Barry Eisler

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Conservatives and Iraq

I read David Brooks' NYT column this morning. Wow.

"Partitioning the country would be traumatic, so after the election it probably makes sense to make one last effort to hold the place together. Fire Donald Rumsfeld to signal a break with the past. Alter troop rotations so that 30,000 more troops are policing Baghdad.

"But if that does not restore order, if Iraqi ministries remain dysfunctional and the national institutions remain sectarian institutions in disguise, then surely it will be time to accede to reality. It will be time to effectively end Iraq, with a remaining fig-leaf central government or not. It will be time to radically diffuse authority down to the only communities that are viable — the clan, tribe or sect."

It's one thing when Democrats call for change in Iraq (although most of them are "bold" enough to criticize the course we're staying, but too chickenshit to offer specifics on what course to adopt instead). But when mainstays of conservatism like Brooks and George Will say the war has failed, it has failed. President Bush famously said he would not change course even if his only support came from Laura and his dog. That day seems fast approaching.

The only point Brooks made that I don't understand is this: "A muscular U.S. military presence will be more necessary than ever, to deter neighboring powers and contain bloodshed."

Besides hating the word "muscular" when used to describe foreign policy or military presence ("muscular" is all about appearance, rather than action or even ability), I don't know what our troops will be able to accomplish in the midst of what even Brooks describes as "not so much a civil war as a complete social disintegration."

The worse Republicans do on Tuesday, the more urgently they will seek to end our Iraq misadventure before the presidential election in November '08. As a side benefit, they might even conclude that juvenile, intelligence-insulting, mendacious political ads don't work and ought to be abandoned.

How did the old Nixon ad run? "Vote like your life depended on it."
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6 Comments:

Blogger Joshua James said...

Not that I wish to defend Democrats, but they did offer up an alternative, specific course of action to Congress not too long ago that was shot down by Repubs, did they not?

I think Murtha has been very specific in the course he'd like to take with Iraq, only to have his courage questioned . . . not that I agree with some of these plans, but it's not really fair to say the Dem's are too chickenshit to offer up specifics regarding Iraq, is it not?

Thursday, November 02, 2006 3:11:00 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Joshua, I didn't mean to imply that all Dems are chickenshit. Murtha is certainly courageous; Biden has been, too. Hilary Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have suggested nothing concrete, though, and I think we can call them the party's leaders and its presidential frontrunners. I haven't heard Obama on Iraq, either. If the party leadership agrees with Murtha's or Biden's proposal, they need to get behind it, without equivocation, if they have the courage of their convictions.

But if I've missed something here, please let me know. I don't want to disdain the Dems (or anyone else) without reason...

Thursday, November 02, 2006 3:23:00 PM  
Blogger JD Rhoades said...

There are many things I find strange in this debate:
(1) The captain and crew that have steered the ship onto the rocks turning to the people complaining and saying "well, do you have a plan to get us off?"
(2) The fact that so many people on the Internets, who are, we can assume literate in the use of said internets, including the Google, complaining that "they haven't heard [insert Democrat here]'s plan or position on Iraq" when said plan or position is on their WEBSITE, for God's sake.
I'll agree that Clinton and Kerry, however, have been fairly useless on the issue.

Thursday, November 02, 2006 4:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

1. Partitioning Iraq has two major problems. They are:
1. The Iraqi people supposedly don't want it, and probably even more problematic,
2. The oil in Iraq isn't spread equally throughout the country. Any three-way partition is going to have to create an equal oil split in some fashion or the partition will never work.

2. American and/or Western presence is part of the destabilization factor. Bringing on more U.S./British troops probably will not quell insurrection, at least Islamic insurrection. The U.S. (and I don't believe for one second we'll see this happen) needs to reach out to countries with largely Muslim military to take over peacekeeping in Iraq. That would be Pakistan and Indonesia and other Middle Eastern and Asian countries. This is a swamp the U.S. created and it's unlikely Muslim-oriented companies would want to take it over unless they're given incentives (like oil) that the U.S. is very unlikely to accede. [Also, much of this requires that President Bush and VP Cheney use one of the following phrases:
1. We made a mistake.
2. We were wrong.
3. We screwed up.
4. We take responsibility for the mess we made and now we're going to come up with something intelligent and creative to fix it.]

Best,
Mark Terry
www.markterrybooks.com

Friday, November 03, 2006 6:59:00 AM  
Anonymous db said...

be, I had given up on this midterm. In Maryland, the world is upside down, with a Republican acting moderate and Democrats looking like sleazy big business. My wife is the political junkie. I just hope things improve. However, I do not have the faith or hope that was with me even 4 years ago. I was active in the 60's and voted in the , 70's and I really miss seeing that aura of hope in young peoples eyes. Sorry for the ramble, but I will vote this year but I'm putting camphor under my nose to mask the stench.

Friday, November 03, 2006 9:23:00 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

JD: "here are many things I find strange in this debate:
"(1) The captain and crew that have steered the ship onto the rocks turning to the people complaining and saying "well, do you have a plan to get us off?""

I agree that the captain and crew don't have the moral authority implicit in this question, but somebody has to ask it. Especially if he's saying he ought to be the new captain.

"(2) The fact that so many people on the Internets, who are, we can assume literate in the use of said internets, including the Google, complaining that "they haven't heard [insert Democrat here]'s plan or position on Iraq" when said plan or position is on their WEBSITE, for God's sake."

First, what are ya trying to get me to do with those Internets and The Google references, cause me a hemorrhage-inducing laughter attack?!

Second, some of the said plans are plans in name only. Part of what's made Dem/Rep debate on Iraq so desultory is that the differing "policies" are, in practice, nearly the same. Understandable, perhaps, because with the exception of courageous early adopters like Murtha, no one wants to be the politician who says to America, "it's over, we lost, the whole thing was a galactic waste that can never be recovered or justified." A necessary and honest diagnosis, true, but not a welcome one at the polls (although I think that's changing, thank God).

Mark, I largely agree with your description of partition problems. But the country is disintegrating anyway. In the face of a storm like this, I think we need windmills, not windbreaks.

Db, I'm with you on the camphor.

Friday, November 03, 2006 11:47:00 AM  

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