Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
'It is over'
... that was the quote from NBC's Tim Russert this afternoon, referring to what he says a senior Republican told him on condition of anonymity. The unnamed official was talking about the Iraq war, and the neoconservative dream of building a democratic foothold in the Middle East. The pronouncement came as the Iraq Study Group finally released its report, which contains 96 pages of bad news for the Bush administration, and 72 ideas for getting us out of there by early 2008, leaving only a contingent of embedded military trainers and advisors behind. The report contains key recommendations, including talking with other nations in the region (I suppose if Syria was good enough to help us during the first Gulf War and fine enough for the current president to render our secret prisoners to, we could probably stand to chat with them about their neighbor, Iraq...), foregoing any idea of permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, and threatening the Iraqi government with quicker pullouts of troops and funding if they don't get their act together.

Bill Kristol, of all people, is calling the document "deeply irresponsible," because it "presents no military options" for "achieving our goals in Iraq." Well that's probably becasue there are no military options, and nobody but George W. Bush and perhaps his dog and his psychiatrist know what in the name of God our goals are at this point. And I suppose Kristol's idea of a "responsible" document might be, oh, one of the PNAC missives, which call for the overthrow of a secular dictatorship in the heart of Babylon in hopes that the Shia minority once unleashed with lay down like lambs with their Sunni tormentors in one big festival of secular brotherhood (cue the sweeties and flowers). Yeah, that was some pretty responsible reportage there, Kristol. Now kindly shut up and stop making an ass of yourself on television.

One sign that the report is probably as close to on target as we can expect for now, the neocons like Kristol (and the Bush-bots on right wing idiot radio) hate it. Good. Now all we need is someone to lock the president in a closet until he cries uncle and agrees to at least have someone literate read it to him. You don't have to lock yourself in a closet to read it, though, you can simply download the pdf file here.

(BTW 10 more troops were killed in two separate incidents in Iraq today. Just let's you know how well things are going, Fox News...

On to the reax...

From Eric, one of the Bush-bots at Red State:
What does Congress's love child with the Axis of Evil look like? A James Baker-Lee Hamilton press conference.
Having plowed my way through the dreariness of the report, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of disgust. I could have written this report twelve months ago, knowing who was involved. In essence, the report calls on the United States to capitulate to its enemies, abandon its friends, and blame Israel.

And this from another dreary Red Stater:
Well, It's Offical: We Just Lost The War

In one of the worst days in America since we abandoned Viet Nam, America is once again about to capitulate from a position of strength. I am, at the moment, ashamed of my country's Politicians...deeply ashamed.
You're just getting there now? Welcome to the real world, buddy.

La not-so-dolce Malkin serves up links to other rightie commentators, but she skips the most salient part of this commentary by Andrew McCarthy of the National Review:
So, no, says the president. We are staying in Iraq until we win. Great. But what is winning? What is the “victory” we are seeking?

On this, there is no consensus. That is why Americans have soured on Iraq. History proves that the American people have plenty of stomach for a hard fight, however long it takes, if they understand and believe in what we are fighting for. And this, consequently, is where history will condemn the Bush administration.

Leadership, too often, has been rudderless. After 9/11, the president deployed our armed forces but told the American people the best thing they could do was go on with their lives — go shopping, lest the terrorists win. There was no sense of shared sacrifice. No stressing that the nation as a whole had a vested interest in facing down not just a relative handful of terrorists but a fundamentalist ideology, shared by millions, calling remorselessly for our destruction.

Our military, alone, was left to bear the burdens. The 9/11 attacks were left to speak for themselves … and they faded from elite memory in about the time it took for habitués of the New York Times’ West 43rd Street offices to forget those two tall buildings they used to gaze on from their windows.

Perhaps worse, after rallying and winning reelection strictly because Americans trusted him more than Sen. Kerry to protect our security, the president went dark. From November 2004 until the middle of the following year, President Bush, leading a nation at war, was virtually mum on the subject. There were political reasons for this — there always are. We hadn’t found Saddam’s weapons; addressing the war risked reminding the public of intelligence failures and premature “mission accomplished” bravado; the administration wanted to use its pre-lame-duck months to focus on Social Security, immigration, and the rest of its legislative agenda; and so on.

On Iraq, the president decided his reelection meant he had already won the argument. But when you’re at war, and you’re the president, you’ve got to win the argument every day. If you’re not winning it, you’re losing it … and with it the public support essential to war-fighting.

So, facing down his critics, the president insists we will stay and “win.” The problem is: His vision of winning is a stable, democratic Iraq — something Americans would not have gone to war over in the first place. Sure, it is an outcome we should all devoutly wish to see some day. But it is not something we would have sent American troops to Iraq to die for, any more than we would send them, say, to Sudan — particularly when the case has never been made that either stability or democracy in the Middle East will make the United States safer.

The “more troops” enthusiasts want to stanch Iraq’s ever bloodier sectarian strife. But Sunnis and Shia have been slaughtering each other intermittently for fourteen centuries. The thought that we infidels are going to put an end to that is as foolishly presumptuous as the pipedream that we will anytime soon achieve “two states living peacefully side-by-side” in Israel and “Palestine” — the latter’s existence being dedicated to annihilation of the former.
I'm with you up to the Palestinian bashing part, Andrew, and then we part ways here, at the paragraph Ms. Malkin liked best:
There is only one good reason for American troops to be in Iraq. It is the reason we sent them there in 2003: To fight and win the “war on terror” — i.e., the war against radical Islam — by deposing rogue regimes helping the terror network wage a long-term, existential jihad against the United States. You can argue that Iraq was the wrong rogue to start with; but destroying radical Islam’s will and its capacity to project power is what the war is about.
... yes, except that the war on terror never had anything to do with Iraq. Shia and Sunni slaughtering each other, as you just said a couple paragraphs ago, does not the war on terror make. Sunnis and/or Shia slaughtering us, now that's what the war on terror was supposed to be about, right? There is no "long-term existential jihad" being waged against the United States from inside Iraq. They're fighting each other to get hold of the oil and the government, and they're fighting us to get us to leave so they can get back to killing each other over the oil. What part of "civil war" don't these wingers understand...?

Back to a good point by Mr. McCarthy:
The “victory” President Bush talks about in Iraq involves successfully propping up a Shiite-dominated government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. An Islamic fundamentalist, Maliki, in his 23 years of exile from Saddam’s Iraq, ran the “jihad office” for the radical Dawa party in Damascus — a party with deep, historic ties to Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, and which is suspected of complicity in the 1983 bombing of the United States embassy in Kuwait.
Nice.

On to the Wizbangers!

They link to two wrist-slashing missives (one, two) from the vacant lot that is becoming the neocon right (who was that at Wizbang who snarkified about "thinkers" versus "linkers"...? But I digress... First, Ben Shapiro asks: WILL WE EVER WIN ANOTHER WAR??? And Rick Moran moans:
Today is the day that the Iraq Study Group will deliver its not so secret recommendations on how we can best pull out of Iraq without leaving behind a bloody mess, regional chaos, increased Iranian influence, and a helpless, toothless, Iraqi government dominated by theocrats and thugs.

This is our new battle cry; "We must mitigate defeat!"

Stirring, isn't it? Not quite the ring that "Remember the Alamo" has but then, this is the 21st century and such patriotic and emotional displays are frowned upon by the blue blooded "wise men" of the ISG who have labored long and hard to produce this recipe for American retreat.
And that was before he read the report! To that, Wizbang's crazy Aunt Kim retorts: "The only acceptable outcome is total victory!!!" (done in her best Weimar Republic.) Ok, Kimmie, kindly explain to us, and hell, to your own side... what "victory" entails... or just keep spouting those cute platitudes to the Bush-bots. Either way works for me.

I don't think I can even stomach Powerline today, so I'll let you go over there and check for yourself... Ah, hell, I can't resist. Here's what Bush's fave sycophant has to say:
So basically the ISG wants us to stand down in one year even though there's no evidence that the Iraqis are ready to stand up. The issue here is less the combat capability of the Iraqis (although that's a concern) than the fact that the Iraqi government, which will control its military, does not appear committed to key U.S. objectives such as fighting pro-Iranian militias (of course our "peace partners" in Iran will be fine with that). Thus, the U.S. needs to maintain a substantial military presence for purposes largely independent of supporting Iraqi military objectives.

I'll reserve final judgment until I've read the the whole thing. But right now, this report looks like the worst of all possible worlds -- give up in Iraq over the course of one year and make concessions to Iran and Syria on the way out. I think I'd prefer an old-fashioned surrender.
"The Iraqi government is not committed to key U.S. objectives"??? Do you even read the stuff you post on your blog, man? Sheesh...

And now to my favorite rightie, RightWingNuthouse. He writes:
What could be significant about the ISG is that they may have initiated a change in the national conversation about Iraq. By painting such a dire picture of what is happening there and pointing out the catastrophe that is in the making, while establishing themselves as a bi-partisan voice, perhaps we can get away from this stupid, self defeating back and forth about “blame” which only scores political points and matters not a bit to what needs to be done, and start working together to figure out how we’re going to get out of this mess without blowing up the world in the process. ...

... Baker botched it. Giving a baseball analogy, he made sure he didn’t strike out by trying for a single when he should have risked it all and gone for the home run. His greatest fear evidently was that Bush would ignore their recommendations. That should have been the least of his worries. Bush resides somewhere between fanatasyland (“We’re winning”) and the river denial. The only way to shake the CIC out of this stupor would have been to dazzle him. Instead, Bush is perfectly comfortable with saying that the ISG is only one avenue in the way forward and that he has other choices. ...
Proving again the irony of his blogname.

At the end of the day, I doubt the report will be seen as some magical turning point in the war in Iraq. But it does, I think, create room for Republicans in Washington to finally exhale, and finally admit that, as Russert's secret source said, "it is over." The dream of creating some model of democracy in Iraq is over. Bush's idiodic experiment with neocon fantasy military baseball is over. The notion that we will rule Iraq as some sort of oil proxy / neocon tinkering lab where they can try out all the wierd societal and monetary experiments the voters won't allow them to try here is over. And probably, so is the notion that we can some how emerge from Iraq looking "victorious." As RWNH put it, the best we can hope for -- and all Americans, whatever our party, should hope for it for the sake of our country, not for the sake of this failed president -- is that we can leave Iraq with something like our dignity intact, and without allowing the region to plunge further into chaos.

Yep. We're fighting them over there to mitigate disaster everywhere. Deal with it.

Tags: President Bush, Bush, news, Iraq, Iraq Study Group, James Baker, war
posted by JReid @ 3:28 PM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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