was going to deploy, SOMEWHERE and after 9/11 FIVE YEARS AGO-most contracts run for 4 years- they REALLY ought to ahve gotten a clue that being a member of the NG or Resrves was going to see you deployed...so let’s leave the National Guard/Reservist "Victims" out of this little argument. Like the rest of the miliatry they’re all big girls and boys and VOLUNTEERED.
returning to the post, I don’t think that the poll was designed to extract useful information. "Important"? "Hopeful"? We have 135,000 troops in harm’s way. Of course people are going to respond that victory is important.
How did the pollsters define victory anyway? When Bush says so? When the troops come home? When the violence drops to an acceptable level?
Hopefulness is an even dumber thing to poll about. In the days leading up to the last election, Bush and Redstate were hopeful that the Republican party would retain their majorities. Americans are a religious people, by many measures, so you’d expect that they would have high levels of hope even in the face of countervailing evidence. Faith, unsupported by reason, is a terrible way to make public policy. But that’s all the question is asking.
Bush has insisted that this surge is accompanied by an insistence that the Maliki government meet certain benchmarks. According to Bush, what happens if the benchmarks aren’t met? He’s not telling the public. Obama, at least, is willing to force the Maliki government to face the consequences of gridlock.
To those who support the US’s continued efforts to suppress intercine violence, I have asked in the past and will continue to ask what role an invader should play in civil wars.
This country found out twice in its history that some things were worth fighting each other over on our own soil. But had the British won the war of 1812 and established a Colonial Office in Washington, would the Viceroy been able to resolve the issue of slavery? Or would the British have ultimately carved the US into North and South and attempted to force a truce between the parties? (Any similarity to current calls to partition Iraq is entirely intentional.)
Avoiding Antietam would have certainly saved a lot of lives. But that little institution of slavery might have stayed in effect much longer.
It’s also a little hard to accept that the Republican party is suddenly so concerned with preventing civil wars. Which party argued vociferously against US involvement in the Bosnian wars? Where was the drumbeat of support for staying in Somalia after the Blackhawk Down incident? Where was the pressure to invade Congo? or Rwanda?
The realist factions of both parties have long recognized that intefering in the civil wars of foreign countries is a practice for which democratic countries are poorly suited. I would have thought that a libertarian blog would recognize the wisdom of that approach.
I don’t want a draft. I’m inclined to think that, if sufficient people aren’t willing to volunteer, then we probably don’t have good enought reasons to fight. Also it’s a totally authoritarian imposition on personal rights. I said that if people really want to argue that we must win, then they need to come up with a way to get enough soldiers without endlessly recycling the same ones. Which leads to a draft as one alternative. My brother-in-law is in the National Guard and I took a lot of my understanding of it from what he said. Also Bush joined specifically for the purpose of avoiding combat, as did many others during the Viet Nam years. (Which is not to say that peoplejoined for that reason after Viet Nam)But it’s is ok with me to withdraw that point. As for a link proving that things are getting progressively worse—do you really want the site to go down? Just scroll back in the memory banks to the days after the invasion and then keeping remembering event after event up until now. Plot the points on a mental graph. Notice the trend.
Anyone who is really thinking about this war is going to be muddled.
If we have to win, then figure out how. Figure out how to pay for it. Figure out how to get the troops. Figure out how to win in Afganistan, too. Offer something more substantial than the namecalling, ranting and cant that the Republicans in the House debate came up with. Offer more than McCain sticking his chin out and trying to look like Patton. Winning is going to take more than shouting "We have to win and everything is all the fault of the Democrats and the media!"
Seriously. It is highly unlikely that we are going to stablize Iraq in the near future. So how are we going to pay for it? How are we going to have enough soldiers without making the current ones live there for so long that they might as well become citizens?
returning to the post, I don’t think that the poll was designed to extract useful information. "Important"? "Hopeful"? We have 135,000 troops in harm’s way. Of course people are going to respond that victory is important.
How did the pollsters define victory anyway? When Bush says so? When the troops come home? When the violence drops to an acceptable level?
The standard polls designed to show that we should cut and run are only useful to those who want to loose.
If the Democrats are particularly responsible for the losses of Cambodia and South Vietnam and the horrors that resulted from those losses (which,I believe is self-evident); it is equally true that they did not suffer and are not suffering any negative consequences for the actions that led to those losses or their defeatism. Accordingly, while their position on Iraq is morally reprehensible; politically, history has shown they will not suffer for it. This a matter that Republicans, Conservatives, and other right-thinking individuals will have to come to grips with.
I think it all comes down to a matter of faith and hope. If you already look at Iraq as a failure in progress, then nothing we can do will make it better, so we might as well leave. If you look at Iraq as a success in progress, then there is room for improvement, and we should do whatever it takes to bring about success. And while it looks like some in Congress have lost hope, some in Baghdad retain it.
Yes, Laura, you could plot your mental fitness on a graph and see it getting progressively worse. If all you ever ingested were the main stream medias, death du jour, and never saw anything else, you would have a pretty low opinion of things.
If you bother to open up to the possibility that you’re only being presented a soda straw view of what’s occuring in Iraq (and most specifically what’s happening in Baghdad,) then you might see that, compared with past conflicts, we are holding our own, or making steady progress in most of Iraq.
For instance, something you are unlikely to see on your evening news:
Since the multiple bombings in Shroja market district on the 12th, Baghdad hasn’t seen any major attacks and there’s a tangible decrease in all kinds of attacks.
Not only official statements say so (Defense ministry officials said today that attacks are down by 80% in Baghdad). It’s a reality I live in nowadays, at least in my neighborhood and its surroundings. It is also what I hear from friends and relatives in other parts of the city. We are hearing fewer explosions and less gunfire now than two weeks ago and that, in Baghdad, qualifies as quiet.
First of all Laura, someone does not join the National Guard to "avoid combat" today. There is no draft - no one is forcing anyone to raise his/her right hand and swear the oath of allegience and then get sent to boot camp. I am a retired Air National Guardsman and I was fully aware of the position I was putting myself in when I swore the oath. (And it seems most people of America today do not put much stock in oaths and contracts.)
Second, what kind of metric do you want to see regarding conditions improving in Iraq. Who are you going to believe? The main stream media? The (gag) Associated Press? Jack Murtha? How about asking the men and women who are serving as they return from Iraq. I live and work just outside a Naval Air Station and talk to Marines stationed there who have been on their third and fourth rotations. What they tell me differs greatly from what I see in the news.
And there are other metrics that do not of themselves tell the story. Look at re-enlistment rates among enlisted personnel of all the services, but especially for the Army and Marines. Regardless of what you read in the papers about recruiting, the Army and Marines are way above their retention goals for re-enlistments. Do you think these young men and women would continue to re-enlist in any numbers at all if condition were as depicted in the media? maybe they see something you do not see or are not being provided an opportunity to see?
"If we have to win, then figure out how." Well, the surge and the accompnaying strategy associated with the surge is a start. How ’bout giving it a chance instead of being like Murtha and the rest of the Democrats declaring it a lost cause before it has even begun.
And as for you Francis, as stated in an earlier comment, it appears we broke it so it is our duty to fix it. Or do you like the idea of stepping into any sort of situation, Civil war or no, Darfur, Somalia, Bosnia, etc. and after stirring the pot a bit, pack our bags and tell the locals AMF?
Pretty sure it was the Dems who sent the troops into Vietnam and the Republicans who withdrew - so it is "self evident"(?) that those who commit troops "are particularly responsible for...the horrors that resulted" even if the other party withdraws.
If the Democrats are particularly responsible for the losses of Cambodia and South Vietnam and the horrors that resulted from those losses (which,I believe is self-evident); it is equally true that they did not suffer and are not suffering any negative consequences for the actions that led to those losses
so in other words the Democratic party adequately represented the wishes of the electorate.
This a matter that Republicans, Conservatives, and other right-thinking individuals will have to come to grips with.
Engaging in policies that are politically unpopular, and other strategies to ensure minority status. Brought to you by Republicans, Conservatives and other Right-Thinking Individuals.
we broke it so it is our duty to fix it
If a drunken obnoxious heavily-armed idiot who doesn’t speak any English is wandering around a Pottery Barn store breaking three vases every time he leans over to pick up a display he knocked down, at some point the management is going to decide that having him leave is the quickest way to end the breakage.
I said that people don’t join now to avoid the draft or war. Please read more carefully. During Viet Nam people did, which is what I said.
It really takes a tremendous capacity for denial to pretend that the problems in Iraq are all a media fantasy. That’s exactly the problem I see in the thinking of some war supporters: it’s magical thinking.
I realize that many people are reenlisting. One of the weblogs that I read most and am most influenced by is written by a career military guy who just asked to be sent to Iraq. He asked even though he doesn’t support the surge, or the war. He has a tremendous sense of responisbly. My point is tht those people who, from the safety of their keyboards at home, insist that we MUST win, shouldn’t be also insisting that the victory be won by people who have to do tour, after toutr, after tour with no end in sight. It isn’t fair.
I guess no one wants to talk about how to pay for this war.
Anyone who is really thinking about this war is going to be muddled.
I described the Democrat thinking on Iraq as muddled, and you seem to have taken that to mean that they have transcended ordinary logic and are now engaged in some kind of super fuzzy non-linear logic that is "really thinking."
Let me clarify: They’re wrong.
Your position seems to be that the US should just pull up stakes and leave now, and damn the consequences. That is actually a defensible position. That is not the Democrats’ position. Democrats like Murtha, Obama and Kerry are saying that we should leave now because doing so will reduce the violence in Iraq.
This is an astonishing declaration, coming from the group who just spent four years castigating Bush for cherry-picking intelligence. Of course it is theoretically possible that a US withdrawal would reduce the violence, but there isn’t even any cherry-picked intelligence to say that this is the likely result. Every knowledgeable expert who has studied the situation has warned that a sudden US pull-out will most likely have the exact opposite effect.
Again, I suppose a case could be made for doing something that might well result in more loss of life and instability than the war itself caused, if the Democrats were prepared to argue that the US has no responsibility for trying to prevent an apocalyptic humanitarian crisis. But many of the same Democrats who want to pull out of Iraq immediately even if it seems likely to trigger a humanitarian crisis are, at the same time, bashing the Bush administration for not intervening to stop the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
You present a false choice between pulling out immediately and "The demand that we can go on and on and on..." Even Bush is not making making this demand. The actual policy choices are between Murtha’s plan to pull the rug out from under the troops right now, and Petraeus’ plan to stabilize Baghdad so that the US can phase out in an orderly fashion.
First, no one has said that all the problems in Iraq are a media fantasy. That kind of wild "misoverstatement" of someone’s position does little to facilitate actual dialog.
My point is tht those people who, from the safety of their keyboards at home, insist that we MUST win, shouldn’t be also insisting that the victory be won by people who have to do tour, after toutr, after tour with no end in sight. It isn’t fair.
Of course it’s fair, because those people signed up for military service under civilian command of their own free will. Those who are reenlisting are also doing so not because they are forced to do so, but because they CHOOSE it.
As far as paying for this war, I’d say the question should never be how to pay for military operations deemed necessary for national security. The real question should be "after we pay for the military, how are we going to pay for all this other stuff we want the govt. to do for us".
We are talking a bit at cross purposes, I think. Right now I don’t know of a "Democratic Position.’ I can think of any number of positions that have been put forth by Democrats, but no single position.
Bush has stated repeatedly that we are going to be in Iraq for years into the future. He put Petraeus in charge to stabilize things so that we could get out in an orderly fashion but there is no indication that that will happen anytime soon. By "soon" I mean within years.
I’ve always been bothered by the notion that the presence of troops was an inadvertent, unintentional cause of the insurgency. That seems like one of those assessments which might be true or might not but is unprovable either way except by withdrawing to find out. And withdrawing to find out is a pretty high risk proposition. Of course staying while it continues isn’t working out real well either.
The humanitarian crisis worries me very much. The Sunni population of Bahgdad is now mostly isolated into two areas. I have this nightmare vision of Shiite militias and Iraq Army soldiers surrounding the areas and going door to door, killng Sunnis. Probably an exaggeration on my part since the Saudis would definately exert influence to prevent such a thing, but still...
What I meant by muddle coming from thinking is that if one gets past the slogans and the magical thinking and the posturing etc. to try to decide what to do, there aren’t any good choices. All of the choices are bad one way or an other. In my view the Republican party has been locked into empty posturing about the war, insisting that we HAVE to win Iraq while letting Afganistan quietly slip off the radar, claiming to be exclusively pro-soldier and pro-patriotism while allowing Halliburton to loot and pillage, refusing to face the finacial cost of the war, and expecting the war to be fought by people serving multiple tours as if it would all be over soon, if we just keep believing. That’s the downside of the "stay the course" argument: it’s the argument of politicians who have no political will to deal with the reality of what we will have to do if we seriously want to win in Iraq and Afganistan.
So it seams to me that an orderly withdrawal is the reality that we have to face. Murtha’s plan is one idea about how to make Bush, who has insisted ad infinitum that he wants to win, to start facing up to an orderly withdrawl. It isn’t undercutting the troops, unless you think that ther trroops are 100% for staying which isn’t what polls indicate. (Polls show soldiers to be as divided as the rest of us).
Of course it isn’t easy to figure out how to do an orderly departure either. There has to be negotiations with neighhboring countries, there has to be help for the refugees, there has to be security to keep foreign troops out, and so on.
I was assuming those elements would be part of getting out, but I can see how that wasn’t clear.
Of course this is all just talk because Bush will do what he wants and what he wants is a clear military victory in Iraq (while we all forget about Afganistan) with no plan for how to pay for it and no plan for how to provide soldiers if it goes on to the point where recycling the same folks so no longer tenable. In other words, he’ll kick it down the road. Unless the Democrats just cut off the money.
One of the posters up thread expressed disbelief in the existance of difficulties in iraq, on the assumption that a biased press was exaggerating or distorting.
Yes, it is a volunteer army. However, as I said, I have trouble reconciling "Support the troops" with "Wear them out so I, from the safety of mmy home, can demand that they give me the victory I think we must have."
If Republican politicians or libratarian voters really believe that the war must be fought, that taxes must not be raised, and that the governnment should manage money responsibly, then, of course there should be a a discussion of what should be cut.
The war is running what? several billion dollars a month? So what do you suggest we cut? No red state Republicans are going to go for cuts in farm subsidies or subsidies use of public owned resources. Nor are they going to go for cut in veteran’s benefits or corporate subsidies. They can throw the women and children and elderly overrboard first and go for Medidcaid, but not enough to pay for the war. It isn’t politically feasible to pay for the war by cutting programs. Items are in the budget because voters want the items to be there. Iff it became clear to the voters that the choice was between the war and the loss of funding for their local whatever, the war would be over already.
I can understand saying the mainstream media has ignored all positive happenings to focus on the bad, but I didn’t see any poster saying that everything in Iraq was all roses.
I am not saying "wear out the troops". I’m saying "win the war". If that means raising additional troops, then fine. And I am not just eager for a victory as if it were a sports championship, I think we need to win because a loss will significantly damage our national security interests.
If you’re going to close off debate by saying any cut I propose won’t be politically feasible, then we’re going to have a very short discussion. I’ll just say that of all the functions of a national government, the provision for a national defense must rise to the top.
elieve me, the last thing I want is for readers here to be saying to themselves: “Oh no, every time someone uses the term “narrative” this guy has to spout off about the terrible things the Democrats are doing to get elected; I wish he would give it a rest.” With that thought firmly in mind, I would like to respond to a request from Professor Erb that he be given an example of the Liberal Narrative in action so that he might understand it and not just be a dupe of it. Laura has turned into a regular Mona in this thread (could she BE Mona?) so she can skip the “poor little me” approach she has been using to this point. If you take a look at laura’s comment on this thread on QandO, you will see her making this statement:
” This war, which was marketed to the public on salespitches (sic) which have all been debunked, and has been botched in every aspect of its implementation by the Administration, which has been an enormous cash cow for some businesses connected to this adminnistration (sic)”
This statement describing the war is pure LN – and it is a lie! All three parts of it are gross overstatements which totally distort the truth. They were carefully honed in Democratic think tanks, however, and hundreds of liberals repeat them to each other and to others every day. The technique is called “The Big Lie” in propaganda terms. Repeat it enough and it becomes true. It is not aimed, however, at informed readers such as those at QandO. It is aimed at the typical liberal who has no time for studying politics and thus is a set-up for believing oft-repeated lies. Laura goofed in using it here. So how does the LN process work? As has been demonstrated, it doesn’t work if used in a setting like QandO. Such an untrue statement would be immediately challenged. Of course, it was. Observe laura’s response (or non-response) as she realized that she has used the lie in the wrong setting:
” I’m going to be away from the computer for a couple of days, and, by the time I get back, this thread will have disappeared into the ozone, so goodby (sic) and thanks for the conversation.”
Taking the “Big Lie” out of context exposes its ridiculous content. She could not defend it. The offending liberal caught in this situation then has two choices: 1) bug out; or 2) string it out; claim that the patently false statement is true, then launch into a detailed presentation of at least some portion of it that can be claimed to be true. In this case, laura executed procedure 1 and Professor Erb, another liberal spreader of the LN, jumped in to execute procedure 2. He is not afraid of anything since his modus operandi is to reframe any discussion and then respond only to comments which accept his framing. Had we volunteered for it, we would have been given a detailed discussion, beginning with the WMD “Bush lied”, and we would never have been able to drag Professor Erb back to discuss his claim that laura was correct and ALL of the sales pitches were debunked, much less get any reference to the other two parts. In the rare case that other liberals do not chime in with more of the “Big Lie” to keep the ball rolling, one simply denies that whatever sales pitch is being offered in response to this lie as not having been debunked was “not really a sales pitch at all”. By this time no one cares and the original LN lie remains un-rebutted, to be used again. The point here is, of course, not whether these three claims are true or false, but to see them as a technique in getting otherwise nice people to repeat lies over and over again in order to create a “Big Lie” and have it accepted by millions as being true. That is the Liberal Narrative. How many times have you seen an MSM headline or liberal comment repeat the “Big Lie” that a majority of Americans want to get out of Iraq “right now”? You have seen "Laura" repeat that lie in this thread. How many liberals do you know who absolutely believe it? Mr. McQuain is right. The LN purveyors need to be called out on this invidious practice.
In my view the Republican party has been locked into empty posturing about the war, insisting that we HAVE to win Iraq while letting Afganistan quietly slip off the radar,
You have mentioned this more than a few times Laura. Not sure what you express it for. If Bush and Snow, etc., talk about Afghanistan, they will be accused of ’ignoring the problems in Iraq’. They focus on Iraq and you accuse them of ’neglecting Afghanistan’. Last i checked, we still had a mission in place in Afghanistan, and though things aren’t perfect, they are far from horrible.
while allowing Halliburton to loot and pillage,
Care to back up this accusation with fact or shall we just add it to the list of reasons to ignore your posts?
Parenthetically, laura goes from the occasional comment to disgorging over 2,000 words in this thread (not to mention over 50 typos and miss-spelled words!). What accounts for this dramatic increase? I suggest that she believes that she has’ turned the key’ at QandO and is home free. Her blatant lies have been treated as reasonable differences of opinion. After some warm up drivel about being fair-minded she drops this BS Bomb:
”...in Viet Nam (sic) we migh,t (sic) at some point, after killinng (sic) another millon (sic) civilians, have succeeded in imposing a dictatorship of our choosing on the country.”
Sigh. Just like in Iraq, right?
Then one more iteration of the Big Lie:
”We had no valid reason for the intitial (sic) invasion and the Bush Administration screwed up every aspect of the subsequent occuaption,...” (sic)
Yep, “NO reason” and “EVERY aspect”. Different words: same lie.
”...the overwhelminng (sic) majority (something like 80% last poll) want us to get out...”
Right, laura, “something like” that.
Were you featured in Al Franken’s book “Liars and etc.”?
Laura, now it is you who have a problem reading. You said, "expressed disbelief in the existance of difficulties in iraq, on the assumption that a biased press was exaggerating or distorting." I said "What they tell me differs greatly from what I see in the news." I never stated there were no difficulties but what is seen through the eyes of these people differ from that depicted by the main stream media.
And as for one of those who practice "magical thinking" take a moment to find a mirror. Anyone who thinks the Saudi’s are going to keep anyone safe in Iraq has got to be using some pretty potent magic pills.
As far as your comments regarding money and taxes, I do not see where anything has been "cut" from the federal budget. Show me where any program has been cut outside of the Department of Defense in order to "pay for the war." The funding for the war has been through supplemental appropiations.
And if you were to read the post again, you will see that this money is the crux of the discussion. The whole purpose of this thread regards what you propose and "just cut off the money" if you really want the war to end. But to do forces the Democrats to stand up and be counted and be responsible for the results.
But Murtha’s plan is to avoid any possible reflection on the Democrats by using a "slow bleed" policy regarding the troops, not by cutting the funding but by putting insurmountable restrictions on the the money in order to keep troops from staying in Iraq or from from being deployed. Now that we are back on point, don’t you see the hypocricy in that position? Using the safety of troops in combat as a lever to avoid criticsm for the results of leaving Iraq.
Well, I guess Mona laura is out of town caring for Mother Theresa and cannot share with us the "facts" that bolster her arguments. Let me take a moment, if you will, to explain why I get so wroth at purveyors of the LN. Let me first say that if they are just unknowing shills like cindyb, they are relatively harmless. Nevertheless, the danger of the LN is in repetition, even by unknowing shills. Like a gray wall slowly drains the life out of meeting room, tolerating the din of the LN lies slowly moves the center of any dialogue to the left. Not by numbers of commenters, not by the weight of the authority of the comments, but by simple repetition. I say that, regardless of any other factor, challenging such lies is always appropriate. If someone is hurt, insulted, apalled, etc., that is the price that must be paid to keep the discussion forum free. Many, many very nice, well-meaning liberals are passing the LN around amongst themselves, making editorial decisions based on it and indoctrinating their youth and classes with it. It is a lie. The Democratic think tanks test before adding to it and they are very artful. To understand the process, think how the right seized upon the idea of the use of corporate jets by the pushers of global warming. The truth is that their mode of transportation had nothing whatsoever to do with the correctness of their contentions. Nevertheless, pointing out the CO2 emissions of their jets was a VERY effective "political marketplace" response to their contentions. Why am I not wroth about the jets story? Because it is (I believe) true. Jets do generate excessive amounts of CO2 for the number of people flown when compared with commercial jets. The LN is designed in the same manner as the jets story. However, in the case of the LN, the only concern for truth is whether or not an effective meme can easily be refuted. If it is a total fabrication, but is very tough to refute: it flies. Fake, but true. Therefore, as now constituted and implemented, the LN is a threat to our political system and everyone who cares about America has a duty to drive it from our political marketplace.