October 6, 2005

Harry Reid's Babysitting Service

Hatched by Dafydd

This morning, President Bush delivered yet another exceptionally good speech on the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), this time to the National Endowment for Democracy in D.C. Bush candidly explained where we are now, what our strategy is for the future, how Iraq fits into the plan, and what specifically we're doing to continue winning that smaller war, as well as the larger GWOT itself.

In response Sen. Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas) issued a terse and Kennedy-esque -- Ted Kennedy-esque, that is -- "response" that did not respond to anything the president said; in fact, it clearly was written before the speech, comprising nothing but boilerplate invective from the disloyal opposition. But even so, I will take up the smart man's burden and let you know what Sen. Reid said. It's a tedious task, but somebody gotta do it.

Reid: The Rhetoric Doesn't Match The Reality
Thursday, October 6, 2005

Washington, DC – Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today on Bush’s continued failure to talk straight to the American people about the war in Iraq:

Failure to "talk straight?" What about Harry Reid's continued failure to use the English language with clarity and precision? What on earth does that phrase, "talk straight," mean anyway? I'm really getting sick of this argument-by-illiterate-catch-phrase... and yes, I do include McCain's "Straight-Talk Express."

"Talk straight" is quite evidently a placeholder phrase, like a movie stand-in: you insert it into a sentence to take the place of what you really mean to say, so you can get the lighting and camera angles right without wasting the real term's time. The problem arises when, after you polish up the sentence, you forget to go back and replace the placeholder with the real words!

In that case, you end up with nothing but airy persiflage: things are looking bad, because the president won't bite the bullet and just do what needs doing. It's gut-check time, Mr. President! It's now or never! The American people eagerly await the straight talk, the real deal... but all you give us is the same-old, same-old. Our patience is not limitless, sir! For the last time, the American people demand to know just exactly where you stand: are you going to stick with the failed policies of the past? Or will you finally, at long last, move forward boldly into the future?

Once again the president had an opportunity to lay out for the American people the facts on the ground in Iraq and his strategy to achieve the military, political and economic success needed in order to bring our troops home.

Uh... yes; exactly like that.

Once again, he failed to do so. Instead, the president continued to falsely assert there is a link between the war in Iraq and the tragedy of September 11th, a link that did not and does not exist.

He did? I just read the speech, and I don't see anything like that in what I read. Of course, I have an unfair advantage over Sen. Reid... I actually did read the speech before attempting to comment on it.

Here is what Bush actually said on this subject, as opposed to what Harry Reid imagined Bush would say a couple of days ago, when Reid actually write his "response":

We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it — in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites. First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, their "resources, sons and money to driving the infidels out of their lands." Their tactic to meet this goal has been consistent for a quarter-century: They hit us, and expect us to run. They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 — only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.

Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated, "The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.

Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.

I'm curious which part of this Reid rejects. Does the good senator argue that al-Qaeda doesn't really mind us being in the Middle East, that they've decided democracy and peace are pretty cool after all, and that they've given up their Blofeldian ambitions of world domination?

Or maybe it's the second paragraph that Reid disputes: perhaps Harry Reid argues that if we pulled out of Iraq instanter, then Zarqawi and his butt-monkey brigade would be mollified and would likewise leave Iraq to return to certain arrest and execution in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Egypt. Or that they would emmigrate out of Iraq to Iran, Syria, Sudan, or Cechnya, but they would retire from the mindless mass murder biz; perhaps they would become shrimp farmers or start a cotton plantation.

If it's Bush's third point that Harry Reid pooh-poohs, then I can only conclude that Nevada's favorite son believes in the power of Islamist jihadi redemption: sure, the terrorist killers may have claimed they want a globe-spanning caliphate from "al-Andaluz" and the Moorish North Africa, the Persian Caliphate eastward to India, the deserts of Arabia, then following the old Ottoman Sultanate through Algiers, Tripoli, Egypt, through Mesopotamia right up against the Caspian Sea in Russia, up around into Europe, across Hungary, and right up to the gates of Vienna, Austria, plus the new elements of the ummah -- Indonesia (the largest Moslem country), Micronesia, the Philippines, and everything in between Australia and China.

Sure, maybe that's what they say; but it's just trash-talk (not straight talk, as Harry Reid gives us). They don't really want nukes, chemical weapons, or biological agents. And Israel? Heck, the jihadis are willing to "live and let live" alongside all those Jews and Crusaders. Don't harsh their mellow, man!

Show of hands: anybody here persuaded by Sen. Reid's read on the Jihadi mindset?

Once again, he failed to do so. Instead, the president continued to falsely assert there is a link between the war in Iraq and the tragedy of September 11th, a link that did not and does not exist.

Harry Reid's homework list:

(The official version of the document from the 9/11 Commission is unsearchable; they seem to have messed up something in the pdf. Here is a searchable version of that same document.)

The truth is the Administration’s mishandling of the war in Iraq has made us less safe and Iraq risks becoming what it was not before the war: a training ground for terrorists.

"Made us less safe." Hm. We're safer with an avowed and bitter enemy of America in charge of the world's second-largest known oil reserve, a military machine that includes missiles and chemical artillery shells, active and ongoing programs to develop nuclear and chemical/biological weapons, and who has deep, extensive, and rapidly expanding alliances with al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups that desperately desire to destroy America -- than we are with 140,000 American troops in Iraq protecting a democratic state that is about to vote on a constitution (and if they reject it, upon another, and another until they get their democracy)?

Yeah, I can see that... if the pronoun "us" in "made us less safe" stands for "Democrats in Congress," and "safe" refers to their electoral prospects. Indeed, Bush's entire prosecution of the GWOT has made Democratic seats in Congress very unsafe indeed, as the last couple of elections -- and the prospects for 2006 -- have shown. So in that sense, Harry Reid is right about this claim. Ten points for Slytherin!

I do note, however, that while Iraq may have become a training ground for terrorists, what it has mainly trained them to do is to be killed by the thousands by Coalition forces. And it has unquestionably become a training ground for American forces, turning us into the premier urban-terrorist warfare-fighting military on the face of the Earth.

It is clear our window of opportunity is closing in Iraq and the president continues to fail to provide a strategy for success in order to prevent this outcome.

See above, long discussion of Reid's obsession with torturing the English language until it converts.

My Democratic colleagues and I submitted four specific questions to the president about his strategy for Iraq that the American people demand be answered.

Which particular American people would those be? I don't recall being asked. Then again, statistical probability suggests that the vast majority of the people will not, in fact, be questioned for any particular poll. I'm willing to believe that Reid, Kerry, Leahy, Schumer, and Kennedy (and any other colleagues Reid has left) all got together and commissioned Gallup or Pew Research to poll the American people on which particular, specific four questions they demand the president answer, which turned out to be the very four that Reid asks below... so if he could give us a link or even a citation of this poll, it would be very helpful.

Instead of answering those questions, the president offered the same failed approach, stay the course. We cannot continue to stay the course, we must change the course. The American people and our brave men and women in Iraq deserve better.

It's like déjà-vu all over again!

Ah... here come those four questions that were determined by extensive polling among statistically weighted representative samples of the American people:


  1. How many capable Iraqi forces do we need before we can bring our troops home?
  2. What is the administration doing to forge a political consensus?
  3. What is the administration doing to make Iraq’s neighbors a part of our strategy?
  4. What progress is being made on the reconstruction in Iraq and how do we know taxpayers dollars are being spent wisely?

Let's see if we can answer the senator's questions; then he can say "my job here is done" and head back to the video-poker slots.

How many capable Iraqi forces do we need before we can bring our troops home?

I have no idea how to answer this. What is a "force?" If he means "how many individual soldiers," that's a much larger number than if he means "how many battalions."

And what does he mean by "capable?" Wretchard of the Belmont Club has done a bravura job of analyzing just what we have done so far in building up a free Iraqi army, composed of volunteers led by officers who actually care about democracy and freedom, to take the place of the Saddam's old army, led by would-be military dictators (such as Col. Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the King of Clubs on my quasi-official Iraqi Deck of Death) and largely manned by wretched Shiite and Kurdish conscripts who desperately didn't want to be there and would flee at the first opportunity.

First the raw numbers. Secretary Rumsfeld reports there are "technically 194,000 Iraqis" in the security forces. In terms of what may properly be referred to as the Iraqi army, General Casey said there were 100 battalions in all. These were divided, in terms of their capability into three categories: Category 1, 2 and 3 -- with Category 1 being the most capable [and available, per Wretchard's update].

The widely circulated report in the press that of 3 Iraqi battalions that were formerly combat ready, only one is currently rated in that status is an example of how the 'quantity of men' issue has been misunderstood. That number turns out to be the number of Iraqi battalions in Category 1, which as we shall see later, is not the critical category at all.

When Democrats disparage the capability level of the Iraqi troops, they refer only to the paucity of "Category 1" battalions; but Category 1 refers to a capability nearly equal that of the United States; and by this measure, virtually no other nation in Christendom has more than one or two such battalions, most not even that. Even Israeli units don't come up to our present capability to fight an urban war against terrorists... though we certainly couldn't have said that prior to the Iraq War. It is the units in the middle capability level, Category 2, that form the backbone of the fighting force in Iraq, as Wretchard explains:

The eightfold increase in company-level operations in five months (from 160 company level operations in May rising to 1,300 in September) is one crude way to estimate the rate of training of Iraqi battalions . If operational tempo has not increased, this suggests that since there are 100 battalions now then there were only about 12 in May and the US military transition teams have been training about 18 new battalions each month. This is a very crude estimate, but it should in the correct order of magnitude.

Of these 100 battalions the truly important number are those in Category 2 (not the Category 1 batts the press was interested in) because it is on these that the operations over the next six months will be fought. The members of Press realized this in the course of the briefing and attempted to get the speakers to state this number without success.

All right, let's pick one measure that Reid might have meant and run with that. What does he mean by asking "how many capable Iraqi [battalions] do we need before we can bring our troops home?" Does he imagine that is the goal: as soon as there are X number of operational Iraqi battalions, we splitski?

This is a perfect example of Democratic illogic. Bush has enunciated a perfectly comprehensible "exist strategy": as soon as the Iraqis begin to be able to take over their own defense, we begin to pull out. This could be accomplished with the 100 battalions in place now, if they improve their capabilities. Or we could raise another fifty battalions who are at the same level as today. Or we could degrade the terrorist ability so much that a mere seventy Iraqi battalions would be enough to drive them out... there are many routes to the victory condition.

Look at it this way. You're driving to the Grand Canyon. When is the trip officially finished -- when you arrive at the parking lot of Bright Angel Lodge? Or do you pull over and park when you have traveled exactly three and a half hours or 210 miles, no matter where you actually are?

What is the administration doing to forge a political consensus?

Among whom? Is this question left over from a previous set of four about, say, Social Security reform?

What is the administration doing to make Iraq’s neighbors a part of our strategy?

Well, we're telling Saudi Arabia to stop exporting jihadi materials to American mosques; we're welcoming Kuwait's and Jordan's recognition of Israel; we're trying to bring Iran's nuclear program before the UN Security Council; we're supporting Turkey's bid to join the European Union; and we're pressuring Syria to pull its intelligence agents out of Lebanon and fighting a riverine campaign along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers to seal the Iraq border against Syrian terrorist incursion. Why do you ask, Sen. Reid... has your newspaper been stopped?

What progress is being made on the reconstruction in Iraq and how do we know taxpayers dollars are being spent wisely?

First question in this double-question, reconstruction progress: ca. September 29th, 2005, see this post from Good News Central.

Second question, how we know taxpayer dollars are being spend wisely: we know, obviosuly, because they're being spent by the Bush administration, not by the Democratic Congressional caucus. Was this a trick question?

And that appears to cover the entirety of Sen. Reid's "response." I suspect I'll never have to write this again... because the next time President Bush gives a speech about Iraq -- or about Hurricane Rita, the repeal of the death tax, or the Patriot Act -- Harry Reid will send out this same general, all-purpose "response," and I can just link back to this post.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 6, 2005, at the time of 7:38 PM

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I have clenched in my reptillian jaws a pair of stories. Both about Iraq; both about the prospects for the constitutional referrendum on October 15th. Both MSM: one is Reuters, the other Associated Press. Night. And. Day. (A tip of... [Read More]

Tracked on October 7, 2005 4:06 AM


The following hissed in response by: RBMN

Pollster says weary Iraqis back constitution
04 Oct 2005, By Andrew Quinn, Reuters


Hafedh's poll of 3,625 Iraqis between Sept 14-19 showed 79 percent in favour of the new constitution against eight percent opposed. The remainder did not answer the question. While support was particularly high in the northern Kurdish areas and southern regions dominated by Shi'ites, Hafedh said it also ran at over 50 percent in central provinces known as the heartland of Sunni Arab unrest -- a sign, he said, that the Sunni-Shi'ite split was not as wide as many fear. "This is exaggerated by political elites who are seeking power and by Western media and analysts," Hafedh said. "If you go down to the streets, you can't tell who is Sunni and who is Shi'ite. We are all mixed."


he said his organisaton's 45 pollsters were well trained and he was confident that the results would be accurate. "People feel they are now free and it is not a problem if they express their opinions freely," he said. "I feel in general this is a lot of progress."

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 6, 2005 8:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terry Gain

The President's speech was wonderful. My only problem is that it is a speech that should have been given 24 times over the past two years. And yes Dafydd, I was happy to hear him use the same word the incomparable Mark Steyn uses to describe the enemy: Islamofascists

The above hissed in response by: Terry Gain [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 6, 2005 10:18 PM

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