Foreign Policy

"Surge" Talk Going Over Capitol Hill Like a Lead IED

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From the Hartford Courant–the oldest continuously published newspaper in America–comes news of Congress' (or at least some senators') reactions to President Bush's surge talk.

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), mustering all the gravitas of a man whose greatest legacy is introducing the concept of a waitress sandwich into public discourse, called Bush's Iraq policy "a fool's paradise." Coming from a leading member of the Democrats, that's predictable–though not necessarily inaccurate.

More interesting are the reactions from various Republicans. Longtime war critic (and potential presidential hopeful) Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska told Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice, "I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." Come on, Chuck, tell us what you really think.

And Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio–as perfect a nonentity as the world's greatest deliberative body blah blah blah has ever created and thus a great weather vane on which way even moderate Republicans are blowing these days–had this to say: ""I've gone along with the president on this, and I've bought into his dream, and at this stage of the game I just don't think it's going to happen."

The referent in that sentence isn't particularly clear: Exactly what isn't going to happen? Bush's surge? Victory in Iraq? The particulars don't matter. What comes across loud and clear is that Bush has lost precisely the sort of deferential nobodys in Congress he couldn't afford to alienate.

More here.

In a related story, newly minted Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gets this morning's bad timing award for announcing

that he wants President Bush to increase overall US ground forces by nearly 100,000 over the next five years, the largest military build up since the end of the Cold War.

The implicit repudiation of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's vision of a leaner military machine may make all the sense in the world from a practical, strategic point of view, but boy is the timing off. More on that here.

NEXT: Even More About Robert Anton Wilson

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  1. Conspicuously absent from the discussions in the Capitol is the question of what the “surge” is specifically for. Apparently, the idea is that if Baghdad can be quietened for a period of time, there will be a better opportunity for a political solution to the insurgency. This makes sense if there are major players on the Sunni and Shiite sides who want a deal, but can’t do it with all of the free-lance revenge attacks going on. There are some indications that this may be the case. The only alternative, it seems to me, is to gradually scale down the US military presence and hope that the possibility of greater sectarian conflict is enough to bring the sectarian parties to the negotiating table. This appears to be what the Democrats are arguing should happen. As the article suggests, Congress simply doesn’t trust the President’s judgment on these matters any more.

  2. Well, reenforcing an area that needs more attention should not be all that controversial, unless one is mowing political hay.

    Perhaps I missed it, but it seems I am the only person who noticed that Iranian insurgents are finally being arrested in the border regions.

  3. So here’s the big question: What can Congress do about this? Is there any way that they can actually bring the troops home over Bush’s protests?

  4. You had me at waitress sandwich.

  5. Ron asks a good question, what is the plan? Shockingly there is one. I think Congress ought to have a hearing on the plan and bring in Petreus, the guy who is behind it and in charge of implimenting it. Petreus is not may favorite general by any stretch. But, he is great in front of the camera, a complete media whore and one smart guy. Petreaus crushing mental midgets like Chuck Hagel in a conversation about strategy and tactics would be made for TV Congress.

  6. Couldn’t Gates get nearly all his “extra 100,000” just by bringing the troops home from Germany, Japan, and Korea? These three developed nations are perfectly capable of providing for their own defense and we don’t need American troops there serving as tripwires to involve us in another conflict.
    The world may need policemen, but not just a
    policeman.

  7. I suggest we mobilize all of America’s arm-chair generals and blognosticators into one last, massive sweep through Iraq. This overwhelming show of snark would have the insurgents throwing up their arms and fleeing for the border, freeing U.S. Guardsmen to finally commence with the cleanup of our own little Baghdad: New Orleans.

  8. Perhaps I missed it, but it seems I am the only person who noticed that Iranian insurgents are finally being arrested in the border regions.

    If the government says they are insurgents, then you better give them a big electrical shock or shoot them with a helicopter, Guy.

    Open borders for me, etc., etc.

  9. Sam Franklin,

    Are you the only person who has identified me in Grand Theft Auto SA? BTW, I will gladly autograph copies of the game at the next Reasonoid gathering.

    thoreau,
    So here’s the big question: What can Congress do about this? Is there any way that they can actually bring the troops home over Bush’s protests?

    They can stop funding activity in Iraq, they can prohibit funds from being spent in Iraq, etc. Article I section 2 IIRC.

  10. :- | January 12, 2007, 9:43am | #

    I suggest we mobilize all of America’s arm-chair generals and blognosticators into one last, massive sweep through Iraq. This overwhelming show of snark would have the insurgents throwing up their arms and fleeing for the border, freeing U.S. Guardsmen to finally commence with the cleanup of our own little Baghdad: New Orleans.
    ***

    Hear, hear! And why will it work? “Because it has to”, that’s why!

  11. “Are you the only person who has identified me in Grand Theft Auto SA? BTW, I will gladly autograph copies of the game at the next Reasonoid gathering.”

    Say whuh?

  12. He is probably threatening violence against me again. Let him threaten. We’ll see if he has the stones to come attack me in real life.

  13. Guy Montag gets points for connecting the dots. Not just more troops but more vague rules of engagement regarding borders, the raid on the Iranians in Irbil, and the naming of Hizballah as major terrorist threat to the U.S.

    What is the plan? War with Iran and possibly Syria. If Israel attacks and Iran and Iran retaliates against U.S. troops in Iraq Congress will roll over not only because Congress is pro-Israel but because the only real counterweight to the pro-Israel crowd, the Saudis, would like to see it happen too.

    The Middle East is a suckers’ game. Guess who the suckers are.

  14. I’m thinking that GW and friends are deliberately “pushing the envelope” on impeachment. He is making it next to impossible for the public to direct policy with his unilateral decision to escalate. If we don’t remove him soon, there is no hope against future abuses.

    In the past such warmongering has had widespread public support that trampled out dissent. This style of warmongering is so unilateral with such limited support that if we don’t impeach and remove him it will essentially set up future presidents as de facto monarchs.

    Already the media lapdogs are talking about how difficult it is to derail this unsupported escalation. “We don’t want to handcuff the options of future presidents” is the mantra. Why not? Why should we be able to send conventional military forces to intervene at the drop of the hat? What real threat to our national security can be solved by immediate use of conventional forces – when a real face-to-face military confrontation with our country is suicidal? It makes no sense! Yet our presidents continue to utilize prenuclear rhetoric to justify pouring more money into armaments and using those armaments to destroy smaller governments. That’s why I see a nuclear Iran as a good thing.

  15. thoreau,

    In theory, Congress could stop funding the war. That is highly unlikely, however, mostly for political reasons. There is no easy out, which the no-longer-minority party is quickly realizing. I hope we stumble into some sort of stable situation in Iraq–whether we stay or go–but I have little faith that anything we’re currently planning to do will have the desired results.

    I think a partition makes the most sense at this point, with U.S./NATO/UN guarantees of the borders in the near term. We could retain bases in the north, I’m sure, without much political fallout.

  16. Pro,

    I saw Joe Biden on one of the talk shows and he says that it is impossible to just defund the war. He certainly knows more about Congressional funding rules than I do and I have no reason to doubt him. They are not going to defund the war.

    I go back to my original point, how many people who are dismissing this even know much less understand the plan. They really are changing tactics. The American military has a lot of faults, but it has shown in the past that it can learn from its mistakes and adapt its tactics. I don’t know if this is the case here, but I would like to hear a more serious debate about it. I really would like to see Petreus or someone high up in the planning and decision making process go before Congress and debate and explain the plan in front of the American people.

  17. Hey, 21,000 soldiers can move around a lot of deck chairs.

    Changing tactics? The tactics aren’t the problem here.

  18. The problem is the violence inherent in the system.

  19. The snark bomb will work.
    We just have to give it time.

  20. Could Congress declare Bush incapacitated by reason of insanity?

  21. The snark bomb won’t “work” to make Iraq stable and decent, any more than Bush’s efforts have worked.

    On the other hand, the snark bomb won’t kill thousands of our soldiers, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, prevent us from waging an effective war agaisnt Al Qaeda, endanger the fragile democracy in Kurdistan, and allow Iran to become a powerful regional hegemon while tamping down its domestic opposition.

    The difference between those who’ve spent the last six years snarking about this idiotic adventures, and those suckered into supporting it, is that the former haven’t done any damage to their country’s interests, security, and reputation.

  22. “Pro Libertate | January 12, 2007, 11:28am | #
    The problem is the violence inherent in the system.”

    come see the violence inherent in the system!
    come see the violence inherent in the system!
    Help! help! I’m being repressed!

  23. Meanwhile a good thing occurs on the sidelines, where McCain is attempting to commit political suicide.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070112/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq

    If we could get the rest of the bunch (on both sides of the aisle) to join McCain, and then get an even half decent libertarian candidate, then there might be hope.

    I’m a fool…

  24. VM,

    Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

  25. You haven’t read The daVinci Code have you? Laying strange women in ponds would an absolutely perfect basis for government.

  26. Congress can withdraw authorization for the military to be in Iraq. At that point, the president has 90 days to withdraw forces.

    Unless that law’s been repealed, Congress continues to authorize the war.

  27. “Changing tactics? The tactics aren’t the problem here.”

    Yeah they are Joe. Talk to the people on the ground. The military has been playing mother may I with the Iraqi government and tying its hands behind its back since the government was stood up. Read what people like retired general Keene and General Petreaus are saying. But you won’t. It is not so much that you don’t know anything, it is that you don’t want to know anything that might upset your world view that is so troubling. You are totally incapable of seeing two sides of any issue.

  28. Evan!,

    “Are you the only person who has identified me in Grand Theft Auto SA? BTW, I will gladly autograph copies of the game at the next Reasonoid gathering.”

    Say whuh?

    Sorry, thought he was referring to my lines in GTASA, talking about black helicopters, shooting people and electrical-taping up heads of people.

    No, I did not write the lines and when I saw them I thought it was an over-the-top fantasy by a Leftist on what people who do not agree with them think. But it was fun to do.

  29. Thanks for the explanation. I didn’t know much about that videogame except that people get beat up in it. I prefer Rally-X, Wizard of Wor and Paperboy on the old MAME.

  30. “The military has been playing mother may I with the Iraqi government and tying its hands behind its back since the government was stood up.”

    Oh boy, here we go. If only the politicians had unleashed Chiang…

    I’ve seen this movie before, and I now how it ends.

  31. If someone who wasn’t as universally reviled as a deluded hack warned me about partisan bias, I might be concerned.

    But it’s just John, and being accused of “not seeing both sides” by the likes of you just indicates to me that I’m on the right course.

  32. I saw Joe Biden on one of the talk shows and he says that it is impossible to just defund the war. He certainly knows more about Congressional funding rules than I do and I have no reason to doubt him. They are not going to defund the war.

    Perhaps Mr. Biden is ripping off the wrong work this time because anybody who can read the Constitution knows better.

    However, if he meant that there are not enough votes in both houses to defund then he is probably correct.

  33. Biden is terrified that someone might say he’s less bloodthirsty than Dick Cheney. He doesn’t have the stones to stand up to the Republicans, but he has to hide behind phoney Constitutional arguments, because Democratic voters are sick of tired of such cowardice.

  34. joe,

    If “Democratic voters are sick of tired of such cowardice” he would no longer be in office.

    BTW, everybody who quotes the BS stats that 75% (or whatever it ‘is’ at the moment) of Americans want us out of Iraq before sunset is just trying to snow you. If that were the case, every Congresscritter would be trying to trump each other with a withdrawl package and it would be voted in a lot faster than the “100 hours of work” (in 100 days) business that is going on now.

    The “get out now” numbers were supposed to be pretty high the last time an immediate withdrawl was voted on and you saw where that went.

    If anybody posts that 75% of the people want us out “now” and does not bother to include the question, as worded in the poll, just conclude they are full of shit and move on. One thing that politicians are predictible about is strong majority feelings and they are quite willing to suck up to those.

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