October 20, 2006

"The Bush administration will be unable to achieve its goal of a stable, democratic Iraq within a politically feasible time frame."

WaPo has a big article saying "[s]enior figures in both parties are coming to [that] conclusion."

And here's a quote from Joe Biden:
[I]f the Democrats win big in next month's elections, "You have a lot of Republicans who are going to openly join Democrats and will push back hard against the president."
Or perhaps you prefer Carl Levin:
Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who would take over the chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee, said he favors beginning a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops that "gives the Iraqis notice that they're going to be looking into the abyss" unless they make necessary changes.
So... feel like talking about the abyss today?


JorgXMcKie said...

Sure. What, exactly, is the abyss, and what changes (details, please) does Levin want? And will Levin and the Democrats take credit (or blame) for an ensuing civil war or 665,000 extra deaths after the 'phased withdrawal"? Will they take credit/blame for excess American troop casualties that occur during a retreat?

If so, and if they win, that's how the system works. I'll complain but accept it.

I seriously doubt that the credit/blame will be apportioned appropriately.

Also, given their previous criticisms, I would expect any Democratic plan to be implemented flawlessly (despite and misgivings or interference by/from Republicans or Bush supporters -- after all that's just the other side of the coin) and to work perfectly.

Icepick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian Doyle said...

No, Ann. Let's not talk about the abyss until we actually get there.

For now, let's just savor the remaining months that we have to watch our soldiers get killed in Iraq.

The Dhimmicrats have clearly been brainwashed by the less patriotic generals into thinking that we're not achieving any military objective there.

Don't they know the sight of Freedom marching when they see it?

The Mechanical Eye said...

Oh, I think Iraq is facing that abyss as we speak.

However, my hope is that the Democrats, once in power, will make an articulable alternative to "stay the course" that doesn't involve a simple retreat.

As Orwell once said, the easiest way to get out of a war is to lose it; while it may offer an oppurtunity to crow and smirk about Bush's miserable failure, it would be a massive blow in favor of the innumerable illiberal, anti-democratic, and violent forces in the middle east, to say the least of the great betrayal we would do to the newborn Iraqi government.

I have hope, if not confidence, that the Democrats will find their newfound responsibility to govern and give America a realistic, face-saving alternative for Iraq.

verification word: gurdbus

Brian Doyle said...

an articulable alternative to "stay the course" that doesn't involve a simple retreat.

So something other than staying or leaving? I vote for victory! Jeffersonian democracy or bust.

goesh said...

We may as well go now - I see by MSN that Shia militiamen, about 800 of them,took over a town. Why bother with a constitution and articles of federation and voting and all of that when in a matter of a day or so you can assert your political will with guns? Why not - who's going to stop them - Iraqis in the green zone? The Brits? It seems the Shia have some old scores to settle too, aside from wanting the southern oil all to themselves and their mullah buddies in Iran. They ought to be able to do alot of Sunni cleansing once US strike forces are back home - they aren't doing too badly now with bombs, are they? I say let Iran have control of at least southern Iraq and the oil there. What with nuclear arms and the added wealth they can give up their foolish notion of an islamic caliphate.

Revenant said...

Since I favor staying until Iraq is reasonably stable, the "politically feasible time frame" doesn't apply to me.

But yes, I think pulling out in the near future would be disastrous for both America and Iraq.

MadisonMan said...

I have hope, if not confidence, that the Democrats will find their newfound responsibility to govern and give America a realistic, face-saving alternative for Iraq.

I'm about where you are, and I'm not holding my breath. Of course, they have to gain power first, too.

Isn't Iraq in the abyss now? Scores die weekly and basic services are minimal.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I think the Democrats, even if they win in large numbers, are did themselves a disservice by not reevaluating just who should be head of many of these committees if they take power. Having Pelosi as 3rd in line for the Presidency certainly is symbolic because she is a woman, but it is also a terrible move because she is Nancy Pelosi, an extremely liberal and airheaded partisan. These committee chair positions should go to charismatic centrists and (to be sure) should reflect diversity. The missing part here is the "charismatic centrist" part, and it's the part that allows Republicans to scare up turnout. If the Democratic win isn't as big as hoped -- or if it magically converts into a narrow loss, now you can't say you didn't know the reason why.

Brian Doyle said...


You ever notice how little hand wringing there is about the Republican lack of "charismatic centrists"?

Your previous majority leader was a crook. Your current majority leader is an undistinguished schmuck (and a crook). And the current speaker is just a vacuous sack of Republicanness (Foley issue aside).

I'm not a huge Pelosi fan, but these guys are an easy act to follow.

Brian Doyle said...

Thanks Cedarford. That's a huge relief. I thought for a minute the Bush administration was responsible for the Iraq War.

It was originally a war of preemptive self-defense, remember? The character of the Iraqi people shouldn't have been a major concern.

Brian Doyle said...

If all we have it in our power to do is keep it at the current level of badness, is it worth it?

That's an interesting premise given the steady-to-dramatic increase in violence since we've been there.

Revenant said...

I thought for a minute the Bush administration was responsible for the Iraq War.

The Bush Administration is responsible for the Iraq War in the sense that the IRS is responsible for tax collection. They're in charge of dealing with it. The authorization for the war, however, was broadly bipartisan, and provided by Congress, not the executive branch, so Bush is not "responsible for the war" in the sense that, say, OJ was responsible for his wife's death.

Brian Doyle said...

LOL. Congress in charge of war?! I know better than that. I read my Yoo.

MadisonMan said...

Even Bush, although he’s not really a centrist, is not the most conservative guy on fiscal principles.

What, just 'cause the Debt's gone up by $3 Trillion on his watch? And because per-capita spending has jumped? You have a gift for understatement.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I despair that the Iraqi people just don't have it in them to get this done (someone before said it is a murderous hellhole). If the Iraquis can't prove that to be wrong and soon- it should be divided up and get our troops the hell out of there.

And Americans should not forget the climate under which this war was undertaken. We were less than a year past 911 and we were trying to avoid Al Quaeda getting their hands on a nuke (WMD). Seems like many have forgotten that grave concern.

Revenant said...

LOL. Congress in charge of war?! I know better than that

No, dumbass. The President is in charge of the war -- like I said. Congress authorizes the war, as it did, with broad bipartisan support, in the case of Iraq. Congress is responsible for us currently being at war; the President is responsible for how we fight the war we're in.

Revenant said...

Maybe because we don’t lack them? Guiliani, Schwartzenager, McCain…there are a number of these in the Republican party.

Um, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger are centrists, but by no stretch of the imagination does McCain qualify. He does a good job of *acting* like he's more moderate, but if you look at his actual positions on issues they're solidly conservative. He's anti-gay-marriage, anti-abortion, anti-tax, in favor of censoring sexual content in TV, film, and internet, pro-war... etc, etc. Even the moderate poses he takes are kind of halfassed -- e.g., he's against legal torture but in favor of using it anyway when necessary.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Doyle --

I am a Democrat and I dislike extremely liberal Democrats representing my party because I am a centrist Democrat.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Also, replacing mediocrities with mediocrities is a tougher sell than replacing mediocrities with charismatic leaders. This was the goddamn point.

Revenant said...

Revnant's right. The idea of invading Iraq sprung, unbidden and simultaneously, into the minds of everyone in Congress who voted for it.

Please do not put your idiotic ideas in my mouth.

Obviously there were many millions of people, Bush among them, who wanted to invade Iraq. Obviously these people let their Congresscritters know that's what they wanted. But the actual responsibility for authorizing and funding the war fell squarely on Congress' shoulders.

I supported the invasion of Iraq from late 2001 onwards. I am not going to let the majority of American citizens who *also* wanted the war -- right up to the point where they realized rebuilding Iraq might be hard -- weasel out of admitting that they wanted it too.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Is is possible that the cultural beliefs of a class of people can prevent them from seeing any value in democratic rule?

The left seems to be coming around to the view that in Iraq it is possible. But will this position cause them to change any of their ideas on the value of multi-culturalism?

MnMark said...

I would like to see the most Pelosi-like Democrats win control of the House, Senate, and Presidency as soon as possible, and I would like them to fully implement their suicidal policies now so that all of us can see clearly exactly what happens when they rule. I am hunkered down in a sort of semi-"Atlas Shrugged" bunker situation and I think the best thing we can do is get out of the way and let them bring society down around our ears while there is still a large chunk of the population who were raised believing in traditional American values and who remember how good things can be. Then there'll be someone to pick up the pieces when left-liberalism is finally, and catastrophically, discredited. This slow civilizational suicide we're undergoing now, where liberals oppose most every measure to save ourselves, from defense to immigration control to free markets, is going to wipe us out like a chronic disease. Let's have the collapse quick and sharp so we can do something about it.

So I'll be rooting for the most extreme Democrats to win big, and to implement their policies fully while I watch from the sidelines. I hope they try to impeach Bush, pull out of Iraq (leading to its collapse), raise taxes (killing off the economy), implement socialist medicine, and so on and so on, so we can all see once and for all what happens when socialist/pacifist/universalist/moral relativist policies are implemented with no conservatives to blame for their failure.

Revenant said...


I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I believe that the Geneva Convention obligations for occupying powers only apply so long as the occupation continues. If the Democrats cut and run and Iraq then completely goes to pieces, so far as I'm aware that won't violate the Geneva Conventions.

It'll just be a really bad idea.

Simon said...

The only way the Democrats can actually pull forces out of Iraq is to defund the mission. Which is to say, to cease supporting the troops in a financial, material sense. Which will cement their reputation as not supporting the troops. And since a pull out would exacerbate Iraq's existing tensions, if the Dems pull all the troops out and the country falls apart, it'll never be clear if we failed in Iraq or if we were stabbed in the back by a bunch of Congressional Democrats. I told you there was a silver lining to the dems taking the House. Dolchstosslegende.

Unknown said...

Stay the course.

amba said...

it would be a massive blow in favor of the innumerable illiberal, anti-democratic, and violent forces in the middle east

That's right. The jihadis gloated that they defeated one superpower in Afghanistan. That emboldened them greatly. Now they will be able to boast that they defeated us -- simply by being willing to slaughter -- ours, theirs, the other guy's, everything that moves. Think how that will feed them, how they'll swell and grow, how affirmed they will be in their choice of tactics. It's a disaster, and one in which the two parties have colluded: the Bushies by arrogantly screwing up, the Dems by preferring to blame the Repubs rather than try to fix their mistakes.

Harry Eagar said...

Cedarford sez: 'It would have been difficult in 20-20 hindsight, if not impossible, to make them a vibrant secular democracy - given their basic nature.'

Hindsight not necessary. Before the war, Bassam Tibi, the Syrian political scientist, wrote that Muslims (he was writing primarily about Arabs) are not interested in democracy. Who coulda guessed?

If we stay a thousand years, the Arabs are not going to become Texas Republicans.

However, if we supported a Great Kurdistan, we would retrieve one of the immoral bargains made by Wilson, free 20 million people to establish their own state and make Turkey, Iran, Russia, Syria and the rest of the Arabs mad at us. All upside, no downside.

Bruce Hayden said...

The Sunni Jihadists have lost, and lost big, already in Iraq. Somewhere around 1/4 of the Sunnis that were in Iraq when we invaded have left, and over 1/3 have moved - those who haven't left, have moved out of mixed Shia/Sunni neighborhoods into Sunni neighborhoods.

So, now, the Sunni Arabs are about 15% of the population of Iraq. They are faced by the other 85% who owe them no love, after decades of Saddam supported death squads, etc. Most of them have kin who died at Sunni Arab hands. To make matters worse, the military and police are even more heavily populated by Shia and Kurds. Thus, the Sunnis have 15% of the population and much less than that in guns, esp. heavier weapons.

So, what happens if we pull out? No, it wouldn't be a civil war - because if one side composes only 15% of the population and has a lower percentage of that of guns, etc., is not a civil war, but a genocide.

I should note that last month, approx. 3/4 of the Anbar tribes had signed on to helping the govt. control that area - which includes the infiltration routes from Syria. They have agreed to help patrol the roads and maintain security. And, after a lot of experience with the non-Iraqi Sunni Jihadists, they are for the most part not sympathetic. Starting maybe six months ago, the Jihadists and the Anbar tribes have engaged in repeated firefights.

The reason that our casualty tolls are up, as are the Iraqi security forces casualties, is that they are now, for the first time, operating in force in the Sunni areas of Baghdad. Before, the Iraqi Sunni terrorists would have to go into the Shiite areas to make their attacks. Now they can do it at home. Of course, they mostly don't attack directly, as they would lose badly, but use IEDs and suicide bombers instead. The problem is that this also makes it clear to the rest of their communities that they are losing, and that there is no chance any more of the Sunni Arabs retaking the country.

Harry Eagar said...

You say that like it's a good thing.

I guess you hadn't noticed that Bush's policy, if you can call it a policy, is to appease Sunnis.

Anyhow, whether that part works out or not, the next step is to have the oil of southern Iraq fall under the control of Iran -- the Iraqi Shia are unable to operate independently, even if they wanted to, which is doubtful.

I'm having a hard time understanding why this is an outcome the US should want to see.

aaron said...

I wish Levin was up for re-election. The guy is scum. I'm not even sure he's human.

Revenant said...

the Iraqi Shia are unable to operate independently, even if they wanted to, which is doubtful

Why are they unable to operate independently? And why is it doubtful that the current Iraqi Shiite leaders would rather be in charge of their own nation than be lackeys of a foreign power?

Harry Eagar said...

Well, for one, Sistani is an Iranian. Duh.

for two, the supporters of the Shia militias in the south are, no surprise, armed, financed and more or less directed from Iran.

It would not be surprising if the Iraqi Shia would, if put in direction of a state or ministate on their own, find reasons to part ways with the Iranian Shia; but whether the Iraqi Iraqi faction would then prevail over the Iraqi Iranian faction is uncertain.

How much is it in the US interest to put that to the test?

Didn't we learn anything in Vietnam?