Are we burned out on the escalation
surge yet? Its not that the “surge” has done Bush’s poll numbers much good (“the lowest level of approval ever measured by Rasmussen Reports”), but poll numbers even as abysmal as those are not really the issue. You could say that G.W. Bush is taking one for the team. The Right has pushed the sonic barriers of shrillness to sell the war that Bush-Cheney lied us into as a win-lose proposition. There was never the chance for the kind of traditional victory that one expects in a war because of the political-religious and ethnic tensions at work in Iraq. Heresy of heresies internal conflict was inevitable with the U.S. trying to shove western style democracy down Iraqi throats at the point of a gun. So knowing damn well they will not see any white flags from the various insurgents all Bush wants to do now is pull a Nixon with the slim hope that he can pass off the conservative baton to an ideological clone. How Republicans Win if We Lose in Iraq – Bush and the GOP are shifting tactics just like Nixon did with Vietnam — to win the next election, not the war.
During the first years of the Iraq war, any resemblance to Vietnam was the result of the Bush administration’s disastrous miscalculations. But today, the Iraq war is looking more and more like the Vietnam War because that’s exactly what suits the White House.
Writing on this page Thursday, Jonah Goldberg praised President Bush for telling Americans that “he will settle for nothing less than winning” in Iraq. Sure, Goldberg acknowledged, Bush “may be deluding himself,” but at least he’s “trying to win.” No, he’s not.
It’s clear that Bush knows perfectly well there’s no possibility of “winning” anymore, so apparently he’s seeking in Iraq exactly what Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger sought in Vietnam before the 1972 election: a face-saving “decent interval” before the virtually inevitable collapse of the U.S.-backed government.
By 1971, Nixon and Kissinger understood that “winning” in Vietnam was no longer in the cards — so they shifted from trying to win the war to trying to win the next election. As Nixon put it in March 1971: “We can’t have [the South Vietnamese] knocked over brutally … ” Kissinger finished the thought ” … before the election.” So Nixon and Kissinger pushed the South Vietnamese to “stand on their own,” promising we’d support them if necessary. But at the same time, Kissinger assured the North Vietnamese — through China — that the U.S. wouldn’t intervene to prevent a North Vietnamese victory — as long as that victory didn’t come with embarrassing speed.
As historian Jeffrey Kimball has documented, Kissinger’s talking points for his first meeting with Chinese Premier Chou En-lai on the topic of Vietnam included a promise that the U.S. would withdraw all troops and “leave the political evolution of Vietnam to the Vietnamese.” The U.S. would “let objective realities” — North Vietnamese military superiority — “shape the political future.” In the margins of his briefing book, Kissinger scrawled a handwritten elaboration for Chou: “We want a decent interval. You have our assurance.”
The “decent interval” strategy worked. By declaring that “peace was at hand,” Kissinger took the wind out of antiwar Democrat George McGovern’s sails, and Nixon won reelection. And though Nixon himself later fell to the Watergate scandal, the Republican Party successfully used the “decent interval” to cast the Democratic Party in the role of spoiler.
To M’s Brooks’ credit she has a limited parameter for her analogy to Nam. The observation that Bush is playing politics with Iraq isn’t gaining traction, its that it is too obvious to ignore Five Flaws in the Presidents Plan
The commitment of 21,500 more troops is a political gimmick of limited tactical significance and of no strategic benefit. It is insufficient to win the war militarily. It will engage U.S. forces in bloody street fighting that will not resolve with finality the ongoing turmoil and the sectarian and ethnic strife, not to mention the anti-American insurgency.
· The decision to escalate the level of the U.S. military involvement while imposing “benchmarks” on the “sovereign” Iraqi regime, and to emphasize the external threat posed by Syria and Iran, leaves the administration with two options once it becomes clear — as it almost certainly will — that the benchmarks are not being met. One option is to adopt the policy of “blame and run”: i.e., to withdraw because the Iraqi government failed to deliver. That would not provide a remedy for the dubious “falling dominoes” scenario, which the president so often has outlined as the inevitable, horrific consequence of U.S. withdrawal. The other alternative, perhaps already lurking in the back of Bush’s mind, is to widen the conflict by taking military action against Syria or Iran.
As crazy as the idea of spreading the war to Iran and Syria is to anyone, but the right-wing dead enders the spread does remain an option. The Bush crew has exploited American’s loyalty and patriotism to the most cynical ends in Iraq so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they would try and pull the same trick again. Its really the only trick the Right knows, proping up their lack of ideas and morality on a thin veneer of gung-hoism.
No sir don’t you dare be critical of the Secretary of State when he/she appears before the Senate. That’s what they do in them there democracies, White House Made No Casualty Estimates for ‘Surge’ Plan According to Rice Admission!
We’ve been asking since last Sunday — and then again just after Bush’s Wednesday night speech when he said, “We must expect more Iraqi and American casualties” — what the White House’s estimates are for the increased (or decreased) body count that we can expect vis a vis his new plan for a troop “augmentation” (nee “surge”) in Iraq.
Surely due-diligence when creating such a plan requires such estimates be made by the military for the cost expected in blood for our U.S. troops before such a plan is actually te>implemented.
But good golly, what’s important to Fox and the Right is that Senator Boxer(D) brought up the issue of family and sacrifice. What was Boxer thinking,
SEN. BARBARA BOXER: Do you have an estimate of the number of casualties we expect from this surge?
SEC. CONDOLEEZA RICE: No, uh, Senator…I don’t think there’s any way to give you such an estimate.
BOXER: Has the President, because he said ‘expect more sacrifice’, he must know…
RICE: Senator, I don’t think that any of us, uh, have a number. That, of expected casualties. I think that people understand there is going to be violence for some time in Iraq. And that there will be more casualties and…Let me just say, you know, I fully understand the sacrifice that the American people are making and especially the sacrifice that our soldiers are making. Men and women in uniform. I…I visit them. I know what they’re going through. I talk to their families. I see it. (pause) I could never…and I can never do anything to replace any of those, uh, lost, uh, men and women in uniform. Or the diplomats…
BOXER: Madame Secretary, if you please…I know you feel terrible about it. That’s not the point. I was making the point as to who pays the price for your decisions. And the fact that this administration would move forward with this escalation with no clue as to the further price that we’re gonna pay militarily. We certainly know the numbers. Billions of dollars that we can’t spend here in this country. I find really appalling that there’s not even enough time taken to figure out what the casualties would be. Thank you very much.
RICE: Senator, I think it would be highly unlikely for the military to tell the President ‘We expect X number of casualties because of this augmentation of the forces’ …and again, let me just say, the President sees this as an effort to help the Iraqis with an urgent task, so that the sectarian violence in Baghdad does not outrun the political process and make it impossible to have the kind of national reconciliation that we all want to see there.
I clipped out the text of the pertinent part of the exchange because it is important to understand the point the Senator was trying to make. Yet again the military, the individuals that will be doing the dying are this administration’s last consideration in any policy decision. Has the right-wing noise machine said anything about Republicans Hagel, Smith, Voinovich, or Collins? No. Because when conservatives voice almost the exactly same objections they’re being deeply thoughtful, but when Democrats speak out they’re crazy lefty loons. You have to be dead for two days not to notice a blister of hypocrisy so large you can see it from Mars. Lieberman blasts Senator Chuck Hagel as rancorous, partisan
No doubt Lieberman is referring to the harsh words coming from his colleagues across the aisle, including Republican senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who told Condoleezza Rice today that escalating the conflict represents “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it’s carried out;” Gordon Smith of Oregon, who calls the president’s policy absurd and possibly criminal; Sam Brownback of Kansas, who wants to partition Iraq and says the US “should not increase its involvement” until Sunnis and Shiites stop shooting at each other; Susan Collins of Maine, who says “I don’t think more troops is the answer to the violence;” and Ohio’s George Voinovich, who says “I’ve bought into [Bush’s] dream and at this stage of the game I just don’t think its going to happen.”
More analysis at the link.
“Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.” – Lord Acton