The Baker Commission constitutes that shift in the Iraq War argument's dynamic. The all-hailed commission - the one chaired by the very "Republican Fixer" that assured Bush's election in 2000 - came out for gradual withdrawal, with no timetables, and a sober factual accounting of the dire situation currently. It's an almost surprising rebuke of Bush's Stay the Course strategy, and will continue to be so long as Bush refuses to accept dramatic course correction.
If something can convince Bush that he has no chance to win this way, and that therefore the lives spent are spent in vain, he might man up. He might believe in the effort so fiercely that actions behind his rhetoric about this being the defining battle of our time. But the Congress aint passing no draft. I just don't see it. As the neocons say, "we might need to mobilize a sector of our economy to support this effort. " That's the only way to "win," and it isn't happening.
Instead, poor President Bush will continue our involvement in the Iraq Civil War, because the Iraq War is his entire legacy. Weep for the American men and women that will die because he cannot admit what a painful mistake he has made.
A scheduled dinner meeting between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was canceled Wednesday, hours after 36 Iraqi politicians loyal to militant Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr withdrew from their government posts and denounced Bush as "the world's biggest evil."The cancellation "underscores how volatile Iraq has become" because he cancelled the meeting with us. America, the guys he owes his continued governance to, not to mention his continued life. To snub us so publicly, at the last minute, the threat posed by the boycotting Sadrmen must have been grave indeed - a threat large enough that he didn't think he could weather its stresses.
The White House denied that the delay was a snub by the Iraqi leader and insisted that "robust" talks would continue as planned on Thursday, despite the political turmoil in Baghdad and the leak of an administration memo detailing U.S. concerns about Maliki's ability to control sectarian violence.
The cancellation was clearly a surprise, however, and coupled with the withdrawal of the Sadrists who are a key part of Maliki's political base, it underscored how volatile Iraq has become as violence has reached record levels.
In other words, very bad news. Welcome to the parade.
Given this, we need to face our real choices in Iraq, which are: 10 months or 10 years. Either we just get out of Iraq in a phased withdrawal over 10 months, and try to stabilize it some other way, or we accept the fact that the only way it will not be a failed state is if we start over and rebuild it from the ground up, which would take 10 years. This would require reinvading Iraq, with at least 150,000 more troops, crushing the Sunni and Shiite militias, controlling borders, and building Iraq's institutions and political culture from scratch.At least he's honest, both about what level of commitment victory would take, and about the immorality of continuing to pour lives into the current situation. This proposed strategy leads to the same question I've been asking since McCain started getting attention with his "I've always called for more troops" line of attack. Granted, more troops is the only way to win in Iraq, but it will take a lot more than the 20,000 McCain irresponsibly calls for. 20,000 wont be nearly enough to dramatically affect the dynamic. And, even if we do put a couple hundred thousand more troops into Iraq, we'd need to stay as a force for years. The reconstruction we should have done before will then be possible, and maybe that's enough to foster a stable society.
If we're not ready to do what is necessary to crush the dark forces in Iraq and properly rebuild it, then we need to leave -- because to just keep stumbling along as we have been makes no sense.
The ultimate question for Friedman is, Where do these 150,000 troops come from, given that we would need several hundred-thousand more troops in the army to sustain that deployment oversees? We can't maintain our current deployment indefinitely with current recruitment levels, so these 400,000 new personnel will need to be acquired, not recruited, right Tom? Is there the political will to do that? Absolutely not. Game over.
Here's a video of Friedman advocating his ReInvasion and ReOccupation.
Bush and al-Maliki are expected to discuss political and security strategies for Iraq during talks Thursday. The two had been expected to meet Wednesday evening, but the State Department said talks would begin Thursday.Strange, huh? Could it be the pressure Sadr is exerting?
Iraq's prime minister saw his support erode on two fronts Wednesday as a White House memo questioned his leadership and a powerful political bloc suspended participation in Iraq's government.
The classified memo by President Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley questions whether Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki can end the bloody sectarian violence in Iraq, and especially whether he can rein in the Mehdi Army militia loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Hours after details of the Hadley memo first appeared in Wednesday's New York Times, Cabinet ministers and members of the Iraqi parliament loyal to al-Sadr underscored al-Maliki's shaky position, saying they would stop participating in his government.
The al-Sadr supporters had said earlier they would take such action if al-Maliki went ahead with a meeting with Bush on Thursday in Jordan.
There are about 30 lawmakers loyal to al-Sadr in the 275-member parliament, and six Cabinet ministers from his bloc.
An interesting development. There's been lots of talk of replacing Maliki... does this leaked memo play into a plan along those lines?
A Democrat-controlled 110th Congress must enact new legislation to challenge executive privilege if it hopes to exercise meaningful oversight of the White House. The legislation should establish House and Senate legislative-executive committees featuring legislative majorities to arbitrate disputes over congressional access to national security information.Ummmm, Bruce? I love you, man, but how is that going to work? Perhaps I'm ignorant of some ability of the Congress to enact this type of legislation without the signature of the President. Barring that, though, the idea of Bush signing a law designed to allow the Congress to investigate him is what some might call naive. It should go without saying that we wouldn't have the votes to override. So what's the esteemed Deputy AG talking about?
House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi was to meet with Rep. Alcee L. Hastings late Tuesday to close the door on his bid to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a congressional aide said.
But Pelosi, D-Calif., has not yet decided who will get the job, according to the aide. . . .
Pelosi met with Harman two weeks ago to discuss the House Intelligence Committee chair job. There is little to suggest Pelosi will reverse her intention to replace Harman atop the panel.
Duh.Go Rush Holt!
There is no seniority on the Intelligence Committee, so Harman is not being "demoted" by being "denied" this seat. Hastings is not the "alternative," since Pelosi can choose anyone she wants and, as far as I know, has never said that the "alternative" to Harman is Hastings. The media has just invented this dichotomy in order to foster the drama of the Serious/Substantive v. Frivolous/Bitchy choice they have decreed is what Pelosi must navigate.It's great. Read it all.
There is nothing "credible" about Harman. Yes, she is smart and knowledgeable, but she has been wrong about everything that matters, particularly in the intelligence area. But she was wrong in exactly the same way that the Beltway geniuses and The New Republic and David Broder and Fred Hiatt were wrong. For that reason, they don't want her to be repudiated and rejected because that would constitute a repudiation and rejection of them. So they build up and glorify the "credible," responsible Harman because she represents them, and they hate Pelosi in advance for rejecting Harman for being wrong about everything because they feel rejected by that choice.
As a result, Pelosi and her opposition to Harman have to be belittled and removed from the substantive arena. Harman supported the most disastrous strategic decision in our nation's history and repeatedly defended the administration's worst excesses. That ought to be disqualifying on its face. But the Beltway media are guilty of the same crimes, so they want to pretend that Harman -- just like Steny Hoyer -- did nothing wrong and the only reason not to anoint her to her Rightful Place is because of petty, womanly personality disputes that have no place in the public arena.
The motorcade of Iraq’s prime minister was pelted with stones on Sunday by fellow Shias in a Baghdad slum, when he paid respects to some of the 200 who died there last week in the deadliest attack since the US invasion.If this is how fragile Maliki's power is, even amongst his core constituency, then how long will it be until we see a vote of no confidence in the government? Perhaps the upcoming meeting between Bush and Maliki will be the straw:
The wreaking of vengeance unfolded while a powerful parliamentary bloc loyal to firebrand Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr threatened to boycott the government if Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki attends a meeting with President Bush scheduled for Wednesday in Jordan. The legislators said the American presence was the root cause of the spiraling violence in Iraq.Notice that it's an announced meeting, so it has to be outside the country of Iraq. Otherwise our guy might get blown-up.
If the Sadrists walk out, there goes 30-some votes for the Prime Minister. I don't know exactly how their parliment works, but couldn't that be used as a vote of no confidence itself?
Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.Good question, Warren.
Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.
It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”
There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis -- not the Americans.Hagel is the only Republican straight shooter. Hagel is the only Republican patriot who will not besmirch the honor of his opponents or their love of country. Hagel is the only Republican who debates the issues rather than resorting to the "Cut and Run" talking points. Hagel is the only Republican maverick. I would weep with relief if the 2008 Presidential contest turned into Hagel v Democrat.
Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.
The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose.
We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.
As for Harman, I will admit that I liked her at one time, despite her general conservativeness. For instance, she called for the release of the full Iraq War National Intelligence Estimate, which tickled me. But we mustn't forget that she made those absolutely devastating comments about the NSA Domestic Spying case (which is a domestic spying case, by the way - surveillance is done on US citizens, inside the US - exactly what FISA criminalized). She supported the program, and I believe she went so far as to vouch for its legality. That really helped galvanize our side of the argument, Jane. Thanks.
So I'm with Pelosi. Let's choose someone other than Harman for the Chair of the Intel Committee.
“The country is not at war. The United States armed forces and the CIA are at war. So we are asking our military to sustain a level of effort that we have not resourced,” he told Army Times.Entered into the Record.
“That’s how to break the Army is to keep it deployed above the rate at which it can be sustained,” he said. “There’s no free lunch here. The Army and the Marine Corps and Special Operations Command are too small and badly resourced to carry out this national security strategy.”
"If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible," [Kissinger] told the British Broadcasting Corp.So much for "winning in Iraq." According to Kissinger, then, since there is no victory possible, our further involvement wastes American lives - the height of immorality.
The elections and Rumsfeld's resignation were a major event, but not the end of the world. The war on terror goes on without interruption. Jennifer Griffin send in info on Hamas' call for attacks on American interests. And let's be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled congress.Classic.
Interestingly, I've heard that exact line, about how surely the insurgents would weigh-in on their ally's victory in the Congress, from a number of right-wing "news" outlets. It's like they coordinate or something. Imagine that.
Sen. Russ Feingold will not seek his party's presidential nomination in 2008, the Wisconsin Democrat told the Journal Sentinel on Saturday.As the oversight begins, and facts are documented, Feingold's inspired opposition to the Warrantless Wiretapping Program, the Patriot Act and the Iraq War will be confirmed as justified. This could well change the forces behind him and propel him on. All the same, I respect his realism based on the current state of debate.
"I never got to that point where I'd rather be running around the country, running for president, than being a senator from Wisconsin," Feingold said in a phone interview from Madison.
Feingold, 53, conceded that he faced long odds of winning the nomination.
"It would have required the craziest combination of things in the history of American politics to make it work," he said.
But Feingold said waging an underdog campaign appealed to him. What didn't appeal to him, he said, was "the way in which this effort would dismantle both my professional life (in the Senate) and my personal life. I'm very happy right now."
Feingold had been publicly weighing a presidential bid since early 2005, forming a political action committee, traveling to key states such as New Hampshire and Iowa, and cultivating a more national constituency as an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and other Bush administration policies.
How Bush Should Handle Loss [Jonah Goldberg]Creepy. Why don't these people sign up for the war, and make an actual contribution to the effort?I think James Baker and Dick Cheney should take Bush out to the woods around Camp David. After 24 hours in a sweat lodge, he should be given only a loin cloth, a hunting knife and a canteen of water. Bush should then set out to track and kill a black bear, after which he should eat its still beating heart so he can absorb its spirit. He should then fly back to Washington in Marine 1. His torso still scratched from the bear's claws, his face bloodied and steaming in the November chill, he should immediately give a press conference at which he throws the bearskin on the front row of the press corps, completely enveloping Helen Thomas, declaring, "I'm not going anywhere."
The President's and new Speaker's comments before the press started at 1:04 pm today and concluded at 1:08 pm.Bolton's nomination was so radical that it actually made a Republican Senator cry. This is what taking pains to work across the aisle looks like? To me, it looks like we're going to have more of the same from the Bush White House. Expect him to find that veto pen he lost during the first six years.
At 1:22 pm, the White House sent John Bolton's controversial nomination to serve as US Ambassador to the United Nations back up to the Senate.
Luckily, Lincoln Chafee would have none of it -- suggesting that such a nomination is clearly not in the spirit of what happened electorally in this country this week. By 2:15 pm, Chafee put an end to the Bolton confirmation process by formalizing his previous "informal" opposition to Bolton in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
I got three hours of sleep on election night, and still went to fencing practice on Wednesday - with not even a nap on the plane home... don't get me wrong, there was 4 hours of trying to nap on the plane home. If sleeping on the plane was ever going to work, it would have been then, but I'm just not built that way.
I slept 10.5 hours last night, which is unheard of for me. Now, with so much sleep and the slight cold I picked up, my brain is all wishy-washy. I've got a dozen fires to put out with clients here, so that should be fun in my current state.
Enough procrastinating. Here's a little gem to tide you over. It looks like Bush isn't so chummy with his BFF:
Some 380 tons of explosives powerful enough to detonate nuclear warheads are missing from a former Iraqi military facility that was supposed to be under American control, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency says.Entered into the Record.
Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the interim Iraqi government reported to the agency several days ago in a letter that the explosives were missing from the Al Qaqaa complex south of Baghdad.
The explosives -- considered powerful enough to demolish buildings or detonate nuclear warheads -- were under IAEA control until the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. IAEA workers left the country before the fighting began.
Apparently lost to the New York Times in this gushing about how the dangerously incompetent Bush administration made WMD technology available to Iran (thus making America exponentially less safe – although nowhere in the article does it say that Iran has definitively accessed these documents) was the most obvious detail of their story: that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, had the capability for – and was actively seeking – not only chemical and biological weapons, but nuclear weapons, as well.Thrown in almost as an aside, they first hope against hope that Iran didn't access the documents. But if even I have a copy, I'm reasonably sure that the vast majority of intelligence agencies on the planet have a copy. If they don't, there are torrents out there currently active with copies, and those cannot be stopped with today's telco management technology.
The staple of the Liberal platform for the past four-plus years has been almost uniform: Bush lied us into a war in Iraq. Saddam never had any weapons of mass destruction, nor was he seeking any; Iraq was not a threat to America’s security in any way, shape, or form.
This report blows that entire argument, and its corresponding mindset, completely out of the water.
The main point of their argument, however, is that "Saddam had a nuclear weapon's program!" This is the same argument used by Santorum and Weldon to say that 1980s-era chemical shells constituted the reason we went to war. I shouted at RedState, as I shouted at Santorum: "THAT WAS BEFORE 1991. WE INVADED IN 2003." I don't believe there has ever been an argument over whether or not Saddam had WMDs, since we have the receipts for many of them.
Of course, RedState isn't so stupid that they can't tell dates. They are just dishonest.
You'll remember that the reason they released these documents was to allow the distributed power of the internet (ed. read right-blogistan) to sift through the information - hopefully finding some smoking gun along the way that proves that Saddam was making weapons of mass destruction. So, in order to prove that we stopped WMDs, we released WMDs. IT'S A MASTER STROKE!!
Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”
Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures.
Early this morning, a spokesman for Gregory L. Schulte, the American ambassador, denied that anyone from the agency had approached Mr. Schulte about the Web site.
The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.
“For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible,” said A. Bryan Siebert, a former director of classification at the federal Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear arms program. “There’s a lot of things about nuclear weapons that are secret and should remain so.”
Incidentally, once you have weapons-grade radioactive material, these equations and diagrams are some of the few things standing between you and a sophisticated bomb - much more efficient than the nuclear weapon any 5th grader could make with a critical mass. I wonder... who in the neighborhood might want that sort of information? God knows how much time and money this shaves off Iran's development time.
Of course, given the randomish direction those missiles are pointing, it is perhaps not as impressive as it first seems. I do like how you can see the attitude jets firing on a number of them. Nifty.
I wonder who this War Game was aimed at? There's just no way to be sure.
In the wake of Sen. John Kerry’s belated apology for offending troops deployed in Iraq, House Majority Leader Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is being asked by Democrats to apologize for seemingly blaming senior military officers for any problems with the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy. Boehner, however, does not appear to be budging.Speaking in the context of why Iraq is such a mess, Boehner says that "You have to understand that it is the Generals that are in charge," and he doesn't think he's blaming the generals?
“Good try,” he said when asked about demands for an apology.
In a Wednesday appearance on CNN, Boehner was asked for his view on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the U.S. policy in Iraq.
“There are a lot of people who want to blame what’s happening in Iraq on Donald Rumsfeld, but when you look at the transformation that our military has been through, it’s nothing short of remarkable,” Boehner said. “The fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge.”
Boehner acknowledged that “there have been mistakes along the way,” but did not blame Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld, Boehner said, has been pushing the military to transform, but the uniformed military leaders have resisted.
“You have to understand that the generals who have been in charge of the Pentagon have been very resistant to change,” Boehner said.
This all comes down to the old law about playing against expectations. If a "troop hating liberal" slips up about the troops, he's going to get upbraided. If a "racist conservative" slips up about cultural demographics, he's going to get yelled at as well. Only Nixon could go to China, and only the Republican Majority Leader or the Republican National Security Advisor can blame the troops for strategic policy failures and get away without a firestorm.