Iraq: Democrats really don’t care (UPDATE) Posted by: McQ
on Monday, July 16, 2007
These questions posed to John Edwards typify why I have concluded that for the most part Democrats have no better answer to what to do in Iraq than does George Bush. In fact, despite their claims that Bush has lost touch with the reality of Iraq, they have less of a grasp on the situation, much less, than does he. From ABC, Dianne Sawyer and John Edwards:
SAWYER: You are talked about withdrawing 40,000 to 50,000 troops immediately and then within a year pulling all out.
SEN. EDWARDS: Yes.
SAWYER: What does that say to the Iraqi people? What if ethnic cleansing begins? Do you send troops back?
SEN. EDWARDS: Let's start with the first part of your question. What it says to the Iraqi people is we've now reached the stage that you're going to have to take responsibility for your own country. What's happened is there has not been a serious effort at compromise between the Shia leadership, Maliki, and the Sunni leadership. As a result, this conflict has continued. First of all, we're saying to them, you're going to have to take responsibility. I do think — and I can tell you as president what I would do besides withdrawing combat troops over a period of time, I do think we need to maintain a presence in the region.
A) get out and tell the Iraqis "you're on your own", but B) we'll "maintain a presence in the region" if bad things happen, or at least that's the implication.
Given the rush to tell the Iraqis "you're on your own", how real do you think the implication is that even if we maintain a presence in the area, we'd actually recommit troops if ethnic cleansing begins in earnest?
SAWYER: In the region or inside Iraq?
SEN. EDWARDS: No. In the region. Once our combat troops are gone, which means a rapid deployment force in Kuwait, beefed up presence in Afghanistan, naval presence in the Persian Gulf, we may want to put troops in Jordan if we can get permission.
That answers the question. It is also pie-in-the-sky nonsense. Jordan? Does he think Jordan has some sort of a death wish?
We already have a strong naval presence in the gulf. And a beefed up presence in Afghanistan will mean nothing in terms of Iraq. So that leaves a force of some size (and if I were to guess it would be token, maybe a brigade, and that's if Kuwait will go along with it) which would then be required to make a forced entry into Iraq, have no logistical support base, and somehow stop countrywide genocide.
Now, watch this classic avoidance of a very hard question:
SAWYER: Is there the possibility of regional calamity if we pull out?
SEN. EDWARDS: The president hasn't prepared for the worst. As we shift responsibility to Iraqi leaders and get the Iranians, the Syrians and other countries engaged to help stabilize Iraq, I think America also has to prepare for the worst, which means we have to have a plan to control civil war if it gets worse.
SAWYER: What is the plan to control civil war execept going back in?
SEN. EDWARDS: It's not an easy thing. I mean, there are things you can do. You can set up buffer zones around the borders, move people out of population centers. I don't suggest it's easy. But I think america, also, the president has a responsibility to prepare with the international community for that possibility. And then, worst-case scenario, the possibility that genocide would break out.
Got that? Begin by saying Bush hasn't prepared for the worst and than offer as a solution the engagement of Syria and Iran as the answer? That's simply a fool's game. Give me the upside for them to cooperate with us. Given that both countries see an advantage to keeping the US engaged in Iraq and keeping Iraq unstable, tell me why either would be interested in lifting a finger to help stabilize Iraq.
Then we get the "international community" panacea. This is recycled John Kerry. Again, we're talking about a community which has shown no interest whatsoever in becoming involved in stabilizing Iraq. None. This is the same community which has spent most of a decade dithering about whether or not to act forcefully to stop genocide in Darfur while 200,000 to 400,000 have died there. Changing presidents isn't going to change that attitude.
This is political pablum, not a solution. It's nonsense and its not even well thought out nonsense. Edwards offers it though as a better plan for addressing the "worst"?! It is simplistic pap.
The only obvious way to prevent genocide or reprisals and the collapse of the year old Iraqi government is to remain in Iraq until that government is capable of completing the reconciliation process and fend for itself. That then brings stability to the region. That prevents genocide. That prevents reprisals and government collapse. That prevents the possibility of a regional calamity which will require us to reenter the region in a much more lethal environment for our troops. But that also takes patience.
As noted one of the primary reasons support for the war is at such a low point is because the administration has failed miserably in selling it's importance to the American people. It has allowed those like Edwards to politicize it and then frame the debate. But what should be crystal clear with Edwards answers and Harry Reid's Jake Tapper moment is that they haven't a clue on how to proceed nor what the impact of a decision might have in the country and the region.
But what is becoming increasingly clear, at least to me, is they really don't care.
Yet majorities in the House and Senate seem to want to call the whole thing off, with not much care for the consequences.
The New York Times, arguing for a pullout, admits that the result may very well be genocide. That is seen as somehow preferable to continuing a conflict that has produced U.S. casualties of the magnitude of those suffered in the first 24 hours after U.S. forces landed in Normandy.
Much of the domestic political debate, I think, revolves less about what is happening or will happen in Iraq than it does about what kind of nation we are.
Exactly. And I think it would be an understatement to say I'm not at all impressed with those who claim the majority position on this issue.
Again, McQ, you seem to think we can fix the situation. If one doesn’t believe that, and if one sees an international solution as the only thing that can work, then it is the best bet. We’ve been failing for four years, the situation there is as bleak as ever, and while I appreciate eternal optimism in the "new strategy," and efforts to glean good news from particular blogs or reports, the reality is that there is in general pessimism that this is going to do much at all, and recognition that the US military is tremendously overstretched.
The fact is that an international solution is emerging as the only option with any hope of success. The task of "fixing" Iraq is not one we are capable of, and we may be doing more harm than good. That said the way we move to an international solution and the role we play in it is still an open question. But it is not only wrong but fundamentally dishonest to claim that the Democrats "don’t care" because their solution is different than yours. John Kerry’s idea hasn’t been tried, your solution has been tried for four years and it’s not worked. It is unacceptable that those who supported policies that led to this situation want to pretend that if bad things happen it will all be because of those who recognized the policies are failures. Deal with reality — no one wants Iraq to fall into genocide (though it’s also wrong to assume it well). Some of us just don’t believe the US can succeed in preventing that.
ha ha hah hah hah hah ha ha! oh man, what a great way to kick off the week. now that was funny.
And you find an examination of John Edwards’ fantasies regarding Iraq as funny? Myself, I find it disturbing at best. McQ has a point that has been made before - the Left, icluding the Democrats - don’t care. And to cover that perfidy, they cover it with Bullsh*t like:
I mean, there are things you can do. You can set up buffer zones around the borders, move people out of population centers. I don’t suggest it’s easy. But I think america, also, the president has a responsibility to prepare with the international community for that possibility. And then, worst-case scenario, the possibility that genocide would break out.
That’s Edwards’ concept of a plan? That’s crap.
I agree with McQ that the administration "has failed miserably in selling it’s importance to the American people." And that has allowed empty suits like Edwards to stand up and spout his crap. And I agree with McQ that in the final analysis, the left doesn’t care. So why don’t you take a moment and admit one small thing in this dabate, Francis. You don’t care one whit what happens ater we leave. You could care less if there is a real civil war that breaks out - not the one that doesn’t exit today. You talked before about a debate and then skipped out. Take a moment and at least admit you don’t care.
"recognition that the US military is tremendously overstretched."
Is our military overstretched? Show me some signs of it other than some Democrat spouting crap, or some Republican facing re-election being scared of losing his/her job! You really want to see signs of the military being overstretched - it is really quite easy. The troops will tell you long before any politician will - with their re-enlistment rates - and they continue to be extrememly high. When those start to falter, come back and talk about an overstretched military. In the meantime, don’t bother lecturing to us about something you know very little.
The fact is that an international solution is emerging as the only option with any hope of success.
And there is something wrong with McQ’s assessment of that in the posting? Show me something here, Erb, except your contrarianness. Give me some links to some international sources that have voiced their willingness, any willingness at all, to step up to the plate for your international solution.
McQ . . . Thanks for pointing out what I have been saying for quite a while. I don’t know whether we can prevail in Iraq or not, but I am for having just a LITTLE patience to see whether the "surge" will work or not. Right from the start of the war the left has called the entire war a failure. Based on no evidence they seemed to say "we can’t win". Three days into the initial drive to Bhagdad they were saying we were in a "quagmire" and "bogged down" when we just stopped to let supplies catch up, and three weeks after the "surge" was announced as a new policy they stated that it had failed. Failed before it had even really started. The "international solution" is just a Jimmy Carter way of looking at things. He saw the world as he wanted it to be or thought it should be, not as it really is. John Kerry and many others see it the same way. Wishful thinking is no substitute for reality. History has shown what the "international solution" (read U.N.) can achieve. Not much! If the left truly wants a new policy in Iraq, and truly wants to win, maybe they can achieve it all on thier own. Stop criticizing every single thing that goes wrong and start a disinformation campaign by at least appearing to get behind the war. The "insurgents" will at least think that we are united and will stop the media inspired bombings after seeing that they are not enticing the left to call for an end to the war. Just a few month’s of this disinformation campaign might do more than all of the other plans to stop the war combined. Got it? Just pretend that all of the U.S. is behind the war and maybe they will stop trying to divide us to get the left to do thier bidding. To: Mr. Erb The Dems don’t have a solution, they don’t care, they just want out. If we end up having to go back in later, it will truly be a bloodbath.
bzzzt. mind-reading foul. You have no idea what in this world I care about, and what I don’t.
Here’s my only belief that’s relevant: I believe that the ongoing US occupation is making matters WORSE.
Here are some collateral beliefs:
1. The Republican party concern for foreigners seems very situation-specific. Why the pressure to leave Somalia? Why the pressure not to intervene in the Balkans? Where was the pressure to intervene in the Congo? Why aren’t US troops on the ground in Sudan / Haiti / Zimbabwe / Somalia, just to mention some of the worst spots on the planet right now? Why the opposition to the immigration bill? It appears that, having run out of other justifications, the war supporters now are in it for the children. Ugh. That’s a lousy way to make public policy.
2. Many people in Iraq have decided some things are worth dying for. Is there anything that YOU are willing to die for? Would the presence of a Chinese occupying army persuade you to stop?
3. Bush will not withdraw troops. The ’08 presidential election will be about Iraq. The Republican candidate will stand for staying the course; the Democrat will stand for some kind of phased withdrawal. And then the voters get to decide. Based on current polling, it looks like the Republican will get creamed and the voters will get their wish.
Is there anything that YOU are willing to die for?
That’s a cheap shot, but just for you I will answer that one. Yes, there is something I feel is worth dying for and I almost did. I served in the US Air Force as a navigator in fighter aircraft (F4 & F111) and would do so again. Fortunately for me I survived the aircraft accident that almost killed me. I was able to finish out my career in staff positions til I retired after 24 years but now I am rated as 80% disabled. And for your information, I don’t ask people stupid questions like that. Why? Because the next person you challenge for what they are willing to do might just respond by kicking you in the teeth!
In answer to your question, I would fight to my dying breath anyone who specifically targets civilians, including women and children, of any nationality, denomination or frigging belief! Happy now?
Oh, and by the way - answer the frigging question, Francis. Do you even care what happens when we leave?
SShiell: The military itself says the surge can only go through March 31, 2008 because of the inability to keep up troop levels. I’ll continue to develop my thoughts on this, but not wanting to take up space on this blog I’ll refer you to my blog on the following dates for my thinking so far on what to do (and don’t worry, I have no adds, no hit counter or anything like that so you won’t be supporting me in anyway by going there): July 5, 6 and 9th are the most recent entries, before that June 14, May 31, May 23 (with some specific ideas), and May 22. I’ll continue to try to explore options there because it does matter what replaces this policy. The surge will end by March 2008. Troop withdrawal is almost certain to start then. We are leaving. The debate now has to be how to try to minimize the dangers. It’s not about victory any more — even the President acknowledges that.
Marc: It’s a two way street. Sure, just being critical is not helpful, but many pro-war people refuse to even acknowledge that the policy has failed as originally designed, or simply want to "blame Bush" for all that’s gone wrong. But that’s not fair to the President, and it’s an easy out "well, if we had done things differently it would all be peaceful now." No, the choice to invade in 2003 when there were other options was wrong. A little more humility from the pro-war side and a little less "nana we were right" from the anti-war side, and maybe both sides can say "OK, where do we go from here," and have a serious discussion.
Neo: I think Syria and Iran can be dealt with. But it won’t be easy, and we have to play interests off against them — we can only deal with them if they think we can actually harm them, and right now they doubt we can do much.
One more thing: Do those who want to ridicule internationalizing the conflict (which I am convinced is the one thing that can save Iraq — if I were like McQ I’d accuse all those who criticize internationalizing it of not caring for Iraq) make an argument why that can’t work? Can anyone make a strong argument that the odds are better that the surge will create political stability? The argument is not "continue the surge or leave," the argument is how we can construct a policy that protects American interests and increases chances that Iraqis will have better lives. One can care about the Iraqis and still want the US to leave.
The military itself says the surge can only go through March 31, 2008 because of the inability to keep up troop levels.
Provide links to back up the statement.
Scott, I agree with you that we are leaving. The question remains is how we depart? Will we run away with our tails between our legs, leaving the Iraqis to whatever fate befalls them? Or will we complete the surge and as success continues, the Iraqis take over more and more of their territory, allowing us to reduce our troop levels as they take over.
I will admit there is a possibility that the surge will fail, more politically rather than militarily. And in that case We will still leave, but I hope it would not be another evacuation of Saigon disaster but in a graduated manner so as not to put any of our troops at risk as we depart the area.
I reiterate my concerns over any international resolution. Simply stated, that won’t happen! The powers in the region will not allow it to happen and I agree with Neo that it is more likely Iran and Syria will look to Iraq as a client state and from where I sit that does not bode well for our country.
as many Americans have discovered, I think the "care about" question cannot be answered either yes or no.
I care about the following:
a lasting peace in Iraq; the lives of US soldiers; the size of the US deficit; the ability of the US to contribute effectively to developing a lasting peace; the responsibility of the US to those have put their lives on the line trying to help the US; the degree to which the US presence interferes with the development of peace; the likelihood that the longer we stay the more anti-American the ultimate government will be; the rise of religious fundamentalism across the ME/NA region; the long term security of the US; the opportunity cost of the political, financial and human capital being spent in Iraq; the possible exposure of Iraqi non-combatants to an increased risk of violence on the US’s departure; the rule of law in the US and respect for the political process; and that my dog seems to be having problems with his hips.
so, yes, I care about Iraqi kids. I also care about the American kids who are going to get blown up if we keep providing a training ground for terrorists.
Caring about something does not necessarily lead to clear thinking about foreign policy alternatives.
Francis, I agree with you on most of the points you list. But foremost on your list to me is:
the ability of the US to contribute effectively to developing a lasting peace
I do not believe a lasting peace is possible if we turn our back on Islamic terror. Many believe our presence creates jihadists. I believe our temerity and lack of will has and will create an entire generation of terrorists. I believe if we do not stop them now that this war is just the beginning of a much longer and far more brutal war. I support this war to end it now so my children and grandchildren do not face the results of our temerity in later years.
Caring about something does not necessarily lead to clear thinking about foreign policy alternatives.
Again, I agree. Which makes the obvious follow-on question all the more difficult to answer. Under what conditions would you be willing to support American forces remaining in Iraq?
those who want to ridicule internationalizing the conflict . . . make an argument why that can’t work?
I am not ridiculing your argument, Scott. I have just made a simple request regarding you international plan:
Give me some links to some international sources that have voiced their willingness, any willingness at all, to step up to the plate for your international solution.
If you want to step through the alternatives, let me help you:
Russia: The Soviets, oops my bad, the Russians are the wolves at the door. They are ready and willing to step in and grab whatever scraps come off the dinner table.
Iran: Are you serious? A client state is what they would wish for Iraq. And with that client state, it will bring them one step closer to Pan Islamism - under Mullah rule. And this would be true of any other Islamic regime in the region. They would either be trying to establish Iraq as a client state or bowing to the threat of the Islamic Fundamentalists.
China: Never in a million years will they step up to this plate.
France: Even with Sarkozy at the helm instead of Chirac, the French won’t do it because they have Islamic troubles of their own. And you can add the rest of the European Union to this list while you are at it for the same reason.
Japan: There could be a possibility here but it would take a considerable adjustment of their constitution to allow it.
Should I keep going? Scott, in an ideal world with a UN of the 1940s or even the early 1950s, an international plan might be possible. I just do not see it happening today. Even with a combination of states under the overall banner of the UN, the world is too afraid of the Islamists to step out on that limb.
Under what conditions would you be willing to support American forces remaining in Iraq?
Some clear signs that our presence was doing more good than harm at a national level.
We are certainly doing some good for some number of people, especially with the Petraeus strategy, and especially at local levels. But the really hard question remains whether the various factions are taking advantage of our presence to make hard compromises or simply to take advantage of our training and weaponry.
As best I can tell, having read the interim benchmark report and various criticisms of the report, there is almost no evidence of any hard bargaining between Sunni, Shia and Kurd, nor among the various factions composing each group. They appear to know that this country has no intention of remaining an occupying force for another 10 years, so they are waiting us out.
And between the revenue from oil smuggling and the safe haven provided by Iran and Saudi Arabia, none of the sides are under tremendous pressure to settle; they can keep fighting this low-grade war forever.
Look, I utterly abhor the very idea of suicide bombing. But there are lots and lots of angry Muslim men out there. Killing all of them off would make the 20th Century genocides look like a game of patty-cake by contrast. (That’s hyperbole.)
Much as the Cold War was a matter of containing Communism until it collapsed of its own weight, this War on Jihadism can only be won by changing peoples’ minds. We chose to win the Cold War without resorting to using nuclear weapons; we must choose to win this war with the same long view commitment to winning by showing a better way, not through violence.
and in part that mean to me that we have to let the Iraqi Sunni and Shia find their own way forward without an oppressive American occupation.
"...an international solution as the only thing that can work, then it is the best bet."
Like the one in Darfur, or Somalia? Show me the money. Show me the troops. The EU wants to pull out of Afghanistan. Britain cannot keep 7,500 troops committed to two war zones without "breaking" their army. Until I see commitments from then international players, why should I trust your "plan" any more than Bush’s post war "planning."
Iran and Syria are very interested in a stable Iran — just not one dominated by the US or a state willing to be used as a staging area for American operations. If we are truly concerned about the Iraqi people, we have to sacrifice the idea that Iraq will be a pro-American ally for our regional actions; we have to be satisfied with an Iraq that is relatively neutral. On my blog on July 5 and 6 I write about how it might work, envisioning a partition of Iraq. In such a situation, the US would be able to remain with some force in Kurdistan, but have to deal with Turkish threats and the fact that the Shi’ite portion of Iraq would be friendly with Iran — but don’t underestimate the Arab-Persian rift.
If we don’t want a partition the key is to recognize that regional war is not in the interest of any of the states, including Iran and Syria. They won’t help us stabilize Iraq, but they will work for Iraqi stability out of self-interest, so long as it isn’t one guided primarily by America. Iran and the US are talking even now, don’t discount the possibility that things might improve between the two.
SShiell, it isn’t about sending troops. Foreign troops are not the key to Iraqi stability, political agreement is. If foreign troops are to be there, they will likely come from neighboring states in small numbers to fight al qaeda (no government in the region likes al qaeda) or assist in creating stability. Moreover, I’m convinced pressure from regional actors is the only way to really get a Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation. Now Iraq is arming militias and biding its time, knowing that the US will leave, and wanting to be in a position to assure Iraq is not going to be a force against Iranian interests. Only when they believe there interests can be met without arming militias and the like will they switch positions.
Also, I think a few of you are still abit too focused on seeing it as a battle against the US. It’s really less about us then about them — they are fighting each other and have different views for the future of the region. Most Shi’ite and Sunni extremists hate American intervention but aren’t al qaeda like in their idea of spreading terror. The threat to the West is from a small fraction of even extremists in the region.
Also, the threat isn’t mass violence against the US or a huge wave of terror attacks. Yeah, terrorism is here, we’ll have future attacks, probably from different world wide actors. Counter-terrorism is a fact of life now. But the Financial Times reported last week that oil production has not been rising as predicted and new fields have not been coming on line as expected. This causes many to believe production is about at its peak even as demand is rising. That suggests oil will soon be over $100 a barrel (within a few years if not this year) and the cheap oil era is over. If regional violence spreads in the Mideast, the impact on oil markets could be immense; an al qaeda terror attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia could be devastating. McQ posted about the link between lower taxes and economic growth; rising oil prices would be the equivalent of a sudden massive tax increase, and there could also be shortages. That is where we are most vulnerable, that is the thing to worry about — not jihadists coming and shooting up your town or igniting a string of suitcase nukes. It’s the oil and our economy. That is our achilles’ heel.