Friday, June 16


Rosa Brooks just doesn't get it. Here she is making fun of Bush's new plan for success in Iraq: Make the new Iraqi Prime Minister come up with a plan.

Doesn't she know that Bush doesn't "do plans" any more than he "does nuance"? He's a man of ACTION, not thought. He's the Republican macho ideal -- act first and think later. He's already stated that he would let the next president of the United States figure out what to do about Iraq. So why be surprised that HIS plan is to get OTHERS to make a plan?

The House Republican plan to change the subject and blame the Democrats is almost as good as the Bush plan to get the Iraqis to come up with an Iraq plan. After all, Sun Tzu famously said that "all warfare is deception," and "divert and distract" is a tried and true method of warfare. They don't call the Republicans the national security party for nothing!

What's that? Diversion and distraction tactics are supposed to be used against the enemy on the battlefield, not against the American electorate? Hey, whose side are you on here?

About those Democrats. Naturally, they have a few Iraq plans too. And though the various Democratic plans differ in their details, they're all built on the common-sense recognition that the Iraq war has been a disaster for Iraqis and for U.S. efforts to combat global terrorism; that our ongoing, open-ended presence in Iraq is part of the problem; that we need to begin a phased drawdown of troops — now.

The funny thing is, if Bush had spent more than a few hours in Baghdad on Tuesday, he might have realized that the Democratic plans for Iraq are remarkably in sync with Iraqi aspirations for Iraq.

Tags: , ,


Heard Monica Crowley on Don Imus this morning basically saying that the only way to stop terrorism is to invade and overthrow all Islamic regimes, including Iran. I heard a gasp and looked over at The Sage, who was sitting up in bed. "Did I hear her right?" he asked.

"Yeah, you just heard an MSNBC anchor advocate perpetual war," I replied. "That's your so-called liberal media at work."



Michael Kinsley nails it:

The CIA is in the forefront of efforts to make sure that democracy, individual rights and stuff like that don't get in the way of our crusade for the spread of democracy, individual rights and stuff like that.
In a twist fully worthy of Kafka, or at least Joseph Heller ("Catch-22"), the very suspicion that bad things are going on is a reason you can't find out. As a CIA legal document explains: "CIA confirmation of the existence of [evidence] would confirm a CIA interest in or use of specific intelligence methods and activities." After all, the agency gaily reasons, the "CIA would not request . . . authorization from the president for intelligence activities in which it had no interest."

Meanwhile, in another federal court, the ACLU has been arguing with the National Security Agency about the wiretapping of international phone calls to and from the United States. The 1978 intelligence reform law made clear as cellophane that these agencies had no authority to wiretap citizens of this country and in this country without permission from a judge. So clear, in fact, that the president doesn't deny that his wiretapping program violates the 1978 law. Instead, he says that Congress overruled that law in its 2001 resolution to oppose terrorism. That, plus the usual inherent powers of the presidency.

What's more, government lawyers say, they can prove all this. Or at least they could, but they can't, because the evidence must remain secret for national security reasons. And what are those reasons? Well, the reasons why the reasons why the program is okay are also secret. And without this evidence, there cannot be a trial. Sorry.

Yossarian whistled. "That's some catch, that Catch-22."

"It's the best there is," Don Daneeka agreed.

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, June 15


Fred Kaplan breaks down Retired General Barry McCaffrey's assessment of the situation in Iraq.

Good news and bad news on the war in Iraq: The good news is that victory is possible, our troops are the best ever, the Iraqi army is getting bigger and better, and most Iraqi people want a pluralistic government. The bad news is that it will take 10 more years to accomplish these successes—at least three years just to get the Iraqi military into shape.
The significance of this memo is that it reveals—from an optimistic but realistic insider's perspective—the magnitude of the price, and it's probably way higher than what the vast majority of Americans are willing to pay.
The bottom line: "We need at least two-to-five more years of U.S. partnership and combat backup to get the Iraqi Army ready to stand on its own." (Emphasis added.)

McCaffrey adds that it will take ten years to get the Iraqi police in shape. And all of this will take a whole heck of a lot more U.S. taxpayer money (probably hundreds of billions) for reconstruction efforts, economic aid, supporting our own military, training of the Iraqi soldiers, police and government officials. Add to that the casualties the American military and innocent Iraqis will continue to suffer. And all this is a simple gamble that at the end we will prevail and somehow the Middle East will be better for it (oh yes, and Americans made safer. We'll be bankrupt economically and morally, but by George Dubya, we'll be SAFER.

So today as Republicans in Congress play their little political drama trying to link the war in Iraq with the war on terror and insist that the only thing we can do is to "stay the course" until Iraqi military, police and political institutions can stand on their own, they should be noting that staying the course means ten more years of this increasingly costly, in terms of both human life and diminishing treasury, boondoggle. Do we have the will for it?

I think not.

Tags: ,


Heavy travel schedule has kept me busy this week, and I'm really out of touch with the news. I'm back in Dallas for a few days and will try to catch up.

I did hear Bill Schneider on CNN this morning in response to the question "Now that Zarqawi has been killed and the Iraqi government has filled key positions, has he gotten a bounce in the polls?" say "In a word, no."

The bad news is that Karl Rove won't be indicted for his part in outing Valerie Plame. The good news is that he's going to continue to make the so-called "war on terror" the driving force behind his political strategy for the midterm elections. It won't work this time. Only the hard-core true believers think Bush and the Republicans have made us safer. American foreign-policy experts say au contraire.

In the survey's accompanying report, Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said policy analysts have never been in such agreement.

"The reason is that it's clear to nearly all that Bush and his team have had a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force."

Then I heard on the radio at lunch Bush signing the miners safety bill with the remark that mining "is hard work." Think Bush betrays his aversion every time he refers to hard work? If it's "hard work" he ain't doing it any time soon. It's "hard work" trying to govern, it's "hard work" trying to win the war on terror, it's "hard work" trying to rescue the victims of Katrina.

Tags: ,