Plausible Deniability and crocodile tears Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The more I read about the MoveOn.org ad characterizing General Petraeus as a "Bushbot" who is "betraying" the American people, the more I think they may have been a set up (not that I have much sympathy for them since I would guess they participated willingly).
Of course we see the Democrats backing away from the ad:
A Democratic leadership aide on Capitol Hill told ABC News that the ad was "not helpful" because it allowed Republicans to refocus attention from "what's happening on the ground in Iraq and the fact that everyone, even Gen. Petraeus, agrees that political progress is lacking."
However what MoveOn.org said is simply a variation of what many Democratic leaders have said. For instance, Sen. Diane Feinstein on Fox News Sunday (9/9/07), “Well, let me — well, I don't think General Petraeus has an independent view in that sense. General Petraeus is there to succeed. He may say the progress is uneven. He may say it's substantial. I don't know what he will say. You can be sure we'll listen to it. But I don't think he's an independent evaluator.”
Or John Kerry on ABC's "This Week" (9/9/07) saying, “I think the general will present the facts with respect to the statistics and the tactical successes or situations as he sees them. But none of us should be fooled — not the American people, not you in the media, not us in Congress — we should not be fooled into this tactical success debate. That's not what this is about.”
So it is clear that while they wouldn't call Gen. Petraeus a "liar" outright, it is just as clear that both Feinstein and Kerry are implying that his testimony or "report" shouldn't be believed.
— Letting the anti-war groups take on Petraeus or Crocker.
These groups have no problem going after Petraeus, as evidenced by heavy criticism of him by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (“It is clear that Americans cannot trust any assessments that come out of this White House, or Gen. Petraeus when it comes to the war in Iraq”) and the Center for American Progress, among others. But it is a tactic that Democratic lawmakers themselves want to avoid.
“No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV,” noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. “The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us.”
“I called over there and said, ‘You guys better have a strategy on this.’ ” By “there,” Matzzie meant the offices of Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, with which he or his staff communicates on a near-daily basis; Matzzie has personal relationships with several senior Democratic members of Congress.
Matzzie is the campaign manager of Americans Against Escalation which "will have spent $12 million on a combination of grass-roots organizing, polling and television advertisements in order to get the United States out of Iraq."
Remember this from Michael Luo in the NY Times, “Every morning, representatives from a cluster of antiwar groups gather for a conference call with Democratic leadership staff members in the House and the Senate. Shortly after, in a cramped meeting room here, they convene for a call with organizers across the country.”
All this to say, it comes as a bit of a stretch for me to believe that the ad came as much of a surprise to the Democrats. Certainly they've maintained plausible deniability, but I can't help but believe whatever tears they shed over it are nothing more than crocodile tears.
I don’t think that one ever really happily chooses to be or to support a Republican. It’s not really that attractive a choice. They are bland people, often without much to say for themselves. Their greatest superstar of recent history was Reagan, and he was a former Democrat with the advantage of having been a Hollywood actor. It only becomes desireable to go with Republicans, imperative in fact, when one looks at and listens to Democrats.
John Kerry? Diane Feinstein? Harry Reid? Barbara Boxer? Charles Schumer?
I was raised in a Democratic family where FDR was spoken of by the adults as though he were a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. We thought of JFK as being like a cousin who might drop by for dinner. But I think if I could find a way to bring my father back to life and told him that these people were the Democrats of today, he would drop dead again immediately on the spot.
From that list above I don’t know which one is the greatest mystery. Reid, I suppose, must get consideration because he’s the majority leader of the Senate (I blink and shake my head at the very idea of it).
But then Kerry was the last Democratic nominee for president. A man who repeated lies about American troops in Vietnam and then 30 years later tried to portray himself as a war hero.
I can’t even say the things I think about Schumer, the gun-grabbing sniveling weasel who represents my state. He’s like a cross between Father Coughlin and Charlie McCarthy, Edgar Bergen’s wooden dummy.
I think these people are worse than the people at MoveOn.
The communists are indeed the masters of propaganda. They pay their own money to run this disgusting newspaper ad through one of their most hated organizations, and then speak out against it on TV as if they didn’t really believe it.
They buy credibility with more rational people while also whipping up a frenzy with the anti-war nutcase demographic.
I am watching the Senate hearings with Gen. Petraeus. Did anyone notice Levin’s attempt to get the General to cut his opening statement short? Seems like Levin does not want the public the hear the truth.
I got to listen to most of the Senate hearings today. I was impressed by most of the questions, and the answers. I like how Petraeus and Crocker, while obviously supporting the policy, seemed to very clearly avoid calling it a ’success,’ noting the things could still go bad, and be clear in demarking what positive things have happened and their limitations. I got the sense that I heard an honest testimony without too much spin. They clearly shied away from grand strategy questions (it’s not their job to address those anyway), but painted a picture of conditions on the ground that show some promising developments, many dangers still out there, and many points where there hasn’t been progress. They were very up front about how things fell apart in Iraq in 2006 as the old ’slow progress’ argument collapsed.
I like how Petraeus and Crocker, while obviously supporting the policy, seemed to very clearly avoid calling it a ’success,’ noting the things could still go bad, and be clear in demarking what positive things have happened and their limitations.
Are you surprised? You must understand this paradigm quite clearly. The finals for this come next spring, we’re half way through the semester, as it were. It can’t be labeled as success or failure yet. A part which certain people seem to want desperately to gloss over, since it’s not clearly a failure yet.
Are you surprised? You must understand this paradigm quite clearly. The finals for this come next spring, we’re half way through the semester, as it were. It can’t be labeled as success or failure yet. A part which certain people seem to want desperately to gloss over, since it’s not clearly a failure yet
Are you saying we’ll be able to label it a success or a failure by the spring?
I suspect we’ll still have a mixed bag at that time, and the debate — corresponding to the national election campaign — will be intense.
Success, failure - we both know there will be things still wrong that allow people to mark it all as a failure and things that people could point to and say it’s a success.
Regardless of how it WILL be in 6 months, the effort is not complete today, and wasn’t intended to be complete this week (unless the old "miracle occurs here" cloud was invoked), so why should they try to portray it as success (impying completion) when they understand there is still more time to complete the task, and more work to do.
Anything else and they’ll find themselves dealing with a "mission nothing accomplished" meme that will bite them like nobody’s business.
Then too, ’what’ are you trying to label a success or failure. The surge effort and it’s effects, or the entire project?
Let’s face it, there aren’t going to be free puppies & unicorns and a fully functional, essentially sane country in Iraq by spring even if the surge is 100% successful.
Oh, how I long for an adult country that recognizes some things take time.
Oh, how I long for an adult country that recognizes some things take time.
I long for adult leadership that is able to admit it made a mistake and is now seeking a way to extricate itself from a situation that has done considerable damage to the national interest.
I think, though, that the writing is on the wall. Crocker and Petraeus noted that political progress had to move forward sooner rather than later, and we’ll see if it happens.
By April it will be five years, nearly a trillion dollars, thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, and numerous claims of progress that were proven wildly optimistic. It will also be an election year. The President is almost certain to announce a major draw down of forces in order to allow the GOP candidate to avoid having Iraq hang like an anvil around his neck. The question is not just how much time it takes, but whether it is worth us for us to take that much time, or if the national interest is better served by ending this as competently as possible and altering our policy. I think even most of the national security community now agrees that Iraq was a mistake and while we have to find a way out that doesn’t leave Iraq in complete chaos, we need a major policy shift.
But ultimately I give the public more credit than you — they can force a policy change.
Right, they can force a policy change, but do you really think anyone knows what the "correct" policy should be?
Is there a correct policy?
You state you want to end this as competently as possible, and not leave Iraq in complete chaos.
What is the least risky way of doing that?
And we should stick to the probable, not merely what might be possible.
For instance, it might be possible that Iran would just turn completely around and not send money, material, training and other support to insurgents in Iraq, should we withdraw tomorrow. But, it is not likely that we can withdraw tomorrow, it will take many months to do that in an orderly way. So, what is Iran likely to do in that instance. Continue to harass us as we withdraw, or leave us alone? Especially considering that they’ve said they would be more then happy to fill any political void that occurs in Iraq.
Obama’s big plan calls for another constitutional convention in Iraq. Is that even possible?
Same thing for a hard partition. Isn’t that up to the Iraqis to decide now?
I posted earlier that I think a partition is probably the best bet if Iraq hasn’t made significant improvements towards Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation, or if ethnic violence remains intense. I actually agree with Charles Krauthammer that as bad as the ethnic cleansing has been, a partition (perhaps with a weak central government rather than three separate states) based on what’s been done on the ground might be more stable than if we just drew up maps. Not easy, but at this point in time, absent significant political progress in the near future, that seems to me the best option. We’d probably need to keep troops in "Kurdistan" to help assure the Turks that it won’t be a base of operation for anti-Turkish separatists.
I do agree it’s up to the Iraqis to decide. But obviously we are a factor in how they decide, no matter what they decide. And, given the lack of penetration into the provinces by the central government, one could say that this is the path the Iraqis seem to have been choosing.
Those are the last two things you’re open to, and by "last" I mean never.
But from the tone of your post, you’re getting ready to hold all possible positions at once. Don’t worry though. You’ll hit the reset button in an hour or so and be back behind defeat and suicide bombers.
It’s just the insect in you that makes you put on these occasional displays of simulated open-mindedness.
And as far as partition. You don’t want us over there, but you’re perfectly content with slicing up their country into various areas and presumably practice some ’ethnic cleansing’ in areas to accomplish that (please note, I’m using the new definition where that seems to mean, ’moving people around, by force or coercion, to achieve ethnic concentrations’).
How very British of you. Where to begin....let me see, PALESTINE might be a good first example to discuss. That’s been such a paragon of success.
Well, looker, provide an alternative. Sure, give the surge until April, and see if there is significant progress towards political reconciliation, fewer militias and reduced sectarian violence. If so, then fine — partition may not be the best choice. If not, then clearly there won’t be the political will in the US to continue our presence, and with troop levels decreasing, there would be little cause for optimism that somehow the political situation will change. Given that the US would be pressed to leave sooner rather than later, what way of leaving gives the least chance of chaos? A kind of partition seems most likely to work. As Krauthammer noted, it’s already been ’self-selected’ by the Iraqis as populations have already been ’cleansed.’
But if you have a better option (assuming there isn’t major improvement by next April) let me know. If you just want to assume things will be a lot better in April, well, we’ll see. But it is good to think about what to do if things don’t go as hoped for.
given the lack of penetration into the provinces by the central government
Well, this would seem to be the area where we need to work on the most.
And that is what the PRT’s are for, and the other civil affairs units. That’s the other-than-military surge in operations that needs to occur.
Absent security, you’re not going to get solid reconstruction (which means jobs and infrastructure for business,) participation in national politics, or trust in the national government.
The surge is meant to provide breathing room for the political process. Well, Iraqi is still panting from the effort so far. The breathing room is just now starting, if one is to believe the majority of reports that civilian deaths and total violence is down.
So, more time, more effort on the civil/political side, and certainly continued contingency planning. We’ve got to exploit the gains made so far, and part of exploiting it is making sure the headlines, and speeches reflect it. Because, Iraqis read our news, and the insurgents read our news, and the terrorists read our news.
Keith, I don’t think a country like the US can somehow control news headlines and speeches. People have diverse views and analyses, and those will be reported. That said, I think the political problems in Iraq are such that our debate will have little impact on their choices; I also think they know the surge won’t last past next spring, and that absent real improvement on their part we (even people who have been supporting the war) will likely decide it isn’t worth the cost.