Advice for the Democratic Party

Image Today I heard Senator Christopher Dodd say that the US should begin to withdraw its forces next month at the rate of two and a half brigades a month, drawing down to a level of zero troops by some date next year (do the arithmetic).  Speaker Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid made similar statements reflecting similar views today. 

Some blognik remarked today that it was "interesting" that I have listened to Petraeus sympathetically.  He found that curious because, in his words, "Lang has been a staunch opponent of this war."  It is true that I thought and think that the Iraq war was "sold" to the American people in a propaganda driven systematic campaign of lies and exaggeration by the Bush Administration driven by lunatic nationalists and people of ambiguous loyalty to this country.  I also think that the "kinetic" generals, often men and women of limited imagination and little real ability did a blind and terribly inept job of running the war.  Often they seemed more concerned with self, career and the perquisites of rank than anything else.

Nevertheless, we are stuck on the flypaper of Iraq.  In my opinion a rapid withdrawal from Iraq, abandoning the protean mess that is the Iraqi government would result in such a disastrous situation that we can not afford to do that.

Some of the consequences?

– A rump state of Iraq in the south in which whichever Shia faction wins will become a satellite of the Iranian government.  That government, if not dealt with through a prolonged and aggressive combination of diplomacy and potential military force will continue to act as a major sponsor of Islamic zealot movements and their terrorist manifestations.  Iran will also take up a major role as arbiter of alignments and activity in the region.

– Kurdistan will become one of the saddest of experiments in national popular sovereignty that I know of.  Would Turkey and Iran continue to tolerate the Kurdish aspiration to achieving something as close to independence as they can manage?  I doubt it.

– Would the wide variety of Sunni Arab groups that are revolting against the takfiri jihadis coalesce into a integrated part of a renewed Iraq?  Probably not, and among all the little de facto city states, sheikhdoms, etc, the surreptitious support and participation of the Sunni "neighbors" would continue.   This means continued war indefinitely in Sunnistan.

– Would the jihadis find a way to re-establish themselves somewhere in Sunnistan?  Probably.

What does that add up to in terms of the ultimate political effect of the war on the Democratic Party?

I predict that If you are seen to be the instruments of such a collapse, then you will be blamed for a catastrophe in which thousands of American soldiers will have died.  The public will wrongly think that they died for nothing.  The public will not blame Bush, Cheney, the AEI crowd.  No.  They will blame you.  You will carry that can for many years.

Petraeus recommends a gradual withdrawal from this disaster.  You don’t want that?  Have you really thought this through?

If you want to do something useful, pass resolutions tying up the president’s freedom of action in regard to Iran.  Make him come to you for permission to strike them.  Show some real courage.  pl

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73 Responses to Advice for the Democratic Party

  1. Susan in Iowa says:

    Hello Colonel Lang, I usually just lurk here, but am trying to figure out how to evaluate the candidates who are flocking through here and their plans. One of the things I’ve been asking about is Iran, and I concur strongly with your comment about it.
    I can’t get an answer out of the Edwards camapaign at all. I even gave Elizabeth a highlighted copy of his Herzliya speech on my third try. (Where he says the Americans can be educated to what needs to be done about Iran when diplomacy fails.) No response.
    I asked Biden about Iran when he was here over Labor Day weekend. He said it would provoke a constitutional crisis if Bush attacked Iran, and that he had warned them in strong terms against it. A Persian aide who was with him said it could mean impeachment. But he also said that they do not have 67 votes to override a veto. This is frustrating to hear. What use is a constitutional crisis when the missiles are already deployed?
    It’s obvious what Bush is getting ready to do, even to an ordinary person in rural Iowa. I feel as though everyone in Washington is just sitting back and waiting for the inevitable strike on Iran, followed by one of the scenarios that Sam Gardiner laid out in the Atlantic in 2004 and since. What is wrong with these people? What can we do?

  2. lina says:

    It’s all academic anyway, isn’t it? Bush is not going to withdraw any more than the 30,000 “surge” troops. When he leaves in Jan. 2009, there will still be 130K soldiers there – because he says so.
    The next president will end the U.S. military presence, then who knows what will happen? Probably something akin to post-Soviet Afghanistan.
    This war was destined from the the beginning to advance Iranian hegemony. There’s no putting that genie back in the bottle. And many will try to deflect blame, but the general public knows this is Bush’s war. I know the propagandists will be out in full force trying to lay blame elsewhere, but it won’t work.

  3. jamzo says:
    NEWSWEEK has learned that a separate internal report being prepared by a Pentagon working group will “differ substantially” from Petraeus’s recommendations, according to an official who is privy to the ongoing discussions but would speak about them only on condition of anonymity. An early version of the report, which is currently being drafted and is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year, will “recommend a very rapid reduction in American forces: as much as two-thirds of the existing force very quickly, while keeping the remainder there.” The strategy will involve unwinding the still large U.S. presence in big forward operation bases and putting smaller teams in outposts. “There is interest at senior levels [of the Pentagon] in getting alternative views” to Petraeus, the official said. Among others, Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon is known to want to draw down faster than Petraeus

  4. dws says:

    As a party, the Dems are weak at heart now. (Disclosure: I usually vote Dem.) They’ve been beaten over the head with “you hate the troops” for so long they’re afraid. And, of course, they’ve made genuine mistakes on policy. The Republicans have too and, recently, worse ones, but this doesn’t seem to bother them as much.
    The opportunity to shine here on Iran policy is clear and would have deep public support. It’s win-win for the Dems and the country. The failure of the Dems to pass admendments requiring the President to seeks Congressional “advice and consent” before going into Iran points to deep illness in the party.
    Bush, in his mind, has left the path clear to go around Congress based on the AUMF and administration statements.
    They campaigned against Bush in the 06′ election and won. They are in a bad position vis a vis Iraq because it’s very hard to adjust a President’s policy. This is clear, right? It’s easier to either support it or oppose it. Coming out of the 06′ election, many feel they have to oppose.

  5. jeff says:

    I’ve read several versions of the “we can’t pull out because it will be a disaster that gets blamed on Democrats” theory. What I don’t understand is the alternative. Under all imaginable circumstances, this war will be continuing when the next president takes office. Realities are that no good solution will be found for Iraq and the disasters you list will occur whenever a withdrawal takes place (unless you propose an occupation of 20 years or so). As a result, a future president is going to get blamed for it no matter what. With that in mind, should Democrats simply forfeit the presidency so blame will fall to a Republican? I think not. Rather, Democrats should start strongly articulating the unwinnable situation Bush has placed us. Condition the American people for the outcome you foresee — the most dramatic characteristic of which will be a marked rise in Iranian power. Its better we face the music now while people still remember Bush led us down this trail. In a few years, most Americans will no longer remember who was president when the war started.

  6. Bob says:

    Hi Pat,
    I’m glad to see some longer-range thinking about the consequences of a withdrawal from Iraq. I would hope that you’ll continue this, because you’ll see that Mr. Bush has started a realignment of national borders to the sitation prevailing prior to the British occupation. Think about this for a moment. Extend the effects you’ve bulleted in your post. What do we see? Tribal and sectarian alignments until the cows come home. Saddam Hussein was able to marshal these forces into a cohesive state. Can the likes of Petraeus and Crocker do so?
    You’ve said it’s folly to withdraw. I say it’s folly to stay. No outside force on God’s green earth is going to prevent Iran from reestablishing its primacy on the former eastern Iraq (both south and north). No force on earth is going to discourage the Kurds from attempting to reclaim southeast Turkey and western Iran – and they’ll get their asses killed for their efforts. No force on earth is going to prevent the Sunni Arabs from withdrawing from contact with Shia.
    History has some great moments. We’re looking at one now. Can the US Army and Marine Corps do anything to maintain Hussein’s “Iraq,” and resist the tides of history mentioned above? C’mon, Pat. Think it through.
    All respect,

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Do you do your homework this way?
    I did not say it was folly to withdraw.
    I said it would be folly to withdraw in a mad rush for the door.
    Can’t you see that DP is trying to get us out of there in spite of being hampered by having the deadly duo in charge? pl

  8. wwz says:

    I follow your concerns for a rapid withdrawal. Allow me to wonder aloud, as it were.
    Your arguments suggest that if we stay, all of these outcomes would be avoided.
    Essentially, you are describing partitioning with consequences. (Some insiders advocate partitioning as we speak.)
    Nowhere have I read any attempt in a withdrawal assessment to explore or design a diplomatic parallel ‘surge’ to a military disengagement aimed at avoiding the outcomes you fortell.
    Also, if we successfully thwarted a fully functioning Iraq under Saddam from having his way completely, does that suggest we may be able to effect post withdrawal Iraq similarly? Is it necessary to have boots on the ground to advantageously effect events on the ground post withdrawal?
    A grand assessment (not saying yours is offered as that) regarding Iraq that doesn’t mention the Sa’uds role in Iraq is inherently defective, IMHO.
    Riyahd and Terhan are presently (and historically I might add) enagaed in talks. Iran has actually been a force for stability among some tribes (Sadr) according to some. They do have an interest is a stable Iraq, afterall. As do all the surrounding States. Turkey, Egypt, Arabia and Jordan are among the largest recipients of American arms and generosity (no particular order or ranking implied) on the planet. Surely there must be some leverage there, and I don’t mean merely in the simplest of terms as in a zero sum negotiation.
    Anyway, all this is to look askance at all who predict doom and gloom as if we aren’t headed there regardless.
    Great blog. thx.

  9. J says:

    regarding your above recommendations , why don’t you assemble them in a letter/fax to both reid and pelosi along with webb, warner, senate and house armed svcs cmte’s and your state reps in the congress?
    just a thought

  10. Bob says:

    Hi Pat,
    You’re right. I claimed you’d said something you hadn’t: I wrote “You’ve said it’s folly to withdraw,” when you hadn’t said that. My fault.
    You asked “Can’t you see that DP is trying to get us out of there…” I hadn’t. I’ve been reading “liveblogging” of the testimony, but haven’t had time for broadcast television. Your interpretation is interesting, and hopeful.
    But let’s ask the question “Under what circumstances should US forces withdraw?”
    Even more than “All respect,”
    My impression of Gen. Petraeus is that he’s

  11. Cieran says:

    What intrigues me most about the whole “withdrawal” discussion is that it tacitly assumes that the conditions in Iraq are ours to decide.
    Unfortunately, if Cheney get his way and we attack Iran, then the conditions of our withdrawal will likely not get made in Congress or in the White House — they will be made in the heat of battle between retreating U.S. troops and a whole host of opposing forces with one essential thing in common, namely that they hold the home-court advantage (which makes their logistics decisions infinitely simpler than ours).
    We are already entirely too close to losing the war in Afghanistan, and history has shown that withdrawals in force there are often painfully unsuccessful. And if Iranian forces intervene in Southern Iraq (as they would likely would do if we attacked Iran), then we might someday look back on the carnage of 2006/2007 in Iraq as “the good old days”.
    Just one more reason I agree with your assertion that a most important step now is that of not entering into any more ill-considered wars of choice. But I do wish our media would spend some time fully considering the notion that we are actually at war in Iraq, and that the near-term outcomes are not entirely up to the White House or Congress or even the wishes of the American people.

  12. Will says:

    While the Israeli Air Force with their multi-million dollar U.S. airplanes was bragging about their pummeling of Syria, the Gazan Air Force made a direct hit on an israeli basic training camp with its Qassam rockets (really, glorified mortars). All three of them, that is three mortars.
    There lies your answer why the Dems won’t makes a stand on Iran- the Israeli Lobby.
    No politician, save Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich has dared stand up to them.

  13. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “I predict that If you are seen to be the instruments of such a collapse, then you will be blamed for a catastrophe in which thousands of American soldiers will have died.”
    It’s safe to say that the Republicans will slam dunk the Democrats any chance they get. If a Dem wins the White House in 2009, they’ll get slammed for staying or leaving. Doesn’t matter either way. The Republicans have done an excellent job at tapping into many Americans’ emotional need to blame all sorts of bogymen while being part of a winning team.
    In many ways, the Dems did not *deserve* to win in 2006. They only won because the other team has fumbled so badly. It was a gimme.
    As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no cohesive leadership in the Democratic party. They are simply floundering around while the GOP reverts to its opposition party tactics.
    Although I am always on the lookout for any sign that Bush will try to declare victory and skedaddle, most likely we’ll still have at least 100,000 troops in Iraq when he leaves office. And the Dems will likely win by default again next year.
    But I doubt we’ll be seeing any innovative leadership coming from these casper milquetoasts running the show. The best we can hope for is that they will recognize how much help they need from independent experts such as you, Col Lang, and your cohorts. And that they are strong enough individuals to listen and implement any recommendations.
    Dem Leader

  14. Jerry Thompson says:

    Another effect of rapid withdrawal — less apparent but I think potentially more dangerous: We are going to have to grant sanctuary in the U.S. to thousands of Iraqis who have been our employees, cooperated with us, etc. No matter how we define “family”, some limits will be imposed, families will be divided, relatives will be sacrificed. All manner of requirements for retribution will be invoked on … guess who? This may not be exactly the same as “the terrorists will follow us home” but the outcome will be similar. Seems to me it will be at least as difficult to detect/preempt/counter/ reduce.

  15. Stormcrow says:

    Colonel Lang, you wrote …

    Can’t you see that DP is trying to get us out of there in spite of being hampered by having the deadly duo in charge?

    Unfortunately, I cannot see that.
    What I see is a Democratic Party that caves in to each and every demand that the Bush regime makes.
    Now that the war drums are beating louder and louder for a strike against Iran, they are waffling on that item as well.
    And the cherry on top of this wonderful dish of ice cream is that they will be blamed no matter what happens, or who is actually responsible. Here it is, the Year of Our Lord 2007. The Republicans have been in full control of both houses of Congress from 2001 into 2007. They still control the executive branch. They have packed the Supreme Court, and have undermined the lower courts. They have done as they wished with the entirety of American governmental infrastructure, without let or hindrance.
    And everything that goes wrong is still made out to be the fault of the Democrats in general, and Clinton in particular.
    Just precisely what are the Congressional Democrats really afraid of? Criticism? Blame? You may as well be afraid of taxes or the sun coming up. They are both going to happen and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about either.
    As for the consequences of our withdrawl, I don’t see them much ameliorated by our continued presence.
    Civil war? That ship has already sailed.
    Iranian dominance over Shia politics, which, after the ethnic cleansing, is the politics of just about everywhere in Iraq past the provinces controlled by the Kurds? An accomplished fact.
    As for the AQ in Iraq, you said it yourself, several posts ago. AQ has managed to make enemies of every faction in that country. There was never any love lost between extreme Salafists and Shiites. The urban Sunnis had far too secular an agenda for AQ’s taste, and there was no way they were going to drop it without a fight. Now, as you have informed us, AQI has made deadly mortal enemies of the tribal Sunnis in Anbar province. Heinlein has been proven right yet again: evil is basically stupid. All of which serves to inform me that AQI is going to last about as long as a six-pack at a fraternity party once our absence serves to concentrate the attentions of Iraqis on the other people they hate.
    I contend that the ONLY thing we have to gain by our continued presence in Iraq is the safe extraction of ALL of our people in that country. Past that, we’re looking at a train wreck that is beyond our power to mitigate. Particularly since so much of it has already happened.

  16. FDR_Democrat says:

    We are entered upon that sad stage in an unwinnable war where things drag out for years because it is human nature to avoid or defer the unpleasant consequences of their actions.
    I would tender this question to Colonel Lang however. With what crystal ball can you predict that the results of a US withdrawal will be an unmitigated disaster? Consider the old Vietnam-era dominoes theory. This did not play out. Instead of the Communist flag hoisted from Tokyo to Australia, within five years the Communists were at war with one another; the Vietnamese with the Khymer Rouge, then the Red Chinese with the Vietnamese, etc. Age old power relationships and rivalries reasserted themselves in the region, filling the vacuum left by US withdrawal. Today, China is a member of the World Trade Organization, we have warming relations with Hanoi, etc.
    Iran and Iraq did not need the US to go to war with each other from 1980-1988. Nor Iraq to later invade Kuwait and be opposed by among others the Egyptians and the Syrians. The hand of the Turks rested heavily across the region for centuries. And Iran has its own imperial tradition.
    I can see only two purposes for dragging this out very much longer. One is to prepare to accept the 200,000 or so Iraqi refugees who have worked with us as US residents(maybe more, just throwing out a number). The other is to lay the ground for the Concert of the Middle East you have described in the past.
    But if the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Kurds etc. are set upon engaging in their own version of the Thirty Years War, there is nothing we can do but get out of the way.

  17. Jose says:

    First, nobody will stand up to AIPAC so their will be no resolution requiring authorization to strike Iran. The Decider and Israel are free to do what ever they want or to carry out whatever policy they want free on Congressional oversight. Remember the Special Interest and the Press are the third and fourth branches of our government. lol
    Second, the more the Republicans Lemmings follow the President the better it will be for the Dems. In the next election the Republicans have to defend 22 Senate seats versus 12 for the Democrats. Some high profile Republicans (Allard, Hagel, Warner) have announced their retirements. This presents chances in states the Dems would not have had a chance in if the incumbent ran. If the 2008 election is a referendum on Iraq, the Dems will score big, really big. Maybe even a complete realignment, capturing both houses with strong majorities and the Presidency. The more Americans die, the more treasure is spent, the longer we stay in Iraq, the better it will be for Dems. Sad but true.
    Lastly, Col. your advice is true and well thought out but the Dem activist (MoveOn, Code Pink, etc) will not listen to reason. It should be interesting to watch both parties position themselves versus their consistencies. Republicans distancing themselves from the President without paying a political prices from the base. Dems giving the President what he wants while trying to avoid the wrath on the activists.

  18. peg says:

    Gen Clark responded (on that loonie-left blog, DKos) about: “Getting out Now”
    There are three sets of issues in getting out: the logistical, the local Iraqi political security, and the strategic. Let’s look at each one. ….huge snip… So, all of this should give some pause to those who say, let’s just pull out immediately, and demand that the troops come immediately.

  19. Cujo359 says:

    (do the arithmetic)
    OK, assuminng Wikipedia is right (a dangerous assumption, I know) there are 21 American brigades in Iraq. At 2.5 brigades per month, that comes out to 8.4 months. Let’s say nine months, because you always forget to pack something before a move.
    This doesn’t sound precipitous to me. We’ve been there four years already. Things have gotten progressively worse, and I have yet to hear or see a plausible plan for making Iraq OK that involves us.
    It also sounds like a plan that can be put on hold should there be real signs of progress.
    I agree with lina. This war is Bush’s war, and it will be Bush’s failure. The only people who won’t see it that way are the propogandists who are paid not to and the fools who’ll believe them.
    The Democrats’ problem is that they’re doing nothing tangible to get us out of Iraq. They’re just going to have to learn to live with the idea that when they do that, a certain percentage of the electorate will blame them for losing the war. Since that’s mostly going to be the same portion of the electorate that thought the war was a splendid idea in the first place, I’m not seeing a problem there.

  20. Babak Makkinejad says:

    My sense of this is that the Iranians expect to help US leave Iraq in an orderly manner – in a similar way that the Soviet Union withdrew her forces from Afghanistan. I think negotiations with Iran are possible if Ambassador Crocker is given a wider latitude. I also think it will be a good idea for US to announce a withdrawal date – this has been requested by a number of states publicly, including France, Iran, and Turkey. Without this date, I do not think any international planning can take place.
    Kurdistan of Iraq consists of 2 entities; to my knowledge. The tribal area of the Barzanis and that of Talibanis. I do not see that area becoming an independent state. Nor can I see it being anything but a nuisance for Turkey or Iran. Even if it becomes independent I cannot see that changing much. Any way, I disagree with Col. Lang here; an independent Kurdish state is not much of a threat to Iran, it is more of a threat to Turkey.
    In regards to the South East of Iraq, the old Basra Governorship, I do not know. There seems to be many groups fighting for power for which the Shia identity does not have much relevance to that power struggle. I cannot see how any outside power can control it from outside that area.
    I also disagree with Col. Lang’s assessment: “…continue to act as a major sponsor of Islamic zealot movements…” which, in my opinion, is a possibility and not a metaphysical certainty. The reason I say that is because of the record of Iran in Central Asia since 1991 (the collapse of the Soviet Union) and the Iranian role in Afghanistan in 2002. I also observe here that we owe both Hezbollah and the 9/11/01 attacks on the United States to the Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.
    I agree also with Col. Lang that the US Democratic Party is well advised to do nothing to hamper a Republican President from pursuing his agenda to the (bitter) end. They have made the judgment that in this manner they are guaranteed at least a generation of control over both houses of the Congress and the Presidency of the United States. And they believe that they can live with the consequences of a US attack on Iran (“It was not us, it was those despicable Republicans!”).
    I cannot judge accurately and with certainty the efficacy of a possible US bombing campaign against Iran in changing the strategic situation on the ground or a prolonged naval blockade. My guess is that it will not improve the US position. It almost certainly will seal the Muslims’ view of US as an enemy of Islam. It will be a case of escalation to nowhere which Israel seems to excel at with no resolution in site.
    I agree with Col. Lang that a Concert of Middle East with clear and verifiable commitments by all involved is useful. I do not think it will happen though since I do not believe that such negotiations can be concluded between now and January 2009; although they can be started.
    In my opinion, there is a fair amount of Protestant religious zealotry both in US Foreign Policy and its conduct (“Where is James Baker, III when we need him?”). Therefore the strategic question for US is not Iran, Iraq, etc. in my opinion. It is this: “What Price Israel

  21. Cujo359 says:

    I forgot to add that I agree completely regarding the Democrats’ response to Iran. They need to make Bush come to them for authorization before conducting any strikes there. Their failure to do this will make an America-Iran war, if it happens, their war as well.

  22. David Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    I don’t know the right or wrong of a quickly phased withdrawal from Iraq.
    However, I am quite certain that tying the “decider’s” hands on Iran should be the most important point of business for this congress.
    In that same vein, it might help to start well deserved and long overdue impeachment proceedings against both Bush and Cheney.

  23. frank durkee says:

    Col. I am a life long Democrat and I have been responding to Dem fund raising appeals with much the same caution that you’ve embodied in this post. An aspect of the political dilemma for the Dems is the inability to disprove a hypothetical i.e. that if the troops had just stayed the Bush dream would have come to fruition. This will be the Republican mantra to any effective drawdown of the troops that leads to anything but complete vindication of the original Neocon dream. Consequently the Dems need to have it made clear that the tactics come from Bush and/or the military rather than Dem pressure.
    the question I have for you is as the drawdown leads to smaller and smaller numbers of troops will we be able to get the
    last 50,000 or so out safely and expeditioiusly? I assume fromyour earlier comments in this area that the answer is at least contingently yes.
    Given the present political ethos in this country, unless we elect a remarkable leader in ’08, I do not see how we will not have a profoundly poisened ethos in this country for some extended time. Especially as the full import of the failure becomes increasingly evident and blame becomes onerous for those who supported this effort.
    Thanks for your insights and for sharing them.

  24. Wendell says:

    Well, no. “DP is trying to get us out of there” by withdrawing a single Marine expeditionary force? That is the only new thing he announced. Otherwise, a good case can be made for the proposition that DP is just the (best, most persuasive) new mouthpiece for what the “deadly duo” have to do anyway, since there are no forces to rotate in to replace the surged combat brigades. Bush is determined (per Georgie Anne Geyer) to tie his successor’s hands, forcing continuation of the war, at pre-surge levels, seemingly into perpetuity. I don’t see DP pushing for a sound exit; Adm. Fallon and the JCS, maybe, but not DP.
    By the way, except for Cindy Sheehan, exactly who is advocating a precipitous withdrawal? Every thinking, responsible commentator on this knows that logistical concerns, let alone battlespace constraints, necessitate a period that is well upwards of a year–and probably quite a bit longer than that if we’re having to fight our way out.
    Yes, the human toll among Iraqis following a withdrawal will be terrible. But will it be anything more than a sped-up version of the slow-motion ethnic cleansing and genocide that is going on right now, right under the noses of the surge forces in Baghdad?
    Unless a whole lot of Republicans suddenly decide, at some point, that they can’t run and win with the albatross of an endless Iraqi War, Bush will still have about 130,000 troops in Iraq as he leaves office. What therefore needs to be done now is to think through what can be salvaged regionally, and how best to accomplish that starting in February, 2009. I think George Packer’s piece laid out the (miserable) options well; I think George Friedman has had some interesting ideas about containing Iran within the Iraqi space; I think Wesley Clark has had some interesting ideas about how regional diplomacy should go forward. I would be interested in a fuller disquisition from you, Colonel, on how you see it best to proceed after February, 2009.

  25. mt says:

    Iraq, the cornucopia of bad options.

  26. sglover says:

    “If you want to do something useful, pass resolutions tying up the president’s freedom of action in regard to Iran. Make him come to you for permission to strike them. Show some real courage. ”
    This is absolutely essential. Yet I see zero evidence that Dems are even cognizant of it, letting alone willing to follow through. But I have a big problem with this statement:
    “A rump state of Iraq in the south in which whichever Shia faction wins will become a satellite of the Iranian government. That government, if not dealt with through a prolonged and aggressive combination of diplomacy and potential military force will continue to act as a major sponsor of Islamic zealot movements and their terrorist manifestations. Iran will also take up a major role as arbiter of alignments and activity in the region.”
    I really don’t see the horror, here. Perhaps we should recognize geographical and cultural realities. Iran is fated to be the major power in its part of the world — we didn’t cultivate the Pahlavis for no reason. At the same time, by all accounts it’s at least as fractious and complex as any other state with tens of millions of people. Rather than isolate it, we need a “Nixon goes to China” moment with Tehran. If the Idiot Prince had an atom of imagination, he’d recognize this as the ONLY path to salvaging his sorry, utterly failed Presidency.

  27. JohnH says:

    Don’t pity the Democrats. Increasingly it looks like they have already cast their lot with the Bush policy in Iraq and Iran and are just engaging in an elaborate masquerade designed to spin the voting public.
    Consider the following:
    1) Rev. Yearwood gets gang tackled by Pelosi’s security forces for trying to attend the hearing:
    2) Armed Services Chair Skelton publicly calls the protesters assholes.
    3) Sketon tosses Ray McGovern out of the hearing for suggesting that Petraeus be put under oath.
    As if military folks (like Colin Powell) don’t lie!!!
    Pelosi, Reid, Hillary, Dodd and Biden may whisper all sorts of sweet nothings about withdrawal into our ears. But it’s leadership and action, not words, that count. And the Democrats have shown no sign of wanting to act against Bush in either Iraq or Iran.

  28. bstr says:

    Dear Col., “Informed Comment” Juan Cole’s blog expressed much of the same analysis as your own. The Dems are in terrible political position. The left of the Democratic party suffer from idealism as badly and those neocons who demmanded the invasion of Iraq. I do not believe that Hillary Clinton would insist on a “cut and run” monthly schedule, but I am unsure of Obama. As a Democrat I mourn the choice of party affiliation by Hagel. It may be heresy but not wining the next election might be a good thing for the party. bstr

  29. China hand says:

    It seems the Dems’re merely trying to offset extremism with extremism, to carve out space for negotation. I don’t believe they want a precipitous withdrawal, and more to the point I don’t think the foreign policy, military and intelligence professionals would allow them to consider it, yet. The damage that would do to the U.S.’s standing among allies and partners is incalculable.
    However, I did come across this blog entry yesterday, which gave me pause:
    It comes from a regular reader (and supporter) of this blog, and suggests that the recentt, qualified successses are merely Iraqi preparation for a coordinated attack against the occupiers. I have paid close attention to the rumblings here about supply lines and support personnel but heard little about the possibility of direct and coordinated assaults. U.S. firepower being what it is, is such an attack feasible?
    What forms would it take? Roadside bombs and mortars would seem irrelevant; is there something more?
    Col Lang, I have much appreciated your posts on General Petraeus. They have shown me some important subtleties in the “Washington kabuki”, as its been recently dubbed.
    Just as significantly, they have helped me to respect a man I would otherwise have dismissed as a mere tool of this administration.
    I have contacted my Congresscritters. I hope all of us Yanquis here are doing the same.

  30. Mad Dogs says:

    I fear that wrt to Iraq, whether we leave or go, whether its fast or slow, we got folly (H/T Bob).
    Too many folks on either side of the divide seem to think that there is some sort of “positive outcome” to be had.
    I think there is not.
    I also fear that wrt Iran, far too many Democrats have already partaken of the Kool-Aid. Jowls Lieberman’s recent anti-Iran bill got unanimous support in the Senate.
    I watched Jowls just today try to get Petraeus to agree that the Admin/Congress combo should give him authority to attack Iran.
    I think that we are just at the very point of sliding down the “Go to War with Iran” slope, and that the fools who are fueling this descent, have a co-ordinated gameplan (a combo of Tonkin Gulf and Cuban Missile Crisis perhaps?) to ratchet up the war fever over the next 6 months.
    Lastly, that slope ain’t really a slope, but instead it’s a cliff, and it’s a very, very long way to the bottom.

  31. Dave of Maryland says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    My father was one of four brothers. For reasons of age & their father’s health & occupation (one-armed Minnesota farmer), only one served in WWII. After the war, the youngest served in the Navy, and my father in the Air Force. Both left when their initial hitch was up. That was many years ago.
    My father had five sons. The eldest – me – had a nice high draft number & otherwise did not volunteer for ‘Nam. Two of my brothers & one of my sisters served in the volunteer Army, but that was after Vietnam was over.
    Various nephews & nieces are in the National Guard at the moment, though for reasons that are unclear to me, none are on active duty at this time.
    As for me, I started a family late. My only child, a daughter, will be 7 in November.
    You know where this is going. We’ll still be there in ten years, that’s what they’re saying. So it’s my daughter’s life that’s at stake.
    Why should I care who gets blamed for this? The accepted method for stopping a war is via politics. If the war cannot be stopped via the two political parties, then enraged citizens will be forced to contemplate other means. And citizens are, right now, somewhat far beyond enraged. No one I know gives a damn about the Democrats.
    Or Kurds.
    Or mindless slaughter.
    Or dominoes falling.
    Sauve qui peut.

  32. Dave of Maryland says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    My father was one of four brothers. For reasons of age & their father’s health & occupation (one-armed Minnesota farmer), only one served in WWII. After the war, the youngest served in the Navy, and my father in the Air Force. Both left when their initial hitch was up. That was many years ago.
    My father had five sons. The eldest – me – had a nice high draft number & otherwise did not volunteer for ‘Nam. Two of my brothers & one of my sisters served in the volunteer Army, but that was after Vietnam was over.
    Various nephews & nieces are in the National Guard at the moment, though for reasons that are unclear to me, none are on active duty at this time.
    As for me, I started a family late. My only child, a daughter, will be 7 in November.
    You know where this is going. We’ll still be there in ten years, that’s what they’re saying. So it’s my daughter’s life that’s at stake.
    Why should I care who gets blamed for this? The accepted method for stopping a war is via politics. If the war cannot be stopped via the two political parties, then enraged citizens will be forced to contemplate other means. And citizens are, right now, somewhat far beyond enraged. No one I know gives a damn about the Democrats.
    Or Kurds.
    Or mindless slaughter.
    Or dominoes falling.
    Sauve qui peut.

  33. Sheerahkahn says:

    Hello Pat,
    I sure you would agree that the good Senator’s suggestion plays well to his constituents, but I suspect we both know that this war…is very, very political, and both sides are using it to bludgeon the other.
    That said, I would say that considering the field of Dem’s it is unlikely that any of them will unass Iraq anytime soon.
    Perhaps you’ve noticed the caveat that the leading Dem’s have been using in their speeches about withdrawing troops. Their wording is …”withdrawing combat troops,” but not all US forces.
    I find the Dem’s about as clever as Bush and his team dissembling the difference between a “combat death” and a “non-combat death.”
    Anyway, I think there is more to fear of Bush expanding the war to Iran than there is of a Democrat initiated Dunkirk.

  34. HAK says:

    Presumably Bush and Cheney recognize that the Dems will win the presidency in 2008?
    So now it appears that the US army (and by virtue the British one too, while we are still there) are risking their lives for nothing more than to be an agent to help the GOP to victory in 2010? The more the casualty rate goes up, the less competent the new president is seen to be.
    Is there no limit to the depths that these two will drop too?
    Incidentally what is the problem in replacing the coalition forces with a UN one (made up of troops from Islamic states so as to appeal to local sensitivities)to allow a more or less “peaceful” parting of the ways of the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds?.
    After all it highly unlikely that anyone can restore Saddam’s aquarium out of this fish soup?.

  35. H.G. says:

    Several times during the hearings I heard the phrase “rapid withdrawal” or “precipitous withdrawal” or some such permutation. Also, previous recent reports ginned up by the White House were cited which decried the consequences of some hypothetical “rapid withdrawal”. My problem is that the term is NEVER DEFINED in this context. Depending on who is using it, it could mean anything from withdrawal within six-weeks, six-months, a year, two years or even five years (if you subscribe to the “we will be there for the next ten years” theory). I think what most of the people who use the term really mean by it is “while George W. Bush is still in office”. Since they have no idea what “success” will be or even what the “mission to be accomplished” is, they can’t very well create a spectacle like withdrawal if they can’t clearly stage-manage it as a great triumph for their tin-hat monarch.
    Anyway, for the most part the concept is a canard when applied to the politically achievable proposals out there. Dodd’s proposals sound more like an understandable over-reaction to the Bush admin’s tactic of deliberate, cynical delay. Your senator Jim Webb seems more thoughtful. In fact he has been the most vocal about tying Bush’s hands on Iran, as well as working to prevent Bush from breaking the Army to save his rep.
    Personally, I don’t think that most Americans would think that withdrawing our troops from Iraq within one-two years (2008-2009), after being an occupying force since mid-2003 is a “rapid withdrawal”.
    Iraq isn’t happening in a vacuum; this doesn’t take into account the potential alternative use of our efforts. F’rinstance, is the current Iraq occupation effort worth breaking our military’s ability to respond to other crisis worldwide?

  36. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    We certainly do require a robust regional diplomacy (and global diplomacy) given the predicament we unnecessarily placed ourselves in. And the blood and treasure meter is running.
    But this robust diplomacy must be within the context of an overall comprehensive, systematic, and integrated national strategy.
    Regional diplomacy means dealing with the players out there: Iran, the Arab states, Turkey, and Israel.
    Global diplomacy means dealing with the major powers who have an interest in the region: China, Russia, EU (or components of it), Japan, and India.
    The UN can be used for cover as the Soviets used it to extract themselves from their Afghanistan folly.
    All this is a complex challenge requiring a level of sophistication and skill that may well be beyond our national political leadership at this time…regardless of political party. I am inclined to think this is the case.
    The regional situation? Here is an item:
    “Gholam Hussein Ejehi, Iran’s Minister of Intelligence met with both King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Moghren Ben Aabol Aziz, his counterpart, during a recent visit to the red sea port of Jeddah.
    This is a very interesting development. First and and foremost because Ejehi was met by the King himself. Ejehi was in Saudi Arabia on his own. He wasn’t accompanied by the Foreign Minister Mottaki, Ali Larijani, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This goes to show how much emphasis and importance the Saudis attach to his position. This has most probably come about after Iran’s intelligence related achievements in Iraq….
    I also wonder if the meeting was used to enable Iran and Saudi Arabia to work out a deal to over Iraq. Reduction in violence would serve both sides. It would enable the Saudis to use the opportunity to work out some kind of a deal for the Sunni politicians in the Iraqi government. Furthermore, as Sunnis also suffer from sectarian violence, a lull would enable Iraq’s Sunnis to rebuild, and perhaps rearm, should the situation deteriorate again.”

  37. jonst says:

    My take on this is; Dodd et al propose what they propose because they know it is not going to happen and it makes them look good (so they assume) to their base. And who knows…maybe it does. You can fool some of the people some of the time.
    They don’t have the votes and the good General and Ambassador have done what Bush wanted them to do. They snuffed out any chance that Republicans, or the MSM, would bolt from the President right now. (that will come in the new year) And indeed, while that was the goal they even scored a few bonus points by, seemingly, winning over a few Dems in the House. And maybe one or two in the Senate. So, go ahead Sen Dodd…make your points in Iowa, if you can. It ain’t gonna happen 2007. And, if the truth be told, you don’t have a snowball’s chance to become President.
    That said….you note that the General is ‘recommending gradual withdrawal’. Lets take him at face value. No small leap of faith given that he is a representative of Bush/Cheney. But ok, lets be generous and give him the benefit of the doubt. He speaks fluent English, whatever. I’m glad, on this subject, to defer to your judgment both because you have a damn good track record and you know this group of people, staff officers, far, far, better than I do. But gradual withdrawal is not the only thing the Gen is recommending.
    He is also recommending, and implementing, a new relationship with the Sunnis. And while I have to acknowledge your expertize and excellent (though by no means infallible–which I never heard you claim to be–)judgment in ME affairs I have not, and do not, understand the, apparent, strategic contradictions present in the ‘Anbar model’. It has to, so it seems to me, weaken the Shia position. What benefit they get from seeing their new tormentors hunted and killed by their old tormentors, has to be diminished, (wiped out?)by seeing the occupying forces aligning with said old tormentor. This, in turn, will push the Shia closer to Iran.
    Which, I now conclude, is exactly what Bush/Cheney want. Those two seem to realize now that they backed the wrong side in the Iraq.From their perspective, that is. They are thinking….’its the enemy of Iran we should have sided with’. The trick is for them to try and bring the Kurds on board to this new found alliance. Most will say, given the history between the two groups, it can’t be done. I’m not so sure. Saudi money, and our air power, can buy a lot. Syria seems to be moving away from its stillborn reapproachment with the Saudis. Hamas pulls from the West Bank. The Sunnis in Lebanon, pull away from the Shia there. And attack so called allies/followers of AQ. The sides seem to be being drawn for some giant settling of scores. This seems to giving Bush/Cheney what they want….a chance for a ‘do over’ in Iraq, as well as taking out Syria, Iran , Hezbollah, and Hamas. Personally, I think this is simplistic and dangerous nonsense. But I think that is how the flatheads think they can sell this. And in doing so…snatch victory from the jaws of defeat not only in the ME…but in Nov 08, as well. ‘yes, yes, sure, we lost all our smaller bets. But lets quadruple the size and scope of our last bet and win…who will recall the earlier losses?’ I just see it starting World War 3. Or, 4, as the more extreme flatheads (and that is saying something) call it I believe.

  38. J. Rega says:

    Bushco is like the proud courtier who wanted to become a student of Shibli, who in turn would not accept him. Every day the courtier went and remonstrated with the master, who continued to deny him. Finally, the exasperated courtier said there must be something, anything that he could do that would make Shibli change his mind. Well, said the master, there is something, but you would never do it. Delighted, the courtier begged the master to tell him what to do and he would see to it immediately. The master said it wasn’t worth the telling since the courtier would never do what was needed but the courtier kept insisting. Finally, Shibli said, “As you wish, then. Shave your head, remove all your clothes and go to the public square. There, hang a bag of walnuts around your neck, together with a sign that says ‘a walnut to any boy that punches me in the nose’”. Perplexed, the courtier said he could never possibly do anything like that. And Shibli said, “I know. I just told you that”.
    We’re all like the courtier much of the time. The problem is that Bushco is like him all of the time.

  39. Doran Williams says:

    Col. Lang’s bitter pill.
    Lang may be correct in his analysis and his prognostication for the Democratic party. I hope the Dems who supported this war initially will choke on the pill which Lang is offering. I also hope all my liberal interventionist friends and associates will learn a lesson from this. By this, I mean that it was undoubtedly easier for the Democrats, who voted to give Bush the freedom to start a war against Saddam, to do so because of their general bias in favor of committing American troops to foreign, non-defensive wars. If Dems will rid themselves of that bias, and start from the opposite bias — that we never commit troops unless it is absolutely necessary to defend the physical integrity of the Republic from armed violence (forget all that crap about “defending American interests,” those “interests” are almost always those of international or global corporations and rarely the “interests” of most Americans) — if Dems will act that way, instead of being anxious to “demonstrate strength,” we will not, in future times, waste our people, our wealth, and our reputation.

  40. Arun says:

    It is very clear to me that the deadly duo is impeding any real consideration of what is good for the US. They are doing that by even cooking facts to point to a predetermined conclusion.
    Petraeus is doing, IMO, a Colin Powell. I know, the calculation must be “things are better with deadly duo + me than deadly duo without me”. But he should factor in that if he “defects” that may render the deadly duo ineffective. Of course, doing this would be easier if every institution in DC was asserting its strength.

  41. Arun says:

    Why I say Petraeus is doing a Colin Powell on us: – a Glenn Greenwald article.

  42. João Carlos says:

    Well, IMHO:
    1- PL is completelly right about a rapid withdraw. No way the US soldiers life can be in risk and a rapid withdraw have a great danger of US armed foreces be attacked while moving. Any case, the planning for the withdraw need assume that the natives will be “hostile”.
    2- PL is problably right about what will happen to Iraq after the withdraw, the country will break, Kurdistant will be a big pain, Sunnistan will be other big pain, Shiastan will be allied to Iran. However… what policy is possible to implement that will evade this nightmare? I don’t see how to escape this disaster, and I am very sorry that the disaster will happen when there is a democrat president, they will be blamed for something they not created. I fell that the best alternative now is start a lot of diplomacy with Iran, they are the winners of this war. The best alternative is accept the new reality, Iran will be a greter power in MidEast.
    3- I fear that there is a window of opportunity for the withdraw, but this window is closing. The economy is moving to a recession (and there is a considerable chance of a depression) and the greater army of the world need a lot of money for mantain it. Remember that the supply lines start at home and if the money supply dry the US army can have problems for buy new equipment. However, there is no chance that the republicans can blame the democrats for the recession.
    4- I advice to look at what is happening to Mexico now. Mexico can be the next failed state. The US army can be needed south of Rio Grande sooner or later. I don’t see how is possible to mantain 3 occupations: Iraq, Afghanistan and Mexico.
    5- Pakistan… I feel problems coming from there. And they have atomic bombs. More one country US will need pacify? How many divisions US have?
    I feel the best politics for the democrats is “blame Bush” for everything.
    João Carlos
    sorry the bad english, my native language is portuguese
    (I write this warning because at other site someone said for I use correct grammar…. so, I think is better I say that I am not using my native language beforehand)

  43. Will says:

    there can’t be no iran resolution b/c that would “weaken” bargaining posture.
    israel influence reings supreme. One can rail but to no avail, so let’s move beyond that.
    let’s focus on settling the core dispute.
    Can Israel be persuaded, bribed into disgorging what LBJ gave them in 1967?
    The Golan heights can be disgorged. They have already worked out a deal. Israelis, keep the water, it is turned into a park basically which the Israelis get to visit anytime they want. Syrian sovereignty is restored. Everybody moves on. Only Dumbya is stopping that one.
    The West Bank. Forget about the settlers moving out. Let them stay in the Palestinian state. Who will protect them? Who will curtail their murderous ways? tough nuts to crack.
    offset them with 200,000 returned Palestinian refugees to Israel proper, vetted, of course for non-violence. Mutual hostages. Give the Temple Mount to the U.N., the Muslims, the Xtians, and the Jews.
    And let life go on.

  44. jamzo says:

    pl… “Petraeus recommends a gradual withdrawal from this disaster. You don’t want that? Have you really thought this through?”
    while you interpret the Petraeus position as a gradual withdrawl recommendation, others do not see it that way
    they interpret the Petraeus position as a return to the status quo “pre-surge” – they see it as the anti-gradual withdrawl
    are alternative versions of
    gradual withdrawl possible?
    can they be spelled out in detail by the opposition party?
    while there are many voices among the dems i think the dem consenus is for strategy change includes an appropriate, reasonable, staged draw down of forces in iraq – even a gradual withdrawl

  45. Binh says:

    I’ll respond to your last point, the Dems, first. If the Dems didn’t want responsibility for this war, they shouldn’t have voted for it in 2002. They shouldn’t have funded it for every single year since 2003. And when they took over Congress, they should refused to send Bush a war spending bill until the troops were pulled out of Iraq. That way the consequences of America’s failure in Iraq would rest squarely with the Decider.
    On withdrawal: as someone else commented, please explain what you mean by rapid? 6 months, a year, 2 years?
    All of the consequences you fear from a “rapid” withdrawal will also occur with a slower withdrawal but they will take longer to happen. In the meantime that will mean our soldiers dying every day – the longer withdrawal takes, the more lives will be lost.
    The American occupation has had a highly destructive and distorting effect on all dimensions of Iraqi society. First of, 650,000 Iraqis have died (according to the Lancet study which the UK gov’t internally said used sound methods but publicly denounced). Secondly, look at the figures for unemployment, electrity generation, the millions of refugees fleeing the violence, etc. Third, the occupation has severly distorted the Iraqi political order, giving parties with a minor grassroots following government power (SIIC and Dawa) and non-existent groups like Al-Qaeda some measure of popular support and a base of operations that they didn’t have before.
    As it stands, Iraq is having a civil war AND a foreign occupation. The least we could do is to lighten their burden and get out, and let the nasty and inevitable struggle for power play itself out. I do agree with you about what would happen in Kurdistan, but in “Sunnistan” without American troops to shoot at AQiM would lose what little support it has left and be finished by the 1920s once and for all, and the fate of the Shia has yet to be decided. If Sadr wins out, Iran won’t have a satellite – he’s fiercely nationalist and opposes creating a southern superstate, which actually gives him common political ground with the Sunnis. If SIIC wins out, Iran takes the south but I think the consequences of that in terms of terrorism are overblown to say the least.
    I’m saying all of the above as a proponent of immediate withdrawal, just to make that clear for your readers.

  46. DanaJone says:

    I used to think that the Dem’s were just giving Bushco & the Repub’s “Just enough rope..”, but it looks like the end of the rope got wrapped around their ankles, so they will all be hanging. The NeoClowns response to the ISG says it all “Choosing Victory..”. These people can never admit mistakes or failure…
    God help us all.

  47. Chatham says:

    If you could clarify, please. You’ve written that the surge hasn’t improved the situation in Iraq, and that the crisis that will happen when we withdraw the troops will happen one way or another. And regarding the September report you wrote:
    “It will be argued that the tide has turned, a recipe for success has been found and the implication will be clear that whomever wishes to give up and go home will have stabbed the armed forces in the back and exposed the American people to the future ravages of AQinM. Part of the logic of this argument will be the present inclination in the WH and NSC to “lock” the next president into the war in Iraq thus continuing Bush Administration strategy.”
    All of which seem to be validated. You’ve also mentioned that you don’t worry about funding anti-government groups we find to be useful, since we won’t be in Iraq that long and our goal should be to pull out (since there doesn’t seem to be political interest in your concert, which mahy of us agree would be the best option), as well as mentioning that we shouldn’t leave a reduced presence there. And again in the comments here, you mention you are not against withdrawing the troops.
    So my question is two fold: 1. Assuming I’m reading this write and you want to withdraw the troops before too long, how/when should it be done? And 2. Do you feel that any of the problems you mentioned can be avoided or limited simply by a coninued us presence? (I do not)

  48. peg says:

    is iraq already being partitioned?
    Kurdistan Regional Government Signs Oil and Gas Contract with US Based Hunt Oil Company

  49. Abu Sinan says:

    I think the Republicans know all too well that when they pull out in the next few years, which they must; that it is all going to fall apart.
    I believe if a Democrat is president when this happens then it will usher in a era, perhapds decades, of Reoublican control of the Presidency and Congress.
    This is EXACTLY why I hope that the Democrats are defeated in the next Presidential elections. That way the Republican Party will be forced to take complete responsibility for the war it wanted.

  50. VietnamVet says:

    Colonel, I was ready to butt heads with you, all over again, but I agree with your predictions.
    The USA will have the maximum force level in Iraq up to January 2009. Any withdrawal will be the burden of the next President. But, George W Bush is guarantying that the Democrats will take control of the federal government because there is no possibility that peace will break out in Iraq. “Occupations are resisted simply because they are occupations.” The Democrats will replay the 2006 election and run against George W Bush and the incompetent corrupt Republicans. But, they dare not upset their corporate sponsors or the Israel Lobby.
    A precipitous withdrawal to get most men and some material out of Iraq will take nine months; the earliest date for the last troops out is October 2009 but more likely years after that. Years and years of more heartache and tears; Two soldiers who wrote NYT op-ed killed in Iraq.
    Like a bad sequel of Gerald Ford’s and Jimmy Carter’s 1970s, Iraq won’t be the only crisis: a dysfunctional army, the Artic Ice Cap disappearing, a collapsed economy, China and Japan calling in their treasury bonds, and soaring energy prices.
    The total wild card is that the perceived success of the Surge in the White House will encourage the Decider to bomb Iran without any push back from Congress or Corporate Media.

  51. mo says:

    Being non-American and therefore not particulary concerned about the consequences a withdrawl would have on the US political scene, I would like to address the consequneces you mention on Iraq and provide an alternative measure of the consequences of a US withdrawl.
    You state that a rapid withdrawl will create a state of Iraq in the south in which whichever Shia faction wins will become a satellite of the Iranian government. I would suggest that the only man capable of making sure that does not happen is Sadr, a man I know you do not much like. Continued presence of US forces in Iraq will most likely lead to more attempts to kill or weaken him; The weaker he gets or if he dies, the more likely that Iranian influenced Shia Iraq will become a reality.
    I will leave a discussion on “sponsor of Islamic zealot movements and their terrorist manifestations” for another topic as I am not entirely sure which movements you refer to.
    Is not Iran already an arbiter of alignments and activity in the region?
    – In regards to Kurdistan, surely its the Iraqis who will oppose this partition well before the Turks and the Iranians, especially given the amount of oil there.
    – Would the wide variety of Sunni Arab groups that are revolting against the takfiri jihadis coalesce into a integrated part of a renewed Iraq? Given that the new Iraq will be/is Shia dominated, it will depend entirely on who dominates the Shia and again we have to look at Sadr; He is the only Shia leader the Sunnis have any respect for.
    – Would the jihadis find a way to re-establish themselves somewhere in Sunnistan? While the American troops are present, opposition to them is muted. They serve a purpose to the “real” resistance. When they no longer serve that purpose I believe they will face a much sterner opposition.
    Being the Middle East, anything can happen but the above is as likely a scenario as any in my humble opinion.

  52. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Where did I say that I dislike Sadr more than the others? pl

  53. I hate the politics of it, but my sense is that the Democrats are playing this pretty well. They can ignore the activist anti-war wing, such as it is, for a while longer. They are well aware of the dangers of a stampede out of Iraq, and since they are politicians, they must be aware that the Republicans secretly hope to pin the blame for a catastrophe onto them. The Dems’ objective in turn, therefore, is to make sure it stays sticking to the Republicans. So the Dems are probably secretly happy they don’t have a veto-proof majority on this one: they really don’t have to DO anything at this moment. By questioning Petraeus strongly and making loud noises to thump on the White House and start the withdrawal, the whole thing stays on Bush, while everyone is put on notice that the next report (in March 2008?,) if it cannot show better results, is the beginning of the end — and that is at the same time that reductions must start anyway, so beginning withdrawal is not the Democrats’ fault.
    Pursuing that thought, did anyone ask General Petraeus his opinion on bringing in the international community in order to get all the players at to the table with some lasting preference and commitment? The General must have thought about this. If the Iraqis know there will be a drawdown, they can wait it out, and Col. Lang’s list of consequences will ensue anyway.
    It appears that President Bush is hoping to get some domestic support for the Republicans by ordering a lesser number of troop reductions in the meantime, but this could backfire on him badly, if it makes a worse report next March. On the other hand, if the next report does show better results, the Dems will have been wise to allow Petraeus another six months to work on it, at the same time as the troop reductions that are necessary to replenish the military, will throw the whole political issue into a new arena: such as a campaign issue on whether or not there should be a conscription draft. And that issue would throw the long-term foreign policy of the United States back onto the voters, which is exactly where it belongs.

  54. FB Ali says:

    Joao Carlos,
    I hope you will ignore the language problem and continue to post here. It is a pleasure to read your views, as they are usually sound and perceptive.

  55. dasher says:

    “Can’t you see that DP is trying to get us out of there in spite of being hampered by having the deadly duo in charge?”
    No, I can’t see this. What I see is DP recommending withdrawing troops that are scheduled to be withdrawn anyway at the end of their deployments (he seeks to take ‘credit’ for not asking for replacements – scheech!), with the result that next summer we will be at the same troop levels as we were at before the “surge”. Not to mention that, even if he wanted, he couldn’t NOT decrease troop numbers unless he, assuming they are available – a big assumption!-tapped into reserve or national guard units, without increasing currently set deployment lengths (an action that will by all accounts, “break the army”).
    So, no. I don’t give him much credit for this.
    As for the consequenses you fear, IMO, whether we leave this year, next year or ten years from now, those events will happen. The Bush administration is NEVER, EVER going to launch a “prolonged and aggressive combination of diplomacy and potential military force”. They don’t believe in diplomacy, for one thing. And do you expect the next administration (assuming it’s a Democractic one) to find a magic bullet to “fix” this mess, assuming we can hold on until January 2009? It would take months of ‘diplomatic’ effort (translation: Get your acts together, guys, because we’re out of here in __ months”). We can send that message now, while we’re withdrawing over the next 12 months.
    It’s only a matter of how many Americans will die along with [what any realist can see are inevitable] Iraqi casualites in the existing civil war, and how much of our money is poured down this rat hole with them.
    Staying longer cannot improve this disaster; shedding more blood will not make that which has already been shed less futile.

  56. Mo says:

    We had a discussion a while back where I was arguing that the road to peace in the Middle East lies through people like Sadr, Meshaal and Nasrallah and not the so called “moderates” and it was in that discussion that I remember you stating a dislike for him.
    I did not mean to suggest that you preffered any of the others.

  57. Walrus says:

    Gentlemen, when the history of the downfall of the United States is written, a number of contributing factors to Bush’s suicidal statecraft will be identified, that will include the following:
    1. A political system that requires that politicians do the bidding of their financial donors. AIPAC will be identified as “owning” the Democrats, which is why they appear spineless over Iraq and Iran – they have no choice in the matter but to do Israel’s bidding.
    2. Concentration of media ownership and a resulting decline in the quality of public debate that should inform lawmakers about whats important, and its not abortion and gay marriage.
    3. The dumbing down of the American public education system.
    4. #1, #2 and #3 taken together have turned the election of the President into a beauty contest, ensuring that no sane and capable person would want the job. How do you think Caligula and Nero became Roman Emperors?
    5. An increasingly complex and costly administration system (actually 50 +1 administrations) as lawmakers struggle to accommodate the wishes of their financial backers while maintaining some semblance of governing in the public interest. At some point this system will be unmaintainable unless there is change.
    6. Refusal to acknowledge, let alone adapt, to the challenge of an increasingly costly and scarce energy source – oil – that the American Society, structure and economy is totally reliant upon, as surely as Roman Empire was reliant on grain extracted from its provinces. As to why America won’t start using energy efficiently, and instead engages in lunacy like the current biofuels program, see #1.
    7. Refusal to modernise the American economy through free trade, instead protecting sectional interests. Reason? See #1.
    8, Refusal to modernise Healthcare and legal systems, resulting in increasing social stress, for reason #1.
    9. Refusal to spend on critical infrastructure. That bridge collapse and recent blackouts were a warning. Reason? #1.
    10. Refusal to address climate change issues. Reason? See #1.
    The Iraq war is a symptom, not the proximate cause, of Americas decline. You were fed a pack of lies that the American people are now dumb enough to swallow, by foriegn and domestic groups that do not have America’s best interests at heart.
    I believe Iran is going to be attacked before the end of the year, and in the aftermath, I think America is going to collapse both economically and socially which is a damn pity.
    America has lost its resilience, look no further than the continuing cluster**** that was New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.
    The rising price of oil is going to do the most damage to the tightly linked supply chains that keep you clothed, fed and housed. At some point, a breakdown is going to occur.
    The Democrats can’t stop it happening either.

  58. The Dems will not in any way tie Bush’s hands on Iran. AIPAC is too strong in both parties. And it’s AIPAC and its minions who are pushing hard this idea of hitting Iran.
    Dick has what he wants, I think, in Iraq. I wrote several months ago that he and Rumsfeld were telling Der Deciderer that things were sufficiently “contained” in Iraq to go after Iran. Obviously he couldn’t make the appearance of that stick in the popular press.
    Now, however, with Petraeus conveying confidence and almost spouting success, the perception that Iraq is indeed contained can gain more credence. I say this after listening to two people on NPR talk about Iraq in terms that made Iraq sound like it was on the verge of entering the Emerald City.
    This is a liberal talk show and if the impression given by the host and her speakers is so sanguine, then how do you think Der Deciderer feels?
    What broke my growing euphoria, though, was a statement during the news break that Condi Rice is sounding the Cheney fight song. It sounds like she’s given in and is now on-board with Dick.
    I am beginning to think, Col Lang, that your teasers about Bush attacking Iran are more than counter-counter-counter disinformation.

  59. ISL says:

    dasher, all:
    “.. he couldn’t NOT decrease troop numbers unless he, assuming they are available – a big assumption!-tapped into reserve or national guard units, without increasing currently set deployment lengths (an action that will by all accounts, “break the army”)”
    WH actions have been remarkably consistent at “breaking” federal gov’t institutions and then privitizing them.
    I hope to be wrong but will not be surprised if troop reductions do not occur and rotations are extended, etc. The WH certainly has not followed its rules about deployments before.
    Just a depressing thought.

  60. Forget the smoke and mirrors by the leadership and members of both parties and the candidates. The world knows there is a US election in 2008 and the candidates and their policies on Iraq will be frozen in place by next Easter. Accordingly, their policies are being adjusted to this fact. So what then? Let’s list the real issues: (1)What is impact of staying or leaving Iraq on energy availability? (2) what is impact of attacking Iran on energy availability? (3)What is impact of staying of leaving Iraq or attacking Iran on US military readiness for other contingencies? (4) What is impact of staying or leaving Iraq or attacking Iran on domestic security? (5) Should the US pick sides between Sunnis and Shias? If so why or why not? (6) My belief is that China and the rest of Asia and South Asia are the big issue including their energy policies, usage, and dependency! If that is the case what is impact of staying or leaving Iraq or attacking Iran? (7) Do religions (any) that refuse to denounce violence against innocents deserve to be treated legally and politically by the US domestically as “religions?” (8) What will happen to Israel (with a substantial % of its citizens holding dual citizenship with the US) if we stay or leave Iraq or attack Iran? (9) Should Islamists (fundamentalist or not) be allowed to gain resident alien status or citizenship in the US? (10) Should each of the candidates be asked for a formal position on whether DHS is a good idea poorly executed or a bad idea wonderfully executed at this point in time or combinations and permutations thereof) and who are their top ten candidates for Secretary of State, Defense, DHS, DOJ, and Treasury? Let the press and public vet in advance not in the post election rush for confirmation. Rank these candidates alphabetically so no inferences. The Senate no longer has the full expert capability to either advise or consent so at least this small step to improving governence should be taken!
    I believe all the other issues can be considered consumed within this last proposal since then we have some idea of the future administrative capacity of the two lackluster parties striving to keep power while the USA recedes in historical poverty.

  61. Babak Makkinejad says:

    William R. Cumming:
    You wrote:
    (7) Do religions (any) that refuse to denounce violence against innocents deserve to be treated legally and politically by the US domestically as “religions?”
    Just what do you mean by “innocents”?
    Specifically, when Grant was bombarding Vicksburg indiscriminately, was he killing the guilty?
    Who speaks for Christianity?

  62. In the War of Independence as in many wars both sides believed that their “God” was on their side.
    An innocent is a person that is unable to control their own destiney in the modern world without resort to force or violence. See also Webster, and/or the Oxford English Dictionary (unabridged). Just for the record I understand that DOD recently approved the “Wickan” symbol as authorized for those believing in that “Religion” for deceased soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women. Just remember the separation of “church” and “state” based on the Federalist papers was designed to protect the STATE not to protect Religion.

  63. Walrus says:

    Dear Mr. Cumming, your post demonstrates how we got into this mess in the first place.
    Taking your questions one by one, let me attempt to demonstrate that you are asking the wrong questions, and they are also loaded questions – which of course doesn’t mean that some people won’t attempt to answer them instead of throwing them straight back at the questioner as I am about to politely try and do.
    “(1)What is impact of staying or leaving Iraq on energy availability? ”
    – Energy availability for who???? Americans? Iraqis? The rest of the world? What I think you mean is “am I going to have to pay $8.00 a gallon for gas?”.
    The appropriate answer of course is that if America changes its gas guzzling habits (It consumes half the worlds production) there is plenty to go around – while we work up alternative transport solutions like the rest of humanity is trying to do.
    “(2) what is impact of attacking Iran on energy availability?” – the answer is obviously negative for the whole world, but never mind the possibility that hundreds of thousands of Iranians are going to die, their deaths are unimportant when your need for cheap gas is taken into consideration.
    “(3)What is impact of staying of leaving Iraq or attacking Iran on US military readiness for other contingencies?” – what other contingencies? Who else do you wish to invade?
    “(4) What is impact of staying or leaving Iraq or attacking Iran on domestic security?” – Domestic security? Iranian domestic security and Iraqi domestic security? Oh! You mean American domestic security! Silly me! (sorry snark mode off) I would have thought attacking Iran ensures that within twenty years New York is going to receive a nuclear blast courtesy of Islam, assuming New York survives that long without a regular supply of gasoline.
    “(5) Should the US pick sides between Sunnis and Shias? If so why or why not?” – let me get this straight, do you remember the original aim of invading Iraq? How does encouraging civil war spread “freedom” and “Liberty”?
    “”(6) My belief is that China and the rest of Asia and South Asia are the big issue including their energy policies, usage, and dependency! If that is the case what is impact of staying or leaving Iraq or attacking Iran? – see #1 – Impact on who? Your wallet? Don’t the rest of the world have the right of access to energy on the same terms as the U.S.?
    “”(7) Do religions (any) that refuse to denounce violence against innocents deserve to be treated legally and politically by the US domestically as “religions?” – Last time I looked America was a secular state.
    Anyway, presumably you only mean Islam, but what does it matter? Christianists and Jews seem to do a pretty good job of killing innocent people while professing to be peaceful.
    “(8) What will happen to Israel (with a substantial % of its citizens holding dual citizenship with the US) if we stay or leave Iraq or attack Iran?” – Presumably you mean that there will be an influx of Jewish refugees, is this a bad thing?
    “9) Should Islamists (fundamentalist or not) be allowed to gain resident alien status or citizenship in the US?” – Since when does the constitution allow laws to be made about religion? But hey! The Constitution is about white Christians right?
    The questions you ask probably represent the level of debate in the next Presidential competition (along with abortion and gay marriage) and demonstrate the complete and utter moral and intellectual vacuity of the majority of Americans, that is gradually driving America closer to the edge of the Abyss.
    There is only one question that needs to be asked – is America following the golden rule in its relations with the rest of the world? If not, why not?
    Those of us here taking advantage of Col. Lang’s excellent Blog are trying to fathom the answers to some of these questions by thinking for ourselves. I urge you to please stick around and discover how complex some of the causes and answers to our current predicament really are.

  64. al palumbo says:

    Prof Juan Cole said EXACTLY the same words as you did a week ago in HIS advice to the Dems. Think anyone will listen?
    Good luck.

  65. Thanks for the answers to my questions. Very helpful analysis.

  66. Charles I says:

    The Dems must bring their partisan political and emotional imperatives to heel. Having thought this
    through, the only way
    forward politically and militarily is to support this last late chance to correct course in Iraq. By a continued adept MINIMAL internal intervention coupled with maximal external diplomacy until some semblance of sustainable order may created by the Iraqis. If not, the only alternative seems to be the former inconclusive and unsustainable march to “victory” predicated on the physical suppression of the various terrorists, evil-doers and enemies of democracy that passed for strategy to date. A strategy likely hastening the notoriously impending breakdown of the U.S. Army, then doomed to inexorably culminate in the repatriation under fire of the spent wreckage from a charnel house of our making.
    That would indeed easily be sold as the Democrats handiwork, especially since there are so many other simultaneous crises brewing in which people will naturally seek the comfort available to the fearful by means of blaming the handiest party not patently like them on the face of it.
    In that vein, so to speak Babaak, I can find both the innocent AND who speaks for Christianity.
    The innocents are almost always only to be found on “our” side. Amidst a species riven by homicidal imperatives and conceits, they almost universally appear in the mirror with a comfortable minimum of mental gymnastics. The guilty are illumed by tyrants, demagogues, prophets and other proselytizers proclaiming the inerrant defectiveness of all that is not of and like their admittedly imperfect selves. And the imperative to forcibly make the other become our caricature of ourselves, guilty and innocent alike, presupposes our rightness and innocence, while mandating the wrongness, the guilt, of the other in not being like us. A phenomenon which, given the endemic nature of human violence throughout history in all cultures, must surely be a natural human condition, an evolutionary imperative sustaining our homicidal inheiritance, or a Divine dispensation from a true appreciation of our natures allowing us to pursue our homicidal free will without going mad.
    A little less frontal cortex fearfully remonstrating against the state of nature, as our current nature impels us to, and we would all naturally be as perfectly innocent as both the savage predator and the bloody prey in its jaws.
    Who knows if those Vicksburgers shelled by Grant were innocent or guilty? Likely many of each, many both, and lots of each to go around. Were there innocent slaveholders blown to bits amongst those not inclined, or too poor to buy or steal a fellow human being, or to get the hell out? Adulters, theives, murderers and drunks?
    Surely, Mother Teresas and Dalai Lamas aside, only our youngest ignorant children are truly innocent. All the rest of us become at least more knowingly complicit than the lobster in the pot, even if our only will is to is to innocently submit to Power or evil in the despair of repose from the struggle to create or be consumed.
    The trajectory of those shells made the dead all just as dead the same way the trajectory of photons from the mirror makes me as innocent as my reflection is in my eyes. It all depends on what the trajectory of the light is, or what the trajectory of anything is. I am sure that a sentient mirror looking at ME would see a very different shade of innocence than the one I can make out looking at the mirror, or at my fellows. If I squint just the right way under artificial light, that is.
    As for Christianity, why the Pope recently clarified that only Catholics could know the Creator, perforce through the agency of His son Jesus, and all the others are doomed. Innocent, guilty, all doomed, unless you’re Catholic, in which case guilt or innocence may be dispensed with or by the witch doctor, er, priest pending until Final Judgement. Whereupon ye shall be dead, moral or not. Gotta be a man though, no women need apply. You’ve all been Divinely and immutably accounted for. Saved by the Grace of a God ordained by man, though purportedly Created temporally lacking in one tiny but spiritually insurmountable chromosonal complement. In all the big scams, er, organized religions too, guilty or innocent female, there’s no chief babbler’s robe for you, how’s that for global equality?
    So until Catholicism is overthrown or retooled, or the light changes in a way that the true will, let alone existence, of God is manifestly otherwise discernible, the Pope of the day is legitimated by a billion plus adherents to the fanciful and often pernicious gibberish he inerrantly spouts. Wearing Peter’s ring, He speaks for them, guilty or innocent, however compliant with the absurd rituals and beliefs accumulated over the centuries since Creation they are, preaching an exclusionary, apocalyptic imperative with the conviction and hypocrisy of a takfiri jihadi mullah dispensing plastic keys to Paradise to downy cheeked martyrs.
    Now, who should or could talk some natural common sense to anybody rather than subjective gibberish and judgement about good and evil, guilt and innocence is another thing entirely. That’ll have to wait until the general preaching and killing dies down, as no sense can be made over that din.
    In the present case, the composition and trajectory of the sperm, originally created from incohate elemental stardust, to the womb it adheres to is the crapshoot largely determining whether we will be shelled in or shelling our respective Vicksburgs. Not much guilt or innocence in that. If my daddy’s daddy’s sperm had landed in Mesopotamia rather than in Lithuania, and my daddy’s thence in Montreal, I’d likely be innocently blogging evil thoughts in Arabic aimed at you. Or shooting at you. Or earlier worn out from a harsher life. Or blown to bits.
    But surely more likely guilty or innocent to you by circumstance or association alone than any inherent human quality particular to me independant of external reality. I’m only inherently a blithering liberal by an accident of birth that affords me the opportunity to become one in an environment promoting such thought. Couldda been born to a raging redneck rather than docile citizens. I don’t feel guilty of my innocence such as it is,or any great moral victory in my pacific free will. But being shelled rather than shelling couldn’t make me individually more innocent or less guilty any more than being born to the shellers and not the shelled could. The cannibal born of cannibals is not guilty or innocent. He is a cannibal, and would surely be “guilty” of non cannibalism – of treasonous heresy – if he did not fill the pot or partake in his innocent prey. Who surely felt innocent of any guilt meriting boiling alive and consumption, let alone an impersonal shelling.
    I have a tiny leeway in a tremendously technologically empowered life largely constrained by many apparent imperatives, but not that of providing culturally mandated meals of innocent humans. Though I don’t think I could stab you to death in cold blood, or dine on you short of a mountain planecrash, I’m pretty sure in the right circumstances I could be brought to happily shell you and yours from afar by something far less compulsive than starvation, ethnically inculcated honour codes or the hot passion of the cuckold.
    Babaak, you blithely mooted the execution of millions of addicts on the basis of their pernicious effect on society. You saw guilt inherent in the morally blameworthy addict and evil in the intoxicant rather than in the way Power has come to utilize the trade upon our irrepressible urge to intoxication, and some of our fellows’ proneness to addiction. I saw an inhuman, and, I thought charitably, an ignorant judgment making a monstrous proposal to punish human nature rather than those who prey upon it, instead of offering succor or perceiving that reasonably attainable harm reduction could profitably, beneficially obviate much more misery and criminality.
    But the illicit drug trade as currently structured is obviously much too important to Power(s) to dispense with by the simple expedient of harm reduction predicated regulation of our intoxicating human urges.
    Similarly, humanity’s apparent homicidal nature, in face of the knowledge and fear of our own mortality, befuddled by largely similar but competing extremist eschatologys ordaining the most tortuously irrational precepts humanly possible, must be of some powerful utility to God, Power or Evolution. Guilt and innocence, good and evil, in the end are recent human constructs that are as handily but more violently manipulated for the ends of temporal Power and “Divine” hubris as the Afghan poppy harvest is. You may think the traffickers evil, the users guilty, but they have nothing on religious merchants retailing fear, guilt and death as the price of eternal spiritual life to the befuddled, religiously addicted masses. The trafficker wants the addict to live his way; the priest wants the addict to die his way, or else, they’ll REALLY be miserable when they are dead.
    I really can’t make heads nor tail of it all. I sometimes catch a glimmer of it in the mirror though, which, as a faithless, non-shaving bearded man, not often found in a suit and tie these days, I have as much use for as Homer Simpson does for the homilies of Reverend Lovejoy on NFL Sundays.

  67. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Charles I
    Thank you for reply.
    I believe I have been successful (and in agreement with you) that the collective assignment of guilt, the determination of the righteousness of this or that religious creed are all conceits & self-delusions that are not justified and cannot be defended once one is faced with the Almighty.
    The Almighty, for his inscrutable reasons, has condemned us to the this type of existence which causes us to be in a state of Fall without the power of overcoming that. In fact, every good Catholic would tell you that God created Hell before he created Man – it was needed. So, ultimately God is responsible for all this mess.
    Having said that, I also believe that we have to defend ourselves; crimes are actions which we have to be prepared to use violence to confront. It is God’s will – in my opinion – to use violence.
    I am sick and tired of all these so-called Western people who keep on talking about the need for non-violent action while their states are constantly exercising violence both domestically and externally. It is another conceit and another self-delusion for, in my opinion, there is abosloutely no chance of a human society in which violence will have no place; even sex is a form of violence.
    In regards to the drug traffickers etc. Yes they are evil; they have made an evil choice and are sticking with it. Yes, may be they are not as evil as some other fellow but we have to defend ourselves against this scourge. And the State has to confront evil where it can.
    The Catholics, smug in their sense of unimpeachable religious knowledge, at least bear witness to all of humanity for all of the times in their Mass ceremony – others do not.
    As for this particular moment in history, the wise will try to de-emphasize religious aspcts of any and all conflicts and re-direct them into such issues as land, power, wealth etc.

  68. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Hmmm. This thread took a strange turn…advice for Dems turned into “even sex is a form of violence.”
    Who speaks for Christianity? As a man who has sat many hours in both a Catholic and Calvinist pew, I can say that the Reformers have their own popes as well. They just aren’t willing to admit it.
    The only difference is numerical. The Catholics have one who speaks for the entire denomination, whereas the Protestants have one for each congregation. (For the sake of simplicity, I’ll leave out the Catholic-Lite Anglicans and Lutherans and their hierarchies.)
    Then add all the individual protestant political groups like Focus On The Family speaking for their members. These political groups are inter-denominational.
    They accept all denominations…5s, 10s and Twenties!
    In the spirit of truth and accuracy, my earlier post using the term “caspar milquetoast” included a link to Caspar the Friendly Ghost with the caption Dem Leader. That was a collosal error on my part.
    Will The Real Caspar Milquetoast Please Stand Up?

  69. Are oil consumption levels by a country (1) a religious choice? (2) a political choice? (3) an economic choice? Whatever you conclude, the issue of resources (including oil)will dominate the domestic politics of the US and its international posture for the forseeable future. Jim Baker said of the 1st Gulf War “Its about jobs.” It may have cost him the Presidency. Where are the truth tellers about the choices the DEMs face since so far they have let the President set the agenda. The practice of politics in the USA as of the 21st Century based on the lessons of the 20th is that the party that sets the agenda wins other things considered. Thus my earlier listing of questions and factors the DEMS might address should they choose to set the agenda. As for the present campaign they will look back at 2007 as the year they wasted politically over meaningless discussion as far as International Relations. Should their policies be pragmatic or driven by ideology even if that ideology is called “speading Democracy.” Last I heard we have a republic not a democracy. As Ben Franklin said “We have a Republic but let’s see how long we can keep it.” (or some variation thereof.) The DEMS can win if the reflect the popular will and the positions of the majority but that is tough when people don’t read, don’t listen, don’t try to understand, and even more don’t care. Tough times to be in politics even if you have the money.

  70. Babak Makkinejad says:

    William R. Cumming:
    US consumption of oil is irrelevant to what is happening now. The United States has untapped oil and gas deposits that could make her self-sufficient in hydrocarbon energy. [There is an untapped gas field in Mobile bay – one among many such fields – that is estimated to be able to power US for 300 years.]
    US, however, is a consumer of products and services that use oil in their production or as ingredients. She is not alone in this – all over the world people are consuming and producing products and services that are based on hydrocarbon resources.
    This consumption, by an in itself, does not have any religious or political content. It is mostly a matter of convenience and choice; i.e. economics. Hundreds of millions of people are liberated from the drudgery of back-breaking manual labour because of the introduction of the internal combustion engine that uses hyrdocarbons as a fuel.
    As for DEMS – here is a question for you.
    Are there any qualitative differences left between Republicansd and Democrats in the United States? Or are they now the 2 wings of the same One Party State?

  71. About a decade ago William Greider wrote a book called “Who Will Tell The People.” His premise was that inside the beltway it was really just one party. Well the outsiders may just be the big hatted folks from Texas. At the least the parties have evened up the need to wage war whether a just war or whatever. I tend to agree with Mr. Greider.

  72. OK! Time for oversimplification for both Republicans and DEMS! What exactly would be the fruits of victory in Iraq? If everything the President, his party and the DEMS is realized, whatever that is–Then what? Is a completely democratic Iraq pumping oil for the world what is likely? No terrorist sponsorship from Iraq? No civil war? A full partner in Globalization? A secular state with tolerance for Israel, Shias and Sunnis and Christians? Who is kidding–even if this were to happen tne powers that be including the US would not change their policies toward the Islamic world, oil politics, or globalization. Where is the published analysis of what happens if the fruits of victory are achieved? Point me in that direction! The current likely end game is oblivion for many innocents.

  73. Deodand says:

    You fellows are stuck in a rotten and very hard place. All your fault. Not a helpful analysis but one that carries truth and justice.
    Your end analysis for the Democrats is about right nonetheless.
    Some thoughts on:
    Rump State? Probably but you are thinking like an island/continental state. Small countries with land borders have always been under one domination or another – you have to think different. As it is, I do not necessarily buy the Iranian domination and all is evil thing. If America dealt differently with Iran rather than some juvenile hate wanna get you back kind of emotional stupidity that you dote on Cuba and Iran you might get you some other result. In any case, I do not buy the Iran uber alles proposition that is so popular. Remember the Arab-Persian divide.
    Kurdistan in this particular universe at this particular time is not going to happen without a lot of bloodshed and terror that nobody amongst the big powers want. I have been to Dohuk, I like the Kurds, and I would not give them clearance to go their own separate way, especially with all else that hangs on the question. No to Kurdistan. Get a grip.
    The Iraqi Sunnis are fucked unless they carve themselves a defensible space and keep it. And they might just do this with the current trend of US policy. In any case they may well be marginalised unless they can think outside the box and bring some value added to the new nation (in terms of abilities and education, three years ago they might have been able to do this)
    Nothing is fair, nothing is going to mean much until there is a lot more killing Sunni v Shia. In this, the US is a kill multiplier. Get out while you still have the dignity and a shred of self respect.
    The chances are that the best way of defeating the jihadis is to let the Iraqis do it. You can’t, you make them.
    Who cares now what screwed up American self-loathing fantasy took you into Iraq. Get out now now.
    Whether you or the world likes it or not. We all need a whole and functioning United States of America and right now you guys are not cutting it.
    Semper Fi

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