January 25, 2007

The Urge to Surge - UPDATED

Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATED with illuminating analogy... see below!

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line has an interesting argument -- but it ultimately fails of its logic:

I've always believed that Senators have an obligation to vote their conscience on matters of war and peace....

So where does that leave a Republican Senator who thinks it's a mistake to "surge"?.... Many conservatives who aren't running for office have said that the surge is a bad idea. (I have expressed my reservations about it). Thus, the law of averages tells us that, political calculation aside, there will be more than a few Republican Senators who have that belief....

Most of the "wobbly" Republicans appear to be trying to balance their conviction that the surge is a bad idea against their concern over the impact of an anti-surge resolution on the war effort. This is a responsible approach.... In my view, the best resolution for those who don't want the surge but aren't prepared to block it, would be one that expresses their skepticism, but also their hope that the surge succeeds and their willingness, now that it has been decided upon, to give it a fair chance.

Paul himself touches on the point that nullifies his argument. His point would hold -- only if Congress were in a position to stop the surge; and only then if they did so privately, not as a public rebuke.

Given the powerlessness (and rightly so!) of Congress to decide upon the particular strategies and tactics used by our military forces to fight the war (that clearly being an area where the Constitution clearly gives the Executive full control), Congress has no business smashmouthing the decisions of the generals or the Commander in Chief, a.k.a. the president.

It is functionally the same as when Gen. Douglas MacArthur was insubordinate to President Harry Truman anent the Korean War and whether we should invade China: once the decision is made, it is the duty of all those who do not have the power to reverse that decision to do everything they can to support it and help it succeed.

Nothing that Congress is doing in these resolutions helps the war in any way. And while conservatives who are not in public office always have the right, under the First Amendment, to express disapproval, however vehemently they choose to do so... such a "right" does not extend to the Congress of the United States in its official actions: the Congress, as a branch of the government, cannot morally or ethically repudiate wartime decisions in a way that will undercut the war effort itself. That's not patriotic; it's puerile.

And nobody has yet articulated any reasonable way in which these resolutions would help the war effort. Paul tries, gamely but vainly, to do so:

On the other hand, some say that such resolutions signal to the Iraqi government that our patience is not limitless and thus will induce it to improve its behavior.

But that is not the signal these resolutions of irresolution send: rather, they send the message that we a are a government divided, that we will pull out and abandon our allies in Iraq, that we have no stomach for the fight. If Congress wants to send a message, they should send it to the president... not try to conduct ad-hoc foreign policy by long-distance proxy. They can tell President Bush that they will not endlessly vote funding if there is no measurable progress on the ground.

But these resolutions are the worst of all worlds -- expressing fear and loathing without lifting a finger to do anything about it. "You're going to lose, you're going to lose! But don't expect me to stop you." (And neither of the two resolutions, so far as I have seen, expresses any hope at all that "the surge succeeds.")

Thus, much as I understand Paul's reluctance to support the Kagan strategy, and his discomfort at telling off senators for supporting what he, himself proposed a couple of months ago, he must take into account that the decision has already been made: and there is nothing honorable left but for Congress to support it, whole-heartedly and full-throatedly, until such time as they have an actual, constitutional decision to make.

There is never a good enough excuse to vote an extra-constitutional slap in the face to the American military in the midst of a difficult war, especially when the only possible motivation is to vent one's spleen -- having nothing better to contribute.

UPDATE, a few minutes later: Here is an analogy to demonstrate why I think Paul's argument fails...

Suppose you have a serious illness -- cancer. You discuss it with your doctor and your family, and you decide that surgery is your best option.

You arrange for the date, you show up at the hospital, and you're all prepped. Then, just before they wheel you into the operating room, your next-door neighbor shows up -- she has no familiarity with surgery, with surgeons, with this particular surgeon, or with the various medical treatments for your type of cancer -- yet she says, "surgery is against your health interest; you're just going to die in there!"

Now, she may have the sincere conviction that surgery is bad; after all, she once had an aunt who died in surgery -- in 1974. But that makes no difference; the decision is already made, and you're not going to change your mind because some random, uninformed acquaintance thinks surgery is barbaric.

Which means the only possible result of her outspoken resolution is to scare the living daylights out of you at just the moment you most need emotional support. In fact, she might even make it less likely you survive, because you'll be in such a fright that you might not react well to the anaesthesia.

Is there any imaginable scenario under which her action would be anything but despicable?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 25, 2007, at the time of 7:24 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I am tired of all these back seat drivers. they just bitch adn moan and whine and contribute nothing to the argument. And that is not just the Congress, it is the pundits as well.

And not just about Iraq either. When it comes to everything from Katrina to immigration people who do not have any responsibility for the outcome or a damn thing to contribute in terms of actual support just bitch bitch bitch.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 26, 2007 2:35 AM

The following hissed in response by: Rovin


You keep tearing the skin off them boys over at Powerline and they'll start growing scales.....

....then I won't know if I readin' Powerline or Big Lizards

Again, Great post!


The above hissed in response by: Rovin [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 26, 2007 9:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: CSK

I too, am sick of these cowards who govern our country. I was going to say 'lead' our country, but that's not accurate. The only possible upside to the crybaby resoutions is this quote...
On the other hand, some say that such resolutions signal to the Iraqi government that our patience is not limitless and thus will induce it to improve its behavior.
But that too, has its downside, portraying us an an undependable ally. It will also signal to the Iraqis that they better have a plan B to cover their butts, and who knows what Machiavellian plots they will hatch to protect themselves on an individual basis. They won't have the best interests of their country at heart, if they're not sure they're going to have a country!
I am going to think of our resolution reps as cowards from now on. As such, they should hide under their beds until the battle is won, and then, after they thank their saviours, hang their heads in shame and humiliation for the rest of their days.
Dafydd, your posts are getting better all the time, and you continue to move up in my favorites list!!!

The above hissed in response by: CSK [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 26, 2007 10:48 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Gentle readers:

Sorry about the "test" post; we're trying to transition to FastCGI, and we're having some problems doing it. (That post was by the host server person, and she forgot to erase it.)

Our problem is that, while we can write posts, we can't publish them while in FastCGI mode. So we have to switch back to regular CGI to publish. But then to test, we have to switch back to FCGI. Each of these swaps requires editing the config file, but they're otherwise not that difficult.

I'll let you know when we get all the kinks ironed out.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 26, 2007 12:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: JohnSal


I like your analogy but you haven't carried it quite far enough. You left out the doctor and the surgical team. The doctor represents the U.S. millitary in Iraq. He or she is about to perform the surgery, but wait, the next door neighbor shows up expressing her disapproval of the treatment plan. But it's even worse than that, she can take the surgical instruments (defund the Iraq operation) away from the doctor in the middle of the surgery. That might be an unnerving, debilitating, thought as you are about to insert the scalpel. Further, the surgical team - nurses, anesthesiologist(sic?) and other staff - represents the Iraqi government. They have the burden of supporting the doctor with the threat that he might be ordered to depart the operating room prematurely, leaving the surgical team to finish the operation. Oh, and they may then be "charged" with murdering the patient and sentenced to death! There must be a better way for the U.S. government to complete successfully the mission in Iraq.

The above hissed in response by: JohnSal [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 26, 2007 1:39 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

In my humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit opinion, Congress and/or the Government ain’t the main problem.

Right after the Attacks of 911, the American people were out for blood, and wanted some serious action/response. They were with Bush ‘43’...for a while, but their support had started to dwindle by October 7, 2001.

Led by MSM, with support from anti-war groups, leftists, socialists, liberals, etc., the predictions of at least “5000 US Troops body bags” would be needed during the first six months to a year. When that prediction was shortly proven wrong, that same group of cronies started asking why it was taking so long to capture Osama.

Remember, right after the Attacks of 911, the American people were out for blood, and expected some serious action/response from their elected “Commander in Chief” (a.k.a. their President). However, by March 20, 2003, after roughly a year of ‘foot-dragging’ by the United Nations and Saddam, the once dwindling support of the American people had become a steady leak in a ‘Dam of Sand’...so to speak.

Some say that words can’t paint a picture, but humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit me shall try once again...Maestro, some music...something from some anti-war movie about Vietnam first, please. Great!!! OK...Maestro, humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit me now needs some special mood music, something that “symbolizes the arrogant naïveté of the American West”. Remember the movie “Midnight Cowboy”??? Please play “Everybody's Talkin’”...written by Fred Neil. GREAT JOB!!! One last request, Maestro, please, and hit it hard around Round Eight of the movie “Ali”...just to bring out the "Rumble" colors of my humble word painting here.

i use to think that giving aid and support to the enemies of America was not only against the law here, but was also Treason. Apparently my Non-Dualistic dictionary’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s meaning of “treason”, and that of the infamous Merriam-Webster’s English language dictionary differ quite more than just a tad...so to speak. Heck, what i had once considered to be a rather clear fact of what Treason was, both Non-Dualistically and Dualistically, is not a fact at all, and Karma will have to sort it out from here...mostly, i suspect.

Clearly...it is not treasonous to predict that “5000 US Troops body bags” would be needed during the first six months to a year, in Afghanistan and/or Iraq, during WAR, huh. Clearly, it is not treasonous for MSM to falsely claim that “U.S. Troops bogged down in Iraq”, after just three days. Clearly, it is not treasonous to say that ‘Water-Boarding’ is torture...that stripping prisoners is torture; however, it is OK to falsely claim that our Troops are “flushing Korans” down the toilet, in order to mentally torture our enemy!?!?! Trust humble me, the American people are actually this stupid, and our Enemies know it.

Rumsfeld was right from the beginning...we had more than enough Ground Troops. Three weeks and Baghdad fell. That’s more than enough. The American people allowed MSM...with support from anti-war groups, leftists, socialists, liberals, Democrat Party and weak members of the Republican Party to aid and support America’s Enemies, etc. Almost enough said...

America needs to be pruned. Americans ain’t going to do it, and yet far too many aid and support the Enemy for some or for whatever reason, so let the Enemy do it. Karma is involved now...simple as that.


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 26, 2007 4:16 PM

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