Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Answering the stupid question: what would YOU do in Iraq

Apparently in right wingnut circles and spineless journalists there's a call for "democrats" (meaning rationalists in this context) to come forward with their "solutions" to the Bush/GOP catastrophe in Iraq.
Shrillblog amplifies a Kevin Drum response. In brief, this is the GOP's Vietnam. There isn't a fix any longer, there are only less bad alternatives. The less bad alternatives are basically versions of retreat under fire, possibly with a continued presence in the north. It appears that Iran has won, the US lost an immense amount of money and thousands of lives, and the Iraqi people lost much more. If there are better options they will need to come from the Iraqi people and with an internationalized support rather than direct US support.

Politically, the sad truth is that the American people are not ready to hear this. A recent MN opinion poll show that less than 50% believe that the Iraq war was bungled. The numbers are a large increase from a year ago, but that's still not enough.

Given the impossibility of being frank, and the hopelessness of the GOP and the Bush administration, a non-suicidal rationalist politician will say relatively little. (Betty McCollum, our local representative, is rather honest -- but her seat is so safe I think the GOP opposition might be on the lam somewhere).

The irritating thing here is not the GOP ploy -- it's a perfectly reasonable ploy. It's the spineless journalists who play along with it ...


JGF said...

You and I may be yearning for a 'serious oppposition' (though from a different perspective), but I see no evidence that AMERICA is yearning for one. Are there an actions GOP voters are taking that suggest they want a serious opposition? (Not words, actions).

Likewise, there's no evidence that elections are decided on serious foreign policy issues. I think political scientists point to voter turnout, which is influenced more by the price of gas, home equity, religious issues, and fear.

Democratic politicians know the above as well as any political scientist. It's no good wishing the electorate was better than it is. We are what we are.

Can you tell me again where Clinton tried to pass a bill legalizing torture? I must have missed that one. A reference would be handy.

As to Bush misleading, I can only refer to the comments I made in a prior post about selling the war.

Why would I be outraged at the "leaking" of news about torture, which seems to be what you're talking about. I consider that an act of great moral courage by people who share my fear of what this nation is turning into.

Lastly, I think it's basic military strategy that retreat is a better option than being destroyed. Retreat means you get to lick your wounds and fight (or find other means to "win") again. Retreat is not a palatable word, but Bush's bungling has eliminated all the palatable choices.

BTW, look for an October surprise that's all about bringing out the religious right to vote. An executive order pertaining in some way to Roe vs. Wade.

JGF said...

No problem with the length. I'll be shorter though (so won't quote). I'll not comment on areas where I have nothing to add to my prior comments.

1. Voters want 'serious opposition'.

I, of course, think they had it last election and have it every election. You don't. We'd need to define what 'serious opposition' means then we'd need to agree on a testable measure of it.

2. Foreign policy: I was too emphatic. The American civil war had an impact too. Maybe the Iraqi civil war will matter to Americans more than gas prices, but I'm not so sure. It's very remote for most Americans. Our army is much smaller than it once was.

3. Why have Democrats not been successful? The GOP put together a winning electoral formula: religious right + suburban whites + cultural conservatives + gerrymandering + FOX + fear/terror/fear + utter ruthlessness and a certain measure of vote rigging in Ohio and Florida. It's a good formula for winning and it's worked for them.

I really don't think policy or ideas had much to do with it, though they may have been important for you (eg. you probably went for the small government line).

For Democrats the equivalent strategy might be a 'smart populist' play, which is what Krugman advocates. I don't think you'd care for it!

I don't think there's any success in the political center. Kerry tried that.

4. Legalizing torture vs. extraordinary rendition: Nations rarely go bad in an eye-blink. I read your Wikipedia link and it's interesting. I'd need some independent validation of course, but it makes sense that Bush's evil had antecedents. That's the way nations and humans go bad. Bush has driven us over the cliff, it would not surprising if earlier presidents had skirted the edge.

5.Misleading: I think I covered this very well in my earlier response (see old post).

6.Leaks: Old philosophical argument. Aliens want to blow up the earth. Is it ok to tell them that Mars is the earth? It's a lie. Ends/means, balance, natural law, etc, etc. You think harm done by Bush et al is modest, hence leaks are a greater crime. I think the harm done by Bush et al are massive and perhaps without precedent in the past century, so leaks are a lesser crime. It comes down to how bad one thinks this government is.

7. Retreat: I should have clarified that by "destroyed" I was demonstrating that retreat has its value in general; it wasn't referring to Iraq in particular.

The US Army is not being destroyed in Iraq; sorry for the confusion.

I didn't follow your reasoning however. You seem to be implying there's a good alternative to retreat. Bush, Rumsfeld and the GOP's bungling have eliminated the good alternatives. Don't blame me (or Democrats), blame them.