Rudy Giuliani

No Retreat, Baby

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Jim Geraghty reports that the Bush administration is going to win back your support for the Iraq War with a surge of subtlely:

John McCain says he has been told General Petraeus will be testifying before the Senate on September 11.

McCain also plans a themed campaign tour to build up support for the war.

We're going to get together a lot of our veterans, medal of honor winners, those who have served in Iraq, and we're going to launch the "No Surrender Tour." We're going to try to build up support for this strategy, the anti-war people have been very active, so we're going to try to organize not just for men and women serving, but the strategy.

If the O'Hanlon/Pollack column taught us anything it's that parades of soldiers or senators mouthing support for the war doesn't matter anymore, and that reports–however pre-determined–on the political situation in Iraq are all that matters. And even then their impact is limited. People make fun of Thomas Friedman or Bill O'Reilly for saying multiple times that we only had "a few months" or "six months" to turn the war around, revising their deadlines as soon as, well, the situation was obviously not getting better. They sound silly now, but they were on to something. In retrospect there was about an eighteen-month period, from early 2004 to late 2005, when Americans were losing confidence in the war but willing to give Bush and Rumsfeld a chance to fix it. The good will's completely gone now and only marginally reacts to bursts of good news from Iraq.

As to the politics of McCainapalooza, I like Ryan Sager's response:

I don't get this strategy for a simple reason: While the base certainly still supports the war, it's not as if Mr. McCain's opponents don't. He's not going to out-hawk Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson; he can run even with them on hawkishness, but that's not going to revive a corpse of a campaign.

Also, wasn't "No Surrender" the theme song of the Kerry '04 campaign?

UPDATE: Wise commenters, take note that Congress only mandated that Petraeus report before September 15. The September 11 date was chosen by the White House to meet that deadline with a little time to spare, and for no other reason whatsoever.

UPDATE II: OK, I'm unclear on who makes the final decision here–I don't know if it's the executive branch or Congressional Democrats. So some of my snark is probably unwarranted. 

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  1. Geraghty also reports that the date was determined by Congress, but don’t let that detail get in the way of your narrative.

  2. All the MONEY ($) we’ve spent in IRAQ… we could have the entire country for twice the going value.

  3. We could have purchased the entire country…that is

  4. When we leave Iraq, at a time of our choosing, in order to make more effective use of our military and diplomatic assets, there is no doubt that our enemies are going to try to spin it as a defeat for us. And when they do, they are going to be very grateful to John McCain and the rest of his party for giving them so many sound bites that help with their efforts.

    Shame, Senator! Shame!

    But I don’t want to dwell on the negative.

    How fortunate we are, to have so little experience with military defeat that it is plausible that people in this nation could conceivably think that redeploying out of Iraq, after having smashed its military and topppled its government, could be considered a surrender.

    No one who has lived in a country that has actually had to surrender at the end of a war could possibly make that mistake.

  5. Sure, Peder, and the fellas on the Lincoln decided to put up a Mission Accomplished banner all on their own.

    Congress directred General Patreus to testify before the status report was submitted on September 15. The executive branch picked September 11 all by themselves.

  6. John McCain says he has been told General Petraeus will be testifying before the Senate on September 11.

    Gee, that’s funny. Isn’t September 11th also the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the TWC? Interesting how he’s reporting on the situation on the war in iraq and not something relevant to the date, huh.

  7. Will we be seeing a lot of argument from emotion?

  8. Geraghty also reports that the date was determined by Congress, but don’t let that detail get in the way of your narrative.

    If Dave changes his opening salvo to be more honest, he’ll fall even further behind Atrios in the contentless snark per post competition.

  9. “The good will’s completely gone now and only marginally reacts to bursts of good news from Iraq.”

    As we all know, there is nothing good happening in Iraq at all. The surge is not working. How do I know? Because a magazine tells me so. All the stories in the news about politicians from both parties, Carl Levin being the latest, indicating that the surge is working are pure bunk. All those inconvenient statistics indicating decreased civilian and military deaths, a 50% drop in suicide bombings etc. those are all because of hot weather, right?
    Reason is so fucking pathetic and arrogant it is amazing. You guys absolutely refuse to admit that there is any progress at all in Iraq because it goes against your foreign policy worldviews. For god’s sake, even the AP had to admit recently that the surge was working; O’hanlon and Pollack, you know the guys you cite favorably, even say its working. But hey, since you guys say its not, who are we to question you? Please spare us the snark. You don’t need it to make asses of yourselves.

  10. People make fun of Thomas Friedman or Bill O’Reilly

    And rightly so!

  11. Reason is so fucking pathetic and arrogant it is amazing. You guys absolutely refuse to admit that there is any progress at all in Iraq because it goes against your foreign policy worldviews.

    This isn’t about winning or losing the war. We oppose it because we have no right to be there. It is entirely possible to win an unjust war.

    If war is only about winning, then let’s go to war against Morocco or Jamaica. Surely we can win against those! If you disagree then you must be a traitor!

  12. Joe, I’m willing to wait to see some other reporting on this stuff but that is what he reported. I’m not going to try and stop you from seeing bad faith from the administration but Dave is either giving sloppy reporting here or his lede is full of intellectual bad faith.

  13. Jimbo got the RNC fax.

    He singled out prominent war supporters Mike O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack as war critics.

    He throws out statistics comparing July 07 to June 07, despite the fact that casualties have fallen in every July compared to every June since the war began, due to Muslim holy days.

    AND he failed to note that attacks and deaths are higher in July 07 than in July 06.

  14. Jimbo –
    If it helps any, the people here don’t care if we’re winning the war or not. It doesn’t do anything for us for people to be against the war, and we don’t need the “surge” not to be working in order for us to still hold our opinions.

  15. Jimbo got the RNC fax.
    That’s what it sounded like to me too. It was like someone typed a response while listening to fox news.

  16. Jimbo Jones writes:

    All those inconvenient statistics indicating decreased civilian and military deaths, a 50% drop in suicide bombings etc. those are all because of hot weather, right?

    You’re right, civilian deaths have decreased, but it’s not because of the hot weather. The US military has put ex-Baathist Sunni insurgents on its payroll. That’s why civilian deaths are decreasing. So, we’re helping to arm a group that’s in open defiance of the government we put in power (the Shiite-Kurd gov).. you tell me, is that a workable solution?

  17. Oh come on guys, in your hearts you all know full well what’s going to happen. Petraeus will show up and say some stuff. Everybody will talk about it until it gets boring. And the war will continue unabated, ’cause a Bush never backs down.

    Also, the Republicans in Congress will continue to whine nervously about the war but do nothing, in a manner similar to a pack of whipped dogs.

  18. Also, the Republicans in Congress will continue to whine nervously about the war but do nothing, in a manner similar to a pack of whipped dogs.

    And the Democrats in the majority in Congress will bark loudly but do nothing in a manner similar to a pack of lap dogs.

  19. Regardless of when the report is given, what I think is the most important detail is the fact that the White House will be authoring the progress report, not General Petreus. The White House has said he will have input into the report but that ultimately, it is the White House who will be giving a progress report to Congress. The White House even fought to keep Petreus from having to face Congress and answer any questions.

    This “report” is being held up as some important event when, in essence, it will be nothing more than another opportunity for the WH to push propaganda under the auspices of informing the public/Congress.

    Who wants to bet that the report will say that the surge is working and everything in Iraq is coming along nicely?

  20. Who wants to bet that the report will say that the surge is working and everything in Iraq is coming along nicely?

    It’ll be loaded with FUs too.

  21. “Who wants to bet that the report will say that the surge is working and everything in Iraq is coming along nicely?”

    DON’T FORGET THE FRESHLY-PAINTED, NEW SCHOOLS!

    SCHOOLS!!!!!

  22. VM,

    That’s why the Democrats don’t want to leave Iraq–the dreaded teachers’ union has struck again.

  23. The US military has put ex-Baathist Sunni insurgents on its payroll.

    No way anything can go wrong there, huh?

  24. “And the Democrats in the majority in Congress will bark loudly but do nothing in a manner similar to a pack of lap dogs.”
    Again, I think it crazy to assert either moral equivalence here on the war. Since the Democrats took over there have been at least several votes on the Iraq War, and pretty much every one of their members voted the responsible way. The GOP voted goosestep (I mean lockstep?) behind their leader to kill every measure. What in the world do you want from the Dems, I mean really. There is such a thing as a filibuster and the GOP keeps on and on using it to kill anything that would condition a pull out. The two parties are not even close on this. In fact, they were not even close at the beginning when the Dems in the Senate split and the ones in the House opposed this debacle. Only Lincoln Chafee and like 5 GOPers in the House had any sanity on this issue. This madhouse is their baby, the Dems have made moves to curtail it, but they keep on propping it up. And then we go and say “oh a pox on both their houses.” Indeed…
    The Dems screw up enough stuff (in my opinion gun control and affirmative action are the big two) without us needing to blame them for things they are actually doing right.

  25. WHEN THE URKOBOLD WAS IN VIETNAM, HE LEARNED AN IMPORTANT LESSON: ALWAYS BACK THE HO.

  26. “Will we be seeing a lot of argument from emotion?”

    Of course we will, the millitary is known for emotional outbursts.


  27. And the Democrats in the majority in Congress will bark loudly but do nothing in a manner similar to a pack of lap dogs.

    You miss the point. Dems have nothing to lose by criticizing the war; Republicans do. Thus the “whipped dog” analogy — the pack will cower until, eventually, fear of the voters outweighs the fear of the man in the White House and they turn on him. You might call it the “Doctor Moreau” effect.

  28. Dave, thanks for the updates.

  29. What in the world do you want from the Dems, I mean really.

    To end the effing war, Mr. Nice Guy, using their majority in both houses to cut off effing funding. And not hint, like most Democratic presidential candidates, that it might take a looooong time to finish the redeployment, say a couple of decades, since they’d like to keep bashing Bush while implementing the same war policies with shiny new packaging do the job right.

    Was that so hard to figure out?

  30. Of course the surge is “working”. You just have to know what the surge was FOR.

    The purpose of the surge was to allow for the announcement of a policy change in order to take pressure off the White House for six months.

    It accomplished that goal.

    When Petraeus testifies, the purpose of his testimony will be to gain an additional six months of lessened pressure on the White House. There will be a song and dance about how all that is needed now is more time. The same old song.

    Between bullshitting about waiting for the Baker commission report, bullshitting about talking over the Baker commission report, bullshitting about devising a new strategy, the bullshit that is that strategy, and the bullshit of Petraeus reporting on that strategy, the administration will have bought itself almost 2 years of time. It’s a stall. Anyone who has ever been BSed by a colleague about the timetable for completion of a project recognizes stall tactics when they see them. This entire surge charade has been one of the best.

  31. Will Rudy go all super-saiyan when the power of 9-11 and Iraq combine on the same day?

  32. There is such a thing as a filibuster and the GOP keeps on and on using it to kill anything that would condition a pull out.

    Cue circa-2003 Sean Hannity clips deriding the Democrats use of the filibuster…

    Nuclear option, anyone?

  33. Yes, the date is driven by the Democrats who schedule everything because they’re in the majority.

    You could even check this if you had the sense God gave a geoduck.

    But what fun is fact-checking?

  34. There are various ways to end the war, one would be to hold up funding. That is seen by many people as politically risky (we want the Dems to do the right thing, which they have done, but do they have to be heroic in doing so to get your admiration?), perhaps suicidal. Also, it has been seen as risky to troops (what if Bush decides to just keep them there without funding, he is a nut). But the Dems have proposed several times a date mandating a pull out, and the GOP blocked it. Nearly every Dem voted the right way while nearly every GOP voted the wrong way. So of course its really the Democrats fault, eh? (please note that despite the Dems “majority” they have one member who does not vote but is drooling in a DC hospital, I guess you guys think he should be propped up and made to vote and if the Dems don’t they are “equally” at fault with the GOP).
    Charlie-uh, yeah the Dems schedule the votes. In fact they have several times on this subject, and then delivered the votes they are responsible for. But, uh, they can’t win votes that are filibustered.
    Look, if the Dems get a filibuster proof Senate and THEN don’t end the war, then shame on them. But until then they are plainly the good guys on this issue.

  35. Look, if the Dems get a filibuster proof Senate and THEN don’t end the war, then shame on them. But until then they are plainly the good guys on this issue.

    So, Mr. Good Guy, your contention is that if we only give the Democratic majority that already has the power to quit funding the war a “surge” in votes they will then end the war — despite the backtracking from virtually ever Democrat running for president on this issue, and the happytalk about “supporting the troops” coming from those bloc-voting Democratic representatives.

    We just need to give that surge a chance, and the Democrats will come through for us! And if they don’t, only then will it be time to take action, yeah?

    Funny, seems like I’ve heard something similar to that before …

  36. I really, really really fucking hate 9/11 anniversaries. This will make it even worse this year.

    I think I’m going to need a lot of Samuel Adams Octoberfest.

  37. Here’s some testimony from a few vets on the ground:

    “This unit sets up this traffic control point and this 18 year old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50 caliber machine gun,” remembered Geoffrey Millard who served in Tikrit with the 42nd Infantry Division. “And this car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split second decision that that’s a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts 200 rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father and two kids. The boy was aged four and the daughter was aged three.”

    “And they briefed this to the general,” Millard said, “and they briefed it gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. They briefed it to him. And this colonel turns around to this full division staff and says, ‘if these fucking Hadjis learned to drive, this shit wouldn’t happen.'”

    Camilo Mejia, who eventually applied while still on active duty to become a conscientious objector, said the ugly side of American racism and chauvinism appeared the moment his unit arrived in the Middle East. Fellow soldiers instantly ridiculed Arab-style toilets because they would be “shitting like dogs.” The troops around him treated Iraqis, whose language they did not speak and whose culture was alien, little better than animals. The word “Hadji” swiftly became a slur to refer to Iraqis, in much the same way “gook” was used to debase the Vietnamese or “rag head” is used to belittle those in Afghanistan.

    Soon those around him ridiculed “Hadji food,” “Hadji homes,” and “Hadji music.” Bewildered prisoners, who were rounded up in useless and indiscriminate raids, were stripped naked, and left to stand terrified and bewildered for hours in the baking sun. They were subjected to a steady torrent of verbal and physical abuse. “I experienced horrible confusion,” Mejia remembers, “not knowing whether I was more afraid for the detainees or for what would happen to me if I did anything to help them.”

    Another returning vet relates. “A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.
    As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.”

    Sorry, we need to take out a few three and four year olds so that maybe, hopefully, someday, somehow, but we don’t know how, you’ll have a democracy, whatever that is.

  38. Jimbo Jones,

    Keep to your guns. Don’t let these right wing hippies with their misnamed Reason magazine intimidate you.

    Maybe they think overthrowing a murderous tyrant who Laurie Mylorie says planned the 93 WTC bombing and knew and assisted in the 9/11 attack (Salman Pak training and Hussein’s son’s newspaper bragging ahead of time of the 9/11 attack) isn’t worth doing, but I certainly do.

  39. Will Rudy go all super-saiyan when the power of 9-11 and Iraq combine on the same day?

    General Petraeus might. He’s already Bush’s Fair Haired Boy.

  40. Douglas Gray,

    That was quite a ramble. Was there a point in there or is this some sort of group therapy thing?

    “Sorry, we need to take out a few three and four year olds so that maybe, hopefully, someday, somehow, but we don’t know how, you’ll have a democracy, whatever that is.”

    Is that your “point”?

  41. Laurie Mylorie says

    Oh, well, all right then.

    I wish I had a dream world to retreat to.

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