April 4, 2007

Cutting Off Your Dough to Spike Your Race

Hatched by Dafydd

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%), in a snit that the president will exercise his constitutional authority to veto a congressional bill micromanaging the surrender, now vows to cut all funding for the war.

Perhaps Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) will take her hijab off long enough to tell Harry Reid to "calm down."

As a quick aside, I had no idea just how fatuous Pelosi's entire statement was. First, President Bush explains why he will veto the bill:

"The consequences of imposing such a specific and random date of withdrawal would be disastrous," he said. "Our enemies in Iraq would simply have to mark their calendars. They'd spend the months ahead plotting how to use their new safe haven once we were to leave. It makes no sense for politicians in Washington, D.C. to be dictating arbitrary timelines for our military commanders in a war zone 6,000 miles away."

Perhaps I'm just viewing everything he says through red-state-colored glasses; but honestly, he doesn't sound either hysterical or out of control -- the times when it might make sense for someone to say "calm down." To me, it sounds like a calm, simple, and straightforward recitation of what would likely happen were he to sign that bill.

Then the Squeaker responds:

"On this very important matter, I would extend a hand of friendship to the president to say to him, calm down with the threats," Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill. "There's a new Congress in town. We respect your constitutional role. We want you to respect ours.

"When the president says he wants to veto this bill he says, I am vetoing accountability - accountability of my own administration and of the Iraqi government," she added. "He says, I forbid. He told me, I forbid, I forbid accountability. I forbid additional assistance and meeting the health needs of our military and our veterans. I forbid meeting the needs of the people struck by Katrina. I forbid [SCHIP] helping the poorest children in America get healthcare. I forbid disaster agriculture assistance to farmers and cattlemen across the country who need this help."

I forbid? Again, I'm hardly Mr. Even-Handed... but this sounds exactly like Violet Beauregarde pitching a tantrum because she can't have a clown, a pony, a tattoo, and the Harajuku Girls on her eighth birthday party. "You don't ever let me have anything! You don't want me anymore, and I'm going to throw myself in the trash!"

Anyway, back to the annoying Sen. Reid and his puppet friends, who actually seem mature by comparison:

Reid's new strategy faces an uphill battle because many of his colleagues see yanking funds as a dangerous last resort. The proposal increases the stakes on the debate and marks a new era for the Democratic leadership once reluctant to talk about Congress' power of the purse.

"In the face of the administration's stubborn unwillingness to change course, the Senate has no choice but to force a change of course," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who signed on Monday as a co-sponsor of Reid's proposal with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.

What fascinates me is the Democrats' stubborn unwillingness to admit that the appointment of Lt.Gen. Petraeus is a strategic change of course: It marks the first time the American military has treated the Iraq war as a counterinsurgency, rather than a traditional force-on-force engagement of one national power against another.

At the beginning, it was entirely a standard invasion: Our enemies was the Iraqi Army of Saddam Hussein and especially the feared Republican Guard (which turned out not to be as bad as they looked on paper); it was a classical manuever-war of regiment vs. regiment. But that phase quickly ended in total victory for the Coalition, as the Baath Party government completely collapsed.

Then we had an interregnum of several months, during which nobody really knew what to do: There was no replacement government, but the insurgency had not yet started. The Coalition Provisional Authority made some progress (and some regress) at rebuilding the country... but nothing done during this time, no matter how clever or thoughtful, would have prevented the rise of a dueling pair of insurgencies: an al-Qaeda-backed Sunni terrorist insurgency, and an Iranian-backed Shiite militia insurgency.

There was a power vacuum in Iraq, and both of the ascendant powers of the Middle East rushed to fill it. In response, we had to rush back in ourselves, this time into a proxy war between Iran, the transnational Sunni jihadis, the ex-Baathists (who still fantasized returning to power), and the Iraqi Ex-Pats -- Achmed Chalabi and that lot, who had little but the title of "interim Prime Minister."

After that shook out, the Iraqi people voted in three successively more successful elections to create a government... at that moment, the enemy's focus shifted to a true insurgency, à la the Algerian FLN.

Alas, our own strategy was not as nimble; we remained committed to the earlier strategy of force on force... so we were stymied.

We killed lots of bad guys but never seemed to make headway, which is exactly what happened to France in Algeria. Finally, Lt.Col. David Galula realized the dreadful mistake France was making and devised a counterinsurgency strategy instead. The war turned completely around within a year... but the politics at home did not, and the French poodles pulled the plug -- by pretending that nothing had changed, there was no "change of course," and everything was hopeless.

The point is that Petraeus is doing the same thing in Iraq that Galula did in Algeria and will likely have the same impact on the war. Rather than admit this, however, the Democrats continue to insist that the president displays a "stubborn unwillingness to change course." There are two macro-explanations for this rhetoric:

  • Majority Leader Reid, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 95%), Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and a strong majority of Democrats in both houses of Congress sincerely cannot see the difference between a force-on-force strategy and a counterinsurgency strategy... so they're being honest (but stupid) when they say nothing has changed;
  • They do understand that Bush appointed Petraeus precisely in order to make a major strategic change; but for some occult reason, the only "change of course" the Democrats will accept is 180 degrees about... from moving forward to a strategic rearward redeployment to next-door Okinawa.

I would ordinarily find the first explanation sufficient for Reid, Kerry, and Pelosi, whose intellects are -- let's face it -- not quite first-class. But I cannot believe that their Defense aides are that stupid. And generally, senators don't simply blow off their top aides and start freelancing their most important positions. So I have to assume that, at the very least, they have been informed about the distinction between then and now in Iraq.

So that brings us back to explanation 2: that they know, but either they don't care or, more disturbingly... that they actually fear victory more than they fear defeat.

Mindful that they hold a shaky majority in Congress and that neither chamber has enough votes to override a presidential veto, Democrats are already thinking about the next step after Bush rejects their legislation.

Reid said Monday that if that happens, he will join forces with Feingold, one of the party's most liberal members who has long called to end the war by denying funding for it.

Reid has previously stopped short of embracing Feingold's position. When asked whether he would ever consider pulling funds for the troops, Reid said Congress would provide troops what they needed to be safe.

Reid's latest proposal would give the president one year to get troops out, ending funding for combat operations after March 31, 2008.

"If the president vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period," Reid said in a statement.

This line makes the entire argument sound like a power struggle between two branches of the government. It's certainly true that both the Squeaker and the Majority Mouse seem quite intent upon aggrandizing the power of Congress at the expense of diminishing the office of the presidency itself. This actually makes sense for them, no matter who wins in 2008:

  • If a Republican wins the presidency, then naturally the Democrats in the Senate and House would prefer he arrive already emasculated;
  • But the Democrats almost certainly believe that the Democratic nominee will be Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%); so if she wins... well, let's just say there can only be one queen-bee in a hive.

    I don't think the Divine Ms. P. would appreciate suddenly playing lady-in-waiting to Her Hell-to-payness; and I'm sure that Mr. R. will side with Ms. P. on any issue of relative power between the legislative and the executive branches.

Thus I might be tempted to believe the worst -- that the congressional Democrats want to pull out before the Petraeus counterinsurgency can bear fruit because victory in Iraq is the very last thing they want to see -- were it not for this one argument, which the Democrats appear sincerely to believe... and which certainly boosts the meme that Democrats really are that dense:

Reid's proposal is unlikely to pass. But Democrats say they believe with each passing week - as the violence in Iraq continues and voters grow increasingly tired of the war - they pick up additional support.

This argument presupposes, as an axiom not subject to debate, that the strategy will fail, that Iraq will just get worse and worse, and that defeat is preordained by Gaia.

If the Democrats thought, no matter how secretly, that the counterinsurgency had any chance of success, they would not follow their current course: After all, if six months pass and Reid and Pelosi are still struggling to yank us out of Iraq -- at the very same time that Iraq is looking better and more winnable with every passing day -- that cannot possibly be anything but catastrophic for Democratic congressional and presidential chances in 2008.

Instead, if the majority Democrats thought there was even the smallest possibility of success, they would back away, say "we're going to give President Bush one last chance to turn this around," and then wait and see which way to jump when the outcome becomes a little less hazy.

If it failed, then they would be well-positioned to begin passing defeat-and-retreat bills in October, still long before the first primaries in January (unless New Hampshire gets caught up in a game of "can you top this" and changes their primary date to this coming July).

But if the strategy succeeded, then the Democrats could pat themselves on the back, crow with triumph about how their own forbearance gave Petraeus enough time to pull it out, and find some way to minimize the damage.

Therefore, they must truly believe our efforts are doomed. And that means that when the Petraeus strategy actually works, the Democrats are going to end up looking like Charlie Brown when someone line-drives one of his pitches: upside-down with shoes and clothes flying off in all directions.

Now... here is the take-away from this story: There is one remarkable point that has eluded all the "pundants" in the big-box media:

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said if legislation to cut off funding for the war fails, Reid will try again with the hopes of getting new supporters. "It is the next in a series of steps to try to ratchet up the pressure to try to get the administration to change its policies," he said.

The bill to cut off funds for the war would likely be introduced as standalone legislation and would not be tied to the supplemental spending bill, Manley said.

That tells me that Reid is resigned to giving the president a clean troop-funding bill after Bush vetoes the current bill. To a poker player as savvy as George W. Bush, this "tell" may as well be a neon sign flashing "busted flush, busted flush."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 4, 2007, at the time of 5:57 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Tomy

Check out Baker's WaPo Article

He's saying that the Iraq Study Group Plan supports what bush is doing. Here are some quotes:

The report does not set timetables or deadlines for the removal of troops, as contemplated by the supplemental spending bills the House and Senate passed. In fact, the report specifically opposes that approach. As many military and political leaders told us, an arbitrary deadline would allow the enemy to wait us out and would strengthen the positions of extremists over moderates. A premature American departure from Iraq, we unanimously concluded, would almost certainly produce greater sectarian violence and further deterioration of conditions in Iraq and possibly other countries.
The president announced a " new way forward" on Jan. 10 that supports much of the approach called for by the Iraq Study Group. He has since said that he is moving to embrace our recommendations. The president's plan increases the number of American advisers embedded in Iraqi army units, with the goal that the Iraqi government will assume control of security in all provinces by November. It outlines benchmarks and indicates that the Iraqi government must act to attain them. He has approved ministerial-level meetings of all of Iraq's neighbors, including Syria and Iran; the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council; and other countries.
Baker's article casts Bush as following the ISG Plan, but gives suggestions on more things that could be done; however the suggestions are either already being done or are insignificant.

To sum up;

  • The article is appealing to Bush and the Dems to come together and follow the (bipartisan) ISG plan.
  • And Bush is already, essentially, following the plan.
  • So therefore, Bush and the Dems should come to agreement for the betterment of the USA, and do what Bush is doing!

The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 4, 2007 11:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Great comment, Tomy! I turned it into a post.



The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 5, 2007 12:50 AM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

I think you have missed the most likely explanation: That the Dems are simply playing politics. They really don't care that they don't know anything about what is really going on, don't care that they don't know what /should/ go on, and don't care that they are likely to get our troops, or some of us, killed by terrorists masquerading as Muslims. They are determined to bring down President Bush and pander to their moonbat base. If they can force a withdrawal, they will crow about victory and then blame Bush for the consequences. If Bush succeeds and starts to withdraw troops, they will rush in to claim credit, saying that was their plan all along.

No intelligence is required to simply oppose everything your President wants to do, and obstruct anything that makes sense. So long as you can blame somebody else for the failures and take all the credit for success, thanks to your co-conspirators in the MSM, you don't need to think at all.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 5, 2007 5:41 AM

The following hissed in response by: Tomy


My pleasure. Thank you for using it.

Mackubin Thomas Owens, in his last NRO article discusses the book, "Copperheads: The Rise an Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North", by journalist-turned-academic-historian Jennifer Weber.

Owens says:

The historical record aside, what struck me the most were the similarities between the rhetoric and actions of the Copperheads a century and a half ago and Democratic opponents of the Iraq war today.


Disaffection with the war in the North was widespread and the influence of the Peace Democrats on the Democratic party was substantial. During the election of 1864, the Copperheads wrote the platform of the Democratic party, and one of their own, Rep. George H. Pendleton of Ohio, was the party’s candidate for vice president. Until Farragut’s victory at Mobile Bay, Sherman’s capture of Atlanta, and Sheridan’s success in driving the Confederates from the Shenandoah Valley in the late summer and fall of 1864, hostility toward the war was so profound in the North that Lincoln believed he would lose the election.

Weber demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that the actions of the Copperheads materially damaged the ability of the Lincoln administration to prosecute the war...... The fact is that Peace Democrats actively interfered with recruiting and encouraged desertion. Indeed, they generated so much opposition to conscription that the Army was forced to divert resources from the battlefield to the hotbeds of Copperhead activity in order to maintain order. Many Copperheads actively supported the Confederate cause, materially as well as rhetorically.
And Owens concludes:
The late nineteenth century Democratic party paid a high price for the influence of the Copperheads during the Civil War, permitting Republicans to “wave the bloody shirt” of rebellion and to vilify the party with the charge of disunion and treason. If its leaders are not careful, today’s Democratic party may well pay the same sort of price for the actions of its antiwar base, which is doing its best to continue the Copperhead legacy.
Let us only hope!


The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 5, 2007 6:38 AM

The following hissed in response by: AMR

I would hope that if conditions improve in Iraq, Congress will come to its senses. However, history did not play that way before. The South Vietnam government was very much in charge of the vast majority of their country with the central highlands being the primary exception after the US combat troops departed in March 1973. The Viet Cong had been wiped out during Tet, so it was primarily North Vietnamese troops in the South; i.e. outsiders now. But within 6 months after our combat troops left, Congress began to deny South Vietnam support with the Case-Church Amendment. This law prohibited any further U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia without Congressional authorization, effective August 15, 1973 . Newly assuming the Presidency after President Nixon’s resignation on August 8, 1974, President Ford was in a weak position with Congressional Democrats having the strength to over ride his vetoes. On December 30, 1974 Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which cut off all military funding to the South Vietnamese government. In violation of the Paris Accords and no US air power to support the South Vietnamese Army, the North began their final assault in March of 1975 and Saigon fell in April 30, 1975.

I guess we will now have the Reid-Feingold Bill to try the same tactic in Iraq. However this time the Democrats can not override a veto without significant Republican support and they do not face a weak presidency. Also, the MSM is not totally able to project the same distortions of the facts as they did during the Vietnam War. As the Gathering of Eagles showed in Washington DC recently, we are not going to standby this time and allow the anti-American Left and Democrats to surrender when we are fight a just war and winning. Many outside of Congress and the beltway still believe in honor and country and do not consider surrender an option.

The above hissed in response by: AMR [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 5, 2007 7:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: boffo

I think you're missing a key point:

To the Democrats in Congress, it doesn't matter whether the surge is effective.

This is because whatever happens, they can count on the media portraying it as a failure. So why do they have to worry about success?

It's also why they can blatantly lie about the past or take whatever side of an issue allows them to whine about the president at the current moment regardless of what they said in the past. The media isn't going to call them on it, so the only people who will notice are the ones that already oppose them.

Your brother Steve

The above hissed in response by: boffo [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 5, 2007 9:50 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I think you're missing a key point:

To the Democrats in Congress, it doesn't matter whether the surge is

This is because whatever happens, they can count on the media portraying it
as a failure. So why do they have to worry about success?

Because, to quote another former president, "Facts are stubborn things." It's a lot harder than folks may think to completely deny reality.

So far, the elite media has not tried to turn reality completely on its head: Everything they have said, while not strictly true, has had at least a germ of truth in it.

We really have been spinning wheels in Iraq until recently, for example -- not losing, killing a lot of bad guys, but nevertheless not making demonstrable progress; they weren't just making that up. But now that the counterinsurgency (still with only 2 of projected 5 new brigades inserted) is showing signs of significant progress, the MSM have actually reported that.

Not usually on the front page -- but they have reported, e.g., the strong drop in homicides in Baghdad and the large number of Sunni tribes that are now fighting against al-Qaeda in Anbar province (the former stronghold of AQI).

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

Nor, one might add, can even the most partisan media sources fully hide them from view. The high-water mark of media duplicity was the malreporting of the Tet Offensive by Walter Cronkite and his crooked cronies.

But even then, the truth was also reported; the media were not monolithic then anymore than they are now. The people had access to both truth and fantasy... but they chose to believe the latter because it allowed them to say "let's stop the war and pull out, so I won't get drafted and sent to Vietnam."

That is the only danger: You can't fool all the people all the time -- but anybody can fool himself.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 5, 2007 12:52 PM

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