Tuesday, January 08, 2008
WaPo and WSJ actually agree..Dems Clueless on Iraq
WaPo, WSJ Agree: Democrats Clueless On Iraq
How often do the editorial boards of the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal not only agree, but coincide on foreign policy? Rarely enough so that today's twin broadsides on the Democratic presidential contenders is worthy of special notice. Both editorial boards scold the Democrats for not only getting Iraq wrong, but also for seriously misrepresenting the progress achieved through the surge.
The Post's criticisms get tart indeed:
A reasonable response to these facts might involve an acknowledgment of the remarkable military progress, coupled with a reminder that the final goal of the surge set out by President Bush -- political accords among Iraq's competing factions -- has not been reached. (That happens to be our reaction to a campaign that we greeted with skepticism a year ago.) It also would involve a willingness by the candidates to reconsider their long-standing plans to carry out a rapid withdrawal of remaining U.S. forces in Iraq as soon as they become president -- a step that would almost certainly reverse the progress that has been made.
What Ms. Clinton, Mr. Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson instead offered was an exclusive focus on the Iraqi political failures -- coupled with a blizzard of assertions about the war that were at best unfounded and in several cases simply false. Mr. Obama led the way, claiming that Sunni tribes in Anbar province joined forces with U.S. troops against al-Qaeda in response to the Democratic victory in the 2006 elections -- a far-fetched assertion for which he offered no evidence.
Mr. Obama acknowledged some reduction of violence, but said he had predicted that adding troops would have that effect. In fact, on Jan. 8, 2007, he said that in the absence of political progress, "I don't think 15,000 or 20,000 more troops is going to make a difference in Iraq and in Baghdad." He also said he saw "no evidence that additional American troops would change the behavior of Iraqi sectarian politicians and make them start reining in violence by members of their religious groups." Ms. Clinton, for her part, refused to retract a statement she made in September, when she said it would require "a suspension of disbelief" to believe that the surge was working.
In fact, the Journal notes that only after it became clear that the US would not follow the Democratic policies of defeat and retreat did the Anbar sheikhs sign onto the Awakening in full:
But the Sunni Awakening, as it is called, with its fall in bloodshed, occurred only after the Anbar Sunnis were convinced that the U.S. troops would not abandon them to al Qaeda in Iraq. Sunni sheiks have said explicitly it was the new U.S. policy of sustaining the offensive against AQI that made it possible for them to resist the jihadists. The U.S. military has supported the spread of these "awakening councils" in other areas of Iraq. It is navel-gazing in the extreme for Mr. Obama to suggest U.S. Congressional elections caused this turn.
Both Obama and Clinton have track records on the surge and Iraq that they have to explain away with half-truths and foggy memories. As the Post noted, both of them tried to push an unconstitutional hijacking of military command from the executive to the legislature. Not only should they answer for their wrong-headedness on policy, but they should also be forced to explain whether they would as President allow Congress to intrude on the role of Commander in Chief so baldly and illegally.
The Journal wonders whether these candidates have become so self-contained that they think they can say anything on national TV and get away with it. The Journal forgets that the candidates right now are speaking to only the true believers in the primary process. They're playing sing-along on defeatism, and no one wants to hear that the Left had it wrong all along. Hillary's refusal to retract her "willing suspension of disbelief" comment underscores the willing suspension of reality that the anti-war activists on the Left have promoted.
This, of course, is hardly new. What's new is that the Post, an establishment center-left paper, has come to the same conclusion as the Journal.
What is the endgame in Iraq. Do you think we will be there as long as we have been in South Korea?
Have the Neocons who esposed the invasion figured out how to pay for it yet or are we just going to keep selling debt to the Asians?
"A reasonable response to these facts might involve an acknowlegdement of the remarkable military progress, coupled with a reminder that the final goal of the surge set out by President Bush--political accords among Iraq's competing factions--has not been reached."
The surge, which was not only a good idea but the only alternative strategy, will necessarily be winding doen b/c it is unsustainable. I certainly hope that the military gains are sustainable, but what if there is an upsurge in violence?
Meanwhile, the prospects for political success are about as remote as those to quote Roger "of the dreaded Taliban spring campaign."
So, where do we go from here?
Still think the invasion was a good idea?
first, I am not certain that you can quote me as saying the invasion was a " good idea ".......not to parse. But let me clarify my position...again. Under the circumstances, post 911 ( with yet another stipluation that Iraq had squat to do with that day ) and the stance of the USA from Bush 1, through 8 years of Clinton, ( remember the Liberation of Iraq Act signed into Law in 1998, when Regime change became official US foreign policy...was that a good idea then Tony ? ) and into the Bush 2 admin, that had barely uttered a word about Iraq up until and even after 911......with intelligence being what it was, with regard to Saddam and WMD.....what was supposed to be the approach ? An invasion mind you occurred, 14 months AFTER the USA began tap dancing with the UN regarding the issue....even up to weeks before the invasion....read these quotes... "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance -- not even today -- of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace."
Dr. Hans Blix, Chief UN Weapons Inspector
Addressing the UN Security Council
January 27, 2003
"The recent inspection find in the private home of a scientist of a box of some 3,000 pages of documents, much of it relating to the laser enrichment of uranium support a concern that has long existed that documents might be distributed to the homes of private individuals. ...we cannot help but think that the case might not be isolated and that such placements of documents is deliberate to make discovery difficult and to seek to shield documents by placing them in private homes."
Dr. Hans Blix, Chief UN Weapons Inspector
Addressing the UN Security Council
January 27, 2003
and even Harry Reid got something correct......
"We stopped the fighting [in 1991] on an agreement that Iraq would take steps to assure the world that it would not engage in further aggression and that it would destroy its weapons of mass destruction. It has refused to take those steps. That refusal constitutes a breach of the armistice which renders it void and justifies resumption of the armed conflict."
Senator Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada)
Addressing the US Senate
October 9, 2002
Congressional Record, p. S10145
so with regard to the 2003 invasion being a good idea or not, I'm not sure how we had a choice. One definitive BAD idea, was the NON ouster of Saddam in 1991......that is hardly debateable at all.
Regarding South Korea housing troops seemingly indefinitely, and Iraq.....yes, I do see a permanent presence of the USA in Iraq....part of the long term US strategy regardless of the president or party in power.
" Bring the troops Home " with regard to Iraq, is Bumper sticker rhetoric, and both parties know it.
Not securing that region years ago, has led us to the BS we have to deal with at present.
The second is that anyone passingly familiar with Iraq knew that what has occurered and what is occurring was certain to occur.
Anyone familiar w/ the works of T.E. Lawrence, Gertrude Bell, or David Fromkin recognized that a regime change in Iraq was certain to destabilize the country and the region; and that the prospect of installing functioning democracy in Iraq had zero chance of succeeding in the short term or the long run. You didn't even have to read the books. You could have just watched "Lawence of Arabia."
Democracy works for us but remember we had a 150 year history of represntative government at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; we took a mulligan on the Articles of Confederation b/f ratifying the Constitution; and that 71 years after that our nation was convulsed by a civil war on the issue of slavery that nearly dstroyed us; and that it required another century to grant equal rights to all of our citizens.
I certainly would not wish to live anywhere else but it is important to realize that as a democracy the United States is a work in progress.
Therefore I qestion seriously the wisdom of promoting a our way of government in a tribal culture wherein primary loyalties are to family, tribe, and sect and not to institutions of goverment.
At the same time, in 2002, which country posed a greater threat to our allies in the region and to ourselves: Iraq or Iran? I think the answer was and is Iran. Therefore it is questionable whether we should have promoted regime change in Iraq in the face of the certainty that doing so would empower Iran.
Remember that Saddam Hussein went to the gallows denouncing the Persians.
I do not suggest that Iraq was not a concern. I do maintain that Iraq did not pose a security or political threat that warranted invasion.
In the greater war, that against radical Islam or Islamists or the war against terrorism (not the war against terror), Iraq was a minor beach head where we will be bogged down for generations.
The worst mistake that the Bush administration made was to put our country in a situation in which the success of our mission is dependent upon someone other than us.
Militarily there never was an issue w/ respect to the outcome.
But we will fail politically unless the Iraqi government at least begins to make progress, to wit passing some legislation for sharing oil revenues and getting that industry, the country's cash cow, up and running to optimal levels.
Inasmuch as we cannot put the toothpaste back in thetube, the question is, where do we go from here?
It doesn't amtterwhat the Democrats say about w/drawal. The reality is that until the security situation is such that chaos will not follow our w/drawal, then we are stuck there.
The invasion has become two things: a lobster trap from which we cannot escape and a black hole sucking in our military and monetary resources.
Have you heard anyone talk about what is the paln psot surge? I haven't.
The only solution that makes any sense to me is start inviting other players to the table. I am not saying that this is optimal or that any will come or if they do they will be helpful, but clearly the political 'stay the course' philosophy is as doomed as the military "stay the course" philosophy.
As for not securing the region years ago, I suggest that our ability to do so was and is extremely limited. The paradigm of WW II no longer applies as the preconditions that allowed that paradigm to be effective no longer exist. The Cold war is over.
The challenges that currently confront us make invasion the solution of last resort. It was the correct strategy in Afghanistan but not Iraq.
Our support of one dictator, the Shah, ultimately resulted in the imposition of another dictatorship, this one inimical to our interests.
When it comes to foreign policy, intervening in a country's war of self determination is more likely to fail than to succeed. Look at Vietnam.