Carol Platt Liebau: Iraq Surge, Congressional Purge?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Iraq Surge, Congressional Purge?

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

This American Thinker article describes turmoil in Democratic Congressional ranks caused by the Surge's progress (which is necessary but not sufficient to our success in Iraq).

All would agree, I think, that in supporting Rumsfeld until November 2006, Bush stayed too long with a failing team, a team so invested in the course it had chosen that it could not admit mistakes or make changes. The 2006 electoral thumpin' caused Bush to jettison Rumsfeld and to put in place the people responsible for turning the situation around militarily.

It may be time for Congressional Democrats to dump the leadership that invested in defeat and has become identified with defeatism. I don't see Joe Lieberman becoming majority leader, but replacing Reid and Pelosi and making Lieberman chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee would be a good start.

This is a war we might still win and definitely still could lose. There are enough Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats to come together to see this thing through. Let's hope -- no, let's insist -- that they do.

UPDATE: Wile E.: I embedded your link. Ruth Anne :)

16 Comments:

Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Didn't someone say mission accomplished on May 2nd, 2003 on the USS Lincoln.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

This is a war we might still win and definitely still could lose.

I have had great difficulty getting supporters of the war in Iraq to define what they mean by "win". It's as if winning is a symbolic goal, a feel-good state, more about waving flags than policy.

What do you mean by "winning this war"? The most common definition used to be "establishing a stable democracy in Iraq", but for the last year, as people have started to realize the impossibility of that goal, supporters of the war have become evasive about their objective.

As I have written previously, the outcome in Iraq is most likely to be a ferocious civil war accompanied by mass killings, followed by the establishment of an anti-American, pro-Iranian Shiite government. Our military involvement serves only to delay this outcome.

My question for you is, what is the basis for your belief that a stable pro-American democracy can be established in Iraq?

10:33 AM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

1. The preferred outcome is a stable, pluralistic Iraq that can defend itself with little US help and serve as a counterexample to the dictatorships in the Moslem world.

2. The next best outcome is a partition of Iraq with a stable, democratic Kurdish area (probably with one or two US divisions based there to keep out the Arabs, the Turks and the Iranians) and a long-term war between the Sunni's (Al Qaeda, the Saudis and Jordanians) v the Shia (supported by the Iranians).

When elephants fight, it's the grass that gets trampled. I think the Sunni tribes have realized that they will be the grass in Outcome 2. The Shia now have to believe that they can govern but cannot dominate. We'll see how things play out with the Iraqi Shia.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

The preferred outcome is a stable, pluralistic Iraq

Good, at least you have no illusions about democracy in Iraq. But what do you mean by 'pluralistic', then? I would think you mean 'a government that includes appropriate representation of Sunnis and Kurds.' If my assumption be correct, then I still think that you're being wildly optimistic. Is there anything -- ANYTHING -- in 5,000 years of Mesopotamian history to provide a precedent for such a government? I don't think so. You're assuming that this culture can pick up our political habits in a couple of years. There's simply no historical precedent for such a dramatic change. Look at Turkey -- it took 50 years to make the transition. Look at Iran -- it never made the transition.

The next best outcome is a partition of Iraq with a stable, democratic Kurdish area (probably with one or two US divisions based there to keep out the Arabs, the Turks and the Iranians)

Are you prepared to go to war with Turkey over this? They have made it clear that they will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan, and will use military means to insure that it never comes about.

and a long-term war between the Sunni's (supported by the Saudi's and Jordanians) and the Shia (supported by the Iranians.

This is victory? This kind of war will certainly result in the total disruption of oil supplies from the Middle East. This is winning?

12:36 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

Pluralistic: "a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain an autonomous participation in and development of their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization".

Middle Eastern tribal civilization is already pluralistic. If you can create a dynamic where no group can dominate the others, the pluralism can be sustained.

In addition to Turkey, there are precedents for change outside the region. It is at least a 50-year project. So what, we're still in Germany and Japan.

We can cut a deal with the Turks. They fear outcome 3, where we assist the Kurds in taking over Iraq and leave enough of a presence to prevent large-scale conventional Turkish invasion.

A war of attrition will drive down the price of oil since the producers will have to pump like crazy to pay for the fighting. Look what happened during the Iran-Iraq war.

In any event, my post was about the Congress. You can take up the issue of winnability with O'Hanlon and Pollack.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Middle Eastern tribal civilization is already pluralistic.

I suppose that Iran also meets your definition of 'pluralistic' -- in which case I agree with you that we should be able to achieve a pluralistic society in Iraq. But then, wouldn't pre-invasion Iraq also have met your definition of 'pluralistic'?

It is at least a 50-year project.

If Mr. Bush had been up front with the American people back in 2003, and told them that this invasion would be the beginning of a 50-year commitment, do you think they would have supported the invasion?

A war of attrition will drive down the price of oil since the producers will have to pump like crazy to pay for the fighting.

I strongly disagree with this assertion, but will not develop this argument.

In any event, my post was about the Congress. You can take up the issue of winnability with O'Hanlon and Pollack.

Fair enough. I invite you to respond to my arguments, and I'll leave it at that, if you wish.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

Re Pluralistic. The Al Tikriti (Saddam Hussein's) clan dominated Iraq, just as the Alawites (Assad's sect) dominate Syria.

Iraq will be pluralistic rather than "democratic" because tribes will have to play a role as tribes in the political organization of the country, in some fashion.

In the days before the modern state, the tribes maintained their own balances of power. The machinery of the modern state (and the willingness of industrial powers to arm these states) gave a tribe that took over the government the power to dominate and terrorize the other tribes.

What we are looking for in Iraq is a tribal balance in the way that in US cities, the Irish, the blacks, the Jews, the Italians and the WASPs would engage in interest group politics to divide patronage. So long as no group could dominate, all groups had to share.

You will have to parse what Bush said back then, but the fact that he did not predict a 50-year commitment does not excuse the Congress from not considering the highly probable if not the obvious.

Given your prediction of inevitable civil war, we will be able to test our differing predictions on the price of oil.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

COYOTE here. This is a post from GREG, which I have edited.

Greg, please note the edit.

FROM GREG: "Chepe,You continually denounce the idea of democra... Chepe,

You continually denounce the idea of democracy in Iraq as impossible. Why? [Deletion by Editor -- either justifiy the deleted adjective or omit sentence.] Am I missing something? I believe we can "win" in Iraq. I believe the Iraqi people can form a stable, friendly, representative government.

The left is continually saying we can't do this and we can't do that. We've been hearing these dire predictions from liberals for years now. Weren't we supposed to be crushed by the Taliban? Weren't we supposed to lose tens of thousands in the initial phase of the Iraqi invasion? Wasn't it supposed to be impossible for the Iraqis to turn out in significant numbers to vote?

Let me ask you, what CAN be done? Will ANYTHING work?

And your characterization of how you see this conflict playing out - "...a ferocious civil war accompanied by mass killings, followed by the establishment of an anti-American, pro-Iranian Shiite government..." is exactly what I see happening if the liberals get their way and force a premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. We have historical precident for that outcome.

For goodness sake, if you are so convinced that Iraqis are genetically or socially incapable of forming a peaceful, friendly government, I would think you would at least want to avoid a repeat of an early American withdrawal followed by mass murder on a grand scale?


"If Mr. Bush had been up front with the American people back in 2003, and told them that this invasion would be the beginning of a 50-year commitment, do you think they would have supported the invasion?"

President Bush has been clear from the very beginning - even before invading Afghanastan - that this will be a very long struggle lasting decades.


"Is there anything -- ANYTHING -- in 5,000 years of Mesopotamian history to provide a precedent for such a government?"

Was there anything -- ANYTHING -- in the 5,000 years of (what we now call) North American history to provide a precedent for the form of government we enjoy here in the United States? Was there anything anywhere?

Why such pessimism? Where's your hope? Where's your courage? Where's the "can do" attitude?

7:17 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

The line Wile edited out had to do with comments from Chepe Noyon that establishing a democracy in Iraq is impossible. I can't recall the specific wording of that comment, but I suppose it was taken out because it could have been interpreted as a charge of racism. I can see how that comment could have been interpreted as such. However, that was not my intent.

I appreciate the edit as it may have averted a misunderstanding and hard feelings. Again, not my intention. I freely admit there are many commenters on this site who are much better than I at articulating their positions. That's one of the things that keeps me coming back to this blog.

What I was trying to get at is that I don't understand how someone can flatly say that establishing a democracy in Iraq is impossible. Based on what? How many things have been accomplished throughout the history of mankind that had previously been considered impossible?

I've heard this tired, old statement way too many times: "They've been killing each other for thousands of years over there. Nothing we do is going to change that."

My wonderfully beautiful, hillbilly, illiterate, and late mother-in-law had an old saying:

"Can't never did nothin'."

Throughout the history of the Middle East, how many times have the people been given the chance to govern themselves? How many times have they been given the chance to pursue life, liberty, and happiness on their own accord? Isn't the answer to those questions zero? Isn't it true that for thousands of years that region has been governed by one form of total authority or another?

If authoritarian regimes have never been able to bring real peace to the region after thousands of years of trying, isn't "power to the people" worth a try?

10:07 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Greg, I'll first respond to your comment that the left is negative. I've never met Mr. Left. He sounds like a terrible person. If you ever see him, would you point him out to me? You seem to place an awful lot of importance on him, and you're always talking about his beliefs. I would prefer that you discuss what *I* say, not this mysterious Mr. Left.

The substantive issue here is the likely outcome of various policies in Iraq. You prefer an upbeat, can-do attitude. I prefer an analysis based on history, politics, and sociology.

Let's compare historical experience, shall we? American democracy has roots in Greek demoracy (over 2,500 years old) and Germanic traditions stretching back at least 2,000 years. It took centuries to develop: the Magna Carta 800 years ago; the slow expansion of Parliamentary power; the English Civil War; the Glorious Revolution; and of course the American Revolution. It took centuries and a huge amount of trial and error.

Now look at Mesopotamia. From the very beginning, Sumerian society was an outright dictatorship. Trace it through the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Persian Empire, the Caliphate, the Mongol years, the Turkish conquest, the British years -- during this entire time there was never an inkling of democratic notions. Nothing!

Compare the two histories. Can't you see a gaping difference between the two?

10:57 AM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

Hmm Prior to the end of WW!!, did Japan have any experience with a Democracy? How about Germany?

That is absurd as saying that all Jews are good businessmen. (I use the Jewish example because that is my own pressure group)

When I was a young Airman, toddling about the rice farms of Thailand - I noticed something about these rice farmers. They wanted the same things in life that we do. They want to make enough (or Baht) to feed and clothe their families and watch their children grow up. SO this garbage about people having to experience
in a democracy before they participate in one is sheer bigotry.

Also ETC - I believe it was the crew of the Lincoln that said tht, not the President. That, my friend is a cheap shot.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Hmm Prior to the end of WW!!, did Japan have any experience with a Democracy? How about Germany?

Germany had plenty of experience with democracy prior to World War II. They had problems getting it going but for most of German history they were, at the very least, highly decentralized.

Japan is an interesting case. They did in fact start putting together a democracy after the Meiji Restoration, although it was initially only perfunctory. What really made it go was simple: the Emperor said, "Thou shalt have democracy" and they did it. At first Japanese democracy was almost a sham, but over the years they slowly made it truly functional. Depending on how you define 'democracy', it took at least 30 years, I'd say.

SO this garbage about people having to experience
in a democracy before they participate in one is sheer bigotry.


On the contrary, it is historical experience. It may not be politically correct to you, but it is the way things have happened in the past.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

I just rejected a comment that got too personal.

If you are going to categorize someone's ideas in ways that reflect on them, then either rephrase the comment or back it up with concrete and specific evidence. Conclusory language by itself won't be published, even if the other person's view really is "simplistic", "biased", "naive" etc.

When we get personal, it's usually because we've run out of arguments. After helping out on this blog for a couple of weeks, I know the people who regularly contribute can do better.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

This is an edited comment from CHEPE NOYON.

CHEPE, please note the edits.

CHEPE NOYON: "Grown ups recognize this.I see. And your point is that *I* don't recognize this? Does Coyote think that I don't recognize this?

the very core of the most serious deliberations boil down to very simple issues of right and wrong.

Very simple issues? So you do not need to study each situation on its own merits, analyze the factors at work, determine the likely outcomes of various policy options, and determine the best option from that analysis? [Sentence deleted by editor]

Sister Toldjah, you do not contest the claim that Mr. Bush told lies to sell this war. Instead, you present a diatribe against imaginary people who have also lied. Are we to conclude then that you are conceding the point that Mr. Bush lied to sell the war? If not, why don't you directly address that point [phrase deleted by editor]?

4:45 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Coyote, I'll keep that sentence you deleted as indicative of the standards you use in deciding what constitutes inappropriate commentary, and I'll be sure to point out to you any comments by others that are similar in nature.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

My experience is that one should not make fun of a stand-up comedian, because he is the one holding the microphone. Similarly, one ought to avoid antagonizing one's editor.

I am doing my best to maintain decorum that is to the benefit of all. I try to be even-handed and ask all to approach these matters in a spirit of generosity and goodwill.

Remember, if you are on the lookout for slights, you will surely find them.

5:56 PM  

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